Updated March 19, 2021

James Allen Review: Is It Good?

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Are James Allen engagement rings affordable AND ethical? Read this in-depth review to find out if she will say yes to a cheaper ring.

James Allen

Overall Score

4.6

Price

5.0

Selection

4.5

Customer Service

4.5

Data

4.5
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • 360° HD video for every diamond
  • Among the lowest diamond prices
  • Free expert consultation
  • Limited selection of super ideal cut diamonds

Bottom Line

Good online diamond retailer with 360 degree HD videos

James Allen is one of the most popular online engagement ring retailers. It's known for low prices, 360-degree videos of their diamonds, great customer service, and 30-day full refund policy.

Is this retailer as good as they say?

To test them out and give you an honest review, we ordered a diamond ring from James Allen as a secret shopper.

In this review, we'll go over why James Allen stands out from the rest, our shopping experience and unboxing, and any cons. We'll also compare to other online jewelers like Blue Nile.

Jump to a section below or scroll down to read the whole article.

Bottom Line: When you buy an engagement ring, you will have it forever. She'll wear it every day for the rest of her life.

If you're a newbie who knows nothing about diamonds, check out James Allen. They have close-up views of their inventory and every diamond is certified so you can expect quality for your budget. You can also chat 24/7 with jewelry experts for any questions.

 

Company History

James Allen's story began back in 1998 as a little online store called DirtCheapDiamonds. It was created by founder James Schultz and wife Michele Sigler with the goal of giving engagement ring shoppers more choices at cheaper prices. It became one of the first successful online diamond retailers.

In 2005, it was rebranded with the new name JamesAllen.com. It took on a more sophisticated image, with more emphasis on quality, design, and customer experience. It was one of the first sites to offer 360-degree views of the actual diamonds.

In 2017, Signet Jewelers (which also owns brands like Kay, Zales, and Jared) acquired James Allen. But the affordable, competitive online pricing still remains the same.

Is James Allen Good Quality?

© CreditDonkey

James Allen offers excellent quality rings at prices much cheaper than traditional jewelry stores. Every diamond is certified by GIA, AGS or IGI. So you can trust that you're getting the real thing.

All James Allen diamonds and rings are:

  • Lab certified
  • Conflict free
  • Examined by a gemologist
  • Have lifetime warranty

James Allen is more of an all-inclusive jeweler. They sell all quality diamonds at all price points. If you're looking for super high quality stones, it does have a premium TrueHearts collection of perfectly cut diamonds.

Is The Pricing Better Than Competitors?

James Allen pricing is on-par with other popular online retailers like Blue Nile and Ritani, though we find that James Allen can be slightly cheaper.

For example, we searched for an average quality 1-carat round diamond (Ideal H VS2, no fluorescence). The best price for such a diamond is $5,330 on James Allen. While it's $5,641 on Blue Nile and $5,519 on Ritani.

Compared to brick-and-mortar big box jewelers, James Allen's pricing is as much as 50% less for comparable diamonds.

Does James Allen have sales?
Looking for the best time to buy a ring? James Allen usually offers sales around major holidays, like Valentines Day, Mother's Day, Black Friday, and Christmas.

Usually, loose diamonds don't go on sale (since the prices are already low). But James Allen will have sales on engagement ring settings, wedding rings, and other fine jewelry.

Superior Online Diamond Shopping Experience

© CreditDonkey

We ordered a 0.91 carat, H, SI1 round diamond with this beautiful knife edge pave setting in white gold. Right off the bat, we can say that the process was super easy.

First, here's a quick overview of what you can expect from James Allen.

James Allen's excellent business model allows it to offer a wide inventory and fair prices, so you can find your perfect ring for any budget.

Need some ideas? Customers can head to their Inspiration Gallery to check out examples of recently purchased diamond engagement rings.

  • Big selection. James Allen has over 200,000 loose diamonds in 10 different shapes at every price point and quality.

    It also offers a huge selection of lab-created diamonds if you're looking for something more eco-conscious and budget friendly.

    Besides diamonds, you can also design a ring with sapphires, rubies, and emeralds.

    Are James Allen rings real diamonds?
    James Allen offers over 200,000 real, natural diamonds in all shapes, sizes, and qualities. In addition, it has a selection of over 40,000 lab-created diamonds. All diamonds - whether mined or from the lab - come with an authentic lab certification.

  • 360 degree videos. James Allen sends out staff members to take stunning HD imagery of every diamond on the site.

    Every loose diamond and gemstone has an HD video you can zoom in and spin around. Since you can "see" every diamond, you can find the most affordable stones that look flawless. That's why we were able to pick a lower clarity SI1 diamond.

    All settings can be viewed 360-degree also. You can design your own diamond ring with this useful tool.

  • Inspected in-person. Each diamond is examined by in-house experts before it's shipped to you. James Allen does not operate on the drop-ship business model.

  • Diamond price match. If you find a comparable diamond elsewhere for less, James Allen will match the price. This gives you confidence that you are not overpaying.

  • Conflict-free. Every diamond from James Allen is conflict-free and procured through legitimate means.

James Allen

Search for Diamonds

Shop for diamonds at James Allen, a CreditDonkey #1 recommended partner for the best online experience.

We'll get into our full in-depth James Allen review below. But first, let's highlight the current James Allen perks.

James Allen Benefits

Free Engraving

Free engraving on most engagement rings and wedding bands. If engraving is available for your selection, it will be presented as an option during checkout. Personal engravings can be any alpha-numeric combination up to 20 characters in length.

1 Year Free Resizing

All engagement rings and wedding bands, excluding eternity bands and alternative metals, may be resized once for free within the first year of your purchase

Lifetime Upgrade

Any loose diamond purchased from James Allen can be exchanged at 100% credit for any replacement diamond of at least 2X or greater value. The diamond that is being upgraded must be in original condition and accompanied by the original laboratory grading document.

Special Financing

Learn about payment options at James Allen, a CreditDonkey #1 recommended partner for the best online experience.

Real-Time Diamond Consultation

Who James Allen Is Best For

James Allen is a great choice if you are:

  • Nervous about buying blind. James Allen has a 360-degree HD video of every diamond on its site. You can "see" the actual stones from all angles. This gives you more confidence when buying online. Check out the Inspiration Gallery to see images of their diamond engagement rings.

  • On a budget. James Allen has some of the lowest diamond pricing among jewelry retailers that we've seen. This means you can find a larger stone on your budget.

  • Looking for a lab diamond or gemstone. James Allen has a huge collection of lab diamonds and loose sapphires, emeralds, and rubies. You can custom design your own ring with any one of those.

James Allen is great for couples on a budget. But don't just take our word for it. You can view past customers' experiences here. You can even get proposal ideas and check out the ring they ended up purchasing.

Is James Allen good? James Allen is a good online diamond retailer if you're looking for value. It offers a large range of diamonds and settings at fair prices. All diamonds have 360-degree videos and are certified. You can also chat 24/7 with jewelry experts for any questions.

What are you budgeting for an engagement ring?

Problems and Complaints

Even though we are huge fans of James Allen and didn't encounter any problems, no store is perfect. Here are some common complaints and issues from other customers.

  • No reservation
    James Allen does not allow you to reserve a diamond. So if you see one you like, you need to be prepared to order right away. Their inventory moves fast.

    We spent a couple of days deciding on a diamond, and within that time, our first choice was already gone. But luckily, James Allen has such a huge selection that it's easy to find a comparable diamond.

    And if you need help, you can instantly chat with an expert and they can help you find another one.

  • Delayed shipping
    Each engagement ring is handcrafted at time of order. It takes about 1-3 weeks to ship. In our experience, we received our ring fast within 2 weeks. But some customers have complained that the delivery took longer than promised.

    To avoid this, place your order earlier (around a month before your planned proposal date). You'll still have time to return within 30 days if need to.

  • No free international return shipping
    James Allen only pays the return shipping fee for US and Canada customers (limited to 3 per customer). All other international customers must take responsibility for their own insured shipping for returns. The shipping cost will depends on the value of the item.

James Allen Benefits & Features

James Allen has really set the standard for buying engagement rings online. Here are some ways you can get the most out of its features to make the best decision.

1. 360-Degree HD Videos of Each Diamond

Though you can't examine the diamonds in person, James Allen provides you with the next best thing. Their 360-degree HD videos give you a true-to-life image of every single diamond in their collection.

View each diamond from every angle.
View each diamond from every angle. Screenshot from James Allen Website

You can even access a SuperZoom feature, which allows you to examine the diamond at 40x magnification, as if you're using the tools of a professional. This is actually better than looking at diamonds at a local store.

You can really see the diamond in stunning detail. You'll be able to clearly check for any flaws. (Though remember that this is 40x zoomed in, and you most likely can't see the flaws in its actual size!)

2. Find Eye-Clean Diamonds for Less

When you can't see photos of the actual diamonds, you may feel like you must choose a higher-quality stone to play it safe. This means you end up spending more.

But when you're able to see clear pictures, you can look for cheaper stones that are eye-clean.

Let's take a look at these:

Screenshot from James Allen Website

The diamond on the left is 0.97 carat. It has a color of G, a clarity of VS2 (small imperfections), and an excellent cut. It costs over $6,000. But thanks to the HD video, you can see the black flaws scattered throughout. There's a good chance you may see them with the naked eye.

The diamond on the right is $1,000 less and is slightly over 1 carat. The clarity grade is lower at SI1, but you can barely see anything even at 20x zoom. This diamond costs less and looks better. In this case, you would have never known that without the real photos.

Pro tip: Not all low quality diamond rings mean it's bad. In fact, it's possible to find a cheaper low quality diamond that still looks beautiful. An I1 diamond could be a smart buy and save you some serious money.

The good thing about James Allen's magnified videos is that you can see what kind of flaws are visible on a lower quality diamond. And if you're still not sure, an expert can help evaluate it for you.

3. You Can Pick Prettier Diamonds

Seeing the diamond is especially important for fancy shapes. Cuts such as oval, pear, and marquise often have a shadow called a bow tie. You can only see that through visual inspection.

Below are two oval stones:

The oval diamond on the left costs over $5,000 and has a large bow-tie effect. The diamond on the right is almost $1,000 less and looks better.

There would be no way to know this without being able to see the diamond from all angles.

Tip: The emerald and asscher shape diamond tends to have large black areas of light blockage too. You would also need to "see" the diamond to know that.

Also, fancy-shape diamonds aren't cut the same. Take a look at these cases:

Screenshot from James Allen Website

As you can see, the appearance of each heart can differ greatly. The first two are unattractive-looking hearts (too thin and too fat). The third is a beautiful, pleasing heart shape. Again, you'd be taking a gamble if you were ordering blind.

4. Free Expert Consultation

Afraid of making a mistake? James Allen offers free Real-Time Diamond consultations.

This gives you the opportunity to chat with an expert gemologist, who will help you review the specifications and compare diamonds. You will automatically screen-share with the rep, so they can see the same thing as you.

The reps are non-commissioned so no pressure to buy anything. The team is simply there to educate, provide feedback, and help you make the best choice.

There is no scheduling needed. Anytime you need assistance, just launch the consultation right from the diamond details page. This feature is the first of its kind in the online diamond industry.

For general customer support, James Allen's representatives are available 24/7 to answer questions. You can reach someone by phone call, text, email, and live chat.

James Allen

Real-Time Diamond Consultation

5. James Allen True Hearts

For those who want the best, James Allen has an exclusive premier line of diamonds called True Hearts. This is their collection of hearts and arrows (H&A) super ideal diamonds.

An H&A diamond is a perfectly cut diamond. It means the stone is cut to the ideal proportions and has perfect internal symmetry. This gives the diamond maximum brilliance and fire.

James Allen offers True Hearts diamonds in round, princess, and cushion cuts. All round True Hearts diamonds come with Idealscope and hearts and arrows imagery so you can see for yourself.

For example, this is the Idealscope image of this diamond. The red represents light that's reflected back (which means the diamond will be sparkly). If there's light leakage, there will be white spots.

These images make it easy to compare diamonds against each other. They provide "proof" of quality so you can have more confidence in your purchase.

James Allen True Hearts vs. Ideal: A True Hearts diamond goes beyond the "ideal" cut rating. Ideal cut means the diamond has the best proportions to reflect the most light. In addition to superior light performance, True Hearts H&A diamonds also have perfect optical symmetry. This is called "super ideal."

6. Lab Diamonds

Lab created diamonds have gotten popular in recent years. They're eco-friendly, as well as budget-friendly. Lab diamonds are identical to diamonds from nature, just that the creation process is sped up in a lab.

James Allen offer one of the largest selections of lab diamonds. As of writing (May 2021), there are over 39,000 lab diamonds in all shapes and sizes, including even fancy yellow diamonds.

Lab diamonds cost a lot less, so they're a great way to save or maximize your budget. Below is an example of the price difference between a natural and lab 1-carat diamonds of the same quality.

Or, for the same $5,000 budget, you could purchase a larger lab diamond or nicer setting. You'd get more out of your money.

All of James Allen's lab diamonds are IGI or GCAL certified.

7. Virtual Ring Try On

While you can't see rings in-store (unless you live by one of the 2 showrooms), James Allen lets you virtually try on rings from home. All you need is your smartphone.

Here's how to use this feature:

  1. Use your phone to scan this QR code.
  2. Browse through the different ring settings
  3. Click on the "Try-On" button under the image. (Note that not all rings have this option)
  4. Take a picture of your hand or choose from your photos
  5. Try out different rings and diamond shapes

We tested this feature and it's pretty fun. You can see if the style of the ring looks good with your hands. There are also easy share buttons so you can show your friends or partner.

How to Buy a Ring on James Allen

James Allen doesn't sell preset engagement rings. You custom design your ring by picking out a loose diamond (or gemstone) and a setting. This is the fun part!

You do need a basic understanding of the 4Cs to know what to choose. We suggest you look at our detailed articles on color, clarity, and cut to learn more. You can also see our guide on the different ring styles.

Warning: Thin bands could bend out of shape during normal wear. If she's very active or does a lot with her hands, it may be better to go with something sturdier. Or consider getting platinum, which is more durable than gold. If platinum is out of your price range, then go for 14k gold, as it's sturdier than 18k.

James Allen does a great job walking you through creating your own ring, step by step.

If you want to select your stone first, you can choose from:

  • An earth-mined diamond
  • A lab created diamond
  • A fancy color diamond
  • A gemstone (sapphires, rubies, emeralds)

Say you're looking for a diamond. You can use the diamond search tool to set your preferences. Select the diamond shape, four Cs, budget, and even filters like lab certificate, symmetry, and others.

screenshot from jamesallen.com

Next, James Allen will show you settings that fit with that diamond.

It has over 600 settings in all styles. The majority can be made in platinum, white gold, yellow gold, and rose gold.

You can also choose designer settings by Verragio, Danhov, Martin Flyer, Jeff Cooper, and Unique (which is James Allen's own designer line).

screenshot from jamesallen.com

If you choose a setting first, the site will automatically show you diamonds that match it. The navigation and ordering process is super simple.

After you've selected both the diamond and setting, you'll get a preview of the entire ring, as well as the final price.

They also offer free engraving for most selections. Adding a personal message is another way to make it more special.

It will also give you an estimated shipping date, so you can get a rough idea of when your ring should arrive. Usually, it's between 1-3 weeks, depending on the style of the ring.

If you want something truly special that no one else has, James Allen can work with you on a custom design. Of course, you would have to purchase the center diamond from them as well. Keep in mind that a very custom design can take a few weeks to ship.

If you have a loose diamond from somewhere else, James Allen can set it for you in one of their settings.

James Allen

James Allen Packaging & Unboxing

We were very pleasantly surprised with how nice their packaging is. It looks so classy and doesn't scream "I bought the ring from the internet!"

Now let's unbox and see what's included:

© CreditDonkey

First, the ring box itself is packaged inside an elegant white and silver keepsake box. It's made out of cardboard, but is sturdy and feels nice.

This overall presentation of the package is an excellent reflection of their focus on quality and care. It's nice that James Allen goes the extra mile to make the entire package presentable, not just the ring box itself.

Inside the box, the top has an insert that the ring box sits in. The bottom has a pull-out drawer with a silver folder holding the diamond's documents. There's also a cleaning cloth, which is a nice touch.

© CreditDonkey

Inside is the copy of lab certificate, appraisal certificate, warranty, and quality assurance guarantee signed by the professional who inspected your ring.

© CreditDonkey

The actual ring box is a glossy red plastic lacquered box (it used to be hardwood). Some people say they think the plastic looks cheap. But we think it'll still look classy when you pull it out of your pocket for the big moment.

© CreditDonkey

© CreditDonkey

The ring itself was absolutely stunning too. The diamond was eye-clean and appeared perfectly brilliant and white (despite it being an SI1 clarity and H color). The level of craftsmanship on all those tiny little stones on the pave band was excellent.

© CreditDonkey

© CreditDonkey

© CreditDonkey

Overall, the packaging is outstanding. James Allen really goes above and beyond what you'd expect, period. Even many physical jewelers won't present the entire package in such an elegant way.

The ring arrived about 2 weeks after we placed our order.

Cleaning your ring at home is easy. Just soak in warm water and soap and then scrub with a soft toothbrush. James Allen offers ring cleaning for life as well, but you'll have to part with your ring for a few weeks and pay for shipping fees.

Returns, Resizing, & Other Policies

  • Returns: James Allen offers a no questions asked 30-day full refund policy, if you're unhappy with the piece for whatever reason. Item must be returned within the first 30 days of shipment.

    This gives you a decent amount of time to pop the question (and hopefully get the "yes"). Free return shipping is available to US and Canada customers.

  • Resizes: You get one free resizing within 1 year of purchase. Note that some (such as eternity bands) cannot be resized.

  • Warranty: All purchases come with a comprehensive lifetime warranty. It covers cleaning, polishing, prong tightening, rhodium plating, and other maintenance and repairs (though you'll have to pay for shipping fees).

  • Upgrades: If you want a bigger rock in the future, James Allen has a lifetime upgrade policy. You can trade in your diamond for 100% credit and use it towards a new one, provided that it's at least 2x the value.

How long does it take to get a ring from James Allen?
Orders are usually shipped in 1-3 weeks as each ring is crafted to order. All orders over $500 are shipped overnight through FedEx Priority. However, some customers do report issue of shipping delay, so we suggest ordering your ring a bit ahead of time (about one month out).

Diamond Price Match Policy

If another retailer is selling a comparable diamond for less, James Allen will match the cost.

The diamond can be eligible if:

  • It has the same specifications (carat weight, cut, color, clarity, fluorescence, table and depth percentage, polish, symmetry, etc.).
  • The competitor diamond is available for purchase by the public.
  • It has a GIA grading report.

If James Allen decides to match the competitor's pricing, it will be honored for 48 hours.

Financing

Sometimes, it's not possible to buy an engagement ring in cash up front. If this is your situation, James Allen offers two financing options:

  1. Zero interest for 6 months: This is good if you have a solid plan to pay off the amount in 6 months. If you don't, you'll be charged a very steep interest rate (currently 28.99%). The interest is assessed from the purchase date, so you can end up with a huge bill.

  2. 9.9% interest for 2 years: A more attractive offer might be the 9.9% interest rate on the 2-year payment plan. With this, you'll have a full 24 months to pay off the balance.

In our experience, it's okay to finance a ring if you are diligent about paying it back. But if you're not, it can result in a mountain of interest charges. A more practical solution could be to sign up for a credit card with a 0% APR introductory period or a low interest card.

If you have the cash, you get a 1.5% discount if you pay the transaction via wire transfer. This could save you quite a bit, but you also have to factor in what your bank charges for wire transfers.

James Allen often runs sales on their website for major holidays. There are usually promotions during the holiday season (Thanksgiving and Christmas), Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. But the best times to buy an engagement ring is January through June because availability is at its highest.

How much should I spend on an engagement ring? 2 Months Salary and Other Rules

Wedding Bands

It's smart to think about the wedding band at the same time as you shop for the engagement ring, especially if you want them to match. Matching rings will create a nice uniform look.

  • Finding matching bands. When you're looking at an engagement ring, if you scroll down all the way to the bottom, you'll see suggestions for matching wedding bands (if there is one). Sometimes a certain ring style (such as some tension or halo designs) need a specialized band that fits with its curves.

  • Men's wedding rings. Aside from the classic gold and platinum, James Allen also offers men's bands in alternative metals. You can find more budget-friendly options in titanium, cobalt, and ceramic.

How James Allen Compares

© CreditDonkey

Now let's take a look at how James Allen compares to other popular engagement ring retailers. We'll go over some important factors to consider and why you may prefer one over the other.

James Allen Compared to Blue Nile

In our opinion, James Allen beats out Blue Nile by a narrow margin. In many price comparisons, we find that a similar diamond is cheaper on James Allen. And we also like that it sells lab diamonds and gemstones (while Blue Nile doesn't).

But here are side by side comparisons so you can make the best decision for yourself.

 

James Allen

Blue Nile

 

Benefits and Features

SelectionLarge selection of mined diamonds from the earth, lab diamonds, and loose gemstonesLarge selection of online diamonds, sourced from suppliers around the world
Customer Service24/7 customer service via phone, email, and live chat; Free instant real-time diamond inspection24/7 customer service via phone, email, and live chat; Free 1-on-1 virtual appointment
Data360-degree HD video for all diamonds; Super zoom; Grading report360 degree videos for most of the diamonds; Grading report
Return PolicyIf you are not 100% satisfied with your purchase, you may return it in its original, unworn condition within 30 days for a full refund or exchange. Free return shipping only applies to U.S customers and is limited to three per customer.30-day money back guarantee. Blue Nile will send you a fully insured free shipping label via email. Items must be in their original purchase condition, including all product documentation.
WarrantyJames Allen warrant that all items will be free from any manufacturing defects at time of delivery. James Allen will repair and maintain your jewelry for a lifetime. Lifetime warranty offers free prong tightening, re-polishing, rhodium plating and cleaning services.Lifetime manufacturer warranty. Terms and exclusions apply.
Buyback
Not Available
Diamond buyback program through Mondiamo based on market value.
ResizingAll engagement rings and wedding bands, excluding eternity bands and alternative metals, may be resized once for free within the first year of purchase.Blue Nile provides complimentary resizing for Build Your Own Rings®, and Diamond Bands when within the manufacturer's recommended sizing range, during the first year.
Upgrade PolicyAny loose diamond purchased from James Allen can be exchanged at 100% credit for any replacement diamond of at least 2X or greater value. The diamond that is being upgraded must be in original condition and accompanied by the original laboratory grading document.Lifetime diamond upgrade program on all GIA and AGSL graded diamonds. You will receive credit equal to 100% of the original price toward the purchase of a new diamond. The price of your new diamond must be at least twice the price of your original diamond. Your diamond must be in its original condition with the original diamond grading report.
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SelectionStarStarStarStarHalf StarStarStarStarStarHalf Star
Customer ServiceStarStarStarStarHalf StarStarStarStarStarHalf Star
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  • Cost: Both online retailers offer more competitive pricing than traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Sometimes, James Allen's pricing is lower than Blue Nile's for a comparable diamond.

    We searched for a 1.0 carat weight, Princess-cut diamond on both sites. We used Clarity: VS1, Color: G, and Cut: Very Good. On Blue Nile's site, such a stone started at around $4,500. On James Allen, the same filters showed stones priced between $500 and $700 less.

    Both Blue Nile and James Allen offer a diamond price match policy. But the conditions are pretty strict.

  • Selection: Both James Allen and Blue Nile carry over 100,000 loose diamonds. But James Allen offers more engagement ring setting options, especially if you're looking for a yellow gold or rose gold ring .

    If you're looking for a gemstone or lab diamond, then James Allen is the clear choice.

  • Diamond preview: James Allen used to the clear winner here, but Blue Nile has caught up now. James Allen provides an HD 360-degree perspective of every diamond listing. Blue Nile now has a video preview for most of their stones too, but some are still sold only by the specs.

    One big advantage with James Allen is that you can request up to 3 IdealScope images for an even more detailed examination.

  • Inspection: Both have certified gemologists that personally inspect every diamond before it's shipped to you. Neither uses the drop-ship business model.

  • Customer support: Both companies have excellent customer service, but James Allen is a bit better. You can chat with an expert gemologist instantly. Blue Nile offers private consultation as well, but you need to make an appointment first.

In regard to policies, here's how the two compare:

  • Refunds: Both offer a 30-day guarantee for refunds or exchanges, in case there are any issues with your order.

  • Warranties: Both offer lifetime. Blue Nile's covers manufacturer defects and complimentary cleaning for diamond rings. James Allen's covers cleaning, repolishing, prong tightening, and rhodium plating for maintaining white gold.

  • Resize: Both offer one complimentary resizing within the first year.

Why You Might Prefer Blue Nile

Still not sure? You may be better off going with Blue Nile if any of the following applies to you:

  1. If you're looking for fine jewelry as gifts: Blue Nile has a much larger fine jewelry section, including an under $100 category.

  2. You need some time to think it over: If you spot a diamond you like on James Allen, you'll have to act quickly to nab it - they go fast. Blue Nile, on the other hand, lets you reserve a specific diamond for up to 48 hours.

See also how James Allen compares to other online competitors, such as Whiteflash and Ritani.

James Allen Compared to Traditional Retailers

In our opinion, James Allen has the edge over traditional retailers. Here are some reasons why:

  • More choices: James Allen has over 200,000 diamonds at every quality, shape, and size. The standard jewelry store will not have nearly as many options. If you're looking for something specific, you may see a lack of options. This means you may have to compromise on quality and/or budget.

  • Magnified videos: In many ways, this is even better than viewing diamonds with a jeweler's loupe. Some local jewelers might not let you examine the stone under a magnifying glass.

    Screenshot from James Allen Website

    See inclusions with the 360 SuperZoom feature (sample diamond here)

  • Ideal Scope images: You can request up to three Ideal Scope images for free on James Allen. It's a good idea to do this after you're down to your final three diamond choices. These images show the light performance of the diamond. Most jewelers at traditional stores do not have Ideal Scope images.

  • Cheaper prices: Since James Allen is an online store and does not stock their own diamonds, they save a lot on overhead cost. This allows them to offer better pricing to consumers.

    In our research, we've found that James Allen's prices are as much as 40% cheaper than physical stores, which can help you save thousands of dollars.

  • Browse in peace: You can browse at home at your own pace. No pressure to buy, no pushy salesperson working on commission, no up-selling or judgment. This difference can help you find a ring you are happy with without the stress.

James Allen

James Allen vs. Tiffany

Tiffany is one of the world's top luxury jewelry brands, and you will pay for that name. Being an online store, James Allen can offer diamonds and engagement rings at much lower prices. Compared to Tiffany, James Allen is the better option if you're more concerned with budget and customization.

Let's take a more detailed look at how the two compare:

  • Price: We all know Tiffany will be more expensive, but just how much more so? Let's look at an example:

    A 1.01-carat, I, VS2 round diamond in the classic platinum Tiffany setting costs $13,100. We designed the same ring on James Allen using this very similar solitaire setting and a diamond of the same specifications. In total, it came out to $5,880. That's less than half the price of Tiffany.

  • Selection: James Allen, hands-down, wins in this department. If you're browsing in-person at a Tiffany store, it may only have a few options matching your specs or price range. This may mean that you'll have to make some compromises.

    Even shopping online is severely limited. For example, we only see one option for a 1-carat H, VS2 round diamond in the Tiffany setting that's available for online purchase.

    But James Allen's huge inventory means there are more choices. There are currently over 120 1-carat H, VS2, Excellent cut round diamonds. You're bound to find one you like within your budget.

  • Quality: Tiffany's diamonds have already been pre-screened for quality. They don't go below color I and clarity VS2. And all diamonds are cut to Excellent standards. It's safe to assume that all their diamonds will be eye-clean with a lot of fire and brilliance.

    James Allen, on the other hand, sells diamonds of all qualities, including poor quality ones. You'll have to filter the search results yourself to look for the quality you want. James Allen does provide real HD imagery of all diamonds so you can judge if it looks eye-clean.

  • Customization: Tiffany does not allow you to pick a loose diamond to place in a setting. You have to purchase the entire ring pre-set. So if you want a particular type of setting, you're limited to what's available that's already mounted.

    James Allen allows you to design your own ring by choosing your loose diamond and setting. It also has hundreds of setting designs, whereas Tiffany only offers a handful of iconic settings.

  • Certification: Tiffany uses its own in-house certification. Their diamonds are not graded by third-party labs like GIA. This is a point to consider if having proper certification is important to you.

  • Buying experience: Tiffany is unparalleled when it comes to in-person service. If you want to feel special and pampered, you'll enjoy shopping at Tiffany. And of course, you'll get to go home with that iconic little blue box.

    James Allen has made the online shopping experience as good as can be. And many people like the ease of browsing at home with no pressure.

As for whether Tiffany is worth it, that's really up to personal preference. Some people want the brand name and don't mind paying more for the goods. But understand that you can get a product just as good quality (or even more so) for a lot less at places like James Allen.

Locations

James Allen has two physical locations in New York City and Washington D.C. You can schedule an appointment to see rings and diamonds in person.

New York City:
551 Fifth Avenue
6th Floor, Suite 601
New York, New York

You can enter by appointment only. Call customer service at 877-826-9866 or schedule it over live chat on the website.

Washington D.C.:
3109 M Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20007

This location is open Monday - Saturday 11 am - 7 pm, and Sunday 12 - 7 pm.

James Allen

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Insurance

A ring is such a large financial investment that it's smart to insure it. After all, it's a huge financial loss if anything happens. Insurance will provide protection if it's damaged, lost, or stolen.

James Allen is partnered with Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company. You have the option to insure your ring with Jeweler's Mutual. Some protections they offer include:

  • Protection against damage, loss, theft, and mysterious disappearance
  • You can choose your own store for repair (to the same quality as original)
  • For lost rings, you can get it replaced with another one in the same brand and style

Virtual Ring Sizer

Finding her ring size is a tricky part of the process. If you make a mistake, it's not the end of the world as most rings can be resized. But it ruins the magic of a romantic proposal followed by slipping on a perfectly fitted ring.

We do have some tips on secretly finding out her ring size. But if you're unable to do any of these, James Allen offers some help. You can either request a free ring sizer to be mailed to you, or use their virtual ring sizers.

There are two virtual ring sizers:

  1. If you have a ring that fits: First, the sizer will calibrate your screen by measuring a credit card against your screen. Then hold up the ring over one of the circles to find the one that matches.

  2. If you don't have a ring: Get a strip of paper or a string and wrap it around the ring finger. Mark the length of the circle. Then after calibrating your screen, hold the strip of paper up to the virtual ruler.

While this helps to get an idea, it may not be 100% accurate. If you do get the ring sizing wrong, James Allen offers one free resize within one year of purchasing an eligible ring.

Everything you need to know before you resize a ring.

Order Status

Unfortunately, one of the most common customer complaints is the wait time.

When you place your order, James Allen gives you an estimate of when you'll get it (which is usually about 2 weeks out). But there are quite a number of reviews saying that their order was delayed. Some people already made special plans but the ring didn't come in time.

To avoid this concern, we suggest that you order the ring way ahead of time to leave some gap for margin of error. Give yourself about a month before your planned proposal date. That way, you can receive it beforehand and have enough time to return it if you need to.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is James Allen cheaper?
James Allen is affordable because they don't stock their own diamonds. Instead, they get them from local suppliers around New York. This means they don't have expensive retail stores to pay for. And they aren't paying interest on the diamonds sitting on shelves. This allows them to have less overhead and offer better pricing.

Is James Allen reputable?
James Allen diamonds are certified by either the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), American Gem Society (AGS), or International Gemological Institute (IGI). James Allen is as legit as Kay, Zales, and Jared, all of which are owned by Signet.

Does James Allen charge sales tax?
James Allen collects sales tax on orders that are shipped to the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Are James Allen diamonds conflict-free?
Yes, every diamond on James Allen's website is certified conflict-free. James Allen only works with vendors who are members of the professional diamond trade and procure their diamonds through legal sources.

Does James Allen have a store?
Yes, James Allen has a showroom in New York where you can try on rings. The showroom is located in the heart of the NYC diamond district at 551 Fifth Avenue, 6th Floor, Suite 601. You can only enter by appointment.

Are the diamonds inspected?
Every diamond is inspected by James Allen's in-house experts before being shipped to you to check for quality. This ensures that you are getting the exact piece you ordered. They never ship a product blind.

Does James Allen offer discounts?
If you pay by wire transfer, you will receive a 1.5% discount on your entire order.

What if I order the wrong size ring?
James Allen offers one free ring resizing within 60 days of purchase. But please note that not all rings can be resized, such as tension and eternity bands.

Where does James Allen ship and what are the shipping fees?
James Allen ships worldwide for free, no matter the order amount. However, international customers will be responsible for any duties, VAT, or taxes charged by their country.

What the Experts Say

As part of our series on engagement rings, CreditDonkey asked a panel of industry experts to answer some of readers' most pressing questions.

Here's what they had to say:

Bottom Line Recommendation

James Allen

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James Allen

Read James Allen Customer Reviews

James Allen understands that buying a diamond online is tricky. They really go the extra mile to make you comfortable. With their 360-degree videos, great pricing, and liberal 30-day return policy, James Allen is a reliable alternative to your local jeweler.

Most importantly, buying an engagement ring online through James Allen can give you confidence about what you'll get with the final product. At the very least, we would recommend anyone to start their search on James Allen to get an idea of pricing.

James Allen

Rebecca Lake is a journalist at CreditDonkey, a diamond jeweler comparison and reviews website. Write to Rebecca Lake at rebecca@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

Note: This website is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content. You do not have to use our links, but you help support CreditDonkey if you do.

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About CreditDonkey
CreditDonkey is a diamond jeweler comparison website. We publish data-driven analysis to help you save money & make savvy decisions.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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CreditDonkey does not know your individual circumstances and provides information for general educational purposes only. CreditDonkey is not a substitute for, and should not be used as, professional legal, credit or financial advice. You should consult your own professional advisors for such advice.

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