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Marketing themselves to a new generation of diamond-buyers, James Allen and Blue Nile are online retailers which have, in recent years, revolutionized the experience of purchasing luxury jewelry such as diamond engagement rings.
By providing an enormous range of loose diamonds at incredibly competitive prices, as well as a Signature Range each, both companies hold a niche in the market for those looking to make a purchase in a lower price bracket, whilst still providing a high-quality service with an emphasis on excellent customer experience.
With so many similarities, you might be left wondering: what’s the best way to choose between these two brands? Fortunately, our in-depth comparison will provide you with all the details you need to make the right choice for you.
Choice of diamonds
One of the first things any buyer wants to know is how much choice they’re going to have when it comes to selecting their product, and customers of both brands will be pleased by an enormous selection. But who wins out in this statistical sweepstake?
James Allen and Blue Nile are pretty similar in terms of numbers: the former has an inventory of around 210,000 loose diamonds, whilst the latter sits somewhere around 198,000. When it comes to setting designs, James Allen wins again, with more than 590 unique designs available in comparison to Blue Nile’s 360+. However, realistically that’s not an issue as long as you find ‘the one’ for you.
If you’re looking for a colored diamond, both James Allen and Blue Nile will be able to provide it. James Allen’s selection is smaller, but because they offer lab-created diamonds as well as earth-created ones, they are able to charge a slightly lower price. Blue Nile, meanwhile, has more colored diamonds at a higher price point.
Ultimately, between the two there is not much difference. However, the greater selection offered by James Allen means that it just wins out over its competition.
Price, Returns and Guarantees
Just as important as the selection of diamonds is the price tag attached to them. Both Blue Nile and James Allen are budget sellers, with prices around 25-40% lower than physical stores regardless of which retailer you choose, so both are winners really.
However, Blue Nile is slightly cheaper, particularly when it comes to engagement rings. Comparing two engagement rings of similar design with the same setting, Blue Nile comes out less expensive. Apart from this, the two brands are effective even in terms of price across the board, with a few individual exceptions.
Both companies offer a 30-day money back guarantee on their products; return shipping is free for James Allen and at the customer’s expense for Blue Nile. Similarly, James Allen’s warranty policy is more generous: their lifetime warranty covers repairs and maintenance, whereas Blue Nile’s is just a manufacturing warranty.
James Allen also offers free prong tightening, re-polishing, rhodium plating and cleaning services, whereas Blue Nile offers complimentary cleaning and inspection. However, where Blue Nile offers a buyback program, James Allen does no such thing.
While the two brands are largely neck-and-neck on price, James Allen offers a more generous warranty and returns policy, whilst Blue Nile customers can benefit from the buyback program. Here, then, they are equal overall.
Imagery + Website
Since both brands are primarily online retailers, their websites play a significant part in how much product they sell. It therefore makes sense that both websites are very intuitive and easy to use.
Both James Allen and Blue Nile have a filtering feature that allows customers to narrow down their options and find exactly what they’re looking for; once you’ve chosen your product, both websites allow you to view it in 360-degrees, although Blue Nile originated this feature.
However, what really sets James Allen apart from its competitor is its incredibly high-quality and detailed images, which allow customers to see imperfections in the diamonds using the Super Zoom feature.
Buying diamonds online is often likened to buying blind, and James Allen eliminates that concern. It is this uniquely good imaging that makes them the clear winner here.
Both Blue Nile and James Allen offer signature ranges called, respectively, Astor and True Hearts. Naturally, these ‘premium’ in-house cuts rack up an additional price.
Unfortunately, Astor does not quite justify its price hike. Although the diamonds are good-quality and of course very beautiful, they lack supporting technical data and certification, and are cut less precisely than True Heart diamonds, which are ‘near flawless’ although equally unsupported by technical data.
This minor difference in quality marks James Allen out as the winner, just about.
Despite the minor differences and details brought out in this article, the truth is that both Blue Nile and James Allen are fantastic budget diamond retailers. You can’t really go wrong with either brand.
However, if you’re looking for additional security in the forms of returns, warranties and high-quality product images, James Allen is the way to go. If you’re after a specific engagement ring setting, take a look at Blue Nile. Whichever you choose, you can feel confident in making a great choice.