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Jeweler Reviews: The Best Online Jewelers for Buying Diamonds

by David Weliver

I created this website and my independent diamond buying guide after my personal experience shopping online for my wife’s diamond engagement ring online. At the time, there were only one or two jewelers selling diamonds online and very few jeweler reviews upon which to compare them.

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.

The best online jewelers for diamonds

There are three jewelers — Blue Nile, James Allen, and Brilliant Earth — that I consider to be the best online jewelers for buying a diamond or engagement ring.

When I was shopping for a diamond online, I narrowed the field to two online jewelers that are included in my recommendations here. I’m also including a third jeweler here that I wasn’t aware of the time but is doing some interesting things.

These 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 they’ve been around the longest and 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 jewelry, too, but — by and large — their business is diamonds, whether loose or in a custom engagement ring setting.

I also include Brilliant Earth because of their unique commitment to responsibly-sourced diamonds. If you want to be assured that you’re buying a conflict and environment-friendly diamond, Brilliant Earth needs to be at the top of your list.

Let’s look at these three jewelers 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. Read our full James Allen review here.

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.

Read more about James Allen in our full review.

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 publicly-traded company listed on the NASDAQ under the symbol NILE. Read our full Blue Nile review here.

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.

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

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.

Read more about Blue Nile in our full review.

Brilliant Earth

Brilliant Earth bills itself as the ethical choice among online jewelers. Social and environmental responsibility guides everything they do. Read our full Brilliant Earth review here.

Pricing

Brilliant Earth’s prices are far better than brick-and-mortar jewelers and competitive with other online jewelers.

That said, Brilliant Earth takes measures above and beyond most jewelers to ensure their diamonds are responsibly-sourced. Understandably, this adds to their costs. Are Brilliant Earth’s prices competitive? Yes. Are they the lowest-priced diamonds you can find? No.

Features

Brilliant Earth has tens of thousands of both natural and synthetic (lab-grown) diamonds to choose from.

You can filter diamonds based on price, shape, and the 4 Cs. Most diamonds have 3D imaging. Brilliant Earth also has a Diamond Quiz to help you find the perfect gem.

Brilliant Earth's diamond buying filter and quiz.
Brilliant Earth’s diamond search tool (and a link to their Diamond Quiz).

Brilliant Earth has showrooms in nine major US cities and also offers virtual appointments so you can meet with a consultant and view diamonds in real-time.

Policies

Brilliant Earth offers free shipping both ways, a free lifetime warranty, and extended holiday returns.

They also offer a lifetime upgrade program and flexible payment options.

Read more about full Brilliant Earth in our full review.

What to know before buying 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.)

Links to my full-length jeweler reviews

Recommended Jewelers

James Allen

James Allen logo

James Allen is the most competitive diamond vendor with more than 150,000 loose diamonds in inventory. They have been a leader in selling diamonds online and pioneered 3D imaging so you can see the exact diamond you're buying in exquisite detail. You'll find it hard to beat James Allen in terms of price or selection. Read our James Allen review.

Shop James Allen »

Brilliant Earth

Brilliant Earth logo

Brilliant Earth is the global leader in ethically-sourced jewelry. Brilliant Earth goes above and beyond existing standards to offer “Beyond Conflict Free Diamonds” that they select for their ethical and environmentally-responsible origins. With over 120,000 diamonds in inventory, you can be sure to find your perfect diamond and feel good knowing it was responsibly-sourced. Read our Brilliant Earth review.

Shop Brilliant Earth »

Blue Nile

Blue Nile logo

Blue Nile is the world's largest online jeweler. Their reputation for quality and customer service is unparalleled in the industry. Blue Nile offers free shipping, a 30-day return policy and satisfaction guarantee. Read our Blue Nile review.

Shop Blue Nile »