Wondering who's better: James Allen or Jared?
You're in the right place! In this Learning Jewelry guide you'll learn:
- Which Company Has The Best Shopping Experience?
- What Are Customers Saying About James Allen vs Jared?
- Where Can You Get The Best Prices For Diamonds?
- Who Has The Best Warranty Options?
Buying diamond jewelry can be nerve-racking, especially when you're not a trained diamond expert or enthusiast. But just because you're not a GIA gemologist doesn't mean you can't learn a thing or two about purchasing diamonds.
When looking for the a ring, many people think that Jared, the Galleria of Jewelry is a top contender in the jewelry world. And this is true. Jared is the top-of-the-line store for the large company of Signet Jewelers.
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.
Since they are an online only shop, James Allen can deliver a better quality product at a lower price compared to brand name brick and mortar shops like Jared. They are are changing the jewelry industry for the better, and we are proud to recommend them to you.
But it recent times, the online world of buying diamonds has exploded. What once might have been thought dangerous or taboo, is now becoming a preferred choice.
Many people are foregoing the idea of purchasing diamond jewelry from a retail chain store and going online.
James Allen is the top contender in the online diamond retail market. So, we thought, why not pit the best of brick and mortar against the best global online store?
We'll match Jared and James Allen head-to-head and find out which is the better store for you to purchase your diamond jewelry from this year.
Shopping Experience Comparison
A great shopping experience for a customer includes both the ease of purchase and the return process.
Jared presents two types of shopping experiences: in-store and online.
Online is pretty straightforward. You can add a pre-made piece to your cart, or you can use their mounting and loose diamonds process and pick out your stone.
Unlike other retail jewelers in the Signet family, Jared allows you to view a library of loose diamonds. They also have a 360 degree view. This is essential for picking out a diamond, so you know where your inclusions and blemishes are.
Knowing this enables you to pick a diamond that doesn't have a dark mark on the table (face) of the diamond. Blemishes on the edges wouldn't be seen in a setting.
The diamond specifications in their pre-made pieces are bad. They give general clarity specifications like this I1-SI1. Just because it's one clarity above does not mean they are the same. There can be a world of difference between an I1 & SI1.
Jared is not one for options either, as most of their rings online and in-store contain more cluster rings than pieces with a 1 carat center. They'll often label them as 1 carat on the website, but they're meaning 1 carat total diamond weight (tdw).
Always check the specifications of the diamond and get a clear understanding of what diamond grade you're buying.
In-store, a sales associate will tell you the clarity of the piece, but they actually don't differentiate the center stone clarity from the side stone clarity. They are stock pieces, which means that they are all general ideas of clarity grades.
The only way to tell if a stone is exactly what it's portrayed as, is to buy a certified diamond. Jared doesn't carry many certified stones in their store.
The ease of purchase at Jared is fair. They definitely don't give you all the information they should (the exact diamond grades), but they make it very easy for you to buy.
There are many stories on the internet of Jared and Signet's other companies being very shifty with their return policies.
With Jared, your shopping experience is often unpredictable and none of the stores are uniform in their policies. Some managers address problems differently, and others don't do anything at all.
It is overall a very unbalanced experience.
Because James Allen is an online diamond retailer, your shopping experience is much more straightforward and concise than an experience at Jared.
At James Allen, they are there to help you make the best purchase for your situation. James Allen employees do not work off of commission, so there's no need to hurry up and sell you something quick.
Read Also: How to buy jewelry online?
Like any other online purchase, you can go at your own pace. You can take careful consideration as to what diamond grades or you want.
You might want a 3/4 carat, pear shaped, center with a clarity of SI2 and an E color grade with a diamond halo setting, but you might not be sure. No one is going to pressure you into a purchase.
James Allen also offers you a complete 360 view of an extensive library of loose diamonds. They also offer their collection of True Hearts diamonds, which is James Allen's version of the hearts and arrows perfect symmetry.
A diamond with hearts and arrows has better brilliance and sparkle than your average diamond. If glitz and glam is your thing, you'll definitely want a True Hearts diamond.
No matter which diamond you choose, James Allen has many settings they can fit in. You can play around with the designs all you want. When you've made your choice, you simply add to cart and checkout.
If you have any questions, you can either check out their FAQ page with the answers to everything you'd want to know about the company, or you can live chat with a James Allen associate, 24/7.
Customer Service Comparison
Customer service doesn't just involve helping you during the process of making a purchase, it also deals with what happens when there is a problem.
We've established that one of the issues with Jared is that the shopping experience is inconsistent. Rules and exceptions change based on the manager you're dealing with, or the customer care representative.
Nothing is standard when it comes to any of Signet Jewelers' companies.
Check out Dawns experience with Jared off of consumeraffairs.com:
Or what about Sharon's experience?
These complaints confirm everything I've said about the company so far. They are not interested in getting you the best diamond for your situation, but simply just trying to get their customer out the door so they can close a sale.
There are so many complaints about Jared and its affiliates that all entail the same issues: repairs, customer service, delayed shipping times, and poor return policies.
If you have an issue with Jared or a problem with a purchase, you have to option of going to the store, contacting by email, calling the customer care number, or using the online chat.
James Allen has a phenomenal customer service. It is available to you 24/7. You can call them at various numbers for the US and other countries.
You can contact them by email, or by online chat. No matter which option you use, it is available to you 24/7.
Another nifty customer service aspect you can receive from James Allen is their Real Time Diamond inspection. You can browse their extensive library of loose diamonds and click on "Diamond Inspection".
You'll be connect to a live James Allen gemologist to go over every miniscule detail of the diamond, from its certification, to each individual inclusion or blemish. They will give you the best information, with no need to push a sale.
Check out this experience Matthew had with the customer service at James Allen.
He had this whole proposal planned to present his ring to his beloved fiance, and the ring had been delayed. It doesn't state what reason James Allen gave for the delay, but James Allen actually responded to his customer complaint.
Read Also: How good is James Allen's customer service?
A company that responds and tries to help angry customers on review websites show they are taking initiative. James Allen responds by saying their company worked hard to get it out and it was there the same day he wrote that review.
In this case, while it was regrettable and he was understandably upset, they did go out of their way to uphold the original shipment date.
Every company is going to screw up at some point, but it's how the company acts and tries to resolve that shows how good their customer service really is.
Warranties are very important when it comes to purchasing from a jewelry retailer. The necessity of a warranty isn't a reflection of the craftsmanship of the piece, but rather the means to keep it looking like the day you bought it.
While most pendants and earrings don't need much other than a cleaning, a wedding ring is quite different. If it's a white gold ring setting, it'll need rhodium plating to help keep the silvery color of the white gold.
Additionally, over time, the prongs holding the stone in your diamond engagement ring will wear down as well. This can cause your diamond to become loose.
A warranty generally covers the retipping of prongs and tightening of stones. The bottom line is, you need a warranty, whether it's free or able to be purchased.
Because Jared is a sister store to Kay Jewelers, they have identical lifetime warranties. Jared has two types of warranties, a free one and one you can purchase.
Actually, they have three warranties, but the Jewelry Replacement Plan is a 3 year warranty on alternative metal wedding bands or birthstone rings.
The price of the ESP depends on the price of the engagement ring or diamond jewelry you've purchased, like a sliding scale.
The ESP covers all metal work, such as rhodium plating white gold, polishing, reshaping wedding bands, repairing the shank on engagement rings, and rebuilding bent or broken prongs. It also covers ring resizing for life.
If you have a diamond pendant or diamond earrings, the ESP covers metal work such as soldering of chains, repairing of clasps, steam cleaning, and rhodium as well.
The other warranty is called the Lifetime Diamond and Gemstone Guarantee, also referred to as the Diamond Bond by employees.
This is a free lifetime guarantee replacement of any diamond jewelry, ruby, emerald, or sapphire jewelry and is dependent on going to either Jared or Kay to get the piece inspected every six months.
The inspection is then recorded on their tablet while employees tap on your diamonds under a gemscope to check their settings. If the stone is loose, they'll tell you and you have the option to send it off.
If you're missing a stone, as long as you're up to date with inspections, they will replace the stone with one of same quality or higher.
Additionally, Jared mentions that many of the diamond ring brands carry their own warranties and are listed on www.jared.com.
With any purchase of diamond jewelry, James Allen gives all of their customers a free lifetime warranty. That's the great thing about online retailers.
While companies like Jared and Kay Jewelers have to sell you a warranty in order to make their store goals and make Signet Jewelers more money, an online diamond store like James Allen can give it away free.
That's right. FREE. James Allen wants their customers to know that they stand behind their products. When you receive a high quality engagement ring online, they want you to know that you can rest assured that if there are any manufacturing defects, they will fix them free of charge.
Remember that routine care I talked about? The Lifetime Warranty from James Allen covers retipping of prongs, tightening of stones, rhodium plating on white gold, and steam cleaning.
Funny enough, James Allen does have a deal with Jared to allow James Allen customers to bring their jewelry to select Jared stores for repair.
Read Also: What is James Allen's warranty policy?
You don't have to do that, but James Allen gives you that choice. If you opt to go a different route, you can send it to James Allen directly, but you'll need to either pay your own shipping or pay $30 for the FedEx label.
James Allen will either repair it under warranty, or contact you and tell you a price. They will pay return shipping.
Now, James Allen doesn't offer a warranty to cover loss of stones, but believe me, their products are high quality, and as long as you're checking your jewelry regularly, you shouldn't loose any diamonds.
Lastly, they do offer a year of free resizing as well.
Price Vs. Value Comparison
Price is probably the main factor when choosing which diamond retailer to shop with. While price does not necessarily guarantee high quality, it is often the deciding factor.
If you're not a diamond connoisseur, you might not be interested in the finite details. When it comes to diamond prices, a cheaper price doesn't ensure quality.
But that also doesn't mean that you can't get a high quality diamond at a great price.
On their website, Jared allows you to either choose from one of their premade stock diamond rings, or you can select from their loose diamond inventory online and pair it with a ring setting to create your very own ring.
In store, you have the option of doing a complete customization of your ring (or any jewelry actually).
Here's my issue with the diamonds at Jared. Jared is supposed to be the high end of Signet Jewelers, the most prestigious of all the companies. Yet, they regularly sell diamonds with such low clarity like I1.
The following 1.5 princess ideal cut diamond comes from the brand name Tolkowsky, who actually created the ideal cut diamond. I actually have a Tolkowsky diamond engagement ring, but mine has a clarity of S12 and a color grade of F.
But the Tolkowsky diamond I picked out of the loose diamond inventory was an I1 with a color grade of G, being near colorless. The cost of this diamond is $9,350.00 and it comes with an IGI certification.
Just look at that clarity. So many dark inclusions through that diamond. And I clarity grade means your diamond will have more inclusions that are visible to the eye. An I clarity grade is a terrible grade for a diamond ring, especially anything over 1 carat.
You'll learn very quickly that when it comes to diamond prices, brick and mortar stores like Jared, Zales, and Kay cost so much more than online stores like James Allen, Blue Nile, or Whiteflash.
On Jamesallen.com, you'll find a multitude of different loose diamonds as well as pre-made diamond jewelry and engagement rings.
I've chosen a princess ideal cut diamond with a clarity grade of I1 and a color grade of G, like the diamond we picked out of the Jared loose diamond inventory. However, James Allen didn't have the exact same carat weight, so this diamond is going to be slightly bigger at 1.6 carat weight.
Remember how many inclusions and dark spots there were in that Tolkowsky diamond? Check out what it looks like measured up against a similar diamond with same quality from James Allen:
James Allen I1
A whole world of difference, right?
While an I1 will most definitely have visible inclusions, it is apparent that the I1 diamond from James Allen is much clearer and visually appealing than the I1 from Jared.
Not only is James Allen's diamond better-looking than the Tolkowsky one from Jared, it costs much less.
Read Also: What is diamond clarity?
If you remember, the loose Tolkowsky diamond is costing $9,350. This diamond is costing us $6,230.
Still not convinced?
Let's see how much better of a diamond you could get buying from a jewelry store like James Allen.
So I couldn't find one that hit exactly $9,350, but I chose one that was $20 more. I mean, if you're going to purchase from Jared, you have to buy the ESP, so really James Allen's diamond is still a better price because you don't have to buy an additional warranty.
But anyway, I found a diamond on James Allen's website for $9370. It has a clarity of SI1, color grade of F, 1.52 carats, and ideal cut diamond. Oh, and it has a GIA certification. Now, let's compare this diamond with the one for $9,350 by Jared.
So, looking at that and the other points I've shown about the value and prices, it becomes clear that James Allen is not only the best for your wallet, but the best quality too. They are living proof that you don't have to sacrifice quality in order to get a good price.
James Allen Vs Jared On Reddit
Reddit.com is an excellent place to go for customer reviews and opinions on different jewelry stores and their merchandise. You can find the good, the bad, and the ugly about many different diamond retailers, both online and physical locations.
Jared is a company under the Signet Jewelers corporation, which means that it comes with a lot of those rumors about switching diamonds and lost rings. But, I want to steer away from the those rumors to point out a post I found.
This Reddit user is asking for opinions on the ring he's looking at Jared.
While the original post is good and all, let me direct your attention to a couple comments here on the post. The following user asks about the certification of the stone and if it's GIA certified. Look at how the orginal poster responds:
Just a piece of paper? I think not. A GIA certification increases the value of the diamond and is the gold standard in determining that a diamond actually has the exact grades in color, clarity, cut, and color.
Without a certification, any store can say a diamond has a grade, but they have no way to prove it, unless you pay a couple hundred to have it certified on your own.
If your Jared store doesn't know this about certifications, they shouldn't be in the diamond business. Maybe if it's a lower level employee, but a manager or something should know.
The worst possible case scenario is that they do know the value of a certification, but they're trying to make a quick buck by brushing it off as "just a piece of paper".
On the same post, it is suggested by another user that OP look at James Allen. And this couple looked at Jared too!
Our Verdict: James Allen
When it comes to places to shop when looking for engagement rings or any other type of diamond jewelry, you need to seriously consider an online diamond retailer like James Allen.
Because when compared to Jared, or any other corporate jewelry retailer, it is obvious that James Allen comes out on top.
If you shop with James Allen, you can be assured you're buying from a reputable online company. You receive full disclosure and transparency. No pushing, no convincing.
James Allen associates do not work off commission or have to meet sales goals like Jared. The advice you're getting is suited to you and your situation only, without outside influences.
You can view each natural diamond or lab created diamond they have in stock and know without a doubt what you are purchasing.
James Allen is a company built on customer trust, higher quality, and competitive prices that outweigh any jewelry store like Jared.