The Best Online Jewelers for Buying Diamonds

by David Weliver on October 28, 2013

I created DiamondBuyingSchool.com after my personal experience shopping online for my wife’s diamond engagement ring online.

As a tech-savvy consumer, I knew that I could save money – lots of it – by buying an authentic and beautiful diamond online instead of paying nearly double at a retail store.

Still, I got cold feet.

Yes, diamonds cost a lot. But more importantly, every diamond is unique. A new computer costs a lot, too, but once you select a model, every one is the same. Not so with a diamond.

When I was shopping for a diamond online, I narrowed the field to two online jewelers that are the same two I recommend to you here.

Both jewelers offer what I considered to be must-haves for buying a diamond online:

  • A wide selection of certified diamonds
  • Free, insured shipping
  • 100% refund return policy

I choose James Allen and Blue Nile because diamonds are their business. Sure, every Zales and Jared in America sells lots of diamonds, but they also deal in gold, emeralds, and watches. James Allen and Blue Nile sell some other jewelery, too, but — by and large — their business is diamonds, whether loose or in a custom engagement ring setting.

Let’s look at both now.

James Allen

James Allen is an online jeweler with offices in Maryland and in New York City’s diamond districts. James Allen specializes in loose diamonds and custom-set engagement rings.

Pricing

Like Blue Nile, James Allen’s diamond prices are the best you’ll find without travelling to a diamond district and haggling first hand.

James Allen’s pricing for a 1-carat diamond with a good or very good cut, H-F color and VS2 or VS1 clarity ranged from $4,500 to $10,200. A half-carat diamond with a good cut, J color and VS1 clarity was available for $970.

(Of course these are just examples, you can chose from over 20,000 diamonds of all sizes and prices, from $100 to over $100,000!)

Features

James Allen has an intuitive diamond search and comparison tool with which you can filter all of their diamond inventory down by price, carat (size), color, clarity, cut and even advanced criteria like symmetry, table percentage, and more. Chosen diamonds can be purchased loose or set in a custom engagement ring.

Best Online Jewelers: James Allen diamond search tool.

James Allen also offers a unique 360-degree photograph of each individual diamond (shown below) which allows you to pan and zoom on each stone. Maybe it’s not as good as seeing a diamond in person, but it’s the next best thing.

JamesAllen_Diamond_Details

Policies

James Allen offers a lifetime warranty, free shipping, free returns, and a 60-day return policy. The only potential cost with returning an item is a $25 restocking fee on engraved items only.

Basically, online diamond jewelers know that people have reservations about buying a diamond online, so they try to make it as easy as possible. If you have to order a couple rings, try them on, and return them, they’re OK with that, they’ll even cover the shipping.

Blue Nile

Blue Nile is an online-only jeweler founded in 1999. According to the company, Blue Nile is now the largest online retailer of certified diamonds. Blue Nile is a publically-traded company listed on the NASDAQ under the symbol NILE.

Pricing

Blue Nile sells diamonds at a considerable discount over brick-and-mortar retailers. Here are two examples.

Blue Nile’s pricing for a 1-carat diamond with a good or very good cut, H-F color and VS2 or VS1 clarity ranged from $5,216 to $12,077. A half-carat diamond with a good cut, J color and VS1 clarity was available for $979.

Features

Blue Nile gives you a tool that sorts through over 80,000 diamonds by price, shape, and all of the “four Cs”. Advanced users can search by criteria such as polish and fluorescence, as well.

Best Online Jewelers: Blue Nile's diamond search tool.

Blue Nile displays a diagram of each diamond showing its unique characteristics and dimensions; some stones also have photos.

Best Online Jewelers: Blue Nile diamond details.

Policies

Blue Nile offers free FedEx shipping on all products. Items under $250 are shipped free via FedEx Ground, items between $250 and $500 go Second Day Air, and items over $1,000 are shipped free via FedEx Priority Overnight. Saturday delivery is available in most areas for $20. Shipments over $1,000 require a signature.

Blue Nile has a free 30-day return and exchange period. Engraved items may be returned but the engraving fee is non-refundable. You are responsible for return shipping and insurance.

Buying a Diamond from an Online Jeweler

Chances are, you will find thousands of diamonds in your price range using these online jeweler’s tools. That’s daunting — but at least you can feel good about purchasing your stone from either of these companies.

As with any major purchase, read up on how to buy a diamond online and become comfortable with the jeweler you select. Leave enough time so that you can take advantage of their return policies if the product you receive isn’t 100 percent what you wanted. (I did this with my wedding ring; I ordered it online but wasn’t happy with the width, so I exchanged it for a bigger one.)

Shop for diamonds now at James Allen or Blue Nile.

diamondFind Diamonds Now
Shop for diamonds or design your own engagement ring now. Shop confidently with James Allen, our recommended online diamond jeweler »

Previous post: