Wondering who's better...James Allen or Brilliant Earth?
In this Learning Jewelry guide, you'll find answers to questions like:
- What Is It Like To Shop At James Allen vs Brilliant Earth?
- Who Has The Better Warranty?
- Where Can You Get The Best Value For Your Money?
- Who Has The Best Customer Reviews?
Note that basically all online diamond retailers have lower priced diamonds than your corporate brick and mortar jewelry stores.
This doesn't mean all online diamond retailers are created equally...
Some have better warranties, some have the option to view at a showroom, and others have 360˚ viewing technology.
So, how does Brilliant Earth and their beyond ethical diamonds measure up to James Allen?
Let's find out.
Shopping Experience Comparison
The shopping experience from online diamond retailers is pretty straightforward and similar among various companies.
Both Brilliant Earth and James Allen have the same set up with options to purchase loose diamonds and empty ring settings.
However, there are some differences as you dive deeper.
Brilliant Earth has a library of loose natural diamonds and lab-grown diamonds. They don't have the largest selection compared to other online retailers like James Allen or Blue Nile.
But they do have just over 91,000 loose natural diamonds plus another 80,000 loose lab-created diamonds to look at—and that's more than enough to find what you're looking for.
Unlike some other shops, they also have preset diamond rings.
They also have a large selection of fine jewelry featuring diamonds and gemstones, as well as loose fancy colored diamonds and loose gemstones:
If you don't like your engagement ring from Brilliant Earth, they have a 30 day free return policy.
A big factor that draws people to Brilliant Earth is their company slogan, "Beyond Conflict Free™". While every online retailer recommended by Learning Jewelry sells conflict-free diamonds, Brilliant Earth can trace their inventory's origins.
The Kimberley Process ensures diamonds do not fund civil wars, but it doesn't cover other colored gemstones.
Very few areas have conflict colored gemstones, mainly because they aren't as valuable and if they are, they're usually rare pieces not eligible for common sales.
Brilliant Earth's inventory adds a layer of transparency by identifying the exact origin of every stone, and they take things to the next level by ensuring their jewelry avoids human rights issues and minimizes environmental impact as well.
James Allen has a vast library of almost 300,000 loose diamonds. They also carry lab grown diamonds, fancy colored diamonds, and some loose gemstones.
They do have a selection of fine jewelry, but most people shop at James Allen to buy diamond rings.
Like Brilliant Earth, they also sell natural and lab created loose diamonds. They also sell fancy colored diamonds, but don't have near the selection like Brilliant Earth does in that regard.
James Allen has a 360° view on all their diamonds. Like most diamond retailers, they also claim to ethically source their diamonds through the Kimberley Process.
Read Also: How to buy ethically sourced diamonds?
Lastly, the company has a return policy of 30 day hassle-free returns. They'll send you a prepaid Fedex label and have it shipped back in no time.
Quality customer service is important to all customers, especially when it comes to high-ticket items like wedding rings.
It is always about the purchase, but also includes how the company handles their customers' questions and the additional services and attention offered.
Brilliant Earth's customer service can be reached through live chat, email, or phone number. Their jewelry specialists are available 24/7.
A great example of excellent customer service from Brilliant Earth is their temporary ring setting option.
Here's how it works:
If you are ultimately want your fiancée to pick out their own ring but still want the effect of a surprise proposal, Brilliant Earth will give you a temporary solitaire mounting made of 18K gold.
This option costs $75 dollars but it allows you to have the romance of the proposal while still letting your fiancée be involved in the process.
On the other hand, James Allen doesn't offer anything like this.
James Allen has customer service through email, live chat, and a phone number. You can reach them at all hours of the day, 24/7. This is convenient for customers of all schedules.
James Allen is extremely involved with customers and their reviews reflect that. Every time I've spoken with James Allen's live chat, the diamond expert has answered my questions fully and seems quite knowledgeable.
While James Allen is one of the premier choices in online diamonds, they do have some negative reviews. But what makes James Allen's customer service superior is how involved they are with the negative reviews.
Read Also: Does James Allen have good customer service?
James Allen addresses majority of the complaints on the Better Business Bureau and a fair number of them have been resolved.
Warranties are essential for jewelry owners, especially if it's a diamond engagement ring or wedding band. Regardless of craftsmanship, rings are made out of precious metals, and they wear down over time.
That's where a warranty comes in.
Brilliant Earth offers customers a free lifetime warranty that covers manufacturing defects, like a diamond that keeps needing to be tightened. Utilizing this warranty costs you $50 for shipping.
They also give the option of purchasing an Extended Service Plan, which is a three year warranty. This warranty covers routine care such as prong retipping, rhodium plating white gold, tightening a center stone, and cleaning.
Unlike most online diamond retailers, the service plan also covers lost diamonds up to .25 ct. If you warranty is under this plan, the shipping is free.
Brilliant Earth gives you 60 day resizing window, otherwise they will charge for resizing.
Lastly, if you want your diamond ring engraved, you are charged a $40 fee. Just remember that any ring that has been engraved is ineligible for return.
James Allen also offers a free lifetime warranty. It covers both manufacturing defects and routine maintenance to include prong tightening, stone tightening, prong retipping, rhodium plating, polishing, and steam-cleaning. They do not cover replacement of diamonds.
If you use the warranty, you must pay a $30 shipping fee if from the US or Canada, or $50 for other countries. You also get one free resizing based on their resizing policy within the first year.
If the resizing is needed outside the first year, they charge $25 for rose, white, and yellow gold. If it's platinum, it'll be $50.
James Allen gives all their customers free ring engravings when you check out up to 20 characters. They will also allow rings that are engraved to be returned.
Price vs Value
To compare the price and value of Brilliant Earth vs James Allen, I've chosen two emerald cut diamonds that are eye clean with a similar clarity, a color grade of G, and a carat weight of 2.01.
Both of these diamonds are certified by the GIA and come with their respective grading reports. While price is important, diamond quality is more important.
As you can see, the diamonds are quite different in price, with Brilliant Earth being the more expensive one (even though it is a step lower in clarity). James Allen's emerald diamond is $1370 cheaper.
Read Also: Is there sales tax on James Allen jewelry?
Keep in mind that you should always compare diamond-to-diamond from different retailers because one is not always better than the other when it comes to base price.
While both of these online diamond dealers have high quality diamonds at much more affordable prices than a brick-and-mortar jewelry store, James Allen has the edge when it comes to price and value.
Many people go to the website Reddit.com to find out customer reviews and conversations about various jewelry stores, jewelers, and online diamond retailers.
Brilliant Earth is one of the few diamond retailers that come up when posts are talking about buying diamonds online. James Allen is another favorite on Reddit.
Unfortunately, Brilliant Earth's reputation on Reddit has a lot of controversy. There are a lot of negative reviews there, but keep in mind that people are less likely to post what's positive as opposed to negative.
James Allen is the more popular of the two on Reddit, but that also makes sense because the company has an active account interacting and handing out diamond information.
Majority of the reviews are positive, but each experience is unique to the buyers, so they should always be taken with a grain of salt.
Our Verdict: James Allen
Honestly, both of these retailers are good choices to purchase engagement and wedding rings from, but only one can be the winner. I'm going with James Allen as the best overall.
When you shop James Allen, you get a free lifetime warranty that covers routine work, while Brilliant Earth makes you pay extra for routine care.
Brilliant Earth is a good company to buy ethical diamonds, and an even better place to buy lab created fancy colored diamonds.
I will say though, if you want a more "physical touch" Brilliant Earth has more physical stores you can go into and see the product before buying, which is helpful for those uncomfortable with completely online.