Curious about whether Zales or Kay Jewelers is the superior choice?
You’ve come to the right spot!
Zales vs. Kay Jewelers
This comprehensive guide will inform you on:
- Which retailer provides the most enjoyable shopping experience?
- Which company offers superior warranty coverage?
- Where can you receive the greatest value for your money?
- What opinions do customers express in their reviews?
Given that Zales and Kay Jewelers are both under the umbrella of Signet Jewelers, they are likely to share certain procedures when it comes to both online and in-person shopping experiences.
Zales, popularly referred to as the Diamond Store, is a highly recognized jewelry chain in the industry, predominantly relying on its in-store services. Nonetheless, there are alternative options available for customers to shop without the need for a sales pitch.
Zales offers an extensive selection of preset diamond engagement rings, a feature that’s not typically found among other online jewelers. However, preset diamonds usually lack grading reports unless specified, and they possess minimum clarity and color grades without any particular specifications.
Zales provides two options for designing your own ring on their website – the Vera Wang engagement ring option or their interactive design suite. Vera Wang is a well-known wedding dress designer and not a diamond cutter. You can also choose a different center stone, including various sapphire colors, emeralds, or tanzanite, which will determine your diamond or gemstone shape options.
You can only select from preset diamond sizes, and you won’t be able to see the specific diamond that will be placed in the setting. Your clarity options are limited to SI2 or VS2, and there are no color options, indicating that the minimum color grade is likely I. You can style the head of your engagement ring by choosing from a set of options, and the same applies to the setting styles.
The standard Design Suite is similar to the Vera Wang Suite, and you don’t get to choose your diamond, only from a set of choices. You have fewer options in diamond shape, and if you want an I clarity grade, you can select it, but it’s more of a risk since you won’t see what diamond will be placed in the setting.
You have the option of choosing 10K gold for your ring, which is cheaper and more durable. However, if you have sensitive skin, it’s not recommended to buy 10K gold jewelry. This option is not typically offered by most online diamond retailers.
If you’re unhappy with your Zales online purchase, they have a 30-day return policy, and exchanges can be made within 60 days. Returns can be made either in-store or online, whereas exchanges must be made in-store.
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At Kay’s website, the setup closely resembles that of Zales when shopping online. The Vera Wang Design Suite is replaced by the Neil Lane Engagement Ring Designer, known for designing the diamond engagement rings for the Bachelor franchise.
However, Neil Lane is a name brand and not a diamond cutter. The site offers customers a selection of five diamond shapes including round, princess, cushion, oval, and pear cut, with a choice of clarity between I1, SI2, or VS2 and a color grade of I.
Moreover, the site provides options for five different ring settings, three setting variations, and three ring heads, with only one of them being a solitaire head.
The rings can be made in all colors of gold or platinum. Kay’s Create Your Own engagement ring builder mirrors Zales, offering identical choices and options in every category, down to the smallest amount. The return policy is also the same, with customers having the option to return the ring within 30 days for free, either in-store or online, and exchange it within 60 days at the store
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Both companies offer customer service through online chat, booking in-store or virtual appointments, phone, and email. They also have the same hours of operation, with customer service available Monday-Friday from 9am-10pm, Saturday from 12pm-10pm, and Sunday from 12pm-9pm ET, which is in line with most shopping malls.
It is important to note that Zales and Kay primarily rely on in-store sales to generate revenue, rather than online sales. As such, sales associates in-store are under pressure to meet sales goals. However, this approach may not work as well with the new generation of buyers, who prefer to shop online to avoid feeling pressured.
Online reviews of Zales and Kay are mixed, with both positive and negative comments. These range from allegations of switched diamonds at repair shops to scandals involving company bosses. Some may view both companies as being more focused on boosting sales than helping customers find affordable, high-quality rings.
While these retailers do not allow customers to choose their own stones and may overcharge for uncertified diamond engagement rings, they do offer the advantage of being able to see and hold the ring before purchase. Additionally, in-store associates are real people who can build personal connections with customers, though their focus on meeting sales goals may take priority.
Both Zales and Kay offer diamond upgrade policies that allow customers to spend at least double the original amount on diamond jewelry. This policy applies to diamond rings, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings purchased in-store.
Most of the top-notch jewelry services offered by Zales and Kay are in-store, such as special events and sales. While the quality of their jewelry may not necessarily be better than what you could find online, they typically charge customers twice as much for a quality diamond compared to an online diamond retailer.
Zales provides a complimentary warranty called the Lifetime Diamond Commitment, which guarantees a replacement diamond if it becomes damaged or goes missing, as long as you bring your engagement ring to a Zales store for regular cleaning, inspection, and documentation.
The replacement diamond will be of the same quality or better than the original. It’s worth noting that this warranty covers only the cost of the diamond, not any necessary metalwork or prong repairs.
It’s important to keep in mind that even high-quality precious metals like gold are susceptible to damage due to their softness.
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Kay offers a Lifetime Diamond and Gemstone Guarantee, which covers not only diamonds but also other precious stones like sapphires, rubies, and emeralds.
This policy is not common among most online diamond retailers, as they often rely on diamond grading to determine the quality of the stones they sell. For instance, two diamonds with the same carat weight and clarity grade can have different inclusions, making one more valuable than the other.
If you lose a diamond, Kay and Zales promise to replace it with a comparable or better one.
However, if the replacement diamond turns out to be of higher quality, you might feel upset about receiving a lesser stone initially. Additionally, it takes up to a month for them to install a new diamond, which can be frustrating.
Apart from the Lifetime Diamond and Gemstone Guarantee, Kay and Zales also offer an Extended Service Plan. This plan covers various metal services like resizing, reshaping, and prong retipping, as well as rhodium plating for white gold. The plan is a lifetime warranty that you pay for upfront based on the value of the piece you want to cover.
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Price and Value
Kay and Zales have similar prices and values for their general inventory, particularly in their Ring Designer suites. However, Kay has an advantage over Zales in that they offer colored gemstones as well. Nevertheless, this may not be a significant factor for those interested only in diamond engagement rings and wedding bands.
It has been observed that these stores charge exorbitant prices for simple engagement rings. For instance, a standard 1-carat round diamond with VS2 clarity, I color, and a basic knife-edge solitaire setting costs $8,687 at both Zales and Kay.
By comparison, online retailers like James Allen offer the same quality diamond for $4,000-$6,000, with an additional $5,100 for a simple solitaire setting. Therefore, buying from James Allen would save you more than $3,000.
Moreover, it is important to note that Kay and Zales design studio rings are not certified by any lab. It is advisable to purchase only GIA or AGS certified diamonds since they are the most reputable grading labs.
We do not recommend buying IGI certified diamonds unless they are lab-grown diamonds.
Lastly, purchasing the ESP (Extended Service Plan) from Zales or Kay adds an extra $499 to the cost. James Allen provides a similar warranty for free, which increases the value proposition of buying from them.
To be honest, scouring Reddit for customer reviews on Zales or Kay is unnecessary since there are plenty of reviews available online due to the extensive presence of these retail stores.
However, Reddit is a popular platform where ring buyers gather in subreddits to share their experiences, seek advice, or express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction.
If you browse through the engagement ring subreddits, you’ll notice that many Redditors tend to criticize Kay, Zales, and Jared for offering low-quality products at high prices. Instead, they often recommend buying from online retailers like James Allen or Blue Nile or visiting a local jeweler in your area.
- The Create-Your-Own design suites on their websites do not offer true customization options.
- In-store diamonds are significantly more expensive, ranging from 30% to 50% higher in price than diamonds of the same grade sold by online retailers.
- Their best features are only available in-store.
- Sales-driven employees are the norm in-store.
- You must pay for a lifetime service warranty.
- Neither retailer offers loose diamonds for sale online.
So, if you’re looking to buy a high-quality engagement ring, neither of these popular fine jewelry retailers is an ideal choice. Instead, we recommend purchasing loose diamonds and engagement rings online from James Allen, which is under the same parent company as Signet.
A few years ago, Signet acquired James Allen, which has maintained its lower price points without the markup costs found in other Signet brands. In addition to offering better prices, James Allen provides a free lifetime warranty that covers maintenance.