Buying a Diamond Online vs. In Store

Buying a Diamond Online vs. In Store

Are you considering purchasing a diamond online as opposed to in-store? The process of buying diamonds can be overwhelming, with numerous choices and decisions to make.

In this guide to jewelry shopping, we will address some of your primary concerns about online ring shopping, such as:

  • Is it secure to purchase an engagement ring online?
  • Are diamonds less expensive when bought online?
  • What is the process of purchasing diamonds online?

Buying a Diamond Online vs. In Store

Interestingly, approximately 70% of individuals buy engagement rings from physical stores, despite the potential to save a significant amount of money by purchasing diamonds online.

Pros and Cons

There are positives and downsides with most companies, jewelry retailers are no exception. There are some things that make buying a diamond online better than buying in store and there are things that make buying diamonds in store better.

Here’s a rundown of some simple pros and cons covered in this article, in addition to what we covered in our guide on how to buy jewelry online.

Online Diamonds


  • No salespeople, no pressure
  • Cost 30%-40% less than buying in-store
  • No labor cost for customization
  • Wider selection online


  • Can’t try on beforehand
  • Usually have to pay for shipping when repairs are needed

Buying Diamonds In-Store


  • See diamond certifications in-person
  • In-person inspection
  • Personal experience
  • Return in-store for a money-back guarantee.


  • In-store traffic can be less convenient
  • Most stores carry preset engagement rings, rather than loose diamonds

Is Buying an Engagement Ring Safe Online?

Online shopping was once taboo due to fears of hackers stealing credit card information. However, e-commerce has advanced significantly over the years to ensure customer security, making it safe to buy products online. This includes engagement rings, which can now be purchased from online diamond stores that operate solely on the internet.

When shopping for an engagement ring online, many people worry about the security of their bank information and the quality of the product they will receive. To ensure security, consider using a third-party payment system instead of entering your credit card information directly on the site. Additionally, make sure that the website’s URL begins with “https://” and has a lock icon in the address bar, indicating that the site is secure.

It’s important to note that some browsers may not display the “https://” heading, so be sure to click on the lock icon to confirm the website’s security. Overall, as long as you take the necessary precautions, buying an engagement ring online can be a safe and convenient option.


There are a few key things to watch out for when buying a gorgeous, high-quality diamond engagement ring from a respected retailer. These topics will be covered in further detail below.

Is Buying Diamonds Online Relatively Cheap?

Did you know that up to 70% of people still prefer to buy diamonds in-store rather than online? This means that many engagement ring buyers are potentially overpaying for their perfect ring.

For example, let’s consider a well-known jewelry retailer like Zales, which is one of the largest jewelry stores in the United States. While they operate both online and in physical stores, they mainly rely on storefront sales. However, Zales does not carry any solid diamond engagement rings over 2 carats in their store and has to special order larger stones.

To illustrate the potential cost savings of buying diamonds online, let’s take a certified 1 carat round cut diamond engagement ring from as an example. This solitaire ring has an I1 clarity and an I color grade.

It’s also referred to as certified, but it doesn’t say who certified it. I keep trying to figure out who certified this after switching from one online chat user to another.

But there’s more to consider when it comes to the cost of buying an engagement ring. For example, let’s compare the cost of the Zales ring we mentioned earlier to a similar ring from a leading online retailer, James Allen.

The Zales ring we looked at costs approximately $5,300 before taxes and warranty. However, on, you can actually select your own center diamond, allowing you to compare prices and choose the best value for your budget.

To illustrate the potential cost savings, let’s compare a diamond with the same grades as the Zales ring from James Allen. This diamond is also certified by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), which is considered the gold standard in diamond certification. When it comes to certification, GIA-graded diamonds are considered among the best quality diamonds available.

On a side note, I discovered that the Zales diamond ring we previously mentioned is actually GSI certified. However, it’s important to note that not all diamond certifications and grading reports are created equal. When buying a diamond, it’s recommended to look for GIA or AGS certification.

GSI diamonds may cost less than GIA-certified diamonds because they are not as strict when grading diamonds. Additionally, GSI often offers bulk deals, which is why many brick and mortar jewelry stores use them to save money.

For comparison, I selected a simple 4-prong solitaire ring setting to accompany the loose diamond from James Allen. This ring costs $3,670 before tax and comes with a free lifetime warranty, so you don’t need to purchase a separate warranty like you would at Zales to cover resizing.

This solitaire engagement ring is almost identical to Zales’ ring, yet it is over $1500 cheaper.

If you want a lifetime warranty that covers routine maintenance, such as rhodium plating for white gold engagement rings, you will have to pay an additional few hundred dollars at Zales, whereas James Allen offers this service for free.

On average, it is cheaper to buy diamonds online than in-store. The question is, why?

The answer lies in the business models of online stores versus brick and mortar locations. Online stores have lower prices because they have lower overhead costs. They don’t have to pay for rent, utilities, or sales staff in a physical store.

Additionally, online stores tend to have a more customer-friendly approach. They educate you on the 4Cs of diamond quality and offer transparent pricing, allowing you to make an informed decision. Mega jewelry companies, on the other hand, may give a brief overview of these concepts but won’t show you how to save money. This is because they prioritize making a sale rather than offering a quality product and value for money.

It’s no secret that companies need to make money to stay in business, and the jewelry industry is no exception. While we understand that these companies have to charge more than the manufacturing cost, brick and mortar stores could do more to help their customers save money.

Online diamond retailers, on the other hand, have a different business model that allows them to offer lower prices. For example, a local store has to pay for a lot more than just their inventory, such as retail space, utilities, marketing supplies, and events. These costs add up quickly for mega retailers like Jared.

In contrast, online stores don’t have a physical storefront or salespeople earning commissions. This means they can offer lower prices for their diamonds.

In addition, brick and mortar stores have to stock hundreds of pieces of fine jewelry, and they typically keep only the most popular items in stock. This limits the uniqueness of finding the perfect ring, and you’ll often see a lot of the same looking rings at these stores.

On the other hand, online stores use wholesale vendors to post their diamonds through multiple online retailers. So if you’re looking at a particular loose diamond at one online store, someone else could be looking at the same one at another store. However, online retailers typically have thousands of different loose diamonds to choose from, so you’ll still have plenty of options.

Buying Diamonds Online

Buying a diamond online can be an overwhelming experience, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right tools and knowledge, you can save money and get the perfect diamond for your budget. One of the best places to start is with our favorite online retailer, James Allen. Here are some tips to help you buy a diamond online.

  • Start with a Diamond

When shopping for a diamond, it’s best to start with the diamond itself rather than the setting. Not all settings are compatible with all diamond shapes, so starting with the diamond will give you more options. At James Allen, you can use their diamond filters to narrow down your search based on cut quality, carat weight, color, and clarity grades. This allows you to find the perfect diamond that fits your budget.

  • Use Diamond Filters

Diamond filters are a key tool in saving money when buying a diamond online. By setting your desired cut quality, carat weight, color, and clarity grades, you can find the best diamond for your budget. For example, instead of focusing on carat weight fractions, think about decimals. A 0.93 carat diamond can look just as beautiful as a 1 carat diamond, but it can be significantly cheaper. However, some retailers may not offer certain filter options, such as selling diamonds with I1 clarity.

  • Compare Prices

One of the benefits of shopping online is the ability to compare prices between retailers. James Allen, for example, sources their diamonds from multiple online vendors, so it’s possible that another online retailer has the same diamond for a cheaper price. By comparing prices and using coupon codes, you can save even more money on your purchase.

  • Educate Yourself

Before making a purchase, it’s important to educate yourself about diamond quality and pricing. James Allen provides a lot of educational resources on their website, such as their 4Cs of Diamond Quality guide. This guide explains how the cut, carat weight, color, and clarity of a diamond affect its value. By understanding these factors, you can make an informed decision about which diamond to purchase.

  • Read Reviews

Reading reviews from other customers can give you an idea of what to expect from your purchase. James Allen has a review section on each diamond and setting page, where customers can leave feedback about their purchase. This can be especially helpful if you’re unsure about a particular diamond or setting.

Buying a diamond online doesn’t have to be intimidating. By using diamond filters, comparing prices, educating yourself, and reading reviews, you can save money and find the perfect diamond for your engagement ring.

Viewing Your Diamond Online

For online diamond retailers, one of the biggest challenges in competing with brick and mortar fine jewelers is instilling confidence in customers that they will receive what they see on the internet.

However, with the advent of 360-degree viewing technology on online stores such as Blue Nile and James Allen, this obstacle has been overcome. In my opinion, James Allen’s viewer is superior because it is exceptionally clear and fluid.

With this viewer, you have complete control over the 360-degree view of a loose diamond at 30x magnification. Take a look at it below.

Why is Close-Up Diamond Viewing Important? To Save Money, of Course!

Having a 360-degree viewer like James Allen’s allows you to select lower clarity grades while ensuring that any large inclusions are not in prominent positions. It’s important to note that most diamonds have natural inclusions, and it can be costly to obtain a diamond that is completely free of them.

However, for diamonds with clarity grades that are not eye-clean, if you are unable to closely examine the diamond, you won’t be able to control the placement of inclusions. Both diamonds in this example are I1, but only one is eye-clean.

Consider spending $5300 at Zales for a diamond solitaire ring that features the stone on the left, when you could have spent $3670 for the I1 diamond on the right, plus a free lifetime warranty!


When purchasing diamonds online, it’s important to be aware that sorting through them may take some time. Some diamonds may come with AGS, IGI, or GIA reports, varying levels of fluorescence, or better polish and symmetry.

The more time you dedicate to browsing, the greater potential for cost savings. This is particularly true for those seeking an eye-clean diamond within a clarity grade that is not typically associated with eye-clean diamonds.

Online Ring Settings

If you’re not familiar with ring settings, an online diamond retailer is the perfect place to explore different styles and take your time selecting without feeling pressured by a salesperson.

Most online retailers have ring settings organized by filters for different styles, similar to how diamonds are categorized. You can also rotate and toggle the entire ring to visualize it better. One feature that I particularly enjoy is the ability to change the diamond shape on the same page, which is not as seamlessly available on other sites.

For example, let’s say you were interested in a yellow gold round-cut diamond engagement ring, but upon seeing the ring with an oval diamond, you decide to switch to rose gold. Quick adjustments like these allow you to better understand your preferences without feeling any pressure.

Completing Your Online Purchase

After selecting your loose diamond and ring setting, you’re ready to proceed to checkout. Take advantage of the complimentary engraving offered and enjoy the free lifetime warranty included with the oval ring we have selected from James Allen.

With these final touches, you’re ready to finalize your online shopping and check out.

Best Places to Buy Diamonds Online

Have I Persuaded You Yet?

If you’re still unsure about whether to purchase a diamond in-store or online, don’t take my word for it. Check out some of our favorite online diamond retailers below:

James Allen

  • Offers thousands of loose diamonds to choose from
  • Features crystal-clear 360-degree viewing technology
  • Provides a free lifetime warranty

Brilliant Earth

  • Traces the origin of their diamonds
  • Gives back to the community
  • Operates both physical locations and online

Blue Nile

  • Offers a wide selection of ring settings
  • Only carries GIA and AGS certified diamonds
  • Has a longstanding reputation

Any of these online diamond retailers would be a great option for purchasing a diamond. If you’re still apprehensive about purchasing solely online, there are a few diamond retailers that offer in-store options as well.


When deciding between buying a diamond online or in-store, various factors must be considered, such as diamond quality and pricing. Physical retailers often claim that it’s impossible to get both.

However, online diamond retailers have a different story to tell. They offer complete price breakdowns, allow customers to select diamond grades, and provide 360-degree viewing technology to inspect diamonds closely.

RECOMMENDED: James Allen vs. Jared: Which is the Better Store?

While buying in-store can provide a sense of security, without knowing what to look for, it could be a blind purchase. Many jewelry retail employees lack extensive knowledge beyond the basics and are mainly trained to sell expensive items, given the high turnover rate in companies like Zales, Jared, Gordon Jewelers, and Kay.

Therefore, it’s important to consider all options before making a decision.

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