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Blue Nile Review

A thorough review of Blue Nile's Diamonds, Engagement Rings and Jewelry

By Mike Fried,
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Overall Score:4.54.5 Rating4.5 Rating
Blue Nile
Price:44 Rating4 RatingSelection:4.54.5 Rating4.5 RatingCustomer Service: 55 Rating5 Rating
Pros
  • Super efficient fullfilment
  • Best in class customer service

Cons
  • Standard packaging
  • Diamonds are a bit pricier than James Allen

If you are considering purchasing diamond jewelry from Blue Nile, you’ve come to the right place. In this review, we cover everything you need to know about Blue Nile’s quality, value, customer service, and history. This review is based on our 40 years of combined experience in the industry, our six years of experience recommending Blue Nile as one of our favorite retailers, and multiple shopping visits to their showrooms and online purchases.

We’ll get into the details below, but our bottom-line recommendation is that Blue Nile offers fantastic quality at phenomenal value.

Over the last decade, we have helped tens of thousands of readers purchase engagement rings and other diamond jewelry. Blue Nile, along with our other favorite, James Allen, have consistently offered the best bang for your buck. Our readers have consistently raved about the quality, selection, service, and value.

Review Summary:

  • Fantastic selection of settings
  • Good customer service
  • Obsession with quality control
  • Very competitive pricing
To help you with the diamond buying process we lean on our expertise and experience. The author of this article, our CEO, Mike Fried has over 20 years of experience in the diamond industry. Mike started from the bottom, sorting and evaluating hundreds of thousands of diamonds to learn every facet (pun intended) of diamond quality and value. Mike followed that up by spending years buying and selling diamonds on the wholesale market as well as selling tens of millions of dollars worth of diamonds to diamond retailers.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:

Blue Nile’s history
Blue Nile’s market reputation
Diamonds at Blue Nile
Engagement ring settings at Blue Nile
Our experience at a Blue Nile store
Our secret shopping at Blue Nile
FAQs about Blue Nile

The History of Blue Nile

Bluenile.com was founded in 1999 by Mark Vadon.  The story goes that around that time Mr. Vadon was shopping for an engagement ring and was fed up with his options. He felt that diamonds were essentially a commodity and that all he needed to do was learn about this commodity and then shop for the best price.

According to The Wall Street Journal Blue Nile “…was founded in 1999 by Mark Vadon, who was frustrated with his search to buy a wedding ring. He bought the domain name InternetDiamonds.com in 1999, renamed it Blue Nile and promised to give consumers a better diamond-buying experience.”

And the rest was history.

Blue Nile’s Revolutionary Business Model

Blue Nile’s business model (speaking now only of their engagement ring business which is overwhelmingly their primary source of revenue) is a fairly simple one. It was an idea they thought up of at the start and has now become mainstream for online diamond jewelers. Without this business model, there would be no way for an online retailer to have a 1.6 million dollar round diamond in their inventory.  

Instead of purchasing diamond inventory and reselling it on their site, Blue Nile lists diamonds virtually directly from the diamond manufacturer and wholesalers. This allows them to offer an enormous inventory on razor-thin margins and offer better bang for your buck than traditional retailers. They may not have been the first company to do this, but they were the first online-only retailer to grow into one of the largest jewelry retailers in America.

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Blue Nile’s Market Reputation

Blue Nile has an impeccable reputation. Consumers can rest assured that Blue Nile is the place to find any diamond jewelry. You will even see consumers buying stunning $50,000 engagement rings from Blue Nile.

Blue Nile’s reputation as the leader in the online market has made them an ideal place to buy diamonds. It has also allowed them to nurture relationships with the largest legit diamond wholesalers in the world. This has further given Blue Nile a strong advantage over the competition by signing exclusivity contracts.

Their long-term position has also allowed them to develop a fantastic selection of settings to meet consumers’ needs. They have partnered with some fantastic designers like Zac Posen (who makes my favorite solitaire setting).

Blue Nile Diamonds

Does Blue Nile have high-quality diamonds? Blue Nile Diamonds stack up with the best in the world from a quality perspective. Blue Nile only offers GIA diamonds. As you can see from our ‘on the street’ video comparing Blue Nile to Tiffany, everyone felt the qualities were identical. Following our guidelines you can buy an incredible diamond from Blue Nile at an extremely competitive price.

As this video shows, Blue Nile’s diamond and jewelry quality stacks up against top luxury fashion icons like Tiffany & Co. Using their diamond search filters (and following our recommendations on quality) as well as the high-quality videos of the diamonds, you can select a superb center diamond to pair with Blue Nile’s.

Eye-Cleanliness is Paramount

In our opinion, a consumer’s goal should be to find the cheapest (in regards to clarity; other factors matter as well) “eye-clean” diamond you can find. We use “eye-clean” to describe diamonds that may have inclusions if you look at them with a magnifying glass (or microscope or loupe), but the typical person can’t see the inclusion with their naked eye.

We have recently developed Ringo, a patented artificial intelligence model, that can examine videos of diamonds and determine if they are eye-clean. Ringo will also filter for other parameters like making sure the diamond is well-cut, doesn’t have fluorescence issues and will match the style setting you choose.

Blue Nile Engagement Ring Settings

Whichever style you are aiming for with your engagement ring, Blue Nile has you covered. When we first started our site in 2011, Blue Nile’s selection was somewhat limited, but that is no longer the case. They can help you with something classic like Tiffany style solitaire or a more statement-like three stone ring. Or you can find something edgier like a twist pavé or a reimagined vintage look. Take a look at some of our favorite settings as well as some of our readers’ favorite Blue Nile rings.

Tiffany-like Six Prong Setting in Platinum
Tiffany-like Six Prong Setting in Platinum
Petite Twist Pavé Setting in Yellow Gold
Petite Twist Pavé Setting in Yellow Gold
Micropavé Three Stone Setting in White Gold
Micropavé Three Stone Setting in White Gold
ZAC ZAC POSEN Vintage Milgrain Setting in Yellow Gold
ZAC ZAC POSEN Vintage Milgrain Setting in Yellow Gold
Crescendo Oval Halo Setting in Rose Gold
Crescendo Oval Halo Setting in Rose Gold

Blue Nile Rings: Fanatical Obsession with Quality

We discussed style above, but how is the craftsmanship on Blue Nile’s rings? In our previous review, we noted that they seem to be outsourcing a lot of their jewelry manufacturing to a company in Kentucky. We were not a fan of this as it means they lose control over the process.

Well, I can say that Blue Nile rediscovered their passion for quality control. We first met with the BN team at their corporate headquarters in Seattle. Instead of being argumentative on the topic (which would be understandable, given that our review was less than thrilling), they addressed the issues head on. They explained the steps they took to improve the situation.

Ira and Mike at Blue Nile’s fulfillment center in Seattle
Ira, Hide, and Mike

This culminated in a fantastic trip to their fulfillment center. There we were introduced to Hide, who oversees operations there. He showed us around. Ira and I have many years of experience in the business and have met with countless jewelry companies at all levels of the industry (from mining down to small mom-and-pop stores). Hide’s pride and focus on quality were very apparent and you can see that the whole team follows his example.

Ira and I were both impressed not only with the quality and craftsmanship of Blue Nile’s rings but with their institutional focus on quality control to ensure the consistency of the product. I’m sure there will be mistakes as there is no such thing as perfection. But it’s clear that Blue Nile is striving for that impossible ideal of perfection; a hallmark of a great company.

Blue Nile Store Experience

Melding Blue Nile’s virtual inventory and phenomenal products to a physical showroom has given people an extraordinary option to buy their engagement ring from. You still get fantastic pricing, but you are able to have the experience of trying things on and speaking with a salesperson in person.

Not everyone wants to buy a ring online. I had the opportunity to visit three Blue Nile stores; Austin, Seattle and New Jersey. In all three locations I was met with knowledgeable and helpful experts and a modern, upscale shopping experience. You can read more about our experience from NJ in our blog post

We shot a video at the Garden State Plaza (New Jersey) location to give you an idea of what to expect.

Blue Nile has been opening physical showrooms over the last decade and there are now 27 Blue Nile stores covering most of the major cities in America. I have visited four of the locations so far (Portland, Seattle, Austin and New Jersey).

Blue Nile stores have had remarkable consistency. I have found the salespeople to be better educated and more helpful than most chain jewelry stores. The level of knowledge has been about on par with local independent jewelers that have been in the business for a long time.

The ambiance is very modern with a relaxed vibe. You don’t feel suffocated like you would in a more traditional jewelry store and there is plenty of natural light. This gives you the opportunity to see how the jewelry will look in everyday life, not just under the harsh jeweler lights.

Blue Nile Diamond Jewelry

Blue Nile is the online leader when it comes to diamond jewelry If you look around our site, you know that we love James Allen as well, but Blue Nile blows everyone away when it comes to their jewelry. Look, I am an industry expert and insider. I have plenty of contacts at the wholesale/manufacturer level. When I wanted to get my girlfriend a diamond necklace in 2022 I knew right away that I wanted the Scatter V Necklace that we once saw while secret shopping the Blue Nile store in Austin.

Daintly diamond necklace from Blue Nile
The Diamond Scatter “V” Necklace in White Gold from Blue Nile

They have a wide array of diamond tennis necklaces, pendants and fashion pieces. They also have interesting gold and sapphire jewelry if you want to go in a different direction.

Secret Shopping Blue Nile

Since we started recommending them recently, the feedback from our readers has been overwhelmingly positive about the quality of diamond rings from Blue Nile. In our most recent secret shopping (we do them regularly to keep our information current), we decided to do a test on the street.

We compared two rings from Blue Nile to a classic 0.50 ct I VVS2 round diamond solitaire ring from Tiffany & Co. The first ring was virtually identical to the one we purchased from Tiffany, yet it was almost 60% less. The second one was double the size of the Tiffany ring, yet still came in at 10% less.

Blue Nile’s 0.70ct I SI1 round diamond ring

The consensus was that the Blue Nile rings were every bit as beautiful and high quality as the Tiffany ring. Every person we asked said they’d rather purchase a ring from Blue Nile and get a better bang for their buck.

For this shopping, I settled on a setting that many of our readers seem to gravitate toward. It’s a nice tapered pave 14kt white gold setting. I settled on this beautiful 0.70ct I SI1 round diamond. As you can see from the specs, the cut on this diamond is absolutely brilliant. And from Blue Nile’s new video technology, you can see that the diamond is perfectly eye-clean.

FAQs About Blue Nile Review

Are Blue Nile diamond rings good value?

Blue Nile’s engagement rings are excellent value. We discuss this at length, but we hit the streets comparing a $2,600 ring from Blue Nile to a $5,500 ring from Tiffany & Co. Every person chose the Blue Nile ring.

What is Blue Nile’s return policy?

Blue Nile offers a full money-back return within 30 days of receiving the product. If you are in the United States, you will receive an insured return label for hassle-free returns. If the return is more than $500, you need to contact them in advance. As I mentioned, this was not an issue at all when I secret-shopped them.

Does Blue Nile have a credit card?

Blue Nile has a couple of finance options. Your best option to finance a diamond from Blue Nile would be through the Blue Nile Credit Card. They offer interest fees for 6, 12 or 18 months (depending on the value and/or product). 

Does Blue Nile sell lab-grown diamonds?

Blue Nile started to sell lab-grown diamonds in early 2023. This adds an incredible value option for Blue Nile customers. Pair a lab-grown diamond with their phenomenal settings and superb customer service and you get an enormous bang for your buck.

Does Blue Nile sell diamonds internationally?

Blue Nile has extensive operations to sell diamonds all over the world. Their home base is in Seattle where they ship all orders from.

Is Blue Nile legit?

Not only is Blue Nile 100% legit, but they are also the premier online diamond jeweler. Having been in business for more than 20 years and selling hundreds of millions of dollars worth of diamond jewelry every year, you can rest easy shopping at Blue Nile.

My Impression of Blue Nile

Blue Nile is clearly a powerhouse company. They are the leader in online jewelry sales. 

Blue Nile has mated their strong position in the industry with an almost fanatical obsession with quality and fulfillment. Throw in the advances they recently made on the technology side by adding videos, and they truly are a force to be reckoned with in the industry.

Blue Nile Blue Nile is the largest and most well-known internet jewelry seller. They have a very large exclusive online inventory. Their high-quality images are catching up to James Allens' and their prices are amazing. 
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. Blue Nile will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisal
  • One free resizing within the first year of purchase
  • High quality images of about half of their diamonds
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • 100% credit towards future upgrades (must be at least double in value)
  • Best in class fulfillment
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About the author

Mike Fried Mike Fried Mike Fried has over 25 years experience in the diamond industry working with Leo Schachter Diamonds, Moshe Namdar Diamonds, and joining The Diamond Pro in 2007. He is recognized as an industry expert and has been quoted in publications such as Us, People, Page Six, The Next Web and more.

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