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My Top Line Up Front: While I prefer Blue Nile for having a better ONLINE customer experience, I ALSO like a completely different retailer overall. MY new favorite online retailer has to be James Allen here, with superior visual graphics (360 high-def), better prices, and consistently higher customer service.
However, there are some significant differences between the two, and being informed of them is important when making a momentous decision like purchasing an engagement ring. Read on to discover the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing from both companies, and answers to your top questions: Is Tiffany still the best? Is Blue Nile Legit? We answer all and more!
First Up: Tiffany & Co.
Headquartered in New York City, Tiffany & Co. is a trusted, time-honored staple of diamond jewelry. Tiffany & Co. was founded in 1837, and today currently has 284 stores in 22 countries including the United States. A Tiffany and Co. gemologist was partly responsible for the global ratification of the carat system as a weight regulation for gemstones.
In addition to jewelry, Tiffany & Co. offers:
Tiffany & Co. has extremely strict standards for their diamonds – they only accept 0.04% of the world’s gem-grade diamonds and only near colorless and higher. Their philosophy is this: bigger is not better; clarity and color are emphasized over carat, and cut is the most important factor.
In elegant display, Tiffany & Co.’s website details the stories of their diamonds and the rigorous five-step, year-long process they endure to become a Tiffany diamond:
- Mining: Tiffany & Co. procures their diamonds crude and through direct sourcing. Tiffany & Co. has helped set the stage for responsible mining, and refuses to do so in places of ecological importance such as Yellowstone National Park.
- Cutting: At Tiffany & Co., cutting a diamond is said to be an art-form. Tiffany diamonds are cut in Tiffany & Co.’s own studio, where highly experienced Tiffany cutters follow a precise process.
- Polishing: Tiffany diamonds are polished in a state-of-the-art workshop, where jobs and training programs take place. 94% of polishers in Tiffany’s & Co.’s Botswana studios are locally hired.
- Grading Each Tiffany diamond is graded in Tiffany’s & Co.’s Gemological laboratory in New York. If the measurements are off by so much as a fraction of a millimeter, it will be returned to cutting and polishing. In addition, if a stone has too much fluorescence, it will not be accepted by Tiffany.
- Setting- Since every Tiffany diamond is original, each one of their settings is custom- built to exalt the diamond. Tiffany settings come in platinum, 18k yellow gold and rose gold. Before being placed in Tiffany’s signature blue box, every surface is gone over with a buffer.
In addition to engagement rings, Tiffany & Co. has thousands of pieces of jewelry as part of several collections, including their 14 Tiffany collections, which in turn include:
- Tiffany Keys: a beautiful, charming, original collection of key pendants and bracelets.
- Tiffany T: a collection of rings, bracelets, earrings and necklaces that feature Tiffany’s signature “T” design.
- Tiffany Hardwear: a collection of industrial-style jewelry and Tiffany & Co.’s unique “ball” jewelry.
- Return to Tiffany: necklaces, bracelets, charms and pendants all featuring the “Return to Tiffany, New York 925” inscription.
- Tiffany Soleste: a vibrant collection of gemstones and colored diamonds encircled with white diamonds.
- Tiffany Yellow Diamonds: a stunning collection of rare yellow diamond jewelry.
Tiffany and Co. also has the one of a kind Tiffany high jewelry, which comprises some of the most dazzling, indulgent, unrivaled pieces around.
Tiffany and Co. also three designer jewelry collections: Elsa Peretti, Paloma Picasso, and Tiffany & Co. Schlumberger
Next Up: Blue Nile – Is Blue Nile Legit?
Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, Blue Nile has been the largest online diamond retailer since 1999. Through Blue Nile’s website, you can design and build your own diamond engagement ring or take advantage of their pre-made Blue Nile offers.
It also features an entire section of information on diamonds, including the 4 C’s, as well as the rules Blue Nile abides by, including not only the Kimberly Process, but “The Golden Rules”, a policy of draft gold and precious metals sourcing. Blue Nile adheres to high ethical standards when it comes to their diamonds, thus they do not buy diamonds from Zimbabwe, and they have a zero-tolerance policy in place regarding conflict diamonds.
Blue Nile has literally thousands of loose white and color diamonds available on their website, and you can search, browse and compare diamonds based on price and shape as well as the 4 C’s. Blue Nile also has extensive information on each diamond, in addition to the 4 C’s, under their Summary tab, including:
The Blue Nile website features its signature Astor by Blue Nile diamond collection. This collection is graded by GIA and GemEx, which is the leader in light measurement. Every Astor by Blue Nile diamond is cut to reflect the most light, which in turn is measured by fire, brilliance and sparkle. Astor by Blue Nile diamonds are rare and feature superior cuts, proportions, and symmetry.
Blue Nile features designer engagement ring collections including: Colin Cowie, Monique Lhuillier, Zac Posen and Bella Vaughan
Blue Nile also has several unique, signature, engagement-ring setting collections including Sapphire Sidestones and Vintage.
In addition to diamonds and engagement rings, Blue Nile also over a thousand diamond and gemstone bracelets, earrings, pendants and necklaces, including jewelry that is specifically made for engraving.
Blue Nile understands online jewelry shopping. They have the deepest inventory of diamonds and settings for ALL BUDGETS. They offer 360 degree REAL diamond images online, so you know exactly what you are getting. Best of all, they've mastered the art of securely shipping jewelry and handling returns or issues with ease.
Making a purchase from Blue Nile comes with many benefits, including:
- Free returns
- International shipping
- Diamond Price Guarantee
- Professional Jewelry appraisal
- Diamond buy-back option
- Diamond upgrade program
- Product warranty
- Refer a friend
- All major credit card providers accepted
FAQ – Common Questions
Is Blue Nile reputable?
Yes, Blue Nile has one of the longest track records of any retailer selling online. They generally have excellent customer service and support and securely ship all merchandise.
Are Tiffany diamonds really better?
No, not necessarily. The truth is that Tiffany is just a brand name. The more important thing to consider is the GIA gemological rating of a diamond (the highest standard in the industry). While Tiffany can “say” their standards are higher, it’s impossible to verify this and is likely a marketing tactic.
Is Blue Nile actually cheaper?
In many cases, yes. Blue Nile also has a price match guarantee, meaning that if they aren’t the lowest, they will at least match a competitor.
Finale Take: Which is Better – Blue Nile or Tiffany?
As you can see, each retailer has their own excellent qualities as well as drawbacks.
When it comes to the utmost quality and rarity of diamonds, diversity and inventory of jewelry and gifts, and jewelry strore physical shopping and designing, Tiffany out-ranks Blue Nile.
We hope this has allowed you to become better-informed and more confident in your engagement ring purchasing. To check out the latest selections of diamond rings and more, you can visit Blue Nile here.
My Bottom Line: While I prefer Blue Nile for having a better ONLINE customer experience, I actually have a different top pick. INSTEAD, my new favorite online retailer has to be James Allen here, with superior visual graphics (360 high-def), better prices, and consistently higher customer service.