This comprehensive Jewelry guide will provide you with expert insights on:
- The shopping experience offered by each company
- The quality of their warranties
- Where you can find the best value for your money
- Reviews from previous customers.
The shopping experience encompasses what a jewelry store, whether online or physical, provides to its customers. This includes factors such as product selection, grading reports, and showroom options. In essence, the shopping experience is the overall package that a store presents to its customers.
Blue Nile is one of the top online retailers for diamonds and fine jewelry, and if you’ve ever looked into buying diamonds online, you’ve likely heard of them. Along with James Allen, Blue Nile offers an extensive selection of diamonds and jewelry, with over 390,000 loose diamonds available on their website. However, not all of these diamonds can be viewed through their 360˚ viewer, which is an essential tool for inspecting diamonds online.
The 360˚ viewer at Blue Nile is better than most, but not quite the best. It is simple to use, and you can control it by dragging the diamond. However, the angle at which the diamond is set may not be ideal for some, and the viewer is a bit further away than some would prefer. Nevertheless, it is still a useful tool that can save you thousands of dollars by allowing you to inspect diamonds for eye-cleanliness in SI clarity.
In addition to natural diamonds, Blue Nile also offers lab-grown diamond jewelry. However, they do not offer any loose lab-grown diamonds. They have over 250 ring setting styles available for every kind of budget, which can be filtered along with the diamonds with the 360˚ view using their filters.
Every diamond at Blue Nile is certified by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the world’s foremost authority in diamonds. This is important because you should only ever buy GIA or AGS certified natural diamonds. The GIA certification provides assurance of the diamond’s authenticity, and it holds the most value.
If you purchase an engagement ring or wedding band from Blue Nile and find that it doesn’t suit your taste, they offer a 30-day return policy. This gives you the peace of mind that you can make a return if you’re not satisfied with your purchase.
Blue Nile is a reliable and reputable online retailer for diamonds and fine jewelry. They offer a vast selection of diamonds and settings, and their GIA certification ensures that their diamonds are of high quality. While their 360˚ viewer is not perfect, it is still a useful tool for inspecting diamonds online. Their 30-day return policy also provides added convenience and peace of mind for customers.
Clean Origin, a specialty retailer, offers customers a unique shopping experience for lab-grown diamonds. Unlike Blue Nile, their inventory is exclusive to lab-grown diamonds, which are ethically sourced and have the same optical, chemical, and physical properties as natural diamonds.
Clean Origin’s diamond inventory may be smaller than other retailers, but they still offer customers over 16,000 loose lab-created diamonds to choose from, with varying grades and shapes, the majority being round diamonds. They also offer a wide selection of ring styles, with over 600 to choose from.
One of Clean Origin’s unique features is their different types of viewers, including the V30 viewer, which has many neat features, and the Diamond Scan, which can be glitchy and difficult to use. Despite this, Clean Origin is one of the few places where customers can find GIA graded lab-grown diamonds, alongside James Allen, Ritani, and Brilliant Earth.
The GIA has been relatively hands-off with lab-grown diamonds, so IGI certifications have also been deemed acceptable. Clean Origin recommends GIA, IGI, and GCAL for lab-grown diamonds.
Clean Origin’s generous return policy is another feature that sets them apart from other retailers. They offer a 100-day money-back guarantee, giving customers ample time to inspect and evaluate their purchase.
In summary, Clean Origin offers customers a unique and ethical shopping experience for lab-grown diamonds. They have a wide selection of loose lab-created diamonds and ring styles to choose from. Their different types of viewers can be hit or miss, but they offer GIA graded lab-grown diamonds and a generous return policy. Overall, Clean Origin is a great option for customers looking for a lab-grown diamond retailer.
RECOMMENDED: Clean Origin Review
Regardless of pricing, bad customer service is one of the major factors that can make or break a company in the diamond industry. Even if it means paying a little bit more, people are more likely to purchase from a store with helpful and attentive associates.
Blue Nile offers multiple channels to reach them conveniently, as they cater to a wide range of customers. They are available 24/7 through various mediums like live chat, phone, email, SMS, and even WhatsApp. This makes them stand out as compared to other online diamond retailers who offer fewer options for communication.
In addition to their online presence, Blue Nile also has a physical presence in 10 states with approximately 13 showrooms across the country. This is in contrast to most online retailers who only have a few physical locations.
Blue Nile also has their own brand of ideal cut diamonds, known as the Astor Collection, which are certified by GIA and GemEx. The GemEx certificate analyzes the light performance of diamonds, and typically, excellent and ideal cut diamonds receive higher ratings. However, it should be noted that a GemEx certificate is not a substitute for a GIA or AGS grading report. Personally, I believe that these diamonds are overpriced and not worth the premium.
Booking an appointment with Blue Nile’s GIA certified diamond experts can easily be done either in-person at a physical location or virtually online through their website.
In addition to their expertise, Blue Nile offers several benefits to their customers, including a diamond buyback partnership, a lifetime-trade up program, and an appraisal for all diamonds purchased. The appraisal is especially useful for those seeking to insure their engagement rings or wedding bands.
Blue Nile’s upgrade policy allows customers to choose a new engagement ring as long as it is double the price of the original. They also offer price matching, although Clean Origin is not considered a comparable retailer.
One feature that stands out to me is the ability to sell old jewelry and receive a Blue Nile gift card at 110% of the value through their partnership with Circa. This is particularly beneficial for those who have been overcharged by mega retailers or are unable to resell non-certified diamonds for a high value.
Blue Nile’s reputation as the first online diamond retailer in the industry has played a significant role in its popularity. While some may be hesitant to purchase diamonds online, the company’s numerous positive reviews and satisfied customers help ease those concerns.
RECOMMENDED: Blue Nile Review
Compared to Blue Nile, the customer service team at Clean Origin operates with some differences. They are not available 24/7 and their weekend hours may be considered unconventional. However, they can still be reached through email, phone, and live chat. Their hours of operation are from 8am EST to midnight, Monday through Friday, and from 10am-7pm on Saturdays and 10am-midnight on Sundays.
Although some may find their hours of operation to be less convenient than those of other jewelers, Clean Origin does offer customers the option to schedule appointments with their diamond experts. Nevertheless, Clean Origin’s relative lack of visibility compared to Blue Nile may be a disadvantage, with a dearth of customer reviews online.
Clean Origin’s Trustpilot page appears to be the best source for customer reviews, with approximately 170 reviews available. Although the majority of reviews are positive, some recent ones have been less so. For example, some customers have reported issues with their ring settings, while others have expressed dissatisfaction with the company’s policy of not allowing returns of a second ring if a first one has already been returned.
When purchasing an engagement ring or wedding band that you plan to wear regularly for years, warranties are crucial.
James Allen frequently competes with Blue Nile for the top spot in our rankings, but the latter falls short due to the lack of a lifetime warranty covering wear and tear.
White gold jewelry requires rhodium plating to maintain its silvery appearance, and over time, the metal may turn yellowish, typically at the bottom of the ring shank. Unlike white gold, yellow gold, rose gold, and platinum do not require rhodium plating.
Rhodium plating may fade faster on certain individuals due to factors such as skin oils, dirt, and chemicals. As a general rule, it is recommended to have rhodium plating redone annually, with costs ranging from $40 to $120. Over time, these expenses can add up, even with the best diamond, as natural metals are susceptible to wear and tear.
While most lifetime service warranties cover common repairs and rhodium plating, Blue Nile’s lifetime manufacturer’s warranty only covers design flaws or defects, such as diamonds falling out due to poor craftsmanship. Although Blue Nile offers free cleaning and inspections, customers are responsible for the cost of FedEx shipping. Additionally, the company provides one free resizing within the first year, but customers must pay for shipping to Blue Nile, with the company covering the return shipping costs.
Clean Origin, like Blue Nile, does not provide a complimentary lifetime warranty for routine maintenance, but they do offer a manufacturer’s warranty that covers design flaws and defects. It’s puzzling that retailers still fail to offer service warranties despite the significant amount of money spent on these items.
However, with Clean Origin’s lab-grown diamonds, you’re already paying less. Can you imagine paying for mined diamonds and still having to cover the cost of prong retipping?
Prongs, like rhodium, wear down over time, and you may notice when they start catching on clothing or feeling rough to the touch. In some cases, you may even detect a prong not touching a diamond. Lifetime service warranties usually cover prong retipping, which can cost around $25 per prong or more. Manufacturer’s warranties, on the other hand, do not cover this service or comparable repairs. Prong damage is more prevalent in high-profile ring settings such as cathedral settings.
Price and Value
The cost of a ring is often the primary concern for most people, overshadowing any added features or benefits. However, it is possible to find a reasonably priced diamond without any added perks, or to pay a bit more upfront and save money in the long run.
Sometimes, the value of a purchase is more important than its initial cost, especially when considering its long-term worth.
When comparing Clean Origin and Blue Nile in terms of price-to-value ratio, it’s like comparing apples to oranges.
Blue Nile does not offer any loose lab diamonds, so I opted for a princess cut diamond mined by them. I selected a GIA-certified 1.51-carat diamond with VS2 clarity and F color grades, which costs $10,426.
I’ve found a comparable lab-grown diamond at Clean Origin that shares the same diamond grades and GIA grading report as the Blue Nile diamond. However, the grades may differ slightly since Clean Origin has a smaller inventory of more precise grades. This particular lab-grown diamond is also a 1.51 carat stone with VVS2 clarity and G color grade. The cost of this diamond is $4,096.
Clean Origin’s diamond is significantly less expensive than Blue Nile’s, and it’s worth noting that VVS clarity is one grade higher than VS clarity, making it of superior quality.
This price difference is typical of lab-grown diamonds in general, which are typically at least 20% less expensive than natural diamonds of the same grade, often exceeding 40% less expensive.
The reason for this is that lab diamonds can be produced with relative ease, while natural diamonds are a rare occurrence. As a result, most rough diamond crystals in the ground are not suitable for gemstones, whereas every lab diamond is of gem quality. Additionally, lab diamonds are created in a controlled environment, so impurities are less likely to be introduced by chance, resulting in higher clarity than natural diamonds.
Another advantage of lab diamonds is that they are often available in larger carat weights due to their superior clarity, making it easier to produce larger pieces of high-quality diamonds that are eye-clean.
One of the main reasons people may be hesitant to choose a lab diamond engagement ring is their resale value. Natural diamonds tend to lose about half of their value when resold, whereas lab diamonds retain only the value for which they were purchased. This is because diamond companies do not purchase lab diamonds, and their value is always fluctuating.
While lab diamonds are not a good investment, they can still be a great choice for those who value affordability and ethical sourcing.
Ultimately, the choice between natural and lab-grown diamonds depends on personal preferences and budget.
Although there are many customer reviews available on the internet, such as on the Better Business Bureau, Google Reviews, and Yelp, these are often skewed towards negative experiences with retailers. While these reviews can be informative, it’s important to approach them with some skepticism.
To gain a more balanced perspective, we turn to Reddit and various subreddits dedicated to discussions about diamonds and engagement rings. Here, you can read both positive and negative experiences shared by users, providing a more unbiased and informative view of different retailers and their products.
Blue Nile and James Allen dominate engagement ring discussions and related subreddits, particularly when it comes to mined diamonds. However, many people have also purchased loose lab-grown diamonds from James Allen. Blue Nile has an extensive archive of posts spanning several years, so recent in-depth posts about the company are relatively scarce. Nonetheless, when compared to other jewelers, Blue Nile remains a top choice for many.
Recent Reddit posts concerning Blue Nile mostly revolve around comparisons between the Astor Ideal and James Allen’s True Hearts collections. This may be because there are already so many existing posts about Blue Nile, making it easy for users to find the information they need. Redditors often recommend Blue Nile as one of the best places to buy diamonds from, and many customers have reported issues with the company’s prices, particularly in comparison to James Allen.
Another common complaint concerns the Astor Ideal collection, which users are advised to steer clear of. Opting for Blue Nile’s regular ideal collection can yield much better prices.
Clean Origin posts on Reddit are scarce, even when discussing lab diamonds. Redditors appear to be purchasing lab diamonds from other sources such as James Allen, Brilliant Earth, and Ritani. However, among the few posts about Clean Origin, buyers seem to be satisfied with their purchases. According to one Redditor, even their personal jeweler was unable to match Clean Origin’s prices.
Clean Origin’s 100-day free returns policy is frequently cited on Reddit, indicating that it is a feature that appeals to buyers. However, the biggest issue with Clean Origin on Reddit seems to be their lack of marketing efforts. Although they have their own account, it is not consistently active.
In contrast, James Allen has an active account on Reddit and is highly engaged in discussions. If Clean Origin were to market themselves more effectively on Reddit, they could attract a larger number of lab diamond buyers. Additionally, Clean Origin offers lab-colored diamonds, which could further increase their appeal to potential buyers.
Our preference in the Blue Nile vs Clean Origin battle goes to Clean Origin. There are several reasons why we believe Clean Origin is the better choice.
Firstly, Clean Origin specializes in lab-grown diamonds, which are becoming increasingly popular. While all recommended diamond retailers follow the Kimberley Process to ensure their diamonds are conflict-free, young people tend to feel more at ease with lab-grown diamonds. It gives them peace of mind knowing that their purchase is not associated with any ethical concerns.
Secondly, buying a lab-grown diamond allows you to still have a beautiful ring to represent your engagement or marriage without breaking the bank. This is important in today’s world where people have a hard time spending large sums of money on small items. Many people opt out of buying diamonds altogether, choosing colored gemstones, diamond simulants like moissanite, or forgoing rings altogether.
Clean Origin offers a wide range of ring settings to choose from, many of which are unique and not available at Blue Nile. In addition, if you do not want a ring setting from Clean Origin, you can always just purchase the diamond.
The main feature that sets Clean Origin apart from Blue Nile is their 100-day return policy. This policy speaks to the confidence Clean Origin has in their product, and it provides peace of mind to customers who may have concerns about making a significant purchase online.
Blue Nile is an excellent retailer for purchasing natural diamonds online, if lab-grown diamonds are not a problem for you, Clean Origin may be the better choice.