Sam’s Club – Great for Toilet Paper, Not so Great for Diamonds

By Michael Fried

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Sam's Club
Overall Score:2.33
Price:3Selection:2Customer Service:2

  • High prices
  • Inconsistent quality
  • No diamond or jewelry service
Other Recommended Retailers

Bottom Line Recommendation

While Sam’s Club may be a great place to buy 86 rolls of toilet paper, they are not a great place to buy a diamond. While they had one nice diamond, the quality was inconsistent (had a few poor quality diamonds).  The prices were too high as well.

Given that a place like Sam’s Club isn’t a place where you will get top level service (ring resizing, assistance from a knowledgeable diamond or jewelry expert etc) it just doesn’t add up for me. You will get far better value, and better service, shopping from a reputable retailer like James Allen or Blue Nile.

The History

Sam’s Club is a pretty well known members-only retailer. The concept of big-box wholesalers catering directly to consumers started to take hold in the early 80s. Walmart, seeing the potential in the market, quickly acquired a few small chains in that field and were off to the races. Today, Sam’s Club is the second largest company in that field (trailing Costco), operating almost 600 stores nationwide that generated $57 billion in sales last year.

The Experience

Annie and I secret shopped Sam’s Club while visiting Fort Myers, Fl. This was the first time I ever saw a Sam’s Club (we had a Costco where I grew up). I was very surprised how friendly everyone there was. Maybe that’s an exception to the rule, but the employees we interacted with were chatty, helpful and a big plus to the store experience.

Unfortunately, selling diamond rings takes a little more than a friendly attitude. Its not like pointing out where the jumbo pack of toilet paper is. You need to have knowledge and experience guiding someone with such an expensive and particular purchase.

This is where a company like Sam’s Club will never excel. They are not a jewelry company, and there is no way they can hire, train and retain true professionals in the field. We wanted to look in the case and there wasn’t anyone around. Eventually someone came from a different department (it looked like he came from the hunting section). He was very friendly, but knew absolutely nothing about jewelry.

I understand that Sam’s Club is never going to claim that their jewelry service is their strong point. In order to overcome that deficiency, they need to hit it out of the park when it comes to quality and value.

The Product

One of the limits to Sam’s is their selection. They don’t have a lot of variation to work with. While most jewelers would have dozens of setting styles and dozens of diamonds that you can mix and match for endless variations, Sam’s Club is limited to a select few pre-set rings.

They had an absolutely lovely 1.32 ct E color VS2 emerald cut in an 18kt white gold solitaire setting.  The inclusions were slightly noticeable, but it was a very nice diamond and looked great in the ring. The price for the ring was $9,935.

The second diamond was very disappointing. We looked at a 0.99ct (approximately as it didn’t have a real certificate) I color, I1 clarity round diamond in a 14kt white gold setting for $3,324. The diamond was horrifically cut (65% depth, looked a little lopsided etc) and the inclusions were horrific. I wouldn’t recommend this diamond at any price.

The Value


Lets start with the first diamond. I thought it was fantastic. The question is whether the ring is worth the money. Here is a comparable 1.30ct E VS2 emerald cut from Blue Nile. This one is just as beautifully cut and has similar inclusions. The price for this one is $7,704. If you add it to this solitaire setting the total price $8,104.

While the diamond ring from Sam’s Club is nice, it doesn’t seem to offer particularly good value. As you can see, a virtually identical ring from Blue Nile was 20% cheaper. And this was the best Sam’s Club had to offer.

Lets move on to the ring that was not the best Sam’s Club had to offer. Here is a similar 0.96ct I I1 GIA certified round diamond from James Allen for $2,560. I don’t particularly like the diamond, but its the same quality as the Sam’s Club offer. If you put the diamond in this 14kt knife edge solitaire setting  you’ll have a comparable ring for 20% cheaper.

Instead of paying for such low quality from Sam’s Club, you can go with something like this 0.93ct H color, SI2 clarity, GIA certified, round excellent cut round diamond. Adding this diamond to the solitaire setting will cost you the same as the Sam’s Club ring, yet the diamond is far superior.

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
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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. Take advantage of their ongoing 25% Off Holiday Sale.
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.
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