The Diamond Pro

James Allen Reviews

By Michael Fried

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James Allen
Visit Site
Overall Score:4.67
Price:4.5Selection:4.5Customer Service:5
Pros
  • Super high quality images for every diamond in inventory
  • Best in class customer service
  • Best in class packaging

Cons
  • Selection of non-engagement/wedding jewelry is extremely limited

James Allen has revolutionized the way people buy engagement rings and diamond jewelry. From their beginning in 2006, they have relentlessly innovated in their pursuit of creating the perfect online jewelry store. Because of this, and many other factors we get into below, James Allen is considered to be one of the premier diamond engagement ring retailers in the world. Diamond Engagement Ring By James Allen

Being perfectly honest, if it weren’t for James Allen I’m not sure we would have started this website. When I left the diamond manufacturing/wholesale industry, the only way I was going to get back into the world of diamonds was if I can truly help people about to make one of the biggest purchases of their lives. If it weren’t for the tools that James Allen offers, we would not have been able to pick out the perfect diamond for you, our readers.

There are many ways in which James Allen has changed the game for consumers looking for a new approach when buying diamond jewelry. Their fantastic imagery allows you to pick out the perfect diamond, coupled with their stunning jewelry that impresses both with style and craftsmanship is a one-two punch that makes them a phenomenal option when purchasing a diamond ring for that special someone in your life.

Below you will find our in-depth James Allen review that is based on our extensive experience, not only with helping our readers find the perfect engagement ring, but also our experience working in the diamond industry for over 50 years between us. You will find the results of our secret shopping and unboxing videos as well as comparisons with other major retailers, from the high-end luxury (Tiffany) to the large chain retailers, to the local independent jewelers.

History of James Allen

Jamesallen.com was founded in 1998 by James Allen Schultz and his wife Michele.  It’s easy to just throw out a year like that without paying attention to what that means, but if you think about it, 1998 truly is eons ago in Internet years.

As with Blue Nile, JA was created because its founder was very dissatisfied with his personal search for an engagement ring.  After their launch in 1998, the site grew rapidly and very quickly established itself as one of the premier online engagement ring stores.

Rebranding to JamesAllen.com

In 2005, they relaunched their site as JamesAllen.com. At this time, they started to take their engagement ring line very seriously. They started to offer some stunning settings like this delicate crossover pave setting. They also started to partner with established designers so they can bring you something like this gorgeous Verragio setting.

What Makes James Allen Stand Out

Not ones to sit on their laurels, James Allen continued to revolutionize the online diamond ring experience. The result is a service that not only provides consumers with more confidence in their purchase, but also compels the rest of the industry to follow suit.

Revolutionary Diamond Display

James Allen were one of the first retailers to introduce imagery that allows you to choose eye-clean diamonds. They upped their game (and fired a warning shot across the bow of their competitors) by being the first retailer to offer 360° high definition photographs of every diamond they offer.

1ct Solitaire Engagement Ring

1ct Solitaire Engagement Ring

This technology is critical for any consumer looking to buy a diamond engagement ring online. In order to get the best bang for your buck, you are best off finding a diamond with an SI1/2 clarity grade whose inclusions are not visible to the naked eye. Without seeing a proper image, it is impossible to make that decision.

While other online retailers have tried playing catch up with James Allen, no one is able to compete with their trademarked 360° Diamond Display Technology. Not only is it necessary to inspect the clarity grade, but it is absolutely imperative to look at the images when purchasing any fancy shape diamond.

If a diamond is not round, it is hard to determine how brilliant a diamond will be. If the diamond is not symmetrical, the specs on the certificate will not tell the whole story. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Our Personal Inspection

For purposes of this James Allen review, I decided to see what it would be like myself to order an engagement ring from them. I ordered a J color, SI2 clarity, Excellent cut GIA certified round diamond (unfortunately, the original diamond we ordered for this test is no longer viewable on the James Allen website. This link is a very close alternative diamond.) mounted in a basic white gold solitaire setting.  Obviously, we had to use a pseudonym for the purchase.

GIA Report 6111684286

The Certificate of the Original Diamond we Ordered

Since I had already reviewed James Allen’s customer support in my diamond stud earrings article, I simply placed the order online. I will summarize that below in its own section.

J color, SI2 clarity, Excellent cut GIA certified round diamond

The Diamond

As you can see from the copy of the GIA certificate and image of the diamond, the picture from James Allen accurately portrayed the diamond’s appearance in real life. The diamond was exceptionally clean for an SI2.  The inclusions were all very faint and could only be seen when I examined the stone through a 10x jewelers loupe.

Invoice of 1 Carat S12 Clarity Diamond & 18K White Gold Solitaire Ring

Invoice of Our Order

The cut was likewise exceptional. The diamond was brilliant and lively. We were also highly impressed with the craftsmanship of the setting. The lines were smooth and clear and the head was secure with no scratches or streaks evident from the manufacturing.

Incredible Inventory that Gives You Peace of Mind

James Allen has a staggeringly large inventory of diamonds to choose from. As I’m writing the update for this review, James Allen has over 300,000 diamonds to choose from in their search. Not only do they have a ridiculous amount of diamonds to choose from, but their business model is so streamlined that they are able to offer those diamonds at fantastic price points.

James Allen has adopted the Amazon business model which allows them to offer millions of dollars of inventory without having to carry the expense of maintaining such an extensive inventory. We delve into this point in depth in this article.

While James Allen has managed to offer a vast inventory, that has not forced them to sacrifice when it comes to the sourcing of their diamonds. Every diamond listed on James Allen is certified conflict free.

Contents of the James Allen packaged box

Box Contents

While their diamond inventory is impressive, they do not slouch on the engagement ring settings either. You can peruse their inspiration gallery to get an idea just how fantastic, and extensive, their setting selection is.

True Hearts Collection

For those customers looking for the creme de la creme, James Allen has got you covered. Their True Hearts collection are selected based on strict criteria to ensure the diamond will be as brilliant as can possibly be. Take this one carat stunner for example.  This diamond will have both the fire and brilliance that only the best diamonds display.

These diamonds are for those people looking for Hearts & Arrows diamonds. Keep in mind that you can contact one of our diamond consultants at any time and they will help you pick out the perfect diamond for you.

Competitive Pricing

As we just mentioned, James Allen has a great business model that allows them to offer diamonds at incredible prices. This means that you will get an incredible engagement ring for a fraction of the price compared to their competition. Below we will offer some comparisons with other retailers (online and local) for you to get a better idea of what they are offering.

Buying from James Allen vs. Buying from a Physical Retailer
James AllenTypical Brick & Mortar Retailer
Able to shop and purchase at your own pace without any pressureMust deal with pushy salespeople, likely on commission
Are able to constantly cross reference information you receive with third party experts (like the diamond pros) while shoppingAre being provided information by said pushy salesperson. Can double check later, but it’s a lot of information to digest.
Virtual inventory means they don’t have to pass along the cost of maintaining a multi-million dollar inventory at each physical locationMust pass along the cost of stocking a store on to you, the consumer.
Has no incentive to sell you any specific diamond. Their interest aligns with yours; to find you the best diamond possibleMay have an ugly diamond that is sitting in their safe that they are desperate to move.
Full refunds within 30 daysRarely offers full refunds. At best you may get an in-store credit. But that just means the retailer you are unsatisfied with to begin with is your only option now.

Wide Selection of High Quality Jewelry

One area where we used to struggle when recommending James Allen was non-engagement jewelry. To be sure, their jewelry was gorgeous, their craftsmanship was impeccable and their diamond quality was spot on. But for several years James Allen was focusing on expanding their engagement ring line while their non-bridal options were limited. That is no longer the case.

After seeing significant improvements in the breadth of their jewelry lines, I felt compelled to add this section in the review. Not only is their quality still top notch, but they have a significantly expanded and varied jewelry line on their site.

For the purpose of this review, I focused on three major non-engagement sectors. We are going to look at tennis bracelets, eternity bands and diamond pendants.

I was helping a reader of ours pick out a tennis bracelet when I stumbled across this stunner. I loved the style and was very impressed with the craftsmanship and diamonds. I wanted to take a closer look for myself, so we decided to secret shop James Allen one more time.

14K White Gold Tennis Bracelet

14K White Gold Tennis Bracelet

Up close, the bracelet looked even more impressive. It’s never easy to match so many diamonds but they all fit perfectly. The prongs were also very well made and each diamond was perfectly secure in the bracelet. This bracelet is an incredible value for the price they were offering at.

The eternity bands did not disappoint either. Despite being on the lower end in price, the brilliance and sparkle were amazing on this ring. The quality grades were spot on and the ring seemed to be a perfect complement to an engagement ring.

James Allen Eternity Band

James Allen Eternity Band

The pendants were a bit trickier. As we mention in our pendant buying guide, you have to be a little more careful when selecting a center diamond. We have already reviewed selecting a diamond from James Allen, so we just asked for a pendant with a CZ in it so we can judge the quality of the mounting. The design and craftsmanship on this one was stunning as well.

Outstanding Consumer Experience

We know what matters most to you is finding the perfect engagement ring at a competitive price. That is why that is the focus of this review. It’s also important, however, that the overall experience purchasing that ring lives up to the quality of the ring you are purchasing. We know just how frustrating when the interaction with the retailer sours you on the purchase.

Fortunately, James Allen’s customer experience matches the quality of their product.

24/7 Customer Support

We spot-check their customer service (using pseudonyms) regularly and are always impressed with their technical knowledge as well as their eagerness to help resolve any situation that arises.

Free Shipping

James Allen offers free shipping in the US and worldwide. We understand that you may have concerns about receiving such a valuable product via shipping. For that reason, James Allen insures every shipment they make so you do not have to worry.

30 Day Hassle-Free Returns

Another concern that people have is buying diamonds online is making such a purchase sight unseen. For that reason, James Allen offers a 100% refund for all purchases within 30 days. They will even pay for the return shipping (US customers only) so there is zero risk on your part.

Our Secret Shopping Experience: Buying Online from James Allen

Secret shopping James Allen was a breeze. Let’s start with the selection and ordering process. We did not reach out to James Allen for help selecting the diamond as we mentioned above. Another reason we did not ask for their help was that our readers usually have received a personal recommendation from one of our own diamond consultants. You can always reach out to us for any questions you have and to help you select the perfect diamond.

The ordering process was quick and painless. Their site is intuitive and easy to order from. From the time we ordered the ring it took four days for it to be delivered to our address, receiving notifications of status along the way.

The engagement ring came in a stunning box. It is safe to say that we have never received a diamond ring in packaging as stunning as this. You can read more below, along with our unboxing video below.

We covered the quality of the diamond and setting above, so we won’t delve into that here. Suffice it to say that we absolutely loved the diamond and setting. It was gorgeous and there were zero flaws in the craftsmanship.

The return process was equally fast and painless. After a quick and pleasant phone call to someone at James Allen, I received a return label and dropped off the package. The charge came off my credit card a few days later.

How to buy a diamond ring on James Allen

Despite all of our educational content, it still may be a bit confusing to navigate the diamond buying process. The easiest way to find the perfect diamond is to contact us. One of our diamond consultants will be happy to guide you through the process personally and make specific recommendations for you.

When buying a diamond, there are three questions to answer that will determine which diamond is best for you. These are questions we can’t answer for you. What is your budget, what shape diamond you want as your center stone and what type of setting will you be putting it in.

Set Your Budget

No one can help you with this one. DeBeers has run some fantastic marketing campaigns implying that you should spend two months salary. We’ve even had readers ask us whether the rule changed and it’s now three months. Well there is no rule. That is just marketing. You should spend what you are comfortable spending.

Choose the Diamond Shape

This is another one that we can’t really help you with. There are general principles. A round diamond will always be the most brilliant. It will also be the most expensive per carat weight (you should read our size article to see why that is a bit deceiving). But we can’t really choose a shape for you as that depends on personal style and preference.

Choose the Setting Style

This is important to know before selecting the diamond for two reasons. First, you have to have a general idea how much the setting will eat into your overall budget. You don’t want to select a diamond only to find that there is no way to fit that diamond and the setting you want in your budget. Second, the setting style can affect which color grade you should be searching for in your diamond as we explain here.

If you are having trouble settling on a setting style, check out James Allen’s inspiration gallery. That is a fantastic page to give you ideas and help you make a decision.

Once you have the answer to these three questions, all that is left is to put the proper filters in James Allen’s diamond search. Be sure to follow our cut, certificate and fluorescence guidelines as a mistake here will negatively impact the look of your diamond.

Once you have the search filters put in, the final step is to pick out the cheapest eye-clean diamond in your range. This is the most difficult part of the process and is more of an art than a science. Our diamond consultants have selected tens of thousands of diamonds each and there is still a little bit of grey area for them. If you are unsure about your selection, don’t hesitate to contact us and we can confirm if the diamond is eye-clean or not.

Why We Like James Allen

  • Large selection of high-quality diamonds
  • Customization options that allow you to mix and match to build the perfect ring for you
  • Cutting edge imagery that allows you to select the perfect diamond for you
  • Wide array of engagement ring settings that are manufactured to the highest craftsmanship and quality standards
  • Great customer service experience
  • 30 day return policy and lifetime warranty

Packaging and Unboxing Video

While other companies packaging ranged from good to subpar, James Allen blew away the competition in this category. When you peel open the Fedex box that the James Allen product is shipped in, a full sized thick board box slides out embossed with the name “James Allen” and the red butterfly James Allen logo.  This outer box is made to fit perfectly inside the Fedex box.

Closed James Allen Box

Closed James Allen Box

When you slide off the lid off this box,  you’re faced with a full-sized foam insert with a space cut out of the very center for the polished hardwood jewelry box.

James Allen Packaging Box Opened

The Box Opened

Underneath the foam lies a drawer containing the accompanying documentation – in my case, an appraisal, a GIA certificate, and an envelope containing the invoice and other documentation. Also included is a polishing cloth and a Hearts & Arrows scope (for those who order their True Hearts diamonds).

The box is meant to be kept as a handsome and functional jewelry box for this ring and other jewelry you may have.

Everything about this presentation is first class.  This kind of attention to detail shows the consumer that James Allen has a deep commitment to quality and desires the highest level of service in every facet of the experience.

And to top it all off, not only is James Allen’s packaging the classiest, it’s also by far the most secure.

Comparing James Allen to the Competition

We have spent the time extolling the virtues of James Allen. The big question is, how do they stack up to the competition? Here we will compare James Allen to wide range of jewelers. We’ll start with a local retailer, move on to a big jewelry chain, then compare them to a high-end luxury jeweler. After that, we will talk about their biggest online competition.

James Allen vs. Blue Nile

James Allen and Blue Nile have absolutely dominated the online retail market for diamond engagement rings. Both of them are excellent companies. Here is a table below to compare the two.

Click here to toggle between James Allen and Blue NileJames AllenBlue Nile
Benefits & Features
Inventory, as of 3/30/2017
(Advantage: Blue Nile)
140,314 Diamonds181,250 Diamonds
Images
(Advantage: James Allen)
James Allen's imagery is just like looking at a diamond through a jewelers loupe. You are able to truly inspect the diamond. This gives you a huge advantage, but you need to know what to look for (i.e. you need to be able to interpret the photo and determine whether the diamond is eye-clean). With the help of one of our experts, this is the best option on the market.Blue Nile's imagery is not as detailed, but may be easier for a lay consumer to interpret. From our perspective, both have their uses. If you are asking us for help, then the JA images are better. Also, as of this day, Blue Nile only has 50% of their diamonds photographed.
Return PolicyIf you are not 100% satisfied with your purchase, return it in its original, unworn condition within 30 days, for a 100% refund. No restocking fee. James Allen & Blue Nile will pay for the return shipping (U.S. and Canada customers only).
Customer Service24/7 customer service
Upgrade PolicyAny loose diamond purchased from James Allen or Blue Nile can be exchanged at 100% credit for any replacement diamond of at least 2X or greater value. The diamond that is being upgraded must be in original condition and accompanied by the original laboratory grading document.
Packaging
(Advantage: James Allen)
James Allen's packaging is a true luxury experience. The ring comes with a large and very nicely appointed jewelry box that can be used for other jewelry as well. The box has a little drawer that sleekly holds the documentation.Blue Nile has industry standard packaging.
Buying from James Allen vs. Buying from Blue Nile

James Allen

Blue Nile

Benefits & Features
Inventory, as of 7/14/2019

(Advantage: James Allen)

310,000 Diamonds175,000 Diamonds
Images

(Advantage: James Allen)

James Allen’s imagery is just like looking at a diamond through a jewelers loupe. You are able to truly inspect the diamond. This gives you a huge advantage, but you need to know what to look for (i.e. you need to be able to interpret the photo and determine whether the diamond is eye-clean). With the help of one of our experts, this is the best option on the market.
Blue Nile’s imagery is not as detailed, but may be easier for a lay consumer to interpret. From our perspective, both have their uses. If you are asking us for help, then the JA images are better. Also, as of this day, Blue Nile only has 75% of their diamonds photographed.
Return PolicyIf you are not 100% satisfied with your purchase, return it in its original, unworn condition within 30 days, for a 100% refund. No restocking fee. James Allen & Blue Nile will pay for the return shipping (U.S. and Canada customers only).
Customer Service24/7 customer service
Upgrade PolicyAny loose diamond purchased from James Allen or Blue Nile can be exchanged at 100% credit for any replacement diamond of at least 2X or greater value. The diamond that is being upgraded must be in original condition and accompanied by the original laboratory grading document.
Packaging

(Advantage: James Allen)

James Allen’s packaging is a true luxury experience. The ring comes with a large and very nicely appointed jewelry box that can be used for other jewelry as well. The box has a little drawer that sleekly holds the documentation.Blue Nile used to be far behind James Allen when it came to packaging. They have narrowed the gap considerably. I’d still give the edge to James Allen, but that may be a personal preference.

James Allen vs. Reeds Jewelers

You can read more about our experience here, but suffice it to say that we did not enjoy our secret shopping at Reeds. In our review we compared an ugly one carat I1 quality ring from Reeds to this gorgeous 1.02ct J color, I1 clarity round diamond from James Allen that was half the price of the diamond from Reeds.

James Allen vs. Costco

This one may be surprising to you. Costco may not be the first company you think of when you think of large chain jewelers, but they do have a wide selection of jewelry. Their quality was surprisingly impressive and they have a fantastic return policy, but their service is close to zero. You aren’t going to get knowledgeable jewelers at your local Costco and they won’t be able to do any customization.

As we show in our Costco review, this 0.70ct J VS1 round diamond from James Allen will cost about 25% less than what you select at Costco.

James Allen vs. Tiffany & Co.

Tiffany has a well-earned reputation as being the diamond-standard (sorry for that joke) in the luxury jewelry world. Their service is fantastic and their jewelry is stunning. They have invested millions upon millions of dollars building their brand recognition and ensuring that they live up to that reputation.

But you can find a virtually identical diamond ring from James Allen. We built an incredible Art-Nouveau ring with a 1.00ct cushion cut diamond that was less than $5,000. In comparison, we purchased a 0.53ct cushion cut in a similar style setting from Tiffany & Co for $6,859. That means you are getting a diamond double the size while saving roughly ⅓ of the price.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does James Allen have a showroom?

James Allen has a showroom (by appointment only) in New York City and Washington DC. The overwhelming majority of their customers purchase online. As we mention here, buying online has many advantages.

Does James Allen offer a warranty?

James Allen offers a lifetime warranty for maintenance and repairs. Any issues you may have, from cleaning to polishing to prong tightening will be taken care of.

Does James Allen offer resizing?

James Allen offers free resizing for one year after your purchase. James Allen understands that there may be issues getting the size right. Well rest assured that James Allen will make sure it fits perfectly.

Are James Allen diamonds cheap?

James Allen is as competitively priced as anyone on the market. We discussed how James Allen’s business model, they are able to offer diamond engagement rings at an incredibly low margin.  As you can see from the comparisons above, James Allen smokes the physical retail competition. They are also competitive in the online retail world as well. In fact, they even offer a price match.

Does James Allen charge sales tax?

With a few exceptions, sales tax will not be charged. James Allen is based in New York and Maryland. If you have the diamond shipped to those states, sales tax will be added. In all other states, there is no sales tax charged.

Are James Allen diamonds GIA certified?

The overwhelming percentage of diamonds on JA are GIA certified. They also have a filter where you can select which certification you want to see.

Does James Allen offer financing?

James Allen offers multiple financing options. You can read about them here. Your best option is 6 months of deferred interest.

Final Impressions

Since creating this site, I’ve been sending most of my readers to James Allen.

The reasons were simple – their prices are great, readers continue to report positive experiences with them, and (most of all) their pictures allow me to apply my experience to help my readers find eye clean SI clarity stones.

Reviewer’s Disclosure

(By the way, if you’re thinking that I must work for James Allen or have some other kind of affiliation with them, then please see the article entitled “Truth about The Diamond Pro.”)

Until this James Allen review, though, my only direct experience with them as a customer was through Dan’s investigative reporting while performing the Diamond Stud Earrings Review.

I felt it was important for me to experience first hand exactly what I have been recommending to my readers all along.

Bottom Line Recommendation

Needless to say, my experiences with James Allen as a customer most definitely reinforced my long-standing position that James Allen is the best source online for engagement rings. Before you shop for your ring, check out their Inspiration Gallery for real images of rings people have recently purchased to help you choose the perfect setting and diamond.

About the author
Mike learned the diamond business from the ground-up at Leo Schachter Diamonds - one of the world's top diamond manufacturers. He has been recognized as a diamond industry expert by Time, PeopleMoney, The Daily Mirror, NerdWallet, The Times Herald, Yahoo Finance Australia, The Art of Charm, The Washington Diplomat, The Next Web, and more. See more
Top Recommended Vendors
James Allen James Allen is the leader in online diamond sales. Their imaging technology is at the point where it's almost the same as inspecting a diamond with a jeweler's loupe. Their customer experience is best in class, and they have recently upgraded their non-engagement jewelry inventory as well.
What we love about them:
  • No questions asked returns within 30 days of shipment. James Allen will send you a paid shipping label to return the ring.
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • Free International Shipping
  • Free prong tightening, repolishing, rhodium plating and cleaning every 6 months
  • Provide insurance appraisals
  • One free resizing within 60 days of purchase
  • Free ring inscriptions
  • Best-in-class high quality imagery of all diamonds in stock
  • 24/7 Customer Service
  • Best-in-class packaging

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