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

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In this article, we will do a full comparison of Blue Nile vs James Allen. We will cover their pricing, their video technology that allows us to inspect the diamonds, their inventory, and much more. By the time you finish reading this article, you’ll have all the information needed, to decide which one is the right fit for you.

Let’s dive in.

Table of Contents

Shipping and Return Policy

Right from the start, it’s important to mention that both Blue Nile and James Allen offer pretty much the same policies: Free and fast shipping, and free returns. You can return or exchange your order within 30 days from the day it was shipped to you. Returning a product is quite simple. All you have to do is to ask for them to email you a shipping label, that will cover the shipping cost and provides insurance coverage for your items. This way, you can feel safe, that if you don’t like the item, you can return it at no additional cost.

The main difference is the pricing, the selection of diamonds, and the video technology that allows us to inspect the diamonds.

Diamonds Pricing Comparison

Let’s start with the pricing comparison between Blue Nile and James Allen. This way, you can see which one offers more bang for the buck, where you can save some cash or invest it in a larger and better diamond. All diamonds share the same carat weights, color and clarity, with triple X, no fluorescence, and graded by the GIA

(last compared on 19/4/21)

Diamond Grades James Allen Blue Nile
1.00 Carat I VS1 $4,830 $5,374
1.00 Carat H VS1 $6,170 $6,448
1.00 Carat G VS1 $7,120 $7,491
1.00 Carat F VS1 $7,920 $8,135
1.00 Carat E VS1 $8,260 $8.509
1.00 Carat D VS1 $9,010 $9,097

So clearly, James Allen beats the pricing comparison. Keep in mind, the selection is changing constantly, and prices may change due to market supply and demand. But for the past couple of years, I can tell you, that James Allen offers better prices than Blue Nile. If you find a better price at Blue Nile, you can always ask for a price match at James Allen.

Diamonds Inventory and Selection

If we change the search options to show all diamonds, from all color and clarity grades, all carat weights and all cut levels, we will know which company has more variety to offer. Now we can see that Blue Nile has around 212,708 natural diamonds, while James Allen has around 183,393 natural diamonds and  39,422 lab-grown diamonds.

Blue Nile Gallery

Now I want to ask you to pay close attention to one very important thing. Look at Blue Nile’s gallery, and you’ll see that about 40% of their diamonds are not photographed, meaning you cannot inspect and evaluate these diamonds. On James Allen, all 222,815 diamonds are photographed. Nowadays, you won’t give someone thousands of dollars without knowing what you get. In my opinion, buying an unphotographed diamond is not an option.

James Allen Gallery

Diamond Inspection with Diamond Videos

Here is another, and very crucial thing to keep in mind, when buying a photographed diamond from Blue Nile. Notice every photo has a different background color, meaning there are different lighting and white balance settings on each one. As a consumer, you cannot really know the real color of the diamond, so you cannot compare different diamonds.

Blue Nile photography review

On James Allen, on the other hand, there is a consistent great background, with the same lighting and white balance settings on all of their inventory. For once, we can see the real color of the diamond, because they have natural lighting. so with James Allen, we can compare different diamonds and decide which one has better color.

Lab-Grown Diamonds

Like most of the big retailers, Blue Nile decided to stick with the agenda that believes lab-grown diamonds are not suitable for engagement rings, only for fine jewelry. If you are on the hunt for a beautiful lab-created diamond, I recommend checking James Allen lab-created diamonds gallery. You can find a large variety, including small diamonds like this 0.34 carat E SI1 pear diamond for as little as $240, and larger ones such as this 6.60 Carat E VVS2 emerald diamond.

James Allen Lab-Grown and Natural Diamonds

Astor by Blue Nile vs. True Hearts by James Allen

Astor is Blue Nile’s exclusive diamond collection, curated and handpicked by their diamond experts. These diamonds have better cut, more brilliance and fire, and higher light performance.

But does it worth it?

Because it’s a premium collection, you pay a premium price.

These diamonds are close to super ideal, but they are not Hearts and Arrows. It’s important to understand the difference. Hearts and Arrows diamonds are the top 1% of round diamonds. They show perfect symmetry, with a strong contrast between the black 8 hearts and arrows, and the diamond itself. It adds much more brilliance, fire, and scintillation, compared to a normal ideal cut.

This is when James Allen wins once again. Their premium collection is called True Hears, and for a good reason. They offer only Hearts and Arrows diamonds, graded either by the GIA and the AGS. Let your eyes decide which diamond is prettier, and which one brings more value to your money.

Astor by Blue Nile: 1.07 Carat G VVS1 ($11,680)

blue nile astor review

Hearts and Arrows by James Allen: 1.08 Carat F VVS2 ($9.980)

So for the same amount of money, or even less as you can see above, you can get a premium hearts and arrows diamond with better cut and color.

You can learn everything about the cut factor on this video:

Blue Nile Discounts vs. James Allen Discounts

You can find a $50 coupon for your purchase on Blue Nile, but does it worth it? As we’ve just seen on the pricing review, James Allen offers better prices, PLUS a $100 coupon code and a 25% off on your engagement ring for your first purchase. You can read my full tutorial on how to get all James Allen discounts here.

Conclusion

With more affordable prices, a much better user experience with high-quality diamond videos, and a large inventory of both lab-grown and natural diamonds, James Allen is our winner between the two.

Did I miss anything? Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments below!

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About the author: Yaniv Hadar

As a third-generation in the diamond industry, I’ve started my way in 2015 as a diamond photographer and seen hundreds of diamonds on a daily basis. Unlike other experts, I’ve had the opportunity to see any diamond you can think of: from the poorest to the rarest. Any size, any color. Using my knowledge and experience, I can show you how to pick the most valuable diamond for your budget while getting the most bang for your buck.

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