Bottom line recommendation
I strongly recommend reading the full James Allen review below, however, if you are short on time, here is the bottom line:
- James Allen has the largest diamond inventory in the world: close to 600,000 natural diamonds and 60,000 lab-grown diamonds
- You can inspect each diamond easily with their 360 videos, allowing you to see the diamond under 40x magnification.
- They have strict quality control on their videos, meaning all show consistent colors. This way, you can compare diamonds side by side without being afraid of image manipulation and hiding the flaws of the diamond by the seller. What you see is what you get.
- They offer the best prices for natural diamonds; for example you can buy this 1.04 carat eye-clean diamond for as low as this price.
- They offer very competitive prices for lab-grown diamonds. You can find beautiful 2.00 carat diamonds such as this one without breaking the bank.
Quick example of James Allen super-zoom diamond loupe:
Table of Contents
You are on the hunt for the perfect diamond engagement ring. Whether it’s natural or a lab diamond, one name you came across is James Allen, and for a good reason. They are the largest online retailer nowadays. But does it make them the best? Are they a good fit for you? In this James Allen Review, I will cover their prices, diamond selection, shopping experience, and more.
Expect to get my honest review.
Let’s dive in.
James Allen: Background check
Around 2008 when the financial crisis hit the world, a group of diamond dealers from Israel decided to take an enormous gamble, risk it all, and go all-in on creating the best online experience possible for buying and selling diamond engagement rings. The group is called R2net, and as you can understand, they are the founders of JamesAllen.com
Until then, online websites such as Blue Nile used to sell diamonds without showing high-quality pictures or 360 videos as we know today, meaning the customers bought diamonds blindly based on their certificates only. To me, it sounds crazy! You pay thousands of dollars and get a stone you don’t know to evaluate to your doorstep. Sounds kinda shady.
Anyway, so the group decided to focus on technology. Their plan was to develop the best display ever, a 360 HD video showing the diamond so well that you don’t even need to be a diamond expert to understand if it is beautiful or ugly. Simply put, you can immediately see the diamond’s accurate color, the inclusions’ location, and the cut’s level.
Bad SI1 vs. Good SI1 - This is why you must inspect the diamond before paying.
And that’s James Allen in a nutshell. A tech pioneer in the diamond industry that focuses on making the average Joe’s life much easier when buying a diamond ring. By the way, they were the first company that gives customers the option to design their own engagement ring online. It changed the diamond-buying process dramatically. So many things that we take for granted today, they came up with.
- 360 diamond videos
- Picking the center diamond you want without the use of a real diamond loupe
- Allowing untrained customers to pick eye-clean diamonds with confidence
- Picking the setting you want
That’s all, James Allen. All the other companies followed them right after.
Long story short, in 2017, Signet Jewelers (one of the largest jewelry companies in the world) decided they liked the value that James Allen offered to their customers and acquired Jamesallen.com from R2net for $328 million in cash. For that reason, you can find the same 360 videos by James Allen in stores such as Zales Lab-Grown Diamonds Review: Prices, Selection & Diamond Inspection and Kay, which are part of Signet as well.
That information is crucial because you need to feel safe when paying a large sum. You need to know that if you have a problem, you have someone to talk to. The diamond industry is full of fraud that can take your money and disappear. A 4 billion dollar like Signet Jewelers can’t go anywhere, and they need to keep their good reputation.
Diamond inventory and selection
Currently, James Allen offers the world’s largest and most diversified inventory, with close to 600,000 natural diamonds in stock. Their stock contains diamonds graded by GIA, IGI, and AGS. Their diamonds are listed with 360 HD video, allowing you to inspect them under 40X magnification. As we covered earlier, some websites still sell diamonds without any video or a picture.
Let me tell you a professional secret: If you find a natural diamond elsewhere
- Write down the certificate number
- Go to James Allen diamond gallery
- Click on “Search by diamond cert number,” enter the number and run a quick search
They are so big that there is a good chance you’ll be able to find that exact same diamond on their website for a better price. Keep in mind they also have a price match policy in case the diamond is sold for a better price elsewhere.
It’s hard to track their diamond inventory and pick the best one, which is why I do it daily for you. By tracking the diamond pricing and narrowing down the diamonds by their quality, I can find the best deals and post them here. It’s a sweet shortcut for you, so save time and money 🙂
Hearts and Arrows - The True Hearts Collection
Check out their True Hearts collection if you are looking for the most premium diamond, the one that shows the most brilliance, fire (blue and yellow reflections), and sparkles. This curated collection groups their exclusive Hearts and Arrows diamonds, which are the top 1% of round diamonds in the industry. Such a diamond has the highest light performance and is considered a masterpiece.
If you need help picking the best Hearts and Arrows with the highest light performance within your budget, feel free to reach out here, and I’ll be glad to help.
James Allen has over 60,000 lab-created diamonds on its website, including 3,000 fancy-color lab-created diamonds. They sell only IGI and GIA-certified diamonds, which are the most trustworthy. Inside each certificate, you can detailed information about the specific diamond, including the growth process that was used: as-grown HPHT or post-treated CVD.
Their stock contains lab-grown diamonds for any budget:
- You can find a decent 1.00 carat weight for as low as $1,100
- You can also find a decent 2.00 carat diamond for as low as $3,000
But the lab-grown trend doesn’t stop with engagement rings. You can also find stunning fine jewelry with lab-grown diamonds as well:
As with natural diamonds, picking the best lab-grown diamond within your budget might seem a little overwhelming. Therefore, I track James Allen’s diamond stock every morning and pick the best lab-created diamonds within any budget. You can see all my recommendations here.
With their slogan “Design your own,” James Allen was the first company that created the buying experience that we know today:
- Pick your engagement ring setting
- Pick your loose diamond
- Complete (Pay and go)
Their engagement ring gallery contains over 600 different settings, including solitaire, pave, side stone, halo, designers collection, and many more.
Pro tip: if you are in a hurry for a ring, go to the “sort by” filter and click on “Fastest Shipping.” You’ll get your engagement ring much faster, and you can always replace the setting within 30 days if needed.
Another exciting feature that James Allen launched in 2022 was The Ring Studio. It allows you to design your custom ring from scratch with a 3D preview. You can create your dream engagement ring in minutes:
- Select the head
- Select the shank
- Change the metal (white gold, rose gold, or platinum)
Pro Tip: If you need some inspiration, browse Pinterest. Just search for the diamond shape you want with the setting style you like. For example, “Oval diamond halo engagement ring.”
When talking about diamond inspection online, the only question you need to ask yourself is, “can I compare diamonds and feel confident about the one I pick?”
If you go diamond shopping today, chances are you’ll pull up a chair at James Allen’s virtual desk. But it wasn’t always this way. Back in the day (pre-2008), people bought diamonds based purely on their GIA certificates without seeing the actual rock first.
And if that didn’t sound like enough of a gamble, diamonds have flaws that can only be detected by experienced gemologists and diamond experts. An untrained eye wouldn’t notice them otherwise. You either had to rely on the certificate or take your sales associate’s opinion at face value… and getting ripped off was pretty much par for the course back then. Thankfully, James Allen came along and changed everything — both online AND offline.
James Allen is a frontrunner in the diamond market and was the first company to create a virtual loupe. With this high-end diamond video available for all diamonds in its inventory, we can examine each one under 40X magnification. This allows us to see the actual color and any flaws quickly and easily – even if you’re not a diamond expert.
The diamond industry tried to mimic the 360 videos but needed help to keep up with the quality. Since James Allen is the only company that photographs all the diamonds in-house with the camera and the technology they developed, they can have strict quality control and produce consistent videos. The videos are taken under the same lighting, white balance, and angle. It allows us to compare all the diamonds side-by-side and pick the best one.
For comparison, the opposite is the “industry standard” videos, such as those on websites like Brilliant Earth, With Clarity, and Clean Origin. Just a quick glance at their diamond gallery reveals inconsistent videos with incomparable diamonds. It happens because each vendor films the diamonds under different conditions with a different camera.
For perspective, we will compare James Allen’s natural diamond prices with Blue Nile prices. If you are unfamiliar with them, Blue Nile is the second largest online diamond retailer (following James Allen) and number one in fine jewelry worldwide.
- All diamonds are graded by the GIA and share the same grades: color, clarity, triple X cut, and no fluorescence.
- None of the diamonds were picked based on their beauty, only at the most affordable price currently available.
|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|
It’s clear that James Allen offers attractive prices.
If you want to find the best diamond within your budget, check my diamond pricing tracker tool. Every day I scan James Allens’ inventory and narrow it down to the best options. Click here to find yours.
To check if James Allen offers competitive prices in the market, we’ll compare them with their largest “enemy” in this field, Brilliant Earth. We’ll make two different comparisons since there are mainly two types of customers:
- Those that want the most premium diamond within their budget
- Those that want the largest diamond while compromising over color and clarity
|Brilliant Earth||James Allen|
|1.00 Carat D VVS2||$1,740||$1,560|
|1.25 Carat D VVS2||$2,190||$2,290|
|1.50 Carat D VVS2||$3,690||$3,540|
|1.75 Carat D VVS2||$5,590||$4,970|
|2.00 Carat D VVS2||$6,780||$6,010|
|2.50 Carat D VVS2||$10,600||$9,880|
|3.00 Carat D VVS2||$17,830||$18,710|
The largest diamond
We’ll have to compromise over color and clarity to get the largest diamond within our budget. We’ll look for I-H colors and VS2-VS1 clarities. I picked the most affordable option available inside that range:
|Brilliant Earth||James Allen|
Seems like in general, James Allen offers affordable and competitive prices for their lab-grown diamonds. Yet, the only problem I see is that sometimes they are short in nearly colorless J-H diamonds, with 1.00-2.00 carat weight. These grades are ideal for customers interested in a nice size but have a $1,500-$4,000 budget. If that’s what you are interested in but can’t find on James Allen, Brilliant Earth would be a good alternative.
Pro tip: If you plan to compromise over color to get a higher carat weight, consider buying a yellow gold or a rose gold engagement ring. Since the ring contains a yellow hue, it reflects its color into the diamond, so there is no point in getting a colorless diamond anyway. By the way, a yellow gold ring is more affordable.
Shipping and return policies, upgrades and warranty
No matter how much you order from James Allen, you’ll receive fast and free shipping to your destination and insurance for all items. They ship to:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- United States
While the items are in transit to you, they will be securely packaged and insured.
US orders that exceed $500 in value will be shipped to you via FedEx Priority Overnight, while international orders of the same value will be sent to you via FedEx International Priority. Orders that are under $500 for US residents and under $500 for people residing outside of the US economy (or USPS for an APO address). If your order exceeds this amount, it’ll ship through FedEx Two Day Saver in the States or FedEx Economy internationally.
Hassle-Free Return Policy
If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, James Allen offers a 100% money-back guarantee. All you have to do is return it in its original, in unworn condition, within 30 days. They won’t ask you a question; only choose if you want a full refund or exchange.
Note that free return shipping is available to US and Canadian customers only and is limited to three per customer.
You can exchange your loose natural diamond from James Allen for a full credit towards a replacement natural diamond at least 2x the original value. Similarly, you can do the same with a lab-created diamond — exchange it for full credit to put towards another lab-grown diamond of equal or greater value. The only qualification is that whatever stone you wish to upgrade must be in its original state and come with the official laboratory grading document. In other words, keep all the papers in one place.
When buying from James Allen, you are guaranteed that all products will be absent of any factory defects upon arrival. Furthermore, you receive a lifetime warranty on repairs and maintenance services for your jewelry. Before being sent to you, each order is Inspected for top quality assurance. The lifetime warranty includes free prong tightening, re-polishing, rhodium plating, cleaning services, and one-year free resizing.
If you have any issues with your jewelry or require a service not included in our lifetime warranty, mail your piece back to James Allen for evaluation. Their team will inspect the jewelry and, if necessary, give you an estimate before beginning any repairs.
Pro tip: To keep your diamond clean and shiny, visit the Kay Jewelers store near you. Since Kay and James Allen are company sisters, you are eligible for a complimentary cleaning every six months. Why not use it?
James Allen showrooms near you
Some people want to see the diamond in person before making a purchase, which is perfectly understandable. In that case, you can visit one of James Allens’ locations. They have showrooms physically located in New York, Maryland, and Washington.
James Allen also offers a private consultation online. Experts are available for a one-on-one consultation to help you pick the right diamond for your needs. Click “real-time diamond inspection” on any diamond page, and a consultant will share their screen to provide personalized recommendations and explanations about each option.
If you prefer to have me on your side, click here, and let’s find your diamond.
James Allen reviews
I recommend taking the time to read reviews before you make any significant financial decisions. In general, people enjoy working with James Allen. There will always be a few negative reviews from customers who had less-than-ideal experiences, but things seem to go well for the most part. With over 7,000 combined reviews on Google, Trustpilot, The Knot, and Site Jabber, with scores ranging from 4.2-4.8, it’s safe to say that James Allen is a reliable company.
James Allen coupons, discounts and sales
I have a complete guide on getting the best deal on James Allen, which you can read here. But to make a long story short:
- You can receive a $100 coupon code when clicking here and creating an account.
- Usually, James Allen offers a 25% discount on their setting every 1-2 months.
- They always run sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
- It’s very rare to find a store that runs a sale on natural diamonds. James Allen did it only once and offered 3% off their natural diamonds. It doesn’t happen so often, so don’t wait for it.
- They have a selected collection of lab-grown diamonds that are sold for 10% off.
James Allen Live Research
If you need a guide on how to pick the best diamond within your budget, here are three videos to help you out:
How to buy a natural diamond
How to buy the most premium lab-grown diamond
How to buy the largest diamond within your budget
Is James Allen as good as Blue Nile?
James Allen and Blue Nile are the largest online jewelry retailers. But let me tell you a secret: In 2022 Signet Jewelers, the company that owns JamesAllen.com acquired Blue Nile. Do you see where I’m going with this? Basically, James Allen and Blue Nile are now sister companies. The money goes to the same pocket. This is why you can find GIA lab diamonds on Blue Nile with the same photography as James Allen.
You can buy your engagement right from James Allen, your wedding ring from Blue Nile, and vice versa. If you can’t find your perfect ring on James Allen, sure! Visit Blue Nile. In fact, Blue Nile has some beautiful wedding rings and fine jewelry that are worth checking out.
Thank you for reading! I hope this article gave you a good overview of what James Allen offers in terms of diamond shopping. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me; I’ll do my best to answer them. Also, if you have any personal experiences with James Allen (positive or negative), please share those as well. It would be great to get a discussion going about this company.