Talk of the best online diamond stores and both James Allen & Blue Nile will not miss on the list, but which store is the better option?
We are going to compare these two in detail while also answering questions such as:
- Who offers a better shopping experience?
- Which store provides the satisfying customer service?
- Who has cheaper diamond prices?
- Which store has a convenient warranty and return policies?
We have compared James Allen to several brick and mortar stores. Let’s switch that up somehow for this article.
Buying diamond jewelry online will indeed save you a lot of money. However, all online jewelry stores are not the same in terms of the shopping experience, warranty, customer service, and price.
James Allen is a popular online jewelry shop, especially for diamonds. Blue Nile too, has its share of popularity.
Let’s go ahead and find out which between these two diamond sellers is better in terms of online shopping.
In this Guide
James Allen vs Blue Nile
Comparison Based On Shopping Experience
Both Blue Nile & James Allen sells their diamonds online but have a few showrooms. Online jewelry retailers do not sell jewelry to reach their sales goals. They provide a smooth experience that will see you purchasing the diamonds of your choice and also return it easily if the piece has any issues.
Blue Nile has an extensive collection consisting loose diamonds each with different carat weights, clarity grades, and color grades.
Blue Nile allows its customers to view the diamonds in their collection in 360 but only selected pieces. Some diamonds like Asscher cut have pictures that are not so attractive. I wouldn’t like to buy an expensive diamond that does not look appealing in the picture.
This store has a wide collection of jewelry consisting of both diamond and gemstones. They also have alternative metals but mostly in the men’s wedding ring selection.
Their return policy is 30 days excluding anything that was a special order.
One great advantage when shopping from Blue Nile is the price match guarantee. They say that when you go to them with a diamond that has a GIA certificate similar to theirs, they will match it.
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Blue Nile is in a great partnership with Mondiamo that enables them to buy back diamonds. This allows diamond specialists to give out cash to customers who sell their diamonds from home.
Also, Blue Nile can upgrade diamond engagement rings. However, the diamond must have a GIA or AGS grading report.
The diamond collection at James Allen has more loose diamonds compared to those at Blue Nile. While Blue Nile’s collection is less than 200,000, James Allen’s is close to 300,000.
They also have fancy colored diamonds and loose gemstones as well as fine jewelry. I honestly think the fine jewelry collection at Blue Nile is better than this since they have popular styles.
James Allen provides their customers with both 360 view of the diamonds and high definition picture on all diamond pieces, not just a selected few. When you see the diamonds from all angles or in the HD images, you will get more courage to go along with the purchase.
Contrary to what Blue Nile does, James Allen doesn’t buy back diamonds; instead, they have an upgrading policy. The upgrading policy makes it easier for customers to trade in their loose diamonds and get full credits for a diamond piece than has a double value. However, you qualify to upgrade only if the diamond has a grading report.
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James Allen does not do price matching since there are a handful high-quality diamonds out there that are less expensive than those at James Allen. All customers are eligible of getting a full refund if they return a faulty product within 30 days.
Comparison Based on Customer Service
When it comes to online shopping, the only way you can interact with the store is through the customer service lines. This is very important also to jewelry shops like James Allen and Blue Nile.
Although both of these shops mainly carry out operations online, they have a few showrooms. Let’s look at how these to compare based on the kind of customer service they provide.
Blue Nile’s customer service is available 24/7 via phone and online chat, although there are several phone numbers for different regions. I went ahead and tried their online chat and I had to wait more than 5 minutes before getting a response.
A quick look at the Better Business Bureau and TrustPilot review sites shows that there are not many testimonies about Blue Nile customer service. The few reviews found indicate that positive reviews are as much as negative ones.
Blue Nile tries as much as possible to respond to customer issues on BBB but tends to ignore the complaints that address their financing.
Many customers have complained about the awful credit card program. This has brought about a tonne of issues that tend to push customers away. There are several bad reviews about the financing program at Blue Nile.
Great customer service means that a company should go out of its way to solve the issues that customers raise; it is obvious that Blue Nile does not bother with what customers have to say. Blue Nile seems to be very good during the purchasing process and even when answering questions, but the attitude they pose with regards to complaints does not portray great customer service.
Like Blue Nile, James Allen also has a 24/7 customer service system. You can reach them through email, online chat, or phone. The experts manning the online chat always provide an instant response (at least from the few times I have contacted them). I can confidently say that this customer care was excellent for me.
Many other customers who have shopped at James Allen feel the same. This can be seen from the reviews on BBB, consumer affairs, and TrustPilot where there are customers’ posts about how good the response from James Allen was.
The Better Business Bureau has most of the negative comments, unlike other review sites. On this site, there are more than 30 bad posts about James Allen but this online diamond seller took time to address all the complaints, a good number of them having been resolved.
Most customers complain about delayed shipments but that can be attributed to overflowing holiday traffic. Other inconveniences and unforeseen problems with carriers can also cause the jewelry not to arrive on the promised date.
From my assessment and what I have discovered, James Allen tries their level best to make sure their customers get the rings they ordered on time. Look at the review below:
Customer service helped this customer out even when there was a change.
Comparison Based On Warranty
Given how expensive diamond rings are, a warranty becomes inevitable. As you continue to wear the ring, it starts to wear off. You will need to take care of it so that it remains in shape. A good warranty helps you cover all the costs of maintaining the diamond ring.
Blue Nile’s maintenance cover comes in form of a manufacturer’s warranty. This kind of warranty covers the manufacturer’s defects on the ring only. A manufacturer’s warranty is classified as anything bad that keeps happening to the ring such as diamond loosening.
Routine repairs such as rhodium plating for white gold rings, prong re-tipping, and re-polishing will attract a fee. Blue Nile will only tell you how much the repair will cost only after they have received the ring.
Returning a ring that has defects is also payable although they don’t quote how much it is.
Blue Nile offers free inspection and complimentary cleaning. During an inspection, their experts will check the prongs and use the jeweler’s loupe to check if there are any loose stones.
If they notice more issues, you will be contacted. You will still incur a cost to return the ring. Fortunately, if you ordered a ring that does not fit, you can resize it only during the first year after you purchase.
All the customers that buy jewelry from James Allen get a lifetime warranty for the pieces they buy. This is far much better than the manufacturer’s warranty at Blue Nile. The lifetime warranty covers manufacturer’s defects and also routine metalwork for the jewelry’s life.
The warranty is free but you need to pay a shipping fee of $35 for US and Canada residents and $50 if you are outside these two countries.
If you need any kind of repair that is not rhodium plating, stone tightening, prong re-tipping, or polishing, James Allen will contact you to inform you of the cost before commencing repair.
With James Allen, you get one free resizing in the first year; you however will still pay the shipping fee.
James Allen’s resizing offer is once in the first year. Blue Nile on the other hand is not particular about the number of times you can resize in the first year.
If you don’t want to take your jewelry back to James Allen for repair, you have the option of taking it to one of the approved Jared stores for them to work on the ring.
James Allen also provides inspection and free cleaning or Jared can very well do that for you.
Comparison Based On Price vs Value
For this comparison to come out clearly, I chose to go with special brands of diamonds from both James Allen and Blue Nile.
Astor Diamonds is the special collection for Blue Nile. This collection is normally handpicked by two diamond specialists and the best is then cut into a special brand called Astor Diamond.
This brand of diamonds comes with a GIA certificate and a GemEx report too. A GemEx report indicates how the diamond performs in light. Both of these reports are available for viewing online. There is also a convenient comparison tool to help in finding the perfect Astor diamond to put on your ring.
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Below is an Astor diamond, ideal cut VS2 clarity, H color grade, and 1.02 carat weight.
True Hearts is the diamond brand from James Allen. True Hearts is a selection of ideal cut diamonds with some of them showing patterns of hearts and arrows if viewed through a gemscope.
The patterns can also be viewed on round cut diamonds using idealscope images.
This special diamond brand from James Allen has diamonds with cushion, princess, or round cuts. The cushion and princess diamond cuts have been certified for light performance by AGS, which is second to GIA when it comes to diamond certification.
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The princess cut diamond from True Hearts has the same grades as the Astor diamond from Blue Nile we mentioned above. James Allen True Hearts diamond piece costs $3580 while the Blue Nile Astor diamonds cost $4934. The price difference is a whole $1354.
But does this mean that the diamonds at James Allen are really better just because their prices are low? A lot of people mistake quality diamonds to be the expensive ones.
Both these branded diamonds have a GIA report, only that James Allen has an additional AGS report for light performance.
GemEx is not widely accepted for grading diamonds as they specialize in grading diamonds for big jewelry brands like Tolkowsky. Just by looking at the grading report and knowing which laboratory was used indicates where the best value is whether you want to buy insurance cover or resale the diamond.
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That being said, it is almost obvious that James Allen offers the best value for your money, no need to compromise diamond quality.
Comparison on Reddit
The war between who is the better online giant for diamond retailing between James Allen & Blue Nileis more pronounced on Reddit than any other review site. What do Redittors actually have to say about these two jewelry retailers? Let’s find out.
James Allen boasts of more positive than negative reviews, their reviews are solid. That’s not it; James Allen the company is also on Reddit.
They can be seen commenting on several posts on different forums, sometimes thanking customers or simply giving advice on diamonds.
Many Redittors have purchased loose diamonds from both James Allen & Blue Nile and recommend that you do the same. However, James Allen seems to get more mentions among Reddit users,
In this post, a user asked about online diamonds. Check out how people responded:
You can clearly see that most Redditors have shopped for diamonds from James Allen than Blue Nile.
Winner: James Allen
Both of these online jewelry vendors are good places to buy diamond pieces. Blue Nile & James Allenare listed among the top jewelry stores that sell loose diamonds and fabulous ring settings.
But one is obviously better than the other.
James Allen is the better store. The shopping experience is great for both retailers but James Allen allows 360 view on all their diamonds while Blue Nile selects a few.
The lifetime warranty at James Allen manufacturer’s flaws and routine maintenance, Blue Nile only covers defects caused by the manufacturer.
James Allen makes it a point to respond to all customer complaints even when all of them may not be resolved. Blue Nile does the same too but not anything about financing.
Some loose diamonds bearing the same grades at James Allen are more expensive than Blue Nile but their leading collection is less expensive. Astor Diamonds and True Hearts are the special brands for Blue Nile & James Allenrespectively but only True Hearts has a better price and better grading reports.
All in all, when you need to choose between these two diamond sellers, James Allen is the better choice for your bank account and for quality.