James Allen Reviews
A thorough review of James Allen's Diamonds, Engagement Rings and Jewelry
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A thorough review of James Allen's Diamonds, Engagement Rings and Jewelry
|Price:5||Selection:5||Customer Service: 5|
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. Countless readers of ours have had fantastic experiences purchasing, with our help, from James Allen.
To be 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 is unrivaled. It allows you to pick out the perfect diamond, allowing you to tell the difference between a fantastic find like this SI2 clarity diamond, or falling for an ugly SI2 like this diamond. That, 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. Another innovation, the James Allen Ring Studio helps shoppers create the perfect ring and according to National Jeweler was “…an enjoyable process from start to finish.”
Why you should trust us
Mike Fried has written hundreds of articles and helped answer more than 30,000 emails from our readers. This has given him a unique perspective on what information truly helps our readers in their quest for finding the perfect diamond engagement ring or piece of jewelry.
Mike is recognized as an industry expert and has been quoted in publications such as Us, People, Page Six, The Next Web and more.
To read more about our process for secret shopping and reviewing companies and additional details about how we operate, check out this article.
Their latest step forward was to become the first major diamond seller to offer a large selection of pre-selected high-quality lab-grown diamonds. “In contrast to some of its competitors” reports JCK Magazine “James Allen’s offerings will be high color and clarity.”
Below you will find our in-depth James Allen Jewelers 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.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:
James Allen Diamonds
James Allen Rings
James Allen Jewelry
James Allen vs. The Competition
James Allen FAQs
Deal Alert: Save 10% off Lab Grown Diamonds
Let’s start this off with the most important question. Is James Allen the best place to buy diamonds? The short answer is yes. The reason this is important is that the bulk of your budget for an engagement ring goes into the center diamond. If you end up with a poor quality (or poor value) center stone, you won’t be happy with your ring. So we decided to purchase a solitaire ring from James Allen, following our recommendations for the 4 C’s of course, and see what we get.
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 mounted in a basic white gold solitaire setting.
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 jeweler’s loupe.
The diamond itself was absolutely stunning. Since we mounted the diamond in a solitaire setting, you don’t notice any yellow from the J color. And while the inclusion is large enough to warrant an SI2 grade, it is off to the side and not noticeable at all. We are able to determine this from James Allen’s fantastic diamond imagery.
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.
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.
For those customers looking for the creme de la creme, James Allen has got you covered. Their True Hearts collection is 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.
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 Allen||Typical Brick & Mortar Retailer|
|Able to shop and purchase at your own pace without any pressure||Must 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 shopping||Are 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 location||Must 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 possible||May have an ugly diamond that is sitting in their safe that they are desperate to move.|
|Full refunds within 30 days||Rarely 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.|
James Allen has a vast collection of engagement rings that will fit almost any style out there. James Allen engagement rings reach the same levels of quality and craftsmanship as any jeweler out there. We have even gone on the street to compare a James Allen ring to one from Tiffany and people could not tell the difference.
Whether you are looking for a classic solitaire setting, are interested in a timeless halo ring, or want to trendset with a modern twist pavé, you’ll be able to find something to fit your style. These are our readers’ favorite setting styles so far in 2023.
James Allen engagement rings are usually available in white, yellow, and rose gold as well as platinum.
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 to 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.
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.
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 were stunning as well.
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 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.
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.
When you slide off the lid of 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.
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.
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 a 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 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 Nile||James Allen|
|Benefits & Features|
Inventory, as of 01/01/2023(Advantage: James Allen)
(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.|
|If 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).|
|24/7 customer service|
|Any 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.|
(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.|
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, a 0.70ct J VS1 round diamond from James Allen will cost about 25% less than what you select at Costco.
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.
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.
In July 2017, Signet, the parent company of Jared, purchased James Allen for $328 million. Jared and James Allen continue to operate as two separate jewelers. In 2020, Signet announced that it will begin to offer James Allen products in about 50% of Jared locations in a dual-branded model.
James Allen only purchases diamonds from members of the professional diamond trade and every diamond sold is certified conflict-free and complies with the Patriot Act, the Kimberly Process, as well as relevant United Nations resolutions.
Yes, James Allen is an extremely reputable jeweler, and its inventory consists of over 315,000 natural diamonds as well as over 50,000 lab-grown diamonds. Diamonds sold by James Allen are certified by one of the leading independent diamond labs.
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.
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.
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.
All James Allen loose diamonds are certified. The majority of diamonds on JA are GIA certified. They also have a filter where you can select which certification you want to see.
James Allen charges sales tax in most states. The full updated list can be viewed in their FAQ.
James Allen offers multiple financing options. You can read about them here. Your best option is 6 months of deferred interest.
(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 firsthand exactly what I have been recommending to my readers all along.
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.
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