James Allen and Blue Nile are both popular diamond retailers, so which is the very best?
Here's a comparison that will cover questions like:
- Who Offers The Best Shopping Experience?
- Where Will You Get The Best Customer Service?
- Is James Allen Cheaper Than Blue Nile?
- Who Has The Best Return and Warranty Policies?
Most of our comparisons include James Allen against many popular brick and mortar jewelry stores. Today we're changing that up a bit.
While it's true that online diamond retailers are going to be a better use of your money than a corporate jewelry store, not all online retailers are the same in experience, price, warranty, or customer service.
James Allen is the leading online retailer in the diamond industry, but Blue Nile is just as popular.
Which of these is the better online store for diamond shopping? Where can you buy the best diamond for the best price? Let's find out
Bottom Line Up Front: James Allen is a better online retailer of jewelry, with a more seamless, lower stress buying experience. As an online jeweler, they specialize in online sales with their 360° HD Images of every diamond, 24/7 customer service, and hassle free return policy.
The combination of online experience, customer service, and warranty policies makes James Allen an overall better option than Blue Nile. They are are changing the jewelry industry for the better, and we are proud to recommend them to you.
Shopping Experience Comparison
Blue Nile and James Allen are both online diamond retailers with only a couple showrooms or stores.
While the online retailer doesn't have to sell or make sales goals to their customers, they still can offer a great experience by making it easy for you to purchase, and easy to return if there are any issues.
Blue Nile has a library of loose diamonds to choose from of varying carat weights, color grades, and clarity grades.
Blue Nile offers their customers a 360 view on some of their loose diamonds, but there are many that come with no-so-appealing pictures like this Asscher cut diamond view from Blue Nile. I definitely wouldn't want to make such a large purchase based on these pictures:
They carry a vast collection of fine jewelry, both gemstone and diamond. Additionally, they have a great selection of men's wedding rings in alternative metals.
As far as returns go, they offer a 30 day return policy, but anything special ordered is not eligible for returns.
One of the biggest advantages of Blue Nile is their price match guarantee. They claim that if you call them with another GIA certified diamond on the same kind of market, they'll match it.
Read Also: Should you buy from Blue Nile?
Blue Nile has partnered with Mondiamo to do a diamond buyback program, allowing diamond experts to award cash for customers selling their diamond from home.
Additionally, they also offer upgrades for your diamond engagement ring, but the upgrade policy states that the diamond needs to be GIA or AGS certified to be eligible.
The James Allen website has a larger collection of loose diamonds than Blue Nile. They have almost 300,000 stones, while Blue Nile's library is just under 200,000.
Additionally, they carry loose gemstones and fancy colored diamonds. They also have a decent collection of fine jewelry, but I think Blue Nile has the better selection with more popular styles.
Unlike Blue Nile, James Allen has both HD pictures and 360 view technology on all their diamonds, not just some of them. When you look at James Allen's high quality photos, you'll feel more confident in making such an important purpose.
Also unlike Blue Nile, James Allen does not buy your diamonds. However, they do have a lifetime upgrade policy that allows you to trade your loose diamond for full credit towards a diamond that is 2x the value. All grading reports have to be with the diamond to be eligible.
Read Also: What is diamond clarity?
They don't do any kind of price matching, as there are very few high quality diamonds on the market that are less expensive than James Allen. All customers receive a 30 day money back guarantee and free return shipping.
Customer service is key when shopping at an online diamond retailer like James Allen and Blue Nile because it is the only way you can interact with them.
They both have showrooms, but mainly function online. So, how does Blue Nile's customer service stack up against James Allen?
Blue Nile offers 24/7 customer service through online chat and different phone numbers depending on which country you are calling from. However, I tried to use their online chat and it took over 6 minutes for someone to connect me. (I had already given up at that point.)
Blue Nile has responded to some of the complaints on the BBB, with the exception of the ones about their financing.
This isn't the first time I've read about their bad credit card program. Apparently, it has caused a lot of issues for Blue Nile buyers and has caused many people to shy away. While reviews are to be taken lightly, there are an overwhelming amount of bad reviews concerning the financing program.
A great customer service should strive to fix the issues, and it seems that Blue Nile remains ignorant to these complaints. While the customer service may be great when purchasing and asking questions, the fact that they ignore popular complaints doesn't make a great example of customer service.
James Allen also has 24/7 customer service through online chat, phone number, and email. I've used James Allen's online chat many times to ask for clarification and am instantly connected. Their customer service has been excellent in my case.
Most customers feel the same about James Allen. On trusted customer review sites like Trustpilot, the Better Business Bureau, and Consumer Affairs, James Allen has an overall great response.
The Better Business Bureau collects most of the bad complaints rather than positive experiences. James Allen has over 30 complaints, but the company has taken the time to answer every single complaint. Many of them are even resolved.
Many complaints have to do with customers not getting shipments on promised days, but most of that is due to holiday traffic. Shipping conditions can interfere with promised dates, things happen with the carriers, and other untold issues. Sometimes it's lack of attention.
From what I've seen, James Allen at least attempts to do their best to get rings out on time. Check out this review:
Even with a change, customer service was able to help this customer out.
Jewelry warranties are a must-have. You need a warranty with a diamond ring, at the very least. Over time, your diamond jewelry will start to wear down and need routine maintenance to keep in good shape. A warranty helps cover the cost of that maintenance.
Blue Nile offers a manufacturer's lifetime warranty, which covers if your ring has a manufacturer's defect. A manufacturer's defect is usually categorized as something bad that repeatedly happens to the ring, such as the same diamond becoming loose.
But for the routine maintenance, like prong tightening, rhodium plating white gold rings, and re-polishing are done at a cost. They don't tell you the cost of each repair until after they receive it.
You also have to pay return shipping, and they do not state the price, so it may be up to the customer.
You do get free complimentary cleaning and inspection with the company. They'll check all your prongs and look for any loose stones through a jeweler's loupe.
If they assess any other issues, they'll contact you. But, you still have to pay return shipping. Blue Nile does give free resizing throughout the first year, just in case you order a size that doesn't quite fit.
James Allen gives all customers a lifetime warranty with all their jewelry, and it transcends beyond Blue Nile's manufacturer's warranty. They do cover any manufacturer's defects, but they also cover all your routine maintenance for life.
All you have to do is pay the shipping fee for $35, if you're in the US or Canada. For other countries, it is $50.
If the repair needed is something other than tightening of stones, rhodium, polish, or prong retipping, they will assess a price and will let you know before work is done.
While you should really only need to resize once in the first year, James Allen only covers one resizing for the first year. It's free, but you are obligated to pay that shipping fee.
Blue Nile doesn't specify how many times you can size their rings within the first year, but the first year is also free.
The cool thing is that you don't have to ship your jewelry to James Allen if you don't want to. You can actually bring it to an approved Jared location and have their shops work on it.
You can also get free cleaning and inspection done through James Allen, or Jared can do that as well.
Price vs Value
To compare the best of the best between Blue Nile and James Allen, I've chosen to use each of their specialized branded diamonds.
Blue Nile has their own collection of diamonds called Astor Diamonds. The Astor collection is picked by two diamond experts and only the best is cut into an Astor diamond.
Not only do they come with a GIA grading report, but they also come with a GemEx report, which shows superiority in light performance. You can actually review both reports online and they have a great comparison tool that you can use to find the perfect Astor diamond for your own ring.
Read Also: What are the different diamond cuts?
Here we have an Astor ideal cut diamonds with a clarity of VS2 and a color grade of H. The carat weight is 1.02 cts.
James Allen also has their own branded diamonds, under the name True Hearts. These are a collection of ideal cut diamonds and some of them display a pattern of hearts and arrows when looked through a loupe or gemscope.
You can view these patterns on the round cut diamonds via the idealscope images.
True Hearts diamonds are available in round, princess, or cushion cut. The princess and cushion shapes are certified for light performance by the AGS, which is the second most trusted company in diamond reports, right after the GIA.
Read Also: What's the difference between GIA and AGS?
This princess cut True Hearts diamond has the same diamond grades as Blue Nile's Astor diamond. The price for James Allen True Hearts diamond is $3580, and the price for Blue Nile's Astor diamond is $4934. That's $1354 difference in price.
But is it truly better just because James Allen has the lower prices on their collection? Most people think that diamond prices are equated to their quality in the diamond industry, but this is untrue.
Both of these collections from these diamond retailers have GIA reports, but only True Hearts by James Allen carries a light performance grading report from the American Gem Society.
GemEx does not have the reputation for grading as they grade most commercial corporate jewelry brands like Tolkowsky. Just the grading reports and which labs are used can tell you where the better value is whether it's for resale or insurance purposes.
Read Also: Is James Allen better than Tiffany?
With that being said, it is clear that James Allen diamonds will give you more bang for your buck, without compromising quality.
When Redditors discuss the best place to buy diamonds, it's usually a tug-of-war between the two online diamond industry giants, Blue Nile and James Allen. So what does the website have to say about these companies? Let's check it out.
James Allen has some pretty solid reviews. They are definitely more positives than complaints. Not only that, but the actual company is a Redditor themselves.
They can be found commenting on various posts throughout the forums whether it's thanking someone for purchase, or offering diamond advice.
Most Redditors recommend that you should purchase a loose diamond from an online dealer like James Allen or Blue Nile. Many of them have purchased from both, but it seems like James Allen has more of a presence on Reddit.
On this post asking about online diamonds, here are some of the responses:
It is clear that majority of Redditors have purchased from James Allen over Blue Nile more often.
Our Verdict: James Allen
Both of these online diamond retailers are excellent options to purchase your engagement ring from. James Allen and Blue Nile are among the top when it comes to loose diamonds and ring settings.
But one of these companies has the edge.
James Allen is a better place to purchase from than Blue Nile. While the shopping experiences at both are great, James Allen has full 360 views on all of their diamonds, where as Blue Nile only has on some.
James Allen's lifetime warranty covers all routine maintenance and Blue Nile only covers rings with manufacturing defects.
James Allen makes an effort to answer all customer complaints, even if they don't end up being completely resolved. Blue Nile will also answer complaints, as long as it isn't about their financing.
Not all of James Allen's loose diamonds of the same grade will be less expensive than Blue Nile, but their premier collection is less expensive than Blue Nile's. Both the True Hearts and Astor diamonds are supposed to be the best of what each company has to offer, and True Hearts has the better grading reports and better price.
The bottom line is, when given a choice between these two companies, James Allen is the much better choice for your wallet.