If it’s your first time to buy fine diamond jewelry, you’ll have sticker shock at the major retailers. But with easy search techniques, you’ll find certified, bigger, better diamonds — for $1,000s less.
Fine diamond shopping online has changed massively over the past few years. But you have to know how to take advantage of the new search engines at some popular online diamond retailers.
James Allen and Blue Nile are the two best positioned online diamond retailers to save you money while selling you certified, better diamonds. When I say “better diamonds” I mean better diamonds than you’ll find from traditional diamond retailers at about the same price point.
I’m not just shilling for James Allen and Blue Nile, and here’s how you can know that: Over the years I’ve done a lot of shopping for diamonds, and written tens of thousands of words about it here and elsewhere. James Allen and Blue Nile stand head and shoulders above the field. They have:
- Industry-disrupting diamond inventory search engines. (There’s really no comparison elsewhere, compared to these two retailers. They have access to vast numbers of diamonds. They’ve perfected their business operations to rapidly sell you any single diamond among literally over a hundred thousand diamond, in James Allen’s case. That’s not usual. It’s very uncommon. These may be the only two retailers who can do that.)
- Consistently, almost universally, the lowest prices. (James Allen especially has found a way to scale its efficiencies. No other retailers compare for low prices, “competing” against James Allen and Blue Nile. And James Allen usually beats Blue Nile, in the comparisons I have done. I publish virtually all the comparisons I do, too. So you’ll see how overwhelmingly James Allen beats everyone in my experience.)
- High-end, white-glove customer service. (James Allen and Blue Nile consistently get high marks for customer service. Of course, any company will have some negative reviews here and there, whether these are honest negative reviews or not. But overwhelmingly, the customer-friendly policies at Blue Nile and James Allen blow away the traditional retailers.)
- Industry-disrupting online imaging of individual diamonds. (Both of these highly innovative retailers make it possible for you to examine in great detail an individual diamond you are considering. That’s not even possible at a local jewelry store, where you’ll get a few minutes at most with two or three diamonds, if they really like you and know that you’re going to spend a lot. And forget about it at online retailers such as Jared’s, where I’ve only ever seen artist’s conceptions of diamonds: stock images of what it might look like on a ring.)
So that’s why I focus on Blue Nile and James Allen in this article. (And, to date, in this blog.)
- They are the best, by every measure.
- I’m saving you time.
- I’m being honest, not pretending to “give every retailer equal time,” when … in the case of many traditional retailers … they don’t deserve to take up your time. They’ve already lost the game. I’m steering you right.
In fact, in article after article here in my blog, I show you how you can literally pay thousands of dollars less at James Allen or Blue Nile (say, 60% less, or even greater discounts) AND get a certified, better, bigger diamond.
Of course you expect proof, as you should. For proof, see any random article, pretty much, in the right sidebar. I show you the screenshots. I show you the diamond specs. I point to the diamond certificates. You’ll be amazed and maybe even indignant toward the traditional retailers.
1. It’s ok to find inspiration at a traditional diamond retailer. But buy from Blue Nile or James Allen.
Traditional names in diamond shopping give you security. They are counting on that. They want you to trust them. But in my view, based on my price comparisons, they’re going to overcharge you. What I mean is this: Jared, Zales, Tiffany, etc. (you name the traditional diamond retailer, high-end, low-end, medium-level, doesn’t matter IMHO)… all will charge you much more, spec for spec, for a given quality of diamond.
And in my anecdotal research, I find that many times, many traditional diamond sellers such as Kay, and many of the rest, don’t even offer diamond certificates. That’s hugely important. If there’s not a diamond certificate from the likes of GIA, AGS, or IGI, then we don’t really know who graded it. Or if the diamond grader was competent. Or if they were unbiased.
So if an uncertified diamond at Jared has an “I” Color grade and an “I1” Clarity grade (both are bad enough, and common enough), we don’t know if it’s really at those levels or not.
Why James Allen and Blue Nile?
Like any blogger who writes more than a few posts, I am an affiliate. Specifically, I’m an affiliate for James Allen. But I don’t blog about them because I get a small commission when my readers buy something from them.
I blog about James Allen because they off incredible prices and service. I would not have started this blog without them. I call them the Amazon of diamond retailers. Why? Because they are incredible disruptors, and in a good way for you the consumer.
Blue Nile is a close second, in terms of price.
But no one beats James Allen for price and service. They must have thousands (or tens of thousands, maybe more) affiliates, just like Amazon began to dominate the entire Internet in the early 2,000s.
So, the bottom line is: I send you to James Allen in general because no one beats their prices, their efficiencies, and their constant innovation and improvement. They really are like the Amazon of diamond shopping in that way.
Inspiration from a Zales or Tiffany is like window shopping. But don’t buy from them. Buy from James Allen or Blue Nile.
I think it’s fine to be inspired by designs at the traditional retailers such as Jared, Helzberg, Tiffany, etc.
But don’t buy from a traditional retailer.
Instead, use the inspiration from their designs to shop at James Allen or Blue Nile. You’ll get a much lower price. You’ll also get a certified, better, bigger diamond. Lower price and bigger better diamond.
The 60% or more price differential (in general) is not too good to be true, as any random article from my blog (see the right sidebar) will prove to you, with screenshot after screenshot.
2. How to search for specific shapes and sizes of diamond at Blue Nile or James Allen.
Once you’ve found a design you like at a traditional diamond retailer, you’re ready to be amazed by the money you save by shopping at Blue Nile or James Allen.
You start by searching for a diamond, filtering by shape and size.
3. Buy diamonds only if they have a certification from these certification labs.
Another reason to not buy from a traditional diamond retailer, besides the fact of their higher prices, is they frequently lack a 3rd-party, unbiased certification for diamonds.
I’ve been shocked, to be honest: many of the diamonds I’ve researched at traditional diamond retailers don’t have any certification mentioned. That goes for even very very expensive diamonds, sometimes. And that’s shocking. It’s a dealbreaker, IMHO. No certification means you can’t really trust the specs, in my opinion. At least, I wouldn’t. Because who knows who graded the diamond? Were they competent? Unbiased?
So, buy only diamonds which have a certificate from the GIA, IGI, or AGS. That way you’ll always know that a 3rd-party gemologist working for a specialized, unbiased lab is who graded your diamond. And you can trust the specs.
4. Check the Clarity and Color grades first.
It’s true that Cut Quality is a contender for the most important quality of a diamond, among the 4 Cs. (Cut, Clarity, Color, and Carats.)
But you can best see the “health” of a diamond deal by looking at the Clarity and Color scores. Start with carats, of course. But then move directly to Clarity and Color. Finally, you can fine tune your Cut Quality selection.
At Jared, or Costco, or some other traditional diamond retailer (I count Costco among them because they have a similar way of selling, and typically overcharge based on my research), look at the Color and the Clarity scores.
You’ll probably find that they are a bit disappointing.
Then move straight to way #5, below:
5. Use my search techniques to filter for the same Clarity and Color grades at James Allen or Blue Nile.
Now you can compare prices rapidly, by filtering/searching for the same Color and Clarity scores at James Allen. (See the image just below.)
You’re going to be amazed. Stunned. The price savings are real. There isn’t a catch. In fact, the diamonds you’ll find so much less at James Allen are better in most cases because they have a certificate from the GIA, IGI, or AGS.
6. Feel all the WINNING emotion of seeing the MUCH lower prices.
This is important. Feel the win! It’s not a mirage. The diamond certificates / grading reports prove it. See what I mean by looking at a couple of articles in the sidebar of this blog. My mainstay article pattern is to compare a diamond offer from a traditional retailer to a diamond offer I find at James Allen.
These are easy to find, and you can do it too.
(If you want me to find one for you, just send me a link to any diamond ring at a traditional retailer. I’ll very likely be able to find you a certified, better diamond offer at James Allen for way, way less.)
7. Choose a SI2 Clarity to maximize your quality / value balance.
People get very fancy and detailed with their Clarity recommendations. That’s fine. But a lot of it is to practice being a “diamond snob” or position themselves as an uber expert over you.
You can do this, I promise.
It’s not rocket science. It’s not art appreciation, or wine tasting. Basically you look for visible flaws in a diamond. If you don’t see many, you’ve found a keeper.
Boiled down a rule of thumb is this: Choose SI2 Clarity (slightly included 2nd level… and inclusion just means “flaw”… so this means “slightly flawed 2nd level”).
VS2 is a level at which you may or may not be able to see visible flaws with the naked eye. It’s sort of the tipping point for Clarity score / value. It’s where you can find some relatively invisible flaws, but the prices still take a hit because the flaws exist.
If you find a specific diamond at VS2 which has the flaws hidden deep inside, great. You’ve saved money.
You can check out any specific diamond’s individual clarity at James Allen by looking at the diamond’s magnified images. (That’s something you simply can’t do for most, or any?, diamonds at traditional retailers such as Jared, Zales, Tiffany, etc.)
8. Enjoy the secure emotion of seeing your diamond is fully certified and graded by an independent lab.
This is another emotional experience which is a hugely important step. Enjoy it. Enjoy feeling the security of seeing that the diamond you’re looking at (at James Allen or Blue Nile) has a certificate. It has a certificate from an established, trusted, 3rd-party, unbiased lab such as GIA, IGI, or AGS.
That’s something which many diamonds from traditional diamond retailers don’t have, strangely. Some do. Some don’t. But virtually all of them at James Allen and Blue Nile do.
(Always verify for yourself, for any specific diamond you’re considering purchasing. And do NOT ever buy a diamond which does not have a certificate / grading report from GIA, AGS, or IGI.)
9. Even earth-created diamonds at James Allen or Blue Nile are much better, and much lower priced, using my search techniques.
Now a quick note: you can get earth-created diamonds at James Allen or Blue Nile. Or you can get lab-created diamonds. Of course.
Even the earth created diamonds at James Allen or Blue Nile are far, far lower in price than diamonds at traditional retailers.
10. Get EVEN LOWER prices by choosing lab-created diamonds.
Lab-created diamonds are identical to traditional, mined, earth-created diamonds in chemical composition, structure, in every physical way.
They just were created in a lab, not deep inside the earth. But because market knowledge is still catching up with lab-created diamonds (there is still a lot of confusion among buyers, who aren’t 100% comfortable with them), you can get amazing deals on lab-created diamonds
To see a few, click on almost any of my blog articles in the right sidebar. Your jaw will hit the floor.
I’ve seen cases where a diamond that cost $22K at at a traditional diamond seller cost only only $9K from James Allen, in lab-created version. (And the James Allen was a certified, better diamond by the objective specs!)
Conclusion: Can you afford the diamond you have in mind? Yes, you can. You can afford a certified, bigger better one at James Allen. And get it for far less money than at Jared, etc.
I’ve spelled out 10 ways to completely surpass her expectations and hopes. I also write article after article putting these principles into practice. (Scroll up to see many of the latest articles in the right sidebar. Your diamond-shopping world will CHANGE in 30 seconds. You’ll see that you can afford a much bigger, better diamond than you thought.)
Don’t suppose anything I’ve said here is too good to be true, even though it may sound like it at first.
The diamond industry is being disrupted (at least the retail end of it is). This is to your advantage. Enjoy reading these articles, and always feel free to reach out if you need it.
It’s easy to get great deals on better diamond jewelry — for less money! Here’s how:
- Scroll up to the section on “How to Get the James Allen Deals.”
- Follow the easy directions there.
- Feel 100% confident that you bought the best diamond for the money
How to search this site to save up to tens of thousands of dollars at trusted diamond retailers, vs most any Costco, Kay, Jared, or Zales ring you’re considering
Search and save. You could save enough for a new compact car. Or a honeymoon. Or several expensive dinner dates. Or that guitar you’ve been wanting.
Read this very short note on how easy it is.