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Blue Nile vs James Allen vs Whiteflash

Does buying a diamond engagement ring online make you nervous? As it should… It’s risky, but hopefully this in-depth review will answer your questions and make the buying decision much easier for you.

In this comparison review, we analyze some of the top online diamond engagement ring companies to report their pros and cons.

The good news is the following stores are front-runners in 360° and video photography to help you get a better look at the product before you buy, so you can see for yourself. Here are the online jewelry companies we reviewed:

Online Diamond Engagement Ring Jeweler Reviews

PRODUCT DETAILS
goodgem-table-__imageBlue Nile
  • Selection: 100,000+
  • Price Per Carat: $6,834
  • Year Established: 2006
Click To Visit
goodgem-table-__imageJames Allen
  • Selection: 200,000+
  • Price Per Carat: $3,141
  • Year Established: 1999
Click To Visit
goodgem-table-__imageWhiteflash
  • Selection: 33,000+
  • Price Per Carat: $7,829
  • Year Established: 2000
Click To Visit

Comparison Factors

To find out which jeweler provided the best engagement ring, we looked at the following main review factors with several additional sub-factors:

The winners of each factor are highlighted GREEN in the tables below. One company was the clear, OVERALL winner in terms of selection, price & shopping experience. Read on to find out which one it was!

Engagement Ring Selection:

The winners are highlighted in GREEN in the table below.

Blue Nile
  • Selection: 100,000+
  • Lab-Grown: 0
  • Designer Settings: 7
  • Ring Styles: 12
  • Metal Types: 4
James Allen
  • Selection: 200,000+
  • Lab-Grown: 2,600+
  • Designer Settings: 5
  • Ring Styles: 9
  • Metal Types: 4
Whiteflash
  • Selection: 33,000+
  • Lab-Grown: 0
  • Designer Settings: 8
  • Ring Styles: 5
  • Metal Types: 5

The total selection of rings is an important factor, because you don’t want to be pigeon-holed into buying something your loved one doesn’t want or isn’t amazed by.

With the stores below, you can safely pick the cut, color, and clarity that fits your budget and ends up looking great. However, James Allen clearly has the largest selection, and even has a good sized selection of lab created diamonds. Lab grown diamonds are 100% conflict-free, 100% real, socially responsible, and safe for the environment. Read the chart below to see how the companies compare:

Selection:

The winner in total diamond selection is James Allen at 200,000 loose diamonds, followed by Blue Nile at over 100,000 loose diamonds.

Lab-Grown:

Lab grown diamonds are socially responsible, 100% conflict free, better for the environment, and less expensive. James Allen is the only company out of these three dealing in 100% real, lab grown diamonds in addition to natural stones.

There is a significant difference in price-per-carat between naturally mined and the less expensive lab created diamonds.

Click Here To Read The Full James Allen Review

Designer Settings:

Whiteflash has the most designer settings available. In most cases, these are gorgeous works of art that should make your significant other glow with happiness – often coming with a steep price tag.

If your loved one is interested in a well known engagement ring brand, Whiteflash are licensed distributors of the following brands:

  • Tacori
  • Simon G.
  • Verragio
  • A. Jaffe
  • Ritani

  • Vatche
  • Danhov
  • Benchmark
  • Whiteflash

Ring Styles:

Blue Nile has the most ring setting styles available by which you can directly filter on their website including:

  • 3-Stone
  • Channel-Set
  • Designer
  • Engravable
  • Eternity
  • Halo
  • Matching Band
  • Infinity
  • Pavé
  • Sidestone
  • Solitaire
  • Vintage

Metal Types:

Whiteflash currently has 5 metal types. It is refreshing to see more types in addition to the traditional Yellow Gold, White Gold, Rose Gold & Platinum. Whiteflash also has a palladium metal type.

Diamond Prices:

The winners are highlighted in GREEN in the table below.

Blue Nile
  • Price Per Carat: $6,834
  • Lab Grown Price: N/A
  • Financing: 18 Months
  • Wire Discount: 1.50%
  • Coupons: See Website
James Allen
  • Price Per Carat: $3,141
  • Lab Grown Price: $2,659
  • Financing: 6 Months
  • Wire Discount: 1.50%
  • Coupons: See Website
Whiteflash
  • Price Per Carat: $7,829
  • Lab Grown Price: N/A
  • Financing: 3 Months
  • Wire Discount: 3.00%
  • Coupons: See Website

So, how much markup does a jeweler bake into their costs of the product? That number could be anywhere from 30%-70%, depending on market demands and “diamond prices.” Some online jewelers have high premiums due to their built up brand recognition and specialty items that take extensive time & effort to create.

I painstakingly gathered the prices for each online diamond store listed to make it easier for you. When I analyzed their inventory of ideal cut diamonds, I was surprised to learn the stark difference in price per carat. James Allen was the clear winner here, and by a huge margin!

If you’re on a tight budget for your engagement ring, you can get a natural diamond or lab-grown diamond for as low as $450 at James Allen. Click here to build one now and sort by price.

Here are the types of diamonds I included in this research (and then I averaged them):

  • Shape: Round
  • Size: 1 ct.
  • Clarity: VVS1-VS2
  • Colors: D,E,F,G,H,I
  • Table Percentage: 53%-60%
  • Depth Percentage: 60%-63%

Customer Service:

The winners are highlighted in GREEN in the table below.

Blue Nile
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Returns: 30 days
  • 1st Year Re-size: Yes
  • Chat: Live
  • Buy-Backs: 50%
James Allen
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Returns: 30 days
  • 1st Year Re-size: Yes
  • Chat: 24/7 Consultation
  • Buy-Backs: No
Whiteflash
  • Warranty: Lifetime
  • Returns: 10-30 days
  • 1st Year Re-size: Yes
  • Chat: Live
  • Buy-Backs: 70%

Warranty:

All three of the companies that we reviewed have a lifetime warranty on their engagement rings. You can rest assured these companies will be around for a long time and will do replacements if there is a defect.

Returns:

Both Blue Nile and James Allen has a full 30 day return policy, while Whiteflash only accepts 30-day returns on their in-house inventory. Their virtual inventory they carry (which is a huge percentage of their inventory) needs to be returned in 10 days.

Re-sizings:

Part of what makes all of these companies great is Blue Nile, James Allen, and Whiteflash allow 1 free re-sizing of the ring within a year from purchase. It takes the risk out of online shopping, because you can simply request to be re-fit if something feels a bit “off” with the product.

Chat:

I am EXTREMELY impressed by James Allen’s 24/7 chat consultation service. It is way more helpful then a traditional chat service like the other jewelers have. I would highly recommend at least trying it out. At the very least, you will get good knowledge to take with you as you evaluate other options. To use the consultation service, you should first select a diamond using the steps below, then click “Diamond Inspection.” This puts you in a private showroom with a representative, and they will show their screen to you so they can draw & point out important aspects of the diamond or setting.

Here are some advanced tips to get the best diamond available. We are going to be using a filtering system and their chat consultation. In order to find a “winner,” you should perform the following steps:

  1. Head over to the James Allen website.
  2. Click “Start with a diamond” and choose a diamond using the following filters (we’ll use the popular round shape as an example).
    • Select either Earth-created or Lab-created Diamonds towards the top (lab-created preferred because of price).
    • Color: I-D
    • Cut: Very Good-Ideal
    • Clarity: VS2-VVS1
    • Carat: Whatever you want.
    • Price: Your budget
      • Then, click Advanced Options
      • Polish: Excellent
      • Symmetry: Excellent
      • Depth (%): 60-63%
      • Table (%): 54-60%
    • These filters should get you a brilliant, scintillating gem with plenty of “fire” within the stone.
  3. After you find one you’re interested in – ask to see the IdealScope of the gem. Sometimes they aren’t available, but in many cases they are. This is a tremendously valuable display of the gem’s optical properties such as; how the light reflects off the surface of the diamond and if there is any “light leakage” indicated by lighter shades of red.

As you can see above, the center “light areas” indicate light leakage. In this case, the facets around the table are acting like a window to the bottom of the diamond (a.k.a. “Windowing”). This prevents the light from reflecting off the pavilion facets, and decrease brilliance and dispersion. The darker red areas are good, and represent reflected light.

During the diamond inspection, I asked for a better performing stone. They showed me this IdealScope image (much darker red areas with less light leakage) at a cheaper price! I would not have found this diamond had I not simply asked to see a better one! This is a great customer experience.

Buy-backs:

Whiteflash will simply buy purchase the jewelry they sold you for 70% of value if you need to sell it for whatever reason. There are some stipulations, but they have the best buy-back policy to date out of these three companies. Blue Nile works with a company called Mondiamo to buy-back jewelery, but on average they pay around 50% of value.

Conclusion: Who Should Buy?

Each of these diamond engagement ring stores have their strengths and weaknesses. We looked at Blue Nile, James Allen, and Whiteflash to determine which store was best for each type of customer.

  • Budget Friendly: James Allen seems to have the best price-per-carat for very well cut diamonds.
  • Customer Support: You should buy a ring from James Allen if you’re looking for an extra level of customer support, expert consultation, along with a massive selection of natural & lab-grown diamonds.
  • Designer Brands: If you’re looking for a particular designer ring brand, you should buy from either Whiteflash or James Allen, depending on which brand you fancy.
  • Shopping Experience: You don’t want to examine a diamond just by looking at a simple photograph, or even worse – a 3D rendering. We recommend any of the three mentioned stores for 360 degree inspections on diamonds so you can view most inclusions and determine how eye-clean the diamond is.

As usual, please let me know if you have any questions regarding this review or if you need more help deciding which diamond to buy! I’d be happy to help. Leave a comment or contact me here!

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