James Allen Rings and Physical store

James Allen Review

James Allen is just a little bit different from many New York jewelers. It’s rare that any company has had the impact that they have had on their chosen market. Founded only in 2006, and so pointedly without the history of many jewelry houses, James Allen has become one of the biggest diamond names in the USA. In fact, the company claims to be the largest e-commerce retailer of diamonds in the US. With over 150,000 diamonds available at any one time, it’s hard to argue.

Oh, and they don’t actually run a single retail outlet. Everything they do is online, or almost everything. They do operate a red carpet appointment service, but not everyone gets through their doors so easily.

The James Allen Business Model

James Allen diamond ring

Not running brick-and-mortar stores can have a massive impact on the profitability of any business. When you factor in NYC rents and costs, the difference can be staggering. Instead of risking vital capital funds on supporting walk-in stores, the company made the decision to be an e-commerce platform only. They brought in experts in both diamonds and sales and set about building a business that would have an impact far greater than anybody expected.

The lack of retail stores meant the company had to find new ways of getting its products in front of customers. To do this, they devised a virtual showroom. This allows customers to design or view any ring or diamond in the collection. A full 360-degree viewing is possible with the virtual system.

So, given that you can’t actually try a range of rings on before deciding which you want to buy, is it a good way to buy?

Pros of James Allen

Buying From James Allen

girl wearing james allen rings and earrings

It would probably be wide of the mark to suggest that the only way to buy jewelry is in person. More and more, these days, online is seen as the preferred way to buy almost anything. Jewelry is no exception to this, of course. It is better to buy in person, as there’s nothing better than seeing any type of goods in person. But online buying is perfectly acceptable. To this end, James Allen offers a wide range of services that are covered by a 30-day money-back guarantee. Free ring-sizing is also available for up to 60 days after purchase. You need to return the ring at your own expense, but delivery is free.

The 360-degree viewing system actually works very well and is available for all product images on all pages. The range of rings and gemstones of all types is vast. There are more diamonds than anything else, as might be expected, but rubies sapphires, and emeralds all feature.

When custom designing a ring, it is done in managed stages. You choose your gemstone type, and then a particular stone from those offered. Next step is to choose a setting. The settings that appear are suitable for your chosen stone, so you may not always see the same choices. One huge advantage over many similar systems is the guarantee. Often, when buying custom-designed items, it’s all at your own risk. James Allen actually offers the same 30 Day returns guarantee on every single item they sell, custom or “off the shelf”.

After Sales

Such is the size of the James Allen operation, that customer services are available 24/7. That is just about unique in the jewelry industry, and the company deserves a lot of credit for investing in such a level of service.

One final (and quite remarkable) point to mention is the James Allen upgrade policy. If you buy a diamond at, for example, $2,000, they will give you 100% of that value against a new diamond. There are conditions, of course. The diamond must be in its original condition, with no chips or other damage. It must also be accompanied by the original grading document provided at purchase. Finally, the offer is only good against diamonds with 2x or more of the original stone. This may sound like a lot, but is actually a very generous offer by industry standards.

Cons of James Allen

Buying

two hands holding pinky finger with bracelet and rings

As great as the buying process can be, it does have limitations. One or two of these are actually quite significant, in our opinion.

When buying any gemstone, whether a diamond or anything else, the quality of the images seems really sketchy. This is especially noticeable in colored gemstones such as rubies. The site will show several stones, all around the same weight, and with what looks like the same cut. The problem is that the colors of the rubies are very different. They range from light pink to a very deep red and yet are all priced the same. Now, of course, there is more to any gemstone than color, but it is a big part of a ruby. Despite this, there are few details of the stones themselves available.

The images are at 20x magnification, in an effort to simulate a jeweler’s loupe. This is okay up to a point, but we found a lot of images to be ever-so-slightly out of focus. It might not be obvious to an untrained eye, but it still seems an odd flaw in the system.

Also, if custom-designed a ring, you can’t actually see a simulation of your chosen stone in your chosen setting. Instead, you will see them alongside each other. Yes, the system is innovative and works from a technical point of view, but is that enough? Probably not. Compete rings don’t have this issue, of course, and the 360-degree viewing is very good.

Another downside (from a very subjective angle) is the lack of vintage jewelry. We love vintage jewelry and so do most of our readers. We always send our fans to Estate Diamond Jewelry, Catherine Angeil, or Grey and Davis when they want an engagement ring.

After Sales

Despite their promise of 24/7 customer service, there are many reports of it failing when needed. Lack of contact seems to be the biggest complaint. Bearing in mind that we’re talking several hundred dollars, if not several thousand, people naturally like to have as much information as possible before buying.

They also want to know where their order is up to after they have paid. Each order does have an audit trail for setting, sizing, despatching, etc., but these seem very inconsistent in the information they provide.

There is also a lot of concern over James Allen’s reluctance to address poor reviews directly on their website. In reality, though, no company is going to show anything but good testimonials, it’s just a fact. Instead, that’s why we have the murky world of Yelp and TrustPilot.

The general consensus, once you take out the best and worst reviews, is that James Allen is an exceptional diamond supplier, but perhaps not so exceptional a jeweler. Their finished rings seemingly aren’t always appreciated by the buyer although, to be fair to James Allen, they sell a LOT of rings, so there will always be the odd poor example that creeps through. They are also very public in responding to complaints online, which is to their credit.

Unboxing James Allen

When you buy jewelry from them, each piece is carefully packed with extra care and little extras that you might not expect. The box that holds your engagement ring will be a beautiful white and silver one with their signature heart-shaped butterfly on it. Inside the outer box is a beautiful keepsake ring box that is made to fit perfectly in your pocket for the big moment when you ask her to marry you.

The proof of your James Allen diamond from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the American Gem Society (AGS), or the International Gemological Institute (IGI) is in the bottom drawer of the outer box. A quality assurance guarantee, an inspection certificate, and a cleaning cloth will also be sent to you.

Credits to That Guy Osiris for the video.

James Allen vs Blue Nile

James Allen vs Blue Nile Physical store

James Allen and Blue Nile are two well-known online stores that sell diamonds and fine jewelry. Each has its own skills and products. James Allen is famous for having a huge selection of high-quality diamonds that are found ethically, as well as a huge range of engagement ring settings that let customers make their rings unique. The high-definition 360-degree diamond viewing technology at James Allen is one of its best features. It lets customers look at each diamond up close and make smart choices about what to buy. Blue Nile indeed has a lot of gems and jewelry, but its pictures don’t show as much detail as James Allen’s.

Both James Allen and Blue Nile have competitive prices, but James Allen’s prices are often even better during sales and other events. In addition, Blue Nile has reasonable prices, especially for its fine diamonds. Both businesses have great customer service, with helpful staff members ready to help customers with their purchases. People love James Allen because they offer personalized customer service and are ready to work with customers to find the perfect diamond. Also, both James Allen and Blue Nile sell diamonds that have been certified by well-known gemological labs like the American Gem Society (AGS) and the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). This makes sure that buyers get correct information about the diamond’s quality. People will choose between James Allen and Blue Nile based on their own personal tastes and needs.

Conclusion

James Allen is big business in a very competitive marketplace. They have a range of products, particularly gemstones, which are hard to compete with. There are suspicions that the size of the company may also occasionally work against them. Customer service isn’t always great, and the quality of their products is sometimes viewed unfavorably by the purchaser. These are all indicators of a company who needs to watch that expansion doesn’t destroy goodwill that has been built up.

However, credit where it’s due. To build a business of this scale from nothing, in a little over 10 years is a remarkable achievement. Is it perfect? No, but few businesses are. Perhaps, as buyers of jewelry and what it means, we are a little less forgiving than if we were buying, say, a dishwasher. Either way, James Allen is here and is a force to be reckoned with.

A final “but”, though, is that you still can’t beat seeing any piece of jewelry in person. It has its price, yes, but personal is always better than impersonal.

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