Blue Nile Review - Bottom Line Recommendation
Recently Blue Nile joined the lab-grown diamonds market, offering GIA-certified lab diamonds exclusively. Although there are other big names, such as James Allen and Brilliant Earth in the market, soon we might see Blue Nile crash them. If you want to understand why continue reading… but first, Let’s do a quick rundown:
- Blue Nile GIA lab diamonds are more affordable than these of James Allen and Brilliant Earth. Take this perfect 1.00 carat E VS1 for example.
- Sometimes Blue Nile’s GIA diamonds are even more affordable than IGI diamonds on other websites. Since GIA has the best reputation overall, you might be interested in such a diamond.
- They currently have the largest selection of GIA lab diamonds, with over 18,000 pieces (and growing…)
- A Blue Nile GIA 1.50 carat D VS1 is more affordable than a similar one like this on James Allen.
- Blue Nile offers an excellent shopping experience. Using their high-end 360 videos, you can inspect each lab diamond and pick the best one.
Test yourself: Was that E color diamond was graded by the GIA or IGI?
Table of Contents
Blue Nile lab-grown diamonds
In 2022 Blue Nile was acquired by Signet Jewelers, the same company that owns James Allen, Zales, and others; all sell lab-grown diamonds. It’s clear that Signet has big plans for the future.
Previously, Blue Nile was solely focused on GIA natural diamonds and had a strong brand identity centered on “selling only the best of the best.” The old owners were also very traditional and opposed to lab-grown diamonds, promoting the idea that they were unsuitable for engagement rings and could only be used for casual jewelry.
However, with Signet now at the helm, many changes have occurred. The main change was adding an entire collection of loose lab-grown diamonds. It’s important to understand that many customers don’t feel like IGI is as good as GIA. Signet saw that as an opportunity to offer GIA lab-created diamonds exclusively at a very affordable price.
Blue Nile lab-grown diamonds inspection
Adding lab diamonds wasn’t the only change they made. Nowadays people buy with their eyes, not only based on the diamond certificate. For that reason, Signet added to Blue Nile the same 360 video technology developed by James Allen.
The old Blue Nile video technology is what people call “industry standard,” which kinda sucks, to say the least. It’s impossible to inspect a diamond or compare it with others if the videos are inconsistent and low-quality.
You can find those videos in their natural diamonds collection. Regardless, they will change all of their videos to the James Allen high standard as time passes. This is why they might crash the others.
Blue Nile lab-grown diamonds inventory and selection
Blue Nile offers almost any lab-grown diamond, from a 0.69 carat for $989 to a 5.27 for $13,673. Right now there are around 18,000 diamonds available in their lab-grown diamonds collection; 100% of them are photographed with 360 HD video available.
As of today, Blue Nile does lakes of smaller carat options. For example, you won’t find a 0.30 carat loose lab-grown diamond there if you are interested in picking two diamond studs. That said, Blue Nile offers pre-selected pairs of lab-grown diamond studs in many carat options. You can view it all here
That said, I believe Blue Nile will continue to grow its selection and offer a broader range of diamonds in different sizes. It’s just a matter of time.
Blue Nile GIA lab-grown diamonds
But not everything is perfect about Blue Nile and their GIA lab-grown diamonds. As you might know, I’m not a fan of post-treatment lab diamonds. In fact, I recommend buying only as-grown diamonds unless you get an insane deal for a treated diamond.
This leads me to my main problem with some of their GIA certificates, which need to clarify whether the diamond is HPHT or CVD, treated or as-grown. Some people don’t care, and only judge by the appearance of the diamond. If that’s you, sure, go for it. But as a professional with OCD, I’d like to know at least how my lab-grown diamond was grown in the first place.
Blue Nile GIA Certificates
James Allen IGI Certificates
Blue Nile lab-grown diamond jewelry
Picking lab-grown diamonds over natural ones are getting more common every day. If for example I dream about a 2 CTW tennis bracelet, I’ll have to pay $3,790 for natural diamonds. By going with lab-grown diamonds, I can:
- Get a 2 CTW, pay $2,390, and save $1,400
- Get a larger 3 CTW tennis bracelet, pay $3,250 and save $540
Picking affordable lab-grown diamond jewelry at Blue Nile is possible in any product you can think about:
- eternity rings
- stud earrings
- anniversary rings
- tennis bracelets
Keep in mind these are ready-to-ship products, meaning the diamonds are pre-selected. They all hold the high standards you should expect: with G color minimum, which will appear colorless to the naked eye, and SI1 eye-clean clarity. All are graded by the GIA as well.
Blue Nile lab diamonds selection and Lightbox Jewelry
The leading company that stood against the entrance of lab-grown diamonds into the market is De Beers, one of the largest mining companies in the world. I have a reason to believe they made Blue Nile stay away from loose lab-grown diamonds back in the days until Signet took a step in.
Let’s spill the tea.
Allegedly! De Beers wanted to make lab-grown diamonds look cheap in the eyes of the everyday consumer. So what did they do? They created a brand called “Lightbox Jewelry.” Overall it looks like a friendly jewelry online store with excellent branding, BUT! They only sell lab-grown diamond jewelry: Earrings, bracelets, and necklaces. No loose lab diamonds, no engagement rings. Their salty message is clear: Lab diamonds are cheap; as long as you buy them as a casual fashion piece, we are fine. Yet, lab diamonds for engagement rings? Not allowed.
The old owners of Blue Nile supported this message. However, nowadays, Lightbox Jewelry has almost zero exposure on Blue Nile. Signet added many more lab-grown diamond jewelry options, as discussed before.
James Allen vs. Blue Nile lab-grown diamonds
Since both belong to the same parent company (Signet Jewelers), each brand carries a different type of stock. Blue Nile’s branding focuses on a specific audience, which looks only for GIA lab diamonds. This is why they currently have over 16,000 GIA-certified lab diamonds in stock.
On the other hand, James Allen focuses on a “general” audience. This is why they offer both IGI and GIA-certified lab diamonds. Their 20,000 lab-grown diamonds collection currently has only 300 GIA diamonds, which is different from what you can find on Blue Nile. However, IGI diamonds are pretty good, especially when you know how to pick the right one. If you need help, contact me here.
The main difference is that James Allen has a selected collection of lab-grown diamonds on sale. Sometimes you can find a fantastic deal, with 10% off on a perfect diamond.
If you are looking for a fancy-colored lab-grown diamond, James Allen is the place to go. Blue Nile has yet to offer these diamonds.
Brilliant Earth vs. Blue Nile lab-grown diamonds
Like James Allen, Brilliant Earth offers IGI and GIA lab diamonds. Their GIA collection contains a more significant amount, around 12,000 units.
The main difference between Brilliant Earth and Blue Nile is their videos. Brilliant Earth has inconsistent videography, which makes the inspection process much harder. Blue Nile has much better video technology that allows you to inspect each diamond and compare it to others.
Brilliant Earth videos:
The ultimate vendor would be the one that offers a large selection of natural and lab-grown GIA diamonds at an affordable price while using James Allen videos only. It can take a year, but all their diamonds will eventually come with that high-quality video. And since customers love buying GIA natural diamonds, we’ll also see them trending in the lab-grown market. Seems like Blue Nile is heading in this direction.