We have a simple policy here at TheRingAdviser.com. To only review stores that we’ve recently shopped at ourselves (within the last 24 months). That being said, as more online alternatives appear we’ll make sure to experience their product and provide a review. In the meantime though, I’ll focus on my two favorite sites, Blue Nile and James Allen.
I’m a big fan of Blue Nile. I’ve used their services consistently for the past 15-years ever since I purchased my own engagement ring just out of college. There’s basically nothing bad I can say about the quality of their products or their service. There’s a reason they are on top of the online diamond sales world.
If you’re searching for a few contrarian facts regarding Blue Nile there’s really only one that even comes close. While both Blue Nile and James Allen offer digital photos of their diamonds with magnification, for my personal tastes I appreciate the one from James Allen a bit more. I want to specify that this is a personal preference, as there isn’t really anything that can’t be seen in both that would be pertinent, but a bit of overkill is sometimes comforting.
Blue Nile does have some distinct advantages over their online competitors, particularly when it comes to gemstone jewelry. Their selection of Birthstones, Gemstones and Pearls is second to none, and the same quality craftsmanship from their diamond settings can be seen here. To this day one of my wife’s favorite pieces is a set of Akoya pearl earrings she uses all the time.
As a buyer, having a resource such as Blue Nile is highly comforting and advantages. They have hundreds of thousands of diamonds at their disposal, all wonderfully priced, beautiful craftsmanship and lovely packaging.
I had heard about them a few times but hadn’t had a reason to use them. I told him to check it out and let me know if it was something I should research. He ended up loving their website. He was looking for a particular Antique setting and was able to find it at James Allen. Once we sat down and looked at the site I really appreciated the high quality images and their diamond selection, while extensive, felt curated to only offer top diamonds. On top of that, while this doesn’t always hold true, I feel that James Allen might be just a few percentage points more affordable. But you really need to treat that on a case by case basis.
On the contrarian side, James Allen should be treated as an engagement ring specialist. I’ve never ordered a gemstone through them, but their selection seems a bit more limited and on the high-end. I’m sure I’ll get around to it one day and if you’ve had a good gemstone experience please feel free to let us know. Thus far though, Blue Nile is my go to for non-diamond jewelry.
There’s really not enough good things you can say about James Allen. Great product, great service (my last order was under a tight timeframe and they went out of their way to make sure I got it even earlier than the day they promised), and great packaging. The packaging is something people really love about James Allen. For me personally, I don’t think it’s a big deal. I understand though that when you might only make one large diamond purchase in your life that their oversized beauty box with the pull out drawer and gorgeously finished interior adds an extra flair to the experience.