James Allen Review

Is James Allen good for buying diamonds and diamond engagement rings? Learn all about the online diamond jeweler in our James Allen review.

James Allen was one of the first (and now, largest) online diamond jewelers in the world. In this James Allen review, I’ll tell you why. 

The first thing you have to understand is that James Allen is an online jeweler — two small showrooms in NYC and D.C. aside.

This fact often invokes questions like:

  • “Is James Allen as good as brick-and-mortar jewelers like Cartier, Jared, Tiffany or Zales?”
  • “Can you really trust the quality of diamonds sold online? Wouldn’t you want to see it in person?”
  • “What if there’s a problem? What if I need to resize it? Or return it entirely?”

You’ll be surprised by the answers, I think, as they unfold in this review. 

I’ll get to the specific answers in a minute. We’ll look at how easy it is to shop, buy, and even return items for a refund, resizing, or replacement. 

First, let’s look at the big picture. 

Who is James Allen?

James Allen, the man, is James Allen Schultz, one of four partners who founded the online diamond business JamesAllen.com in 2006.

The story goes that James bought his wife’s engagement ring on an online auction site in the early days of the internet. In an era when many consumers didn’t’ trust buying anything online, let alone a diamond, it was a risk.

But James was rewarded for that risk. He took his gem to appraisers to learn that he had acquired a very high quality diamond at nearly 50% off the retail value.

Sensing an opportunity, James and his wife, Michele Sigler, created James Allen with two experienced diamond experts Oden Edelman and Dean Lederman. Today, James Allen is the largest privately-held online diamond jeweler in the world.

Here are some things you should know about their company:

Can you trust James Allen?

James Allen guarantees customer satisfaction. I argue they are just as trustworthy — and even more so — than the 20th Century giants of jewelry like Cartier, and Tiffany. The reason may surprise you. 

I’ll get to specific online ratings in a minute. But the reason James Allen is so trustworthy is its system. Its organization.

All the 20th Century jewelers mean well. But most jewelers have been operating the same way for over 100 years. They’re stuck in the past. Meanwhile, James Allen’s systems are so efficient, you’ll feel better treated. 

You know the difference you feel between your experience buying something from Amazon and buying it from Best Buy? 

Best Buy means well. And often they take care of you well. But sometimes, going into a big box store is just a hassle. 

On the other hand, your life is just easy when shopping at Amazon, 99% of the time. 

James Allen is like that, but with diamonds. The customer experience at James Allen is easy, from start to finish, because of their purpose-built system, created from the ground up. 

Does James Allen have a good selection of diamonds?

Your neighborhood jewelry store might stock hundreds of diamonds. At James Allen, you can browse hundreds of thousands of diamonds, searchable by any quality (and price point) you choose. 

I’ll just repeat that. Hundreds of thousands. Over 200,000 diamonds. 

Plus, you can explore that inventory with a search engine worthy of Google. You can search via color, Fancy Color, carats, clarity, cut quality, shape, price, you name it. 

Not only that, but each and every diamond in inventory is photographed and modeled in a lifelike 3D image. You can turn these 3D images over to look at them from any angle. All this means you can find gemstones of any level of quality you choose. 

James Allen screenshot showing a 2 carat princess diamond.
The diamond detail page at James Allen, allowing you to view the actual gem in 360-degrees.

Even better, you can examine any diamond in their massive inventory at any time of day or night, for as long as you want. You can save it in a collection that you’re considering buying. You can compare it in detail to other diamonds you’re considering.

Most diamonds sold at James Allen have a GIA, IGI, or AGS diamond grading report. So you can see the results. And see the diamond for yourself. Right there on your device’s screen.

Compare that to what I’ll call the “Cartier” or “Tiffany” method of shopping in person. It’s the old-fashioned 20th Century way: 

You’re standing over a glass case, waiting to look for a few seconds through a jeweler’s loupe at a diamond. Then you’re looking. Then, it’s put away. That’s it. 

Then you must try to remember what that diamond looked like while you continue to shop. And you must keep them all straight in your memory. And maybe you look at three or four. Maybe even five or six if you’re assertive and bold. 

And finally, you’re exhausted. Maybe you feel awkward asking to see “so many.” So you just settle on one to buy. You’re pretty sure it’s good. But how do you feel? 

If you’re like a lot of people, that’s a little stressful and disappointing as a shopping experience. 

And it’s not like the full, complete, satisfying shopping experience at James Allen. 

Is James Allen a good deal?

Without the overhead of brick-and-mortar jewelers located in prime shopping districts, James Allen can sell the same quality diamonds for between 20 and 40 percent less.

These are GIA-, IGI-, and AGS-graded diamonds, so you can know exactly what quality you are getting. The product at James Allen is just as good as any other reputable diamond jeweler.

You can verify this massive price difference for yourself, by pricing a ring at Tiffany, for example, or Cartier, or even your local jewelry store, then building an identical ring at James Allen. You could literally fund a honeymoon for the difference in price.

Are James Allen diamonds good? 

Yes. James Allen sells the highest quality GIA-, IGI-, and AGS-graded diamonds in the world. Thanks to a highly efficient system and low overhead, the company can offer these top-quality diamonds at incredible discounts over brick-and-mortar jewelry stores.

You can find some of the most perfect and most expensive diamonds in the world at James Allen. More importantly, you can find nearly any quality of diamond at James Allen. That means you can also find diamonds of lower clarity and cuts if you’re on a budget.

You can find the diamond that fits you. Your happy medium, for price and quality. 

Even better, you can infinitely adjust each aspect of quality: Shape, Color, Clarity, Cut, or Carats. It’s all done by intuitive sliders. The database then serves up the kind of diamonds you’ve selected. 

It’s such a remarkable and enjoyable way to shop for diamonds. You should play with the sliders now, if you’ve never tried it. 

You can even find Fancy Color diamonds!

Are James Allen settings good? 

James Allen is a leader in selling quality diamonds online at massive discounts. But they’ve also mastered the art of producing beautiful ring settings that you can customize to your precise taste.

I wondered the same thing about James Allen settings when I first discovered them years ago. There had to be a catch, right? Perhaps it was the settings — were they somehow “less than” compared to what you might find at a Jared (or, perhaps especially, Tiffany)?

Well, no. No because the innovators at James Allen thought it through from the beginning. The innovation is in the system. It’s hyper efficient. Similar to Amazon, in that way. 

And so they’re able to put their money where it matters to the consumer. That is, not in paying rent for a brick and mortar space in the most expensive shopping districts in the world. But rather in inventory, and in search engines to sort through the inventory in a transparent, exciting shopping journey. 

They also put the savings into investments in high-quality settings. 

They have over 500 settings in all kinds of gold and platinum, and all manner of styles: Solitaire, pavé, channel set, side-stone, three-stone, tension settings, halo, and vintage inspired designs.

They even have settings created by famous designers such as Verragio, Danhov, Jeff Cooper, and Martin Flyer

Does James Allen sell lab-created diamonds? 

James Allen sells an entire collection of lab-created diamonds. As you know, lab-created diamonds are identical in every important way to earth-created diamonds. 

Lab-grown diamonds even have inclusions (tiny flaws) as a natural result of the lab-creation process. 

Lab-grown diamonds are created with massive heat and pressure, just like earth-created diamonds. Lab-created diamonds just don’t need to be mined, obviously. For that reason, many see them as environmentally and ethically superior. 

And you can easily select the big button at the top of James Allen’s diamond inventory search engine. 

James Allen screenshot showing a 1.00 carat lab-created heart-shaped diamond.
A lab-created diamond at James Allen. The blue diamond icon in the top left of the diamond inspection window indicates this is a lab-created (not earth-created) diamond.

Does James Allen sell conflict-free diamonds? 

James Allen contracts only with professional diamond suppliers who guarantee their diamonds are conflict-free. 

In the past, the diamond industry carried a bad reputation for supporting mining companies and, in some cases, entire countries that utilized slave labor and/or brutality against their miners. Hence the term “blood diamond”.

When diamonds earn a conflict-free designation, the suppliers certify that the diamonds were mined using fair labor practices.

What is the ‘True Hearts Collection’?

Like some other diamond retailers, James Allen offers a line of exclusive, premium diamonds with their trademarked designation: in this case, their True Hearts collection. 

Unlike other diamond sellers, however, James Allen’s proprietary imaging technology lets you truly see  the differences. And you also have access to all the specs and 3r-Party grading reports of True Hearts diamonds. 

A note about grading reports. Tiffany, for example, issues  it’s own grading reports. In other words, they grade themselves. 

James Allen return policy, shipping, and guarantee

There really are no “gotchas” at James Allen. I’ll run through a few of their policies here, quickly. 

James Allen provides a “risk-free buying guarantee”. You can return your purchase for a full refund within 30 days if you’re not completely satisfied.

James Allen offers free worldwide shipping.

James Allen offers financing options if you qualify. At the time of publication, they offer customers a choice between no interest on purchases over $1,000 if paid-in-full within 6 months or 24-month financing at 9.90% on purchases of $2,000 or more.

James Allen offers a “lifetime full credit upgrade guarantee“. Incredibly, you can get full credit at any time in your lifetime if you want to trade in that diamond for one of at least 2x greater value. This is incredibly tempting, and a great value, for anyone buying a smaller, lower quality ring on a budget. It means you’ll save a lot later when you want to get her a bigger diamond.

You get a lifetime warranty with every diamond. Meaning, James Allen will repair and maintain your ring for free, for a lifetime. This is the kind of I-can’t-believe-it customer service that signals you’re dealing with true industry disruptors. 

Some local jewelers depend on repairs and maintenance and cleaning as a small but worthwhile income stream. James Allen just throws it in with the purchase. (You do need to pay for shipping when you need to use this service, but that’s a modest $30 at the time of this writing.) 

Even better, the purchase price is not inflated to account for it. The purchase price is significantly less than you’d pay at a local jeweler. James Allen’s efficiency of operations, and low real estate footprint, enables this impressive customer service. 

You can get free personalized engraving. You can engrave a message. A name. A slogan. A verse. Pretty much whatever you like.

You get 24/7 Customer Service. These customer service professionals are not on commission. They don’t exist to sell you anything. They’re there to help. You can reach them by phone or by chat for instant service. Or else email for an answer within 2 business days.

Real customers’ James Allen reviews 

At TrustPilot at the time of this writing, James Allen is rated at 4.5 stars, all told. The vast majority of customers give them Excellent scores. 

At SiteJabber, it’s the same story. The James Allen review is 4.5 stars all told. And most customers rated them Excellent.

And at the somewhat stricter, more formal Better Business Bureau (this score is not determined by customer reviews, but by professionals at the BBB), James Allen at the time of this writing gets an A+

All companies get at least a few negative reviews. Based on what I’ve seen, and on my experience with James Allen, they go above and beyond to resolve issues when they (rarely) arise. 

Most of the James Allen customer reviews you’ll find at these trusted sites are positive. Even rave reviews.  

Conclusion 

While James Allen as a diamond retailer has some imitators, it’s still in a class by itself. 

As consumers mature away from the curated, directed experience of the 20th Century (walking into a local jewelry store to be guided to a selection), into consumer-directed, consumer-oriented, individualized Internet shopping for diamonds, James Allen will be a leading retailer for decades to come. 

Their diamonds are as good as any in the retail world. They offer a vast array of settings including designer settings. Their retail inventory is the largest in the world. Their search engine for sorting through the inventory is unmatched. Their policies are 100% on the customer’s side and in the customer’s interest. Their prices are far lower than many leading diamond retailers.

That has built up a large fund of deserved trust. 

And the experience of shopping — even window shopping — at James Allen is pure pleasure for anyone who has ever enjoyed a diamond. 

Shop for diamonds and diamond jewelry at James Allen now.

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Shop for diamonds or design your own ring now. Shop confidently with James Allen or Blue Nile, our recommended jewelers.