Need to know: We think James Allen is the best place anywhere to buy diamonds. You can even browse their inspiration gallery to see real images of rings people have previously purchased. This can be a big help in choosing the perfect diamond and setting.
The History of James Allen
James Allen Schultz and his wife Michele founded James Allen in 1998. For an internet company, 1998 is very early. The site really has been around for ages. Just like Blue Nile, James founded the company because he was unhappy at the current offering when searching for an engagement ring. The couple’s hard work paid off and the site grew very quickly after inception, soon establishing itself as one of the leading online stores.
Rebranding to JamesAllen.com
The site went through a rebrand in 2005, changing the name to JamesAllen.com. This was so that the site truly reflected the direction the company was moving in—very high quality diamonds.
The engagement ring offering also developed and became a core offering. The site began to offer some incredible settings and partnered with already established designers to create rings that were truly special.
The Facts about James Allen
I believe James Allen (and Blue Nile) to be a real cut above the rest when it comes to diamond websites. This review will reflect this belief. For the vast majority of Americans, one of these two websites is the only one you will need to visit. With that in mind, expect to read a lot of comparisons with Blue Nile in this review.
Comparing James Allen with Blue Nile
The two companies share very similar business models. Both companies work with diamond wholesalers to virtually list their diamonds, as well as selling their own. This is completely seamless so that on both sites, the buyer will never know who the diamond they are buying belongs to. James Allen will always try to attempt exclusivity agreements, however, that mean the diamonds on their site won’t be found anywhere else.
The Difference Between Them
That’s where the similarities end, however. There is one major difference between the two companies that makes James Allen the superior company in many people’s eyes.
The difference is this: while Blue Nile focuses on providing as big an inventory as possible, James Allen focuses on the customer experience.
To this end, James Allen has invested heavily into high quality imaging of each diamond they sell. That means they have installed high quality technology in all of their suppliers and require a hi-res video to be taken of each diamond before it is listed. They have even opened an office in India that takes photos of the diamonds 24/7.
Quality vs Quantity in Inventory
There is a big difference between the quantity of the diamonds listed on the two sites and their quality. At the time of writing, Blue Nile has over 150,000 diamonds, whilst James Allen only has around 115,000. While they are both enormous figures, when you actually think about it, the buyer is only looking for one specific one.
With that in mind, a bigger inventory actually becomes an issue. That is, of course, unless you have awesome images that can help you quickly navigate the sea of options. I know many shoppers who are simply overwhelmed by the choice on Blue Nile. This doesn’t happen as much with James Allen.
Quality and Selection of Settings
James Allen offers a wide variety of settings. We are always very impressed with their craftsmanship. It can be hard to know exactly what you want, however. That’s why James Allen’s inspiration gallery is an incredibly useful tool. You can use it to really get an idea of exactly what you want.
Photos are so important when it comes to buying diamonds online. While measurements are all you need to know when it comes to rectangular shaped diamonds, they are useless for other shapes. When buying a heart-shaped diamond, for instance, photos are key. Thanks to the awesome videos and photos available on James Allen, you are able to see exactly what all these diamonds are like.
This is even more important when you consider that “fancy-shaped” diamonds are the vast majority of what is out there. You really need both photos and video to see what a diamond is really like and whether it has the effect and look that you want.
Putting James Allen to the Test
To get an accurate representation of the company for this review, I decided to order from James Allen. I ordered a GIA-certified Excellent cut diamond set in a simple white gold setting.
The packaging that James Allen provides is exquisite. It is so much better than anything else I have seen or reviewed. The package came shipped by Fedex and inside was a stunning thick board box embossed with the red butterfly James Allen logo. The box and the fedex package fit perfectly together so there is less chance of damage.
This is much better than other vendors who either use packaging filler to keep the diamond secure or cut outs inside a basic brown box.
With James Allen, however, when you take off the lid you are met with a full-sized foam insert with space in the center for the polished jewelry box.
Beneath the foam section of the box is a draw that contains any relevant accompanying documents such as certificates and an invoice. There will also be a polishing cloth, too. The best thing about the box is its versatility. It is perfect for a functional jewelry box for all your other jewelry too. So not only is James Allen’s packaging the most secure, it is the classiest, too.
The point of this review was to compare James Allen and Blue Nile head to head, given that they are so far above all of the other online diamond sellers.
James Allen is the only vendor to offer magnified images of their inventory. But did the image live up to real life?
The answer is yes! The picture on the website was a true reflection of the real life diamond. The cut and cleanliness of the diamond were exceptional.
Exclusive CanadaMark Supplier
Back in the middle of 2017, James Allen signed a contract to be the exclusive online seller of CanadaMark diamonds. This has been huge for them. These diamonds have the highest ethical rating and can all be traced back to a mine—something that is becoming an increasing concern for buyers.
James Allen has traditionally struggled when it came to jewelry that wasn’t engagement rings. That’s not to say that their products weren’t any good. They were exquisite. It’s just that the company focused so much on engagement rings.
But things have changed. They have significantly expanded their other jewelry offering while keeping the quality top notch. That’s why I also shopped for tennis bracelets, eternity bands and diamond pendants. The bracelet I bought was even more impressive in real life than it looked in the pictures. The diamonds fit perfectly and they were all very secure. It was incredible value.
The eternity band was equally impressive. While it wasn’t the most expensive, the brilliance of it was amazing. Everything was absolutely spot on.
Pendants can be trickier and you have to be careful when selecting a center diamond. But the design and craftsmanship of the one I bought were stunning.
Buying a Diamond on JamesAllen.com
Despite all the information on this site, buying a diamond can still be tricky. That’s why it’s best to contact us for additional help.
When buying a diamond, you must answer three questions: what’s your budget, what shape diamond do you want and what setting do you want. We can’t answer these questions for you.
The first thing to ask yourself is how much you want to spend. Please be aware that there is no real rule on how many months salary you should spend. This is just marketing! Spend what you are comfortable with.
You’ll then need to consider shape. We can’t help you decide but there are general principles you should know. A round diamond will always be the most brilliant, for instance. But it will also be the most expensive per carat.
Finally, you need to think about the setting. This is for two reasons. Firstly, the setting will eat into your budget. You need to know by how much. The second is that the setting style and color can affect what diamond you should look for.
As we said before, check out James Allen’s inspiration gallery if you are having trouble deciding.
When you know what you are looking for, you can put the information into the filters on the James Allen website and browse away.
Whatever you need, James Allen is a fantastic choice. The prices are great, the customer experience is excellent and the pictures and videos are amazing.
At James Allen, you will always get the best deal on your diamond - guaranteed! How do I know that? They offer a price match guarantee! If you have found a comparable diamond for a lower price, they'll match it, as long as it fits their Diamond Price Match criteria.
Nothing in this review has done anything to change my view that James Allen is the best place to buy diamonds online period. The price, quality and user experience is better than anywhere else. What are you waiting for?