James Allen vs. Brilliant Earth: Prices, Selection & Diamond Inspection

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Bottom Line Recommendation

Brilliant Earth is one of the big names in the online diamond world along with James Allen. Although sometimes they offer competitive prices, their inventory and diamond videos are not good enough to make a safe purchase (for my taste). For that reason, unless you want a specific engagement ring and can’t find it on James Allen’s website, I don’t see any reason buying from them when you can buy from a much more reliable retailer such as this one.

While Brilliant Earth offers you a 1.00 carat E VS1 for $8,740 with a “standard” (poor) quality video, you can buy the same grades here for $7,620 and see a clear video of the diamond you get.

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Table of Contents

In this article, we will do a complete comparison between James Allen vs. Brilliant Earth. We will cover their pricing, video technology, inventory, lab-grown diamonds’ quality, and much more. By the time you finish reading this article, you’ll know which one is the right fit for you.

Let’s start.

Short Summery

I strongly recommend reading the full James Allen vs. Brilliant Earth review below; however, if you are here for a quick brief, here’s what you must know:

  • Both James Allen and Brilliant Earth are highly reputable and trusted in the industry, with similar shipping and return policies

  • James Allen boasts superior 360 video technology for diamond inspection, more affordable natural diamonds, and a greater selection of discounted lab-grown diamonds. They have also innovated with The Ring Studio for custom ring design and benefit from having Jared as a sister company for complimentary jewelry maintenance and repairs.

  • Brilliant Earth shines in the area of branding, appealing to those who resonate with the Beyond Conflict-Free message. They offer trend-leading jewelry designs and a rich gallery of fancy-colored lab-grown diamonds. Customers can also view diamonds in person in one of their 20 nationwide showrooms.

  • James Allen tends to offer more affordable options in both natural and lab-grown diamonds. They have a full collection of selected lab-grown diamonds at 10% off, including diamonds from their premium True Hearts collection

  • In terms of diamond inventory, Brilliant Earth currently houses over 100,000 natural and over 120,000 lab-grown diamonds, with 85% of them listed with 360HD videos. On the other hand, James Allen carries the most extensive online inventory globally, with over half a million natural and nearly 50,000 lab-grown diamonds, all listed with 360 HD videos and a 40X super-zoom feature for in-depth inspection.

  • James Allen was the first to introduce a virtual loupe for detailed diamond inspection, with a consistent in-house environment for photographing diamonds. Conversely, Brilliant Earth’s videos come from various vendors, which can lead to inconsistencies when comparing diamond

  • Both companies allow you to design your own engagement ring. James Allen was one of the first to offer this feature, with a clear 3-step process and a wide range of designs. Brilliant Earth follows a similar standard and can accommodate specific custom ring requests.

  • Showrooms are available from both companies for customers who prefer a one-on-one experience or want to inspect a diamond in person. James Allen has three showrooms, while Brilliant Earth has 20 located across the county.

The difference between James Allen and Brilliant Earth

For those of you who want a quick answer and straight to the point:

Similarities:

  • Both Brilliant Earth and James Allen are well-respected and trusted companies. 
  • Both share pretty much the same shipping and return policies.

James Allen:

  • James Allen has the best 360 video technology in the diamond industry. You can inspect each diamond easily and know exactly what you pay for.
  • James Allen offers much more affordable natural diamonds.
  • Although both offer competitive prices on some lab-grown diamonds, James Allen tends to be more affordable. Moreover, they also have a section of selected lab-grown diamonds at a 10% off discount.
  • James Allen recently launched a new feature called The Ring Studio, which allows you to design your ring from scratch. If you need more help, you can contact them and ask for a custom design here.
  • Since Jared is a sister company of James Allen, you can go to any of their stores and receive complimentary jewelry maintenance and repairs.

Brilliant Earth:

  • Brilliant Earth wins in the branding competition. If you resonate with the Beyond Conflict-Free message, just go for it! They have a boutique vibe with unique and beautiful jewelry. If “getting the best bang for the buck” is not your top priority, you should check them out.
  • Brilliant Earth currently offers 360 industry standard videos on 85% of their diamonds (and growing)
  • In terms of jewelry design trends, Brilliant Earth wins the race. They offer beautiful engagement settings and jewelry that you won’t be able to find somewhere else.
  • Their fancy-colored lab-grown diamond gallery is full of beautiful stones. Combined with the right setting, you can create a unique piece. 
  • They have 20 showrooms across the country, so you can schedule a one-on-one appointment and see the diamond in person.

Shipping and return policy

Right from the start, it’s necessary to mention that both websites offer pretty much the same policies: free shipping and free returns worldwide with FedEx.

Diamonds pricing comparison

Let’s start with the pricing comparison between James Allen vs. Brilliant Earth. This way, you can see which one offers more bang for the buck, where you can save some cash or invest in a larger and better diamond.

Natural diamonds:

All diamonds share the same color and clarity, with a triple X cut, no fluorescence, and are graded by the GIA. None of the diamonds were picked based on beauty, only at the most affordable price.

Brilliant Earth James Allen
0.5 Carat E VS1 $2,350 $1,800
1.00 Carat E VS1 $10,550 $9,700
1.25 Carat E VS1 $14,160 $13,860
1.50 Carat E VS1 $21,100 $20,340
1.80 Carat E VS1 $30,420 $27,790
2.00 Carat E VS1 $39,370 $35,940
2.50 Carat E VS1 $57,400 $50,910
3.00 Carat E VS1 $104,950 $81,760

So in the natural diamonds market, obviously, James Allen wins.

Lab-grown diamonds:

This is where things get more interesting. If you read this article, I bet 90% that you are interested in a lab-grown diamond. We’ll make two different comparisons here because there are mainly two types of customers:

  1. Those that look for the most premium diamond within their budget
  2. Those who are interested in the largest diamond while compromising over color and clarity
  3. Those who want to get the best balance between all factors

Premium

For premium diamonds, we won’t compromise over color. All diamonds are D color, VVS2 clarity and triple X cut.

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 option

We’ll compromise over color and clarity to get the largest lab-grown diamond within your budget. All diamonds are I-H with VS2-VS1 clarity. I’ve picked the most affordable option available inside that range:

Brilliant Earth James Allen
1 Carat $1,300 $1,530
1.25 Carat $1,660 $2,040
1.50 Carat $2,200 $2,100
2.00 Carat $3,690 $3,390
2.5 Carat $5,220 $4,800
3.00 Carat $7,990 $7,910

The Best Balance

For the best balance between all factors, we’ll go with E colorless and VS1 eye-clean clarity.

Brilliant Earth James Allen
1.00 Carat E VS1 $1,610 $1,550
1.25 Carat E VS1 $2,250 $2,130
1.50 Carat E VS1 $3,380 $2,900
1.75 Carat E VS1 $4,810 $4,520
2.00 Carat E VS1 $6,470 $6,140
2.50 Carat E VS1 $9,750 $9,580
3.00 Carat E VS1 $16,730 $15,580

So overall, James Allen offers more affordable lab-grown diamonds. That being said; currently, they don’t have much inventory of lab-grown diamonds with nearly colorless grades. Suppose you are on a tight budget and interested in a larger diamond. In that case, Brilliant Earth has better options to offer. The 1.00 carat for $1,300, for example, would be ideal for many customers.

Diamond inventory and selection

Brilliant Earth

Brilliant Earth currently has 102,484 natural diamonds and 127,504 lab-grown diamonds, making it one of the top 3 online websites with the most extensive diamond inventory available.

85% of their diamonds are listed with 360HD industry-standard videos, so you can efficiently inspect the diamond and make an educated decision. In regards to the 15% left, soon, all of them will have videos too. Meanwhile, if you find a diamond you are interested in, and the video is unavailable, feel free to contact them, and they will provide images. If you are not sure, just contact me here. Don’t worry. I am sure we can find what you are looking for 🙂

James Allen

James Allen currently has 521,478 natural diamonds and 47,689 lab-grown diamonds, making it the most extensive online inventory in the world. All their diamonds are listed with a 360 HD video. Moreover, with the 40X super-zoom feature, you can easily spot any flaw and pick the best one. You can find what you are looking for, probably for a better price.

Diamond inspection features

James Allen:

Until 2006, people bought diamonds blindly, based on their GIA certificates. Sounds like a pure gamble to me. Furthermore, an untrained eye can’t notice some diamond flaws even when using a diamond loupe. There was no option other than relying on the certificate or the sales associate’s opinion. As you can imagine, getting ripped off was a common thing. However, James Allen has changed the game, both online and offline. 

As a pioneer in the diamond market, James Allen was the first company to create a virtual loupe, introducing a high-end diamond video for all diamonds in its inventory. Using the 360HD videos with the super-zoom feature, we can examine the diamond under 40X magnification, see the actual color, and quickly notice all the flaws. Even if you are not a diamond expert, you can well examine the diamond before ordering it.

Their diamonds are photographed in-house, meaning they have a consistent environment with the same lighting and white balance. It allows us to inspect different diamonds, one next to the other, compare them, see their accurate color and pick the best one. It might sound obvious to you, but you’ll see soon why not.

Brilliant Earth:

In my opinion, video consistency is Brilliant Earth’s weakest point. Unlike James Allen, Brilliant Earth doesn’t shoot its diamond videos in-house. The vendors have to provide those videos. Since every vendor shoots the videos with different lighting and white balance, some of the videos are inconsistent. Because of that, comparing different diamonds might be a little difficult.

However, there are some workarounds:

  1. Look for diamonds with videos that seem like they were taken under the same conditions: The background color should look identical, with a similar amount of lighting. This way, it would be easier to compare the diamonds.
  2. If possible, visit Brilliant Earth’s showroom near you to see the diamond in person.
  3. If you want to play on the safe side, just contact me here, and let’s find this diamond together.

Design your own engagement ring

James Allen:

Starting with the slogan “Design your own,” James Allen was one of the first companies that created the flow that we know today: 

  1. Start with a setting 
  2. Add a diamond
  3. Complete (Pay and go).

Buying a diamond ring has never been easier. With almost any design you can think of, you can create your custom ring in a matter of minutes. 

In 2022 James Allen launched a new feature called The Ring Studio. It allows you to create a custom ring from scratch. You can select the design of the head and shank, change the metals of each one, and see a clear 3D preview of everything. Overall, you are covered! You can contact their support if something is missing and ask for a more complex custom ring.

Brilliant Earth:

Following the new standard, Brilliant Earth allows you to select your own setting and diamond. If you have a specific request, you can ask them to create a custom ring, especially for you here.

Showrooms

Suppose you want to see the diamond in person before pulling the trigger or need someone to give you one-on-one attention. In that case, both companies give you the option to visit one of their showrooms. While James Allen currently has 3 showrooms in New York, Maryland and Washington, Brilliant Earth has 20 showrooms across the country (check the full list here).

Since they don’t have a lot of showrooms, James Allen offers live support with professional diamond consultants. All you need to do is click on “real-time diamond inspection” on any diamond page. Brilliant Earth also offers a virtual meeting, so if you want, just click here and schedule an appointment.

If you prefer to have me on your side, click here, and let’s find your diamond.

brilliant earth showroom review
Brilliant Earth Showroom

James Allen vs. Brilliant Earth: discounts and promo codes

In the general diamond market, getting a discount on a diamond online is something that we barely see. However, there are some deals you can look for if you want to get a better deal.

James Allen:

Usually, James Allen offers 25% off on their engagement rings. In the past, they offered a free ring when buying a diamond above $30,000.
Moreover, they have a section of selected lab-grown diamonds sold at a discounted price, around 10% off.

You can read more about their discounts with a full tutorial here.

Brilliant Earth:

Like most diamond sellers, Brilliant Earth doesn’t offer diamonds and engagement rings at a discounted price. However, sometimes they offer extra bonuses. For example, you can expect to see them offering a diamond necklace or diamond studs when purchasing above a specific price (at no extra cost of course)

Get an additional 1.5% off (on both companies):

If you have the option, I recommend paying with a wire transfer. You’ll receive a 1.5% discount on your item’s listed price. You’ll get the instructions right after completing checkout, and your items can be shipped once your transfer confirmation is completed.

Conclusion

Both Brilliant Earth and James Allen are well-respected companies. Depending on what you are looking for: getting the best deal, looking for a specific diamond, finding the setting of your dreams; you should check both websites. Pick the one that catches your attention and makes you feel comfortable, safe and happy with the investment you are about to make.

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