James Allen vs Zales: Where Should You Buy Jewelry?

James Allen vs Zales: Where Should You Buy Jewelry?

Are you wondering which online store is better between James Allen and Zales?

You will get the answers here. We shall look at:

  • Which stores offer the best experience when shopping?
  • Which has a better warranty, James Allen or Zales?
  • Which store offers the ideal value for your money?
  • What do customers have to say about these two stores?

Bottom Line: in any category, you wish to compare, James Allen comes tops the list. Their prices are better than Zales; they have an all-round the clock customer service, and 3600 HD viewing for diamonds. Furthermore, their return policy is easy and they have a much better warranty.

James Allen is an online shop that offers the best quality jewelry at a much lower price, unlike the brick and mortar store Zales. Online jewelers like James Allen are transforming the jewelry industry and we are glad to recommend them to anyone.

Check Ongoing Jewelry Promotions at James Allen.

Popularly known as “The Diamond Store”, Zales has managed to build a reputation for itself over the 96 years that it has been in operation.

If you have been shopping for fine jewelry for a long time now, there is no doubt you have made a stop at the Zales stores several times.

Although many people are skeptical about investing a lot of money and emotions on online purchases, there are also many people turning to online shops such as James Allen to buy jewelry.

James Allen is gradually changing the jewelry industry in terms of shopping for diamonds. However, how does it compete against an established store like Zales? Let’s get the answers.

James Allen vs Zales

Shopping Experience

The shopping experience you get starts right from the purchasing process through to the return policy process. Customers regard the shopping experience as good or bad depending on the level of hassle or ease with which you order and get the product delivered intact.

Like many other processes, there may be unexpected events like delayed shipping. However, how soon this is dealt with determines the shopping experience.


You can get two kinds of shopping experiences if you go looking for jewelry from Zales. The experience will be different depending on whether you are shopping online or in their actual shop. Chances are if you go shopping at Zales, you will go to their physical store.

If you are the kind of person that enjoys the convenience of your home, then you most likely will prefer shopping on their website. While on the website, you will see a detailed list of all the diamonds as well as gemstone jewelry that Zales has.

While shopping, you can create your jewelry or choose one out of the ones created by their jewelers.

The Create-your-own service in Zales allows you to choose loose diamonds from their extensive library. You have the opportunity to choose your diamond grade criteria to get what you want and add it to the setting of your choice. Unfortunately, there is no option of you seeing the diamond you have selected.

Diamonds with the same grade do not necessarily look alike. Both the diamonds below are SI1, but one is more attractive than the other.

Something funny is that the diamond that has an inclusion on its face costs more. This is the reason you need to see the diamond you intend to buy.

RECOMMENDED: Meaning of Diamond Clarity

Here is one of the customer’s experiences while shopping on the Zales website obtained from resellerratings.com

With such a shopping experience, you get the feeling of never shopping there again, especially when there are many smooth ways of shopping.

When the customer attempted to ask for a refund, the store acted like she never ordered anything. Keep in mind that she had proof that the cost was charged to her credit card.

Shopping experience goes hand in hand with customer service. Zales displayed awful customer service leading to the customer getting a bad shopping experience. The shopping experience and customer care worked to the disadvantage of Zales.

Zales offers a 60-day return policy for most of their jewelry except for watches which get a 30-day return policy. However, they do not accept back any jewelry that has been engraved.

James Allen

Among the first pieces of information, you will get from James Allen when you start shopping is the comprehensive information concerning loose diamonds you intend to buy.

James Allen also has a library of loose diamonds. This store does not create its rings, instead, they allow you to choose your diamonds, gemstones, colored diamonds, or lab-grown diamonds.

When choosing your diamonds, there are shapes like a cushion cut and princess cut. James Allen also has a dedicated line of True Hearts, the arrows, and hearts diamonds.

While shopping, you get to select your loose diamonds and the setting then put them together. The rings will take about 3 weeks to design and more if the setting is a little sophisticated. James Allen online store notifies you in advance if the design process will take longer than 3 weeks.

James Allen’s loose diamonds are better since they have a 360-degree viewer that enables you to see the diamond from all directions. While viewing, you get to see exactly where the inclusions are and to pick the diamond that is more appealing to you.

James Allen allows you to be in control and design your ring. You also get to see the ring set in 360. You see your ring from the start to finish and see exactly how the finished product will look when delivered to you after 3 weeks.

Let’s see what customers have to say about shopping for jewelry at James Allen. Here is Cassie’s review from Trustpilot.com:

Customer Service

Large diamond stores have one major problem; they are more into making money and less into the customers that are buying the stones. Customer service does not end when the diamond is initially bought but goes as far as solving a problem that arises after the jewelry is bought.


Brick and mortar jewelry stores are operated by different people and you are likely to get different customer service experiences depending on the store you go to.

All the companies that fall under Signature Jewelers have no consistent customer service as every manager runs the store differently from another.

While some managers will look for an electronic copy of your receipt on their computer for you to get a refund, some will insist on the hardcopy before you get the refund. Zales’ official return policy indicates that you can only get a refund if you produce the original receipt; otherwise, you qualify for an exchange of a gift card.

While shopping on the website, there are several ways of contacting customer care. You can use the online chat platform, the email address, or call customer care directly on 1-800. The disadvantage reported by customers is that Zales does not respond to most of the issues raised through these avenues except for direct phone line.

Here is one customer’s Zales customer service experience as narrated on Zales’ Facebook Page.

It is quite unfortunate that Zales has all these ways of getting in touch with customer care nut still not able to get a hold of them.

Laidback customer service leaves customers feeling that they made the wrong choice and that their money is in bad hands.

James Allen

James Allen’s customer service staff does not work on commission and are not salespeople. This makes their customer service straightforward. When you have questions concerning the 4Cs of a diamond, including clarity and color, you can rest assured that you will get the best information from highly educated and experienced gemologists.

You will not wait a long time for someone to pick up your call and all online chats are answered instantly. Their customer service is helpful and prompt.

This is what a customer had to say about the customer service at James Allen on Trustpilot:

All companies are bound to make a mistake at some point. James Allen demonstrated the best way to deal with a mistake they made.

James Allen fixed their mistake by accepting and addressing it promptly. For some issues, good customer service goes a long way to save the company’s reputation.

James Allen does not only have excellent customer service but also a great diamond inspection process.

When browsing in the library of loose diamonds, click on the diamond of your choice then pick on Diamond Inspection. You will then be connected and directed to a live company gemologist. The gemologist will share their inspection screen with you and critically look at every minor detail of the diamond. This includes scrutinizing the inclusions, girdle thickness, and all the other details.

This is good of a jewelry store to go above and beyond. James Allen strives to offer its customers correct information and to help them pick out jewelry that they desire and fit in their budgets.


Many people, probably you too do not see the need of buying a warranty because of the notion that a good quality product will last long. Unfortunately, jewelry made from precious metals does not last forever.

Gold is not durable, be it rose gold, yellow gold, or white gold. Jewelry with high karat weights is soft and hence less durable than ones with lower karats.

Jewelry like a wedding band gets banged around all day by frequent use of the hand. This means it will need extra care and regular maintenance.


Zales, Jared, and Kay Jewelers are all stores owned by Signet Jewelers. Zales however is not a sister store to Jared or Kay. Let’s just say it is a cousin store.

If you buy jewelry from Kay Jewelers, you can exchange it at Jared and vice versa, but the same does not happen for Zales. The service plans from the other two stores enjoy the same benefit too.

Zales has a lifetime warranty called Jewelry Protection Plan for you to buy. This plan covers all regular metal works and breakage fixtures.

The plan covers many things including free resizing for as long as you wear, rhodium plating, prong re-tipping, cleaning services, and stone tightening.

There is another warranty offered that covers the diamond loss. This warranty is offered for loss of diamond bracelets, diamond pendants, diamond rings, and diamond earrings, all under the umbrella of Lifetime Diamond Commitment.

However, this warranty neither covers colored diamonds or gemstones nor jewelry bought from the clearance section.

RECOMMENDED: James Allen vs Kay Jewelers

Like its cousins Kay and Jared, Zales requires that you bring in your jewelry every 6 months for inspection so that the Lifetime Diamond Commitment remains valid. In other words, Zales offers you the kind of warranty that is conditionally free which requires you to go down to the diamond store.

James Allen

James Allen provides its customers with a free lifetime warranty that covers routine maintenance and manufacturer flaws. Routine maintenance includes polishing, prong re-tipping, stone tightening, steam cleaning, and rhodium plating.

James Allen does not replace diamonds but you can return jewelry that is engraved. However, you have to part with $25 for polishing an engraved piece of jewelry.

For the warranty to take effect, you need to pay a shipping fee amounting to $30 in the USA and Canada and $50 for any other countries. You will also get free resizing within the first year of purchasing.

In case you need the ring to be resized after one year, James Allen charges $25 for white, yellow, and rose gold rings while platinum rings attract a $50 resizing fee.

Value for Money

For this particular section, I pick a pair of flashy diamond solitaire studs from Zales. Although Zales has a wide collection of pre-selected diamond studs, we shall customize ours.

Take a look below, you will notice that we do not get the option of receiving a GIA diamond certificate.

RECOMMENDED: Difference Between GIA and IGI

Although GIA certification is more expensive than IGI’s, it will get the most value out of your jewelry. GIA certificates are considered the more standard certificates in the world of jewelry.

I wanted to get ideal cut diamond studs; unfortunately, Zales does not have that option. They do not have any options for cut grades.

As for the colors, I can only pick from one grade that is I, nothing else. I color grade is the lowest grade on the spectrum, it is nearly colorless.

Since my budget is not so accommodative, I need to sacrifice one aspect, so I choose to overlook the grade of clarity so that I can save a few bucks. After all, they are earrings; no one will walk up to me just to see them closely.

A nice cut goes a long way in hiding conspicuous inclusions unless you are keen. So, let’s pick grade SI1 for clarity, we set it in 18-karat yellow gold with 4 prong earring settings.

With regards to a carat weight, 2 carats can do (one on each ear). For us to go with this pair of earrings home, it will cost us $23,687.25. This is before paying for warranty and sales tax.

Now, let’s switch up the thought. Assume I have already bought these pair of studs from Zales. What if I bought the same pair from James Allen at $23,000, just imagine the quality of diamond I would have gotten, better, right?

I retain the setting and decide to add a few color grades and one clarity grade. More would have been better but since they are earrings I prefer to add the carat weight.

RECOMMENDED: Best Setting for Diamond Stud Earrings

I came across a pair of diamond earrings, one weighing 1.40 and the other 1.33. The size of these two earrings looks similar to the eye although their carat weights are different. Here are the diamond studs I got with a budget of $23,000.

These earrings from James Allen are in the F color grade (3 grades higher than Zales), boasts of VS2 clarity grade (one grade above Zales), and ideal cut (Zales doesn’t have this option).

RECOMMENDED: Diamond Color Explained

Furthermore, James Allen jewelry comes with either GIA or AGS certification. Imagine all these great factors and the earrings still cost less than those from Zales!

No secret any other jewelry shop will charge you a higher amount for a similar earring quality than you would pay for if you buy from internet stores like James Allen, Brilliant Earth, Ritami or Whiteflash.

James Allen strives to let jewelry lovers know that they can save money when buying jewelry and still get the best diamonds on the internet at jamesallen.com.

On Reddit

Truth be told, it is not easy to find Zales reviews on Reddit. I managed to find countable after searching for a while and doing some filtering. The fact that I wasn’t able to find many customer reviews about Zales on Reddit should tell you that this store is not so popular anymore.

Here is one good example of how Zales overcharges customers for a piece of diamond jewelry that is not of good quality.

The original poster was buying an engagement ring made of a diamond from Zales going for $1900. He was inquiring if this is a good deal.

Most of the comments that follow tell the original poster that he/she is not getting the best deal and should think twice about buying jewelry from physical stores like Zales, Kay, or Jared. In short, any store under Signature Jewelers will overcharge you for jewelry with compromised quality.

Something interesting is that the person who originally posted decided to check out two online jewelry stores that dominated-James Allen and Blue Nile. These are the two online diamond retailers that I talk about on this site.

James Allen is a widely known online jewelry shop that is discussed by many people on message boards and receives a lot of praises too. James Allen is praised so much on Reddit for offering the best value and top-notch quality diamonds.

According to the post shown below from Reddit, the person who posted got an appraisal on a ring that cost her $6500. The ring was appraised at a different jeweler for $11,500. This is amazing, especially because rings are usually hard to sell after using.

James Allen is on Reddit, this is to show you how connected they are to their customers. They have an interest in knowing what their customers have to say about them and the products they sell.

As much as it is praised a lot, it is not to say that James Allen’s online jewelry store is perfect, they get complaints too. The post below shows a customer who ordered a ring from James Allen but did not get it on time. We may not know how the post ended but James Allen surely commented on the post to show the interest of helping the customer.

Most companies tend to ignore customers that complain on the internet rather than directly to them. James Allen is different; they go a step further to make sure they have a good buyer-seller relationship with all their customers.

Looking at warranty, value for money, customer care, and shopping experience, it is safe to say that James Allen is not just the shop that accommodates your wallet but also offers you the best quality jewelry.

They are just proof that there is no need to compromise jewelry quality to get an affordable price.


The fact that you have read this far means that you already know that you will save more and reap benefits when you buy jewelry from James Allen online store at jamesallen.com. This is much better than you would get from Zales.

If you won’t consider the great prices, go for the free lifetime warranty that will cover all routine care needed to maintain the sparkle and shape of your jewelry.

James Allen does not require you to take the jewelry for inspection regularly to keep the warranty, although it is good to have the jewelry inspected regularly. The warranty is 100% free.

A trip down a majority of review sites shows that James Allen has an admirable reputation. Customers have good things to say about this online jeweler. In case a customer has a complaining, the store works hard to address the issue. Like other companies, it is not perfect but does its best to right its wrongs.

James Allen takes the lion’s share when it comes to warranty, prices, quality, and customer service.

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