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Blue Nile has reigned one of the leading online diamond retailers for over two decades. A revolution from conception, Blue Nile competed passionately with diamond powerhouses, such as Tiffany’s, to assert its position in the online, fine jewelry trade. It has continued to challenge the conventional experience of online jewelry purchase, with regular website adjustments to enhance the buying experience.

Make sure you read this Blue Nile Review if you are considering them as your ‘go-to’ diamond provider, this summary of its business model and overall customer service experience should provide all the information you need before you take the leap.

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The History

Mark C. Vandon was inspired to transform the online diamond market due to the limited choices and flexibility he encountered while searching for an engagement ring. In 1998, a visit to the website of Williams and Son Inc., owned by Doug Williams, sparked the idea of creating a more expansive online jewelry shopping experience. Captivated by the potential, Vandon quickly mobilized resources.

By 1999, Vandon had raised substantial funds to overhaul the company's website extensively. With an 85% stake in the business, he rebranded it as Blue Nile, a name that soon became synonymous with innovation in online jewelry retailing. Under his leadership, Blue Nile flourished, showing significant growth in net income and total assets year after year.

In February 2017, Blue Nile transitioned from a publicly traded company to a private enterprise following its acquisition by an investor group that included Bain Capital Private Equity, Bow Street, and Adama Partners, for $500 million.

The evolution of Blue Nile continued, and in 2022, Signet Jewelers Ltd., a major player in the jewelry industry, completed its acquisition of Blue Nile for $360 million in cash. This strategic move was aimed at enhancing Signet’s portfolio and reinforcing its position in the fine jewelry sector.

How it Works

A large part of Blue Nile’s appeal was its entirely unique approach to online diamond selling. While other retailers would advertise engagement rings that were ‘in stock’, Blue Nile placed available diamonds directly from the wholesaler onto its website. This means the company doesn’t need to buy in large quantities of diamonds in order to display them to the public.

The benefit of this is a selection of diamonds that comfortably dwarfed any collections offered by other retailers. It also means the vast amounts of available stones can be sold on very small margins. This business model has since been adopted by other retailers, but Blue Nile was most certainly the pioneer in this field.

While the selection of products are big and prices are low, I think Blue Nile has oversold itself as the go-to diamond site with its diamond quality, which I explore further down in this review.

Using the Website

Blue Nile is brilliant for those who are on a budget but still have very specific ideas about what they want for their jewelry. While you can purchase ‘pre-made’ jewelry from the website, is it the selection of diamonds and settings capture the attention of most who find themselves exploring Blue Nile’s pages.

This Diamond Search page allows you to set very specific filters in order to find your diamond:

Beginning with the Four Cs, price and shape of the diamond, you can start by sliding the bars to alter the search results.

For the diamond connoisseurs, there are further details that can be added to bring only the finest diamonds to your results.

These features are hugely advantageous for creating direct comparisons between the stones. The smallest adjustments to the filters can create large alterations in price; it is worth spending some time experimenting with your results to discover the ideal stone.

One of the most recent innovations to the website is the opportunity to view a full 360° video of your diamond.

Alongside the diamond specifications, the video is a fantastic tool for getting a feel for your stone before purchasing it. The possible drawback of this technology is it can be trickier to identify flaws and inclusions within the stone.

Blue Nile's Lab Created Diamonds

Blue Nile has made a notable entry into the market of lab-grown diamonds, with most of their offerings being exclusive to their platform. A positive aspect of their selection is that many of these diamonds come certified by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), ensuring buyers of their quality and authenticity. Their inventory spans a wide selection with a range of price points, catering to diverse budgets and preferences.

However, while Blue Nile provides numerous options, their catalog does not extensively feature top-end super ideal cut diamonds, which are often sought after for their exceptional brilliance and craftsmanship. For those specifically looking for the pinnacle of lab-created diamond quality, particularly in terms of cut, the Whiteflash Precision Lab might be a better choice. Although possibly a bit pricier, Whiteflash is renowned for its meticulous attention to cut quality, which can significantly enhance a diamond's fire and brilliance.

If you're in the market for the highest quality cut diamonds, then consider the Precision Cut Lab Diamonds from Whiteflash, another great option is Brilliant Earth who have some fantastic colored lab diamonds.

Designer Rings

Blue Nile has collaborated with talented designers to create exclusive pre-set jewelry and engagement rings. These unique pieces can often be customized to meet individual preferences, allowing for special orders tailored to your needs. Consistent with Blue Nile’s mission, these designer-inspired rings are priced affordably, catering to a wide range of budgets. This blend of beauty and affordability ensures a diverse selection, providing ample choice for those seeking quality and elegance without breaking the bank.


A concern for many when purchasing such an important piece of jewelry online is that the necessary aftercare options may be limited or altogether neglected. This is certainly not the case with Blue Nile diamonds.

It offers exceptional support including complimentary cleaning and servicing, re-sizing and warranty of your jewelry. Blue Nile also gives you fully-insured international shipping, and is renowned for its smooth and efficient communication when shipping overseas. Furthermore, it has a 24-hour chat service available for those crucial moments when choosing your ring.

Blue Nile Diamond Exclusivity

Blue Nile offers a range of in-house diamonds known as Astor, introduced in late 2017 to replace the previous Signature line. While the Signature diamonds were marketed as superior due to their cut and sold at a premium, reports suggested inconsistencies in quality and little justification for the higher price.

The Astor Collection is not patented, which may imply that its uniqueness isn't as pronounced as one might expect, especially given the long-established practices in diamond cutting. Astor diamonds are typically certified by GemEx and the GIA. GemEx evaluates diamonds based on fire, brilliance, and sparkle, with Astor diamonds reportedly achieving high grades. However, Blue Nile's descriptions of these diamonds lack specific details about the proportions that supposedly optimize light return and symmetry.

It’s important to note that GemEx reports should not be relied upon for official certification purposes, as they do not provide valuation, guarantee, or scope images that can precisely assess light leakage, dispersion, and symmetry. For more reliable grading, look for Astor diamonds that come with GCAL reports, as their assessments are considered more trustworthy.

Although these diamonds are decent, they don’t include comprehensive light performance data, which is a disadvantage for those seeking detailed quality confirmation. For those who prioritize exceptional cut quality and detailed light performance analysis, Whiteflash A CUT ABOVE® diamonds remain the best-in-class choice.

A GCAL Graded Diamond From Astor by Blue Nile

The Final Word on Blue Nile

Blue Nile offers an expansive collection of options that are well-suited for those with a smaller budget, featuring a user-friendly website that simplifies the buying process. If these aspects are what you prioritize, then Blue Nile could be a great fit.

However, the company's approach to packaging and some finer details might not meet the expectations of those with a larger budget, who might find better value with other retailers such as Tiffany & Co, Hearts on fire, or Whiteflash. While Blue Nile focuses on a broad assortment, it may not match the high level of craftsmanship and meticulous detail that some competitors prioritize, such as the premium cuts and superior technology used by others.

For those seeking exceptional cut quality and detailed performance analysis, Whiteflash's A CUT ABOVE® diamonds provide proven superior light performance, supported by extensive imaging and videos. If your budget allows, considering Whiteflash might yield a more satisfying purchase.

I encourage reading my reviews  to better inform your decision. For personalized advice, feel free to contact me directly for recommendations.