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While Zales stands as a prominent jewelry retailer with over a century of history, offering a wide array of necklaces, earrings, rings, bracelets, and more, our review hints at some reservations. Since its establishment in 1924, Zales has built a reputation based on integrity and trustworthiness, positioning itself as a respected name in the diamond retail industry. The brand takes pride in its commitment to superior quality diamonds and jewels, presented at competitive prices, and backed by a knowledgeable staff ready to assist in finding the perfect piece for any occasion.

However, in this comprehensive review of Zales, we delve into not just the retailer’s storied history and extensive selection but also examine the nuances of their customer service, corporate ethics, and commitment to ethical sourcing and environmental responsibility. While Zales offers many positives, our analysis will also touch on areas where the retailer may not fully meet the expectations of those seeking the utmost in quality and value, particularly when compared to other vendors in the market. By the conclusion of our Zales review, you’ll be equipped with a well-rounded perspective, enabling you to make an informed decision on where to invest in jewelry.

Zales website homepage

The History

In 1924, brothers Morris and Willian Zale opened the first ever Zales store in Wichita, Texas. They instituted credit plans whereby the average American consumer could afford the home appliances, cameras and jewelry that were sold in store. This very much set the tone for what the Zales name would become.

In 1957, the brothers opened their first store inside a shopping mall. The ultimate goal was to sell as much jewelry as possible for the lowest price – this started the mass marketing of jewelry within the US. From the beginning of the Zales story, the company has used smart marketing and advertising to appeal to customers.

In 2014 Zales were purchased by a large conglomerate called Signet Jewelers Limited in a deal worth $1.46 billion. The Ohio-headquartered Signet Jewelers operates in over 3,600 locations under the major retail store brands of James Allen, Kay, Jared, Blue Nile and many others in the US; H.Samuel and Ernest Jones in the UK; and People’s in Canada. Signet also now operates kiosks in the US under the brand Piercing Pagoda.

Zales Diamonds

Each branch of the Zales tree has a slightly different focus (for example, Piercing Pagoda is a low market jewelry kiosk) but the focus of Zales is diamonds and diamond engagement rings. Despite this apparent emphasis on diamonds, Zales only sell pre-set rings and do not offer loose diamonds.

You can shop by shape, setting type and metal type but there are no options to filter by diamond quality – an instant red flag for any brand who claims a commitment to diamonds.

Zales diamond

It is not uncommon for online vendors to only offer pre-set options but it is not my preferred way to shop, nor is it the way I recommend. Buying a loose diamond allows you to specify the exact qualities and work to a strict budget. It is the most transparent way to purchase an engagement ring, allowing you to allocate your finances as you see fit across the Four C’s and the setting.

Zales do specify the color and clarity of the diamond in each ring, but sadly this brings little comfort. This 1 carat solitaire features a K-I3 round brilliant – a K in color might be passable, but an I3 will be a heavily included diamond that is dull and lack-lustre. There is no mention of cut quality, so we can reasonably assume that it is either poor or unknown (or both).

Zales post an image of ‘the ring’ in question, but with a significant caveat; “Merchandise enlarged to show detail and may not always be exactly as pictured”. I can tell you quite categorically that the diamond in the photo is not a K-I3.

Indisputably the biggest red flag of all is that there is absolutely zero mention of certification anywhere. Click here to learn more about diamond certification and why it’s so important.

Zales diamonds are low quality and they capitalise on the naivety of buyers and the popularity of their name.

Whiteflash, James Allen and Blue Nile all offer large inventories of quality loose diamonds, complete with high-res imaging/video and diamond certificates. They operate with transparency and are committed to consumer education. Make your own comparisons – I assure you; the difference will be clear.

Zales Lab Created Diamonds

Zales Lab Created Diamonds are an option for customers looking to purchase quality diamonds at an affordable price. Zales offers a wide selection of lab-created diamonds in various shapes, sizes, and colors. Zales’ lab-created diamonds are grown in state-of-the-art facilities and then cut and polished to the highest standards.

The main advantage of Zales’ lab-created diamonds is that they are much less expensive than naturally mined diamonds, allowing customers to own a beautiful diamond without breaking the bank. Zales also offers a full range of customized options for their lab-created diamonds, including unique cuts and setting styles, so customers can create a truly unique piece of jewelry that is just right for them.

Zales lab created diamonds

However, it’s important to note that Zales’ lab-created diamonds may not be quite as high quality as those from other vendors like Whiteflash or Brilliant Earth. Zales’ lab-created diamonds may not have the same uniquely brilliant sparkle or clarity as other vendors. Additionally, Zales does not offer any certification with their lab diamonds, which may be off-putting to some customers who seek assurance regarding their diamond’s quality and value.

Zales Lab Created Diamonds are a lazy option for budget-conscious shoppers looking for quality jewelry at an affordable price point. These stones are not as impressive as those offered by other leading retailers.

If you’re looking for lab diamonds then try the Whiteflash Precision Lab brand, Brilliant Earth and James Allen.

The Pricing

You may think that this stack them high and sell them cheap attitude translates into great savings for the consumer – sadly this is not the case. As I have said before, there is no such thing as a budget diamond and any company claiming to sell ‘clearance’ or ‘bargain’ diamonds is simply selling poor quality diamonds with big mark ups.

A simple comparison using our example from above:

Zales Round Brilliant
Carat weight:
1.00ct (expressed as 1 carat, suggesting it could be slightly above or slightly below)
Cut: Not specified
Color: K
Clarity: I3
Certificate: None

Price: $2,699 (including a 14k white gold prong setting)

James Allen Round Brilliant
Carat weight:
Cut: Excellent
Color: K
Clarity: I1
Certificate: GIA

Price: $1,800 (pair with this 14k white gold prong setting from James Allen for a total price of $1,980)

Though not a diamond I would recommend, the James Allen diamond is objectively better than the Zales option and the setting is higher quality. Despite this, the Zales engagement ring is over $700 more expensive. In every case with Zales, you will find low quality jewelry with inexplicably high prices.

Are Zales Diamonds Ethical Sourced and Environmental Friendly

When it comes to their ethical sourcing practices and environmental friendliness, Zales falls short when compared to other vendors. Zales is not at the forefront of the diamond industry when it comes to responsibly sourcing and using sustainable materials. Zales does not provide any independent certification or assurance that the diamonds used are conflict-free or sustainably sourced, like other vendors do.

Moreover, Zales does not have a specific policy in place for reducing their carbon footprint or preserving the environment, whereas companies like Whiteflash and Brilliant Earth have been certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) for their commitment to responsible business practices. While Zales has taken steps towards implementing a standard of ethical operations and sourcing within its network, evidence of these measures can be difficult to find on Zales’ website or within its operations.

In terms of Zales’ environmental policies, Zales does not provide much information about how they are taking steps to reduce their overall carbon footprint and work towards sustainability goals. Zales does mention that they use recycled gold in some of their jewelry items, but there is no way for customers to confirm if this is true across all pieces they sell. Additionally, Zales also states that they strive to use conflict-free diamonds whenever possible; however again there is no way for customers to verify this claim beyond simply trusting Zales’ word on it.

Overall, while Zales offers quality diamonds and jewelry products at an affordable price point, they do not take any extra measures that set them apart from other retailers when it comes to ethical sourcing and environmental friendliness standards. Without independent certification or clear policies in place that support responsible business practices related to these topics, customers may feel uncertain about the origin and environmental impact of the pieces they purchase from Zales.

Zales Diamond Certification and Images

When it comes to Zales’ diamond certification process and images of the stones, Zales has taken extra steps to ensure customers know exactly what they are getting when making a purchase. Zales uses the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) system for grading their diamonds, which is one of the most respected and trusted in the industry. Zales also provides detailed images of each diamond within its online shop so customers can inspect them for flaws or blemishes before buying.

In addition to providing GIA certificates, Zales will also offer special “Zales Certified Diamonds” with additional reports that detail information such as fluorescence and brilliance levels.

When it comes to Zales’ diamond certifications, customers should be wary of placing too much trust in the papers that Zales provides. While Zales does indeed use the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) system for grading their diamonds, Zales’ certification process may still be lacking in some areas. For example, Zales does not provide independent verification that the diamonds they certify meet any specific ethical sourcing standards or sustainability criteria. Furthermore, Zales does not offer an assurance that the diamonds used are conflict-free or sustainably sourced, unlike other vendors such as Whiteflash or Brilliant Earth do.

Customers who purchase from Zales cannot confirm if their diamonds are free from blemishes or flaws, as Zales only provides images of each diamond and not any physical evidence such as magnification or clarity scales.

Overall, while Zales does provide basic certification on their diamonds and jewelry pieces, it is important to keep in mind that these certificates may not be worth the paper they are printed on without any additional evidence of Zales’ commitment to responsible business practices concerning ethical sourcing and environmental friendliness standards.

Customers should look into vendors such as Whiteflash or Brilliant Earth who have been certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) for their commitment to responsible business practices before committing to buying from Zales. In addition Whiteflash provides a plethora of light performance images with its diamonds.

Zales Customer Service

Zales puts a strong emphasis on customer service, ensuring that each and every customer feels valued. Zales’ team of certified jewelers and experienced retail staff are always available to answer questions and provide guidance throughout the shopping experience. Zales offers customers the convenience of online shopping with their website, which includes detailed product information and customer reviews. Zales also provides free shipping for jewelry purchases over $50. Additionally, Zales offers flexible financing options through Zales Credit Card and Zales Diamond Preferred Credit Card to make luxury products more accessible.

Furthermore, Zales provides customers with a lifetime warranty for diamond jewelry purchases. Zales’ experts examine each piece in-store or online before it is shipped, so customers can be sure they are getting top quality items. In addition to diamonds, Zales also offers additional warranties for gemstones and precious metals such as gold, platinum and sterling silver jewelry.

Zales offers a comprehensive returns policy for all of the jewelry and diamond purchases made through Zales. All Zales products purchased in-store or online can be returned within 30 days of purchase along with the original sales receipt. Returns must be accompanied by all original paperwork, including any certificates for diamond or gemstone purchases. Zales also accepts returns for items purchased with Zales Credit Card, Zales Diamond Preferred Credit Card and Zale’s extended payment plans.

Zales Return Policy

Customers have several options when returning jewelry to Zales: they can exchange their item for something else in store; receive a refund to their original payment method; or get a credit on their Zales account that can be used towards future purchases. Zales also provides customers with the option of resizing rings and other jewelry pieces that fit poorly within 30 days from purchase date at no extra cost. Customers may also return defective items under warranty within 90 days of purchase, depending on the item’s individual warranty instructions.

Zales understands that sometimes customers are not completely happy with their purchase, so they make it easy to return any items they don’t want. They offer free shipping on all returns made within the US, as well as an online return portal that makes it simple to start a return quickly and easily. For international orders, Zales requires customers to contact them directly to arrange shipping and return details before sending anything back.

For added convenience, Zales operates several Buy Online Pick Up In Store locations throughout the US where customers can order online and pick up in-store without waiting for delivery or paying extra shipping costs. With such flexibility when returning products, customers can shop worry-free knowing that if something isn’t quite right for them, Zales will help find a solution that works best for them!

Final Word

Zales’ diamonds do not match the superior quality, sparkle, and clarity found with vendors like Whiteflash or Brilliant Earth. Also, Zales’ lack of certification for their lab diamonds could be a concern for customers wanting proof of their diamond’s quality and worth. So, if you’re after the best craftsmanship and outstanding brilliance in your diamond jewelry, it might be wise to look beyond Zales for higher quality stones.

For the highest quality diamonds available have a look at Whiteflash review, they specialize in super ideal cut natural and lab vvs diamonds. I would also take a look at Blue Nile and Brilliant Earth as other options to consider.