Diamonds are considered the preferred choice of stone when it comes to the purchase of an engagement ring. These stones also make exquisite additions to other jewelry, including wedding bands, bracelets, necklaces, earrings and, in some cases, even watches. Diamonds are found in many accessories in the modern world. One of the most important factors regarding the purchase of a loose diamond or a piece of diamond jewelry is the brand you choose to buy the product from. Hundreds of brands exist, and each of them promises that their range of diamond jewelry is the best on the market. Unfortunately, only a handful of these brands can deliver on what they promise.
Along those lines, I am pretty independent when it comes to shopping. I absolutely loathe going into shopping malls and you’ll hardly ever find me in a department store. For me, I prefer the comfort and convenience of shopping from home via online channels. When I was shopping for an engagement ring, one name kept coming up – Blue Nile. Along with James Allen, it is one of the leading names in the business. They have been around for quite some time and have provided thousands of customers with top-quality jewelry pieces. Blue Nile mainly specializes in providing their customers with the highest quality diamonds available on the market, but also provides a range of other precious diamonds that customers can choose from.
The Blue Nile Brand
After having a less than enjoyable experience shopping for jewelry, founder Mark Vadon started Blue Nile in 1999 knowing that he could do better than the shopping experience he encountered. He found the pressure of a face-to-face experience to be a bit overbearing, as well as overwhelming, and knew that bringing the ring-buying experience was the answer.
As it was the late 90’s, the internet was rather scarce in terms of e-commerce sites like this, making Blue Nile one of the first to come to market. As they are still going strong nearly 20 years later, you could say they’ve found a winning formula to have that kind of lasting power.
The company went public in 2004, raising $76 million in funding to become one of the largest diamond sellers online. They eventually went private again in 2017. While information is no longer public, they still maintain that they are one of the largest internet retailers of diamond jewelry in the world. You can find out more about their operations in this feature in Forbes.
With nearly 20 years in operation, they have grown to be a large operation, offering products across all kinds of jewelry products (though they say 70% of their sales is in engagement rings). This large-scale operation brings lower prices to their customers, with their size enabling them to take advantage of economies of scale by buying large quantities. While the majority of their business is done online, they do have a few brick-and-mortar locations.
Like many other jewelers operating in e-commerce, Blue Nile lets you customize your own ring from start to finish. You can craft every single detail to get it just the way you (and the ring recipient) like it.
You start off by selecting your diamond, which is a quite comprehensive page with lots of information. But that’s a good thing – it’s great to have so many options! You can use their filters to pick the stone’s shape, your price range, the carat (size) of the diamond, cut, color, and clarity as the basic options to start off with. If you go further into their filters, you can also customize the Symmetry, Polish, Fluorescence, Table %, Depth %, as well as L/W Ratio. These are very technical aspects of the diamond. If you need assistance, their customer support is very good in helping you navigate and understand all the options.
After you have selected a diamond, it is time to build a ring to set it on. Just like with the diamond selection, there are a lot of filters to customize it just the way you like it. You can start by selecting the price range, the type of metal (white gold, rose gold, yellow gold, or platinum), 18k or 14k gold, stuff like that. In addition, you need to toggle the important filters like ring size, style, the width of the band, etc.
Once you have selected your diamond and its setting, you can add it to your cart. After payment, once the jewelry is complete it will be shipped to you for free via FedEx Priority Overnight.
One great thing – if you make an error in the ring size, they offer a complimentary ring sizing so you can get it just right.
Blue Nile Diamonds
To illustrate how many diamonds you can choose from to make the perfect ring, they boast that they have over 100,000 loose diamonds to choose from. At the time of the writing this review, I visited their site to check their inventory and it tells me that there are 141,985 unique diamonds to choose from. All of their inventory is GIA-graded so that you can compare them against each other, as well as against diamonds from other jewelry retailers.
You can find them in all of the common shapes, as well as more unique ones that are harder to find at other retailers. In their inventory, you can pick from the following shapes:
You can also sort by different cuts, including:
Color choices include:
As for Clarity, you can choose from:
Again, as mentioned above, their customer support is very helpful in assisting you on what all of these technical aspects mean. You can also just play around and choose some settings, then take a look at what the diamond looks like, and go back and adjust.
Astor by Blue Nile
Formerly called the Blue Nile Signature Collection, Astor by Blue Nile and represents their top of the line diamonds. This category of diamonds has very exacting specifications; not only are they GIA-certified for their quality, but they also are examined by GemEx for their light performance. It is said on their site that only 1 out of 1,000 diamonds qualify to make it into this signature collection.
The thing that sets these diamonds apart from the rest of their inventory is because of their exacting proportions that result in brilliance. They cut these diamonds in a way that nearly 3/4th of the diamond is removed to reach this level of brilliance. The diamonds that go beyond this high brilliance standard qualify to make it into the Astor by Blue Nile collection. They are then screened and registered with Gemprint. Because of this, they may qualify for a 10% discount with insurance companies.
Financing at Blue Nile
While the wisest way to buy a diamond ring is to save up your money and pay in cash, that is not always feasible for everybody, whether it be because of financial constraints or time constraints. Luckily, Blue Nile has a couple financing options that can help you afford your diamond purchase.
The Blue Nile brand is a recommended choice amongst many people that prefer to shop online for diamond jewelry. When you take your search online, you are instantly exposed to a much wider variety of products that you can choose from. No longer do you have to limit your selection to what a particular store in your local environment has in stock – thousands of different products are listed on the Blue Nile website and will be sent directly to your door upon ordering.
Blue Nile offers a wide selection of categories and jewelry ranges that customers can select from. While the brand has a particular interest in promoting their engagement rings, they also offer other wedding jewelry, such as wedding bands. Other jewelry offered by this brand include earrings, bracelets, rings, and necklaces. Customers can also choose to buy their diamonds loose to either add to their diamond collection or to fit into a custom-made jewelry piece.
A particularly exciting factor about Blue Nile is the fact that they offer their customers the ability to build their own jewelry. A customer can choose between three different types of jewelry – earrings, pendants, and rings. This allows for a more personalized approach to proposing with a unique engagement ring, or perhaps buying a gift for someone you love.
Blue Nile features free shipping and free returns, which is two particular features that are not as common today. This can save the customer quite a lot of money, as shipping charges for jewelry items can be costly. Customers who are not satisfied with their jewelry can also return the jewelry to Blue Nile for a refund, at no extra charges to them.
Customers looking to buy a diamond or diamond jewelry, but unsure where to start, can also take advantage of the various educational resources provided by Blue Nile. The official Blue Nile website has a complete diamond education center that offers extensive overviews of vital facts related to diamonds. Customers can learn more about how diamonds are graded, what shapes work better with certain types of jewelry, and more.
All in all, Blue Nile has the inventory, expertise, and customization that is sure to satisfy anyone who is shopping for jewelry. I highly recommend you make a visit to their site if you’re in the market for a diamond!