James Allen vs Blue Nile – 2022 Comparison of The Top 2 Online Jewelry Stores

Last Updated on December 29, 2023

If you are considering buying diamonds and other jewelry, you may be hesitant to buy them online. Diamonds are a big purchase, and they are usually for special occasions, so you want them to be perfect. 

As long as you are buying diamonds from legit websites, it is safe to buy them online. There are websites that offer photographs of the specific diamond you will receive, 30-day money-back guarantee, insured shipping, and free returns. 

The best websites to buy diamonds from have photographs of the diamonds, offer GIA (Gemmological Institute of America) or AGS (American Gemmological Society) grading reports for their pieces, and have experts available to assist you. 

Buying diamonds online doesn’t have to be daunting. Websites like James Allen and Blue Nile are excellent choices for online diamond shopping. 

If you are undecided about which website to purchase diamonds and other expensive gems from, this article describes two of the best websites to use and discusses the pros and cons of each.


Why buy diamonds online?

Buying diamonds online has its perks. For example, there is no pressure to make a purchase. If you choose to go to an in-person jewelry store, a clerk will be there to answer your questions and assist you. This can be helpful, but you may also feel pressured to buy something you don’t really want.

Buying diamonds online allows you to shop around as long as you like and comparison shop at different stores. Online jewelry stores also offer more options than what you can find in an in-person store. Also, being able to search for a specific cut or color online can help you find that perfect piece.

Another perk of online diamond shopping is that you can see pictures of the jewelry pieces on real people. People post photos and reviews of their engagement rings online all the time, so you can easily see how your ring would look on someone’s hand.

The Millennial generation has revolutionized online shopping, so is it any surprise that there is a way to shop for fine jewelry online as well? 

What are the cons of buying diamonds online?

When buying diamonds online, you won’t be able to see them in person before you buy one. While some websites like James Allen allow you to see photographs and 360-degree videos of the specific diamond you will get, it is not the same as holding it in person and watching the light reflect off of it.

Another con of buying diamonds online is that you don’t get one-on-one advice from a salesperson. You can chat with an expert on some websites, but you may not get the same experience as you would in an in-person store.

Perhaps the biggest con of buying diamonds online is that you may not be getting what you paid for. Sketchy websites or black market websites may seem like a good way to get a high-quality diamond at a low price, but you may not receive what you wanted.

Blue Nile

Blue Nile is the world’s largest online jewelry store. Blue Nile has been around for a while, so they have more experience than other online jewelry stores.

They also offer lab-grown diamonds if you are looking for rare colors of diamonds. You also have the option to design your own engagement ring.

James Allen

James Allen is a modern online jewelry store that specializes in fine jewelry. They are the new age of engagement rings for the next generation.

What makes James Allen unique is their dropshipping model. They sell diamonds and gems from suppliers around their home office. Photographers take pictures of every aspect of the diamond, so you can see 360-degree videos of the diamonds online before you buy them.

Another unique thing about James Allen is that you can design your own engagement ring and inspect it before you buy it using their Diamond Inspection service – a one-on-one consultation with an expert.

Once you purchase a diamond or gem from James Allen, one of their gemologists inspects it to ensure quality. Once it passes inspection, it gets shipped to you. 

James Allen offers free returns, free resizing, fully insured shipping, and lifetime warranties that include repolishing, cleaning, and stone replacement. 

Which is best – James Allen or Blue Nile?

James Allen offers 360-degree videos of the exact diamond you will be receiving. This is not only a fun way to shop for diamonds, it is also more practical. You can compare diamonds side-by-side to choose the one that is right for you. 

Blue Nile includes a chart with the diamond’s ratings on their website, however, this does not mean you will be satisfied when you receive your diamond. Without seeing the diamond, you run the risk of not getting what you thought you were getting.

The 4C’s of diamonds oversimplifies the overall complexities of a diamond. For example, two diamonds that are identical in each of the 4C ratings could appear totally different from each other. The 4C rating does not describe how different diamonds reflect light. This is why you shouldn’t purchase a diamond solely based on the 4C rating. 

A pro of Blue Nile is that they have a more extensive selection. Blue Nile has plenty of options to choose from on their website. If you are looking for a unique jewelry piece, you can use the search bar to find that special item.

Since the price difference is not drastic, either option can be the right one depending on what you are looking for.

Which is more affordable – James Allen or Blue Nile?

Both online diamond websites have great pricing compared to in-person jewelry stores. While their pricing is neck and neck, Blue Nile is a tad more affordable. 

Blue Nile also offers Diamond Price Guarantee, meaning if you can find the exact diamond somewhere else cheaper, they will match the price.

Just because the diamonds are slightly less expensive on Blue Nile, doesn’t mean it is the best choice for you. Because James Allen offers real photographs and 360-degree views of their diamonds, you can ensure you are getting what you want. This could be worth spending a little more.

Which has better customer service – James Allen or Blue Nile?

Both jewelry websites have excellent customer service. Customer service is an essential part of making any large purchase, especially something like diamonds and gems, which the average person is not an expert on.

Also, since diamonds are typically associated with engagement rings and wedding rings, it is crucial to get the advice and help you need in a timely manner. 

James Allen’s customer service is available 24/7. They are known to be very fast when answering customer service calls and emails. 

Blue Nile is also quick to answer customer service calls and emails, however, they are not available 24/7. A pro of Blue Nile’s customer service is that you can use it to reserve a diamond. Once you make a request to hold a diamond, they will take it off their gallery. 

Both James Allen and Blue Nile offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. If you are not satisfied with your purchase, you can ship it back and get a full refund.

James Allen’s 360-degree views

James Allen’s website offers not just photographs of the diamonds available for sale, but also 360-degree videos of them. This allows you to see the diamond you will receive from every angle before purchasing. 

Because James Allen offers this feature, you don’t have to rely on the ratings of the 4C’s. You can judge it for yourself. If you aren’t exactly sure what each of the C’s mean, that’s ok. You can decide if you like a diamond without these ratings. 

At other online jewelers such as Blue Nile, they provide the ratings of the diamonds and show you a generic picture. But this isn’t enough to guarantee satisfaction when you see your diamond for the first time. You shouldn’t purchase a diamond based on the grade report alone. You may be disappointed in other factors when it is finally delivered.

At James Allen, you get the ratings and a view of the diamond from any angle. This allows you to see subtle differences such as how they reflect light, the eye-cleanliness, and the overall quality. This is also a better way to compare diamonds side by side to determine which one is best for you.

Are online diamond stores less expensive than jewelry stores?

Since online jewelry stores like James Allen and Blue Nile only have to pay for website maintenance rather than showrooms and salespeople, you can get the same quality diamonds for a much lower price. 

How to make sure you get good quality diamonds online

When purchasing diamonds or other gems, you want to make sure the store you are buying from offers GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or AGS (American Gemological Society) grading reports for their pieces.

GIA and AGS grading reports are official reports that will guarantee good quality of diamonds and other gems. They use the 4C’s to determine the overall quality of each stone.

Anytime you buy a diamond or other expensive gem, whether you are purchasing it online or in a store, make sure it has been rated by either GIA or AGS to make sure you are getting a high-quality diamond.

Take your time when shopping for diamonds online. Use websites like James Allen to get real photographs and 360-degree videos of the diamond you will be receiving. 

When you are using James Allen’s website to shop for diamonds, you can compare diamonds next to each other to see the difference in clarity, symmetry, and eye-cleanliness to decide which is right for you. 

Before purchasing a diamond online, talk to an expert if you are hesitant or have any questions. Experienced gemologists will answer any questions you have, giving you peace of mind when making a big purchase.

Is it safe to buy diamonds online?

As long as you are at a legit online diamond store that offers diamonds and gems rated through GIA or AGS, buying diamonds online is safe. Websites like James Allen offer fully insured jewelry pieces, meaning if they get lost during shipping, you are not responsible. 

Make sure the site you are buying diamonds from offers free returns in case the diamond comes in and you are not satisfied.

Never buy diamonds, gems, or expensive jewelry on black-market or sketchy sites. You have no idea of knowing if you are getting authentic diamonds or fake ones. Even if they turn out to be real, the jewelry pieces could be stolen.

It is up to you to decide which is better, James Allen or Blue Nile. Each has its pros and cons. If you prefer a more traditional way of buying diamonds online with plenty of options to choose from, Blue Nile is the better choice. 

If you need to see photographs and videos of your diamond from all angles before you are comfortable buying a diamond online, James Allen is better for you.  

Blue Nile has been around longer than most other online jewelers, including James Allen. If you are looking for experience and established history, Blue Nile is the way to go. Their credibility and selection make them a great choice for purchasing diamonds online.

James Allen is a more modern option for diamond buyers. James Allen’s website allows you to view each diamond from every angle. This ensures you are purchasing exactly what you are looking for. 

Both James Allen and Blue Nile offer high-quality diamonds at a reasonable price online. They both have great customer service, offer guarantees, and have many options to choose from. Both websites offer the ability to chat with an expert gemologist, which can be helpful with a purchase as significant as an engagement ring.

The best place to buy diamonds online is up to you. Depending on your preferences, what you are looking for, and what you are comfortable with, both James Allen and Blue Nile are both great choices. 

Eran Hayo is the Chief Editor of Jewels Advisor, with over 5 years of experience in the fields of jewelry and memorabilia. He built Jewels Advisor to serve one main purpose – to teach you everything he knows about jewelry, and help you make better-informed decisions when buying diamonds and engagement rings online. His work has been cited on famous publications such as The Sun, MSN and WikiHow.