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

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In this article, we will do a full comparison between James Allen vs. Brilliant Earth. We will cover their pricing, their video technology, their 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.

Choosing the right place to get your diamond from is one of the most important choices to make. It can help you get the best bang for the buck, or on the opposite, get ripped off.

Let’s start.

Table of Contents

Where Should You Buy Your Diamond?

I want to put things right out of the bat: Comparing these two companies is a great example of comparing logical vs emotional decision making. There is no doubt when buying a diamond, we much make smart and educated decisions.

In every market, each company needs to know its advantages and weaknesses. This way, they put the spotlight on the right things, and hide their flaws. All they need is a smart marketing team, to pull off the right marketing campaign. Brilliant Earth does that well, and if you ask me, their marketing team deserves a medal. Their website’s homepage is beautiful, with eye-pleasing design and creatives. Brilliant Earths Instagram is probably my favorite one out of the whole industry, and it can be used as a great place to get a reference of what you are searching for (along with Pinterest).

Yet, when spending our hard-earned dollars, thousands of them, we don’t choose where to buy based on the number of followers. We choose where to buy our diamonds based on the product we get, its pricing, and the tools we use to inspect it.

Shipping and Return Policy Review

Right from the start, it’s important to mention that both offer pretty much the same policies, free shipping, and free returns with FedEx. While Brilliant Earth offers to ship only to the US, Canada, UK, and Australia, James Allen offers Shipping to countries worldwide, including Asia and Europe.

The main difference of James Allen vs. Brilliant Earth is the pricing, the selection of the diamonds, the video technology that allows us to inspect the diamonds, and the source of their lab-grown diamonds.

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 it in a larger and better diamond.

Natural Diamonds:

All diamonds share the same color and clarity, with triple X, no fluorescence, and graded by the GIA

Company jamesallen logo James Allen brilliant earth logo Brilliant Earth % Price Gap
0.50 Carat E VS1 Ideal Cut $1,480 $1,950 24%
1.00 Carat E VS1 Ideal Cut $7,790 $8,600 9%
1.50 Carat E VS1 Ideal Cut $15,040 $15,620 3.7%
2.00 Carat E VS1 Ideal Cut $28,160 $28,790 2%

Lab-Grown Diamonds:

All diamonds share the same color and clarity, with triple X, no fluorescence, and graded by the IGI

Company jamesallen logo brilliant earth logo % Price gap
0.50 Carat E VS1 Ideal Cut $640 $660 3%
1.00 Carat E VS1 Ideal Cut $2,460 $3,140 21%
1.50 Carat E VS1 Ideal Cut $5,670 $5,990 5%
2.03 Carat E VS1 Ideal Cut $10,840 $13,290 18%

Clearly, James Allen is the winner between the two. There is no reason to overpay for a diamond on Brilliant Earth. As you can see in the tables above, with price gaps of 2%-24% on natural diamonds and 3%-21% on lab-grown diamonds, James Allen is where you get the most bang for your buck.

Diamond Inventory and Selection

If we change the search option to show all diamonds, both natural and lab-grown. all color and clarity grades, all carat weights, and all cut levels, we will know which retailer has more variety to offer. We can see that Brilliant Earth has 73,000 natural diamonds and 45,000 lab-grown diamonds (in total: 118,000), while James Allen has 200,000 natural diamonds and 40,000 lab-grown diamonds (240,000)

Brilliant Earth Gallery

But, here is the twist. I want to ask you to pay close attention to one very important thing. Look at Brilliant Earth’s gallery and notice there is an option to filter the diamonds, to show only those that have a 360 video that allows us to see the diamond and inspect it. If we check that box, now we have only 55,000 natural diamonds and 34,000 lab-grown diamonds. Doing a quick calculation, almost 25% of their diamonds are not photographed, meaning you cannot inspect and evaluate these diamonds.

What about James Allen? all of their 240,000 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 Features: Can you Trust Brilliant Earth?

JamesAllen Brilliant Earth

Which photo gives you a clearer view of the diamond and shows more details?

Back in the days, people used to order a diamond based on its GIA certificates without even seeing it. Furthermore, an untrained eye can’t notice some diamond flaws even when using a diamond loupe in the local store. As you can understand, getting ripped off was a common thing… But JamesAllen has revolutionized the way people buy diamonds both online and offline.

As a pioneer in the field, JamesAllen was the first company to create a virtual loupe. Then Jamesallen introduced a high-end diamond video for all diamonds in its inventory. By using the 360HD with the Super-Zoom feature, which shows the exact color and clarity details, you can examine the diamond before you order it.

While other companies such as Brilliant Earth and Blue Nile try to keep up and develop a similar feature, no one has yet succeeded to achieve the quality that JamesAllen’s 360HD videos offer to the consumer.

But here is another, and very crucial thing to keep in mind when buying a photographed diamond from Brilliant Earth. Notice that every photo has a different background color, meaning there are different lighting and white balance. This makes it impossible to know the real color of the diamond, so we cannot compare different diamonds, and choose the right one.

Brilliant Earth Inconsistent Photography:

On James Allen, on the other hand, there is a consistent grey 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 use natural lighting. But not only that, but we can also compare different diamonds and decide which one has better color.

JamesAllen's Consistent Photography:

Lab-Grown Diamonds Review: HPHT vs. CVD

James Allen and Brilliant Earth are the most known retailers for selling Lab-created diamonds. One of the most important questions (after answering which one offers a better price) is which one offers higher quality lab-grown diamonds? 

When talking about lab-created diamonds, we need to split them into two different groups:

1. HPHT Lab-Grown Diamonds:

These diamonds are made just like natural diamonds by using High-Pressure High-Temperature process. You get the diamond, as grown, with no post-growth treatment or color enhancement.

2. CVD Lab-Grown Diamonds:

These diamonds are made with a chemical vapor deposition process. In most cases, the result is a low-quality diamond that shows brown or grey color. Of course, most people are not interested in such a diamond, so the manufacturers often use post-growth treatment to enhance the color, to change it to a better grade.

As you probably can guess, the HPHT process is more complicated and more expensive. 

I want to make it clear. In the natural diamonds market, a diamond seller can use the same process to enhance a natural diamond’s color, but such diamonds are much cheaper.

Same with CVD-treated diamonds. They worth much less than HPHT as-grown diamonds. The problem is that most customers don’t aware of the difference, so lots of retailers (with Brilliant Earth among them) try to sell the CVD-treated diamond for the same price as the HPHT as-grown diamonds. That is my friend, a classic ripoff. 

James Allen offers only HPHT as-grown diamonds and CVD as-grown diamonds with high nearly colorless and colorless grades. 

You as the consumer need to know that and decide which one gives more value for your money. You can check the IGI certificate to see if the diamond is treated or if it is as-grown. 

James Allen Vs. Brilliant Earth: Discounts and Promo Codes

I am sorry to say that I have bad news for you. Right now, I am not aware of any promo codes or discounts for Brilliant Earth. Sometimes they do offer gifts when shopping for a diamond ring. But does it worth it? As we’ve just seen on the pricing comparison above, James Allen offers better prices, PLUS a $100 coupon code for your first purchase. You can get a 25% off discount as well on your engagement ring, and if you buy a diamond with a price of $30,000 and higher, you get a free setting. You can read my full tutorial on how to get all James Allen promo codes and discounts here

Brilliant Earth Marketing: Don't Buy The Hype

As I’ve said above, Brilliant Earth does deserve a credit for its marketing skills. I do think that James Allen has one or two things to learn in that field. Brilliant Earth’s Instagram feed is a pleasure to the eye, and they do offer a wide range of beautiful engagement rings. But still, I can’t recommend buying a diamond from them. Due to copyright issues, I can’t tell you to buy a replica of their engagement ring setting designs. But know that you have the option to get the diamond from James Allen, and ask them to create a custom setting for you. Use Brilliant Earth as a source for inspiration, just like you use any other brand on Instagram or Pinterest.

James Allen vs. Brilliant Earth: Final Review

Company jamesallen logo brilliant earth logo
Free Shipping
30 Day Return Policy
Conflict-Free Diamonds
Lifetime Warranty
Showroom
360 Videos
Super Zoom Feature
Diamond Inspection: Talk With An Expert
Pricing

Conclusion

With much better prices, photography that shows the real beauty of the diamond, and a huge variety of natural and lab-grown diamonds, James Allen is the big winner between the two, and it’s the only one I recommend buying from.

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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