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Blue Nile vs. James Allen: Prices, Selection & Diamond Inspection

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Bottom Line Recommendation

If you’re in a hurry, here’s a concise head-to-head comparison of Blue Nile vs James Allen:

  • Inventory: Both retailers boast the largest diamond inventories online. Blue Nile offers over 150,000 GIA-certified natural diamonds and 20,000 GIA-certified lab-grown diamonds. James Allen surpasses this with over 165,000 natural diamonds and 75,000 lab-created diamonds, certified by GIA, IGI, and AGS.

  • Lab-Grown Diamonds: Blue Nile holds the largest collection of GIA-certified lab-grown diamonds worldwide, while James Allen provides a wider variety of certifications, including IGI, which specifies the creation method (CVD or HPHT).

  • Customer Service and Policies: Both companies are renowned for excellent customer service, rigorous quality control, competitive prices, lifetime warranties, and upgrade programs. They both offer free shipping and returns, ensuring confidence in your purchase. Additionally, both James Allen and Blue Nile offer high-quality diamond rings with flexible payment options and comprehensive post-purchase policies, including after-sales support and warranty coverage.

  • Signature Collections: Blue Nile’s premium Astor collection features super ideal cut diamonds, while James Allen’s True Hearts collection includes only princess cut and round hearts and arrows diamonds, known for their superior cut and brilliance.

  • Visual Tools: Both retailers provide 360° high-definition videos for their diamonds, making the entire process of selecting an eye-clean diamond straightforward and ensuring it appears flawless to the naked eye.

  • Customization: James Allen excels in customization, allowing you to design your own ring through their Ring Studio, which includes options for ring engraving.

  • Pricing: Generally, James Allen offers more affordable options for both natural diamonds and lab-grown diamonds.

  • Showrooms: For those who prefer to see the diamond in person before buying, Blue Nile has more showrooms across the country, providing a hybrid shopping experience.

Verdict: If you prefer shopping for diamonds online with a seamless, affordable, and highly customizable experience, James Allen is the better choice. Their extensive selection and advanced tools make finding the perfect diamond effortless. On the other hand, if you value a mix of online convenience and physical store assurance, Blue Nile is ideal with its extensive showroom presence and luxurious shopping experience.

Key Takeaways

Feature James Allen Blue Nile
Inventory More than 235,000 loose diamonds, all listed with high definition videos More than 170,000 loose diamonds, all listed with high definition videos
Website User friendly, simple and intuitive Clean and elegant
Signature Diamonds True Hearts collection: Round shape and Princess cut Astor collection: All shapes
Prices 25%-40% lower than brick and mortar stores 25%-40% lower than brick and mortar stores
Setting Designs 409 settings 334 settings
Fine Jewelry Beautiful selection, but narrowed to younger audience Wider selection, targeting all ages
Warranty Lifetime warranty Lifetime warranty
Upgrade Policy Lifetime upgrade for 100% credit, value must be double the price of original diamond. Lifetime upgrade for 100% credit, value must be double the price of original diamond.
Support 24/7 live support via chat, email and phone 24/7 live support via chat, email and phone
Return Policy 30-day money back guarantee with hustle free return in the US, and a fee of $50 for international return 30-day money back guarantee, free-of-charge and no questions asked.
Natural Diamonds Certificate GIA, IGI, AGS GIA
Lab-Grown DIamonds Certificate GIA, IGI GIA
Locations number 3 22

My top picks

1.04 Carat E VS1 Round Cut Lab-Grown Diamond

1. Best balance

1.04 Carat E VS1 Round Cut Lab-Grown Diamond
2.04 Carat E VS1 Round Cut Lab-Grown Diamond

2. Largest diamond

2.04 Carat E VS1 Round Cut Lab-Grown Diamond
1.21 Carat D VVS1 Round Cut Lab-Grown Diamond

3. Most premium

1.21 Carat D VVS1 Round Cut Lab-Grown Diamond

Table of Contents

In this article, we will provide a comprehensive comparison of Blue Nile vs. James Allen. We will cover their diamond selection, pricing, customer service, and much more. By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear understanding of which retailer is the best fit for your diamond purchase needs.

Let’s dive in.

Overview: The Difference Between Blue Nile and James Allen

Blue Nile and James Allen, both leading online diamond retailers and sister companies, offer extensive diamond inventories and exceptional customer service, yet they cater to somewhat different audiences through distinct features and experiences.

Blue Nile boasts over 150,000 GIA-certified natural diamonds and 20,000 GIA-certified lab-grown diamonds. Its showroom presence across the country allows customers to view diamonds in person, blending online convenience with physical store assurance. Blue Nile’s premium Astor Collection features super ideal cut diamonds, enhancing its appeal to those seeking luxurious and high-quality options. Additionally, Blue Nile’s extensive collection of GIA-certified lab-grown diamonds makes it a strong contender for customers prioritizing certification and in-person viewing.

Conversely, James Allen surpasses Blue Nile with over 165,000 natural diamonds and 75,000 lab-created diamonds, offering a broader range of certifications including IGI and AGS. Known for its affordability, James Allen provides more budget-friendly options for both natural and lab-grown diamonds. Its innovative online tools, such as 360° high-definition videos and the Ring Studio for custom designs, create a seamless and highly customizable online shopping experience. The True Hearts Collection, exclusive to James Allen, features princess cut and round hearts and arrows diamonds, appealing to those prioritizing superior cut and brilliance.

While both companies share similarities in customer service excellence, free shipping and returns, and competitive pricing, their differences in inventory, customization options, showroom availability, and target audiences set them apart. Blue Nile suits those valuing a mix of online and physical shopping with premium offerings, whereas James Allen caters to those seeking affordability and advanced customization tools for a personalized online shopping journey.

Diamond Selection and Quality

The buying experience heavily relies on diamond selection and quality. With over half a million diamonds collectively offered by Blue Nile and James Allen, customers are spoiled for choice. Blue Nile’s inventory includes more than 150,000 natural diamonds and 20,000 lab-grown diamonds, focusing primarily on GIA-certified natural diamonds. This makes Blue Nile a strong contender in the online diamond retail market.

James Allen, on the other hand, provides a robust inventory of:

  • Natural diamonds

  • Lab-grown diamonds

  • Fancy color diamonds

  • Gemstones

With over 165,000 natural diamonds and 75,000 lab-grown diamonds, James Allen caters to a diverse range of customer preferences. Both Blue Nile and James Allen offer high-definition 360° videos for every diamond in their inventory, allowing customers to inspect the diamonds closely and confidently.

Certification and Grading

Assessing diamond quality is largely dependent on certification and grading. Both James Allen and Blue Nile align their lab-grown diamond grading with the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). For natural diamonds, James Allen provides a choice of three grading standards – GIA, AGS, or IGI – whereas Blue Nile adheres only to GIA standards.

In terms of lab-grown diamonds, Blue Nile sticks with GIA certification, upholding its luxurious branding strategy, while James Allen offers both IGI and GIA certified lab-grown diamonds, providing a broader range of options for customers. (1,2,3)

Diamond Imagery and Inspection

Until 2006, purchasing diamonds was a risky endeavor, as buyers had to rely solely on GIA certificates, essentially making a gamble without seeing the actual stone. Even with a diamond loupe, an untrained eye often couldn’t detect flaws, leaving buyers at the mercy of certificates or sales associates’ opinions, which frequently led to overpaying for subpar diamonds.

James Allen revolutionized this process by being the first to introduce high-quality diamond imagery and a virtual loupe for online shopping. With 360° high-definition videos and a super zoom feature, customers can now examine diamonds at 40x magnification, observing the true color and any imperfections. This innovation allows even those without diamond expertise to inspect and compare stones effectively, ensuring they select the best option.

Blue Nile review diamonds videos for inspection

Since Blue Nile was acquired by Signet Jewelers, the same parent company as James Allen, it now benefits from the same advanced video technology. Blue Nile showcases every diamond on its site with the same high-end 360° video, enhancing the online shopping experience. This consistent environment, with controlled lighting and white balance, enables customers to compare diamonds side by side, assess their light performance, and choose eye-clean diamonds that appear flawless to the naked eye.

Pricing and Value

For diamond shoppers, pricing and value are of paramount importance. Both Blue Nile and James Allen offer an extensive range of loose diamonds at competitive prices that can be 25%-40% lower than bricks and mortar stores , appealing to buyers looking for luxury jewelry at lower price points. Even when it comes to engagement rings, natural diamonds, and lab-grown diamonds, James Allen often emerges as the more affordable option, further solidifying their position as a cost-effective choice for diamond buyers.

Let’s begin by comparing the pricing of Blue Nile and James Allen. This comparison will help you determine which retailer offers better value for your money, allowing you to either save some cash or invest in a larger, higher-quality diamond.

All the diamonds have identical color and clarity, feature a triple X cut, lack fluorescence, and are graded by the GIA. The selection criteria focused solely on affordability rather than aesthetic appeal.

Natural Diamonds

Blue Nile James Allen
0.50 Carat E VS1 $1,626.00 $1,600.00
1.00 Carat E VS1 $8,192.00 $8,200.00
1.25 Carat E VS1 $13,425.00 $12,580.00
1.50 Carat E VS1 $19,460.00 $17,950.00
1.75 Carat E VS1 $27,845.00 $23,900.00
2.00 Carat E VS1 $35,410.00 $31,620.00
2.50 Carat E VS1 $56,100.00 $44,820.00
3.00 Carat E VS1 $86,837.00 $77,340.00

Lab-Created Diamonds

Blue Nile Brilliant Earth
1.00 Carat D VVS2 $1,805.00 $1,720.00
1.25 Carat D VVS2 $2,419.00 $2,180.00
1.50 Carat D VVS2 $3,437.00 $3,670.00
1.75 Carat D VVS2 $4,998.00 $5,370.00
2.00 Carat D VVS2 $6,069.00 $6,580.00
2.50 Carat D VVS2 $10,108.00 $10,060.00
3.00 Carat D VVS2 $16,394.00 $16,850.00

When shopping for diamonds online, it’s tempting to seek out the lowest price per carat. However, a lower price doesn’t always equate to the best value. A cheaper diamond may not possess the desired beauty or quality. It’s crucial to thoroughly examine your options and understand what you are paying for. If you need assistance, feel free to contact me.

For natural diamonds, I highly recommend James Allen over Blue Nile. James Allen offers a significantly larger inventory and more competitive prices, making it my top choice for online diamond purchases.

Price Match Policies

Given the significant price variations in the industry, customers greatly benefit from price match policies. Both James Allen and Blue Nile offer price match policies, ensuring that customers get the best possible deal. If you find an identical diamond with the same certificate number elsewhere for less, both retailers are willing to match the price.

In fact, Blue Nile goes a step further. If a customer provides proof of a lower price from a competing retailer for the same diamond, Blue Nile not only matches the price but also provides an additional discount if the claim meets the requirements.

Special Offers and Discounts

When comparing special offers and discounts between James Allen and Blue Nile, both companies provide attractive deals that can enhance your diamond shopping experience. Blue Nile’s promotions page is a treasure trove of opportunities for savings. Current offers include a $50 voucher for signing up for their newsletter, a $100 coupon for referring a friend, and a 15% discount for military personnel, healthcare workers, first responders, educators, and enrolled students. These discounts make it easier for a wide range of customers to afford high-quality diamonds.

James Allen, on the other hand, offers a $100 coupon code when you create an account through a specific link. They also have periodic sales, typically offering a 25% discount on settings every one to two months, and significant sales during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Although rare, James Allen has offered a 3% discount on natural diamonds in the past. More commonly, they provide a 10% discount on selected collections of lab-grown diamonds. Both retailers frequently run sales on engagement rings, with James Allen focusing more on engagement rings and lab-grown diamonds, offering discounts of 20-30%, while Blue Nile tends to have more sales on fine jewelry.

Customer Experience and Services

Online diamond shopping is greatly enriched by a smooth and delightful customer experience. Both James Allen and Blue Nile are known for their commitment to exceptional customer service. Customers can reach out for assistance through phone, email, or live chat at any time, and they also have the option for one-on-one expert consultations. In addition, James Allen offers a virtual try-on feature for engagement rings using a smartphone.

Post-purchase, customers have access to a host of services, including warranties, maintenance, and upgrade policies. Blue Nile offers a lifetime warranty on manufacturing defects and complimentary cleaning and inspection services. James Allen, on the other hand, provides a lifetime warranty covering repairs and maintenance, free prong tightening, re-polishing, rhodium plating, cleaning services, and one-year free resizing.

Pre-purchase Support

Customers can take advantage of expert consultations offered by both Blue Nile and James Allen to assist with their purchases. These consultations guide customers through the extensive inventory, helping them make informed decisions based on their preferences and budget. No appointment is necessary, making it convenient to get assistance quickly. Simply click on “Contact an Expert” or “Real-Time Diamond Inspection,” and a pop-up window will appear. An expert consultant will then share the screen with you, analyze the diamond you’re considering, or suggest alternative options.

Post-purchase Services

To ensure customer satisfaction, both James Allen and Blue Nile offer extensive post-purchase services. Blue Nile offers a lifetime warranty on manufacturing defects and complimentary cleaning and inspection services. If a diamond from Blue Nile has a manufacturing defect, it will be repaired or replaced under their diamond lifetime warranty. Moreover, Blue Nile showrooms offer services like cleaning, sizing, and repairs for various types of jewelry.

James Allen offers the following services and benefits with their lifetime warranty:

  • Free prong tightening

  • Re-polishing

  • Rhodium plating

  • Cleaning

  • Free resizing services within the first year of purchase

Moreover, as a sister company of James Allen, Jared offers complimentary jewelry maintenance and repairs at any of their store locations. These services add convenience and peace of mind for customers.

Return and Exchange Policies

It’s vital to comprehend the return and exchange policies of an online retailer. Blue Nile has a straightforward policy that allows customers to return or exchange an item within 30 days from the day it was shipped. For exchanges, both Blue Nile and James Allen offer a lifetime upgrade policy where customers receive 100% credit as long as the new purchase is double the price of the original diamond.

When it comes to international returns, Blue Nile offers free returns to Australia, Canada, the US, and all European customers, while James Allen charges $50 for an international return.

Engagement Ring Settings and Customization

The setting is an integral component when choosing the perfect engagement ring. It defines the ring’s style and showcases the diamond in the best possible light. James Allen offers a stunning array of over 409 unique engagement ring designs, while Blue Nile offers around 334 designs. Whether you prefer a modern, classic, vintage, or trendy style, you’re sure to find a setting that suits your taste at both retailers.

Customization is another key aspect to consider when choosing an engagement ring. Both James Allen and Blue Nile allow customers to design their own engagement rings online, offering a unique and personalized shopping experience. With this feature, you can create a ring that truly reflects your individual style and preference.

Ring Setting Variety

Both Blue Nile and James Allen offer a wide variety of ring settings. However, James Allen has an edge with more than 409 unique setting designs compared to Blue Nile’s 334. They provide a wide variety of designer engagement rings, including partnerships with brands offering unique designs.

Whether it’s a solitaire, halo, pave, or vintage setting, James Allen caters to both diamond ring and gemstone choices, ensuring there’s something for everyone.

Design Your Own Ring

“Design Your Own Ring” is a standout feature for both James Allen and Blue Nile, offering customers a personalized shopping experience. James Allen was a pioneer in this area with their intuitive three-step process: start with a setting, add a diamond, and complete the purchase. This user-friendly flow makes it incredibly easy to create a custom diamond ring in minutes, offering a wide array of designs to suit any style. In 2022, James Allen further enhanced this experience with the introduction of The Ring Studio. This innovative tool allows customers to craft a ring from scratch, customizing the head and shank, selecting different metals, and viewing a clear 3D preview of the final design. For any unique requirements, their support team is readily available to assist in creating more complex custom rings. Additionally, James Allen offers men’s diamond engagement ring, broadening their range to cater to all customers.

Blue Nile also excels in the realm of ring customization, offering robust tools for designing your own ring. Their platform provides a variety of standard ring designs, each with subtle differences inspired by collaborations with various designers. While Blue Nile might not have a feature as comprehensive as James Allen’s Ring Studio, their extensive selection and quality customization options make it easy to create a beautiful, personalized ring. Both companies ensure that customers can navigate their vast inventories and design unique pieces that reflect their individual preferences and budgets. For those seeking a quicker solution, both James Allen and Blue Nile offer “Ready-To-Ship” diamond engagement rings, providing a fast and easy buying experience.

Premium Collections

Blue Nile and James Allen cater to those seeking the utmost brilliance and precision with their premium collections. Blue Nile’s signature line, Astor by Blue Nile, and James Allen’s True Hearts are handpicked and analyzed diamonds that represent the pinnacle of cut quality in their respective inventories. These collections offer a selection of diamonds that are a cut above the rest, delivering unparalleled brilliance and fire.

The Astor by Blue Nile collection is a curated collection of around 1,000 diamonds in various shapes, rigorously graded by GIA and GemEx for the highest cut standards. James Allen’s True Hearts diamonds, on the other hand, are known for their perfect internal symmetry and proportions, offering superior precision and light performance. (1)

Astor by Blue Nile

The Astor by Blue Nile collection is renowned for its exceptional brilliance. These diamonds are hand-selected for their cut quality, achieving optimal sparkle and fire. They reflect the most light possible, enhancing brilliance, fire, and scintillation.

Available in round, princess, cushion, oval and even unique diamond shapes like “Astroheart”, Astor Ideal Cut Diamonds offer something unique for everyone. To back up their claims of superior performance, Blue Nile provides a GEMEX report for their Astor diamonds.

True Hearts by James Allen

James Allen’s True Hearts collection offers Hearts and Arrows diamonds with a perfect symmetry and proportions. Fewer than 1% of the world’s diamonds possess the perfect symmetry and proportions required for the True Hearts™ designation. These diamonds are available in round shape and princess cut, each featuring ideal symmetry and proportions.

Known for better precision and light performance compared to Blue Nile’s Astor diamonds, True Hearts diamonds truly stand out for their superior quality.

Shipping and Delivery

Blue Nile and James Allen ensure a hassle-free shopping experience by offering:

  • Free shipping on all orders

  • Blue Nile ships orders via Overnight Secure Carrier for orders over $500 both domestically and internationally

  • Two-day delivery via Secure Carrier for orders under $500

  • Hold for Pickup option for customers who prefer to collect their orders from a secure location.

Similarly, James Allen ensures the security of your purchase with their fast and free shipping, complete with insurance for all items. Additionally, both companies maintain their stock of lab-grown diamonds in New York, enabling them to process and ship orders much faster than other online retailers.

Physical Showrooms and Virtual Appointments

Despite being primarily online retailers, both Blue Nile and James Allen appreciate the significance of a physical showroom. Blue Nile operates 22 jewelry store locations across the country where customers can look, touch, and try on their selection of jewelry and engagement rings. These showrooms also offer services like cleaning, sizing, and repairs for various types of jewelry.

On the other hand, James Allen has physical showrooms located in New York, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.. They also offer virtual appointments, allowing customers to consult with diamond and jewelry experts online. These high-definition video calls enable customers to view diamonds and rings in real-time, offering a seamless online shopping experience.

Conclusion - My Personal Experience

In conclusion, both Blue Nile and James Allen offer a superior online diamond shopping experience. They each bring unique strengths to the table. Blue Nile, with its large inventory and array of physical showrooms, caters to those who appreciate the convenience of online shopping but still value the traditional in-store experience. James Allen, with its high-quality diamond imagery, broad range of ring settings, and competitive pricing, is an excellent choice for those seeking value for money without compromising on quality. The decision between the two ultimately comes down to personal preference and specific requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Both James Allen and Blue Nile are highly reputable online diamond retailers, each with its strengths. Both companies offer exceptional 360° high-definition videos, allowing customers to scrutinize each stone in detail. However, James Allen often provides more competitive and affordable prices. Blue Nile, on the other hand, offers a high-end customer experience with an elegant website, more showrooms, and a more luxurious overall experience. They also offer a wider selection of diamond jewelry and GIA-certified natural and lab-grown diamonds, but their prices are usually higher than those of James Allen.

No, James Allen is not owned by Blue Nile. They are separate entities operating independently in the online jewelry market. However, both James Allen and Blue Nile are subsidiaries of Signet Jewelers, one of the largest specialty jewelry retailers in the world. James Allen was founded in 2006 and has become a leading online diamond retailer with a focus on providing high-quality visual data for its products. Blue Nile, established in 1999, has a longer history and a solid reputation as one of the largest online diamond retailers. Both companies have unique strengths and market approaches under the Signet Jewelers umbrella.

James Allen offers a larger selection of lab-grown diamonds, primarily certified by IGI (International Gemological Institute), with some also certified by GIA (Gemological Institute of America). A key feature of IGI certificates is that they specify whether the lab diamond is created using CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition) or HPHT (High Pressure High Temperature) methods, which GIA certificates do not classify. Blue Nile exclusively offers GIA-certified diamonds and boasts the largest collection of GIA diamonds in the world. Additionally, James Allen provides a curated collection of lab diamonds at a 10% discount, making their prices generally more affordable compared to Blue Nile.

Blue Nile stands out from other online diamond retailers due to its extensive inventory of both natural and lab-grown diamonds, featuring high-end 360 HD videos of each diamond, all certified by the GIA, as well as its price match policy, where they match the price and offer an additional discount if a customer finds the same diamond elsewhere for less. This gives customers confidence in both the quality and value of their diamond purchase.

James Allen offers unique features such as 360 HD videos for diamond viewing, the ability to design custom engagement rings online, and a lifetime warranty that covers prong tightening, re-polishing, rhodium plating, and cleaning services. These features set James Allen apart in the jewelry industry.

In general, James Allen tends to offer lower prices compared to Blue Nile, especially for engagement rings, natural diamonds, and lab-grown diamonds.

Yes, you can design your own ring with both Blue Nile and James Allen. Both retailers offer customization options that allow you to create a personalized ring. James Allen provides an intuitive three-step process and features The Ring Studio, which lets you design your own ring from scratch, including selecting the head and shank designs, and changing metals. Blue Nile also offers robust customization tools, allowing you to choose from a variety of standard ring designs and settings, influenced by their partnerships with different designers. Both platforms ensure a seamless and personalized ring design experience.

Yes, both Blue Nile and James Allen offer return and exchange policies. These policies ensure that customers can shop with confidence, knowing they can return or exchange their purchases if they are not satisfied.

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