James Allen vs Blue Nile [2021]: Which is Better?

If you’re thinking of ordering diamonds online or a custom engagement ring online, brace yourself.

There’ll be dozens of choices thrown your way. Having a better idea of what these different platforms have to offer is incredibly useful before you delve into the deep end.

As you may already know, there are two leading online jewelry stores to buy from:

  1. James Allen
  2. Blue Nile

The best way for you to decide the better of the two is to explore both the pros and cons of each, so let’s dive on in!

My Bottom Line Up Front Summary: I really like both of these online retailers, BUT if I have to pick one I’m going with James Allen here first (better selection and better imagery). I’ll still price compare over at Blue Nile here (it’s a good benchmark, sometimes cheaper). 

Main Differences Between James Allen vs Blue Nile

The main difference between James Allen and Blue Nile are:

  • James Allen has more engagement ring settings and styles, whereas Blue Nile focuses more narrowly on a few styles
  • James Allen has a wider selection of Rose Gold and Yellow Gold rings compared to Blue Nile (mainly White Gold)
  • James Allen has a high quality 360 view real original diamond viewer, whereas Blue Nile has lower quality images

Blue Nile

Blue Nile has an incredible reputation, and quite rightly so. They provide you with thousands of options, so they’ll undoubtedly have a design that suits your needs. We choose to see this as a blessing. However, others may consider this a drawback due to the length of time it takes to search all of their options.


Blue Nile Pros

  • Blue Nile has achieved ‘legendary’ status when it comes to being an authority in the industry, they have years of experience behind them, and Blue Nile offers a top quality customer service for customer experience online.
  • They offer a comprehensive list of the characteristics associated with each of their rings. By this we mean, you’ll get an extensive breakdown of the color, cut (e.g. you can sort by ideal cut, etc..), carat weight (including rare carat types), and diamond clarity of the Blue Nile diamond. Each of these categories is then further broken down in layman’s terms, so you’ll know exactly what you’re getting for your money (and your money back, if you can get your money back guarantee – within a limited timeframe, not lifetime).
  • Blue Nile provides an excellent shopping experience for consumers who aren’t visual and prefer reading about the intricate details of their purchase.
  • Although Blue Nile doesn’t provide pictures of each diamond (an issue we’ll explore in greater detail in a sec), it does give you a complete 360-degree preview if you choose to design your own ring.
  • Typically, the price of Blue Nile engagement rings is somewhat lower than James Allen’s. Usually, by a couple of hundred dollars. However, this is a very general rule of thumb and isn’t always the case. Either way, both of these stores are way more cost-effective than your typical local jeweler or retail jewelry store whether you are buying loose diamond selection online or a fully assembled engagement ring.
  • You’ll be pleased to hear that Blue Nile provides a complimentary resizing service within the first year of your purchase. So, this gives you ample time to order your ring, propose, and get it resized if necessary.

Blue Nile Cons

  • As we’ve just alluded to, Blue Nile doesn’t provide many pictures of their diamonds, so you’re unable to get to grips with how to buy diamonds properly. This is because they use third-party suppliers.
  • As Blue Nile isn’t a very visual platform, some might argue it’s better suited for professional gemologists. Or, those who’ve more time to analyze each potential rock in copious amounts of detail. However, given their track record and the hundreds of happy customers they’ve previously served, there’s a good chance you’ll be fine.
  • Consumers have complained that Blue Nile’s website can be a little tricky for crafting your own diamond ring. Occasionally, the site informs you (only after you’ve selected your diamond) that it’s not available. Or, sometimes the programs a bit glitchy. For example, once you’ve chosen the setting and specific diamond you want, an error message will appear claiming you haven’t completed the task!
  • If you opt for either a ring setting or diamond that’s considered ‘special,’ there’s a good chance you’ll have to contact a customer service rep. Hence, their site doesn’t always offer a comprehensive service for creating your own ring online.
  • Their packaging isn’t anything to write home about. This might not be a big deal, but when you’re buying an engagement ring, you want the full nine yards!


James Allen

Now we turn to James Allen. If you’ve started Googling engagement rings, there’s a good chance you’ll already have come across them. Similarly, to Blue Nile, their reputation precedes them.

James Allen is continually looking for ways to improve the experience they provide for their customers, providing exceptional customer service and support. With that in mind, here are both the pros and cons of the service they provide:

James Allen Diamonds Pros

  • James Allen is considered incredibly trendy and typically associated with millennial couples- which we don’t think is a bad thing!
  • Unlike Blue Nile, James Allen provides high-quality photos for each of their individual diamonds (actual diamond at 20x magnification). This is both the closest and the best thing you’ll get to actually getting your hands on your rock. The 360-degree view of their diamonds is nothing short of spectacular. It’ll give you a brilliant idea of what you’re purchasing before you commit to anything.
  • In addition to the overall view of the diamond, you can also zoom in. That way, you can check every nook and cranny of the ring to see whether it’s the right one for you.
  • In our opinion, James Allen’s platform for designing your own ring has a slight edge Blue Nile (regarding user-friendliness). You’re given explicit instructions on how to construct your ring. For example, you have to choose your setting first, then your diamond, etc. Then, when you’re done, you’ll get a 360-degree, in-depth view of your finished design.
  • James Allen boasts a massive inventory with well over a 100,000 diamonds for you to explore a full online diamond inventory. They’re able to provide this extensive service because they don’t technically own or stock every single diamond. Instead, they’ve partnered with vendors across the globe. That way James Allen’s able to provide something for everyone; different prices, shapes, and sizes, etc. to suit a plethora of styles and budgets.
  • If the vast range sounds a little daunting, don’t worry. You can easily narrow down your options by adding specification filters.
  • Ability to create custom engagement rings and settings
  • If you’re not a diamond expert, never fear. James Allen provides plenty of accessible details to ensure you make an informed purchase. They even offer phone support if you DO want to speak with genuine diamond experts.
  • Plus, this retailer offers a complimentary engraving service! We love this. This is a gorgeous way of making your engagement ring personal for your spouse-to-be.
  • Just like Blue Nile, you can have any of their engagement ring and wedding band resized for free (wedding ring). Providing you request this service within 60 days of your purchase. Unfortunately, this excludes both eternity bands and alternative metals.

blue nile

James Allen Cons

  • You may encounter a couple of difficulties while designing your ring. For example, there are reports of not being able to preview a few of the ring settings. Like, different colored metals- these don’t always display correctly.
  • You can’t return special orders. Never fear, designing your own engagement ring isn’t considered a ‘special order,’ so you can stop worrying about that!


  • Both Blue Nile and James Allen sell diamonds certified by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) and AGS (American Gem Society). These are two of the best certification labs and diamond grading report sources in the diamond industry, so you can be confident you’ll get bang for your buck. Note: Read more about diamond certifications if you are interested or – specifically – AGS vs GIA.
  • We’re also happy to say both these retailers vow only to sell conflict-free diamonds. Therefore, you can shop with a clear conscience knowing that none of these diamonds are sourced from places that are known to infringe on human rights laws.
  • Both of these retailers offer their consumers peace of mind with their 30-day return policies (money back guarantee). So, if you order a ring and you’re not completely happy with it, you can return it and get a full refund or an exchange. Rest assured, the process is virtually hassle-free; you can get a refund ‘no questions asked,’ as well as free shipping when you send your ring back.
  • Unfortunately, where James Allen is concerned, shipping isn’t free for international returns.
  • Both Blue Nile and James Allen offer 24/7 customer service, so no matter what time of the day or night, you’ll be able to get the help you need with your diamond shopping adventure.
  • When it comes to payment options, both stores are pretty flexible and offer an array of options. They also provide flexible financing plans, some of which are interest-free! This is a fabulous way of ensuring high-quality diamonds are accessible to everyone!

Top Tip: If you take out a finance place, be very careful. You don’t want to be late on your repayments; you may find exceptionally high-interest rates apply- and no one likes being stung with a fine, even with the perfect diamond!

diamond ring

Final Thoughts: Blue Nile vs James Allen?

So which online diamond retailer is better to shop for diamonds and fine jewelry in this James Allen vs Blue Nile comparison? All in all, whether you’re thinking about getting:

  • A diamond engagement ring
  • Loose diamonds
  • Cut diamonds
  • Bridal jewelry

Both online retailers make the customer process to buy online diamond or gemstone jewelry very easy.

There’s no way you can go too far wrong with either James Allen or Blue Nile, so don’t fret too much.

The quality of their engagement and wedding rings is second to none, and their prices are competitive. However, if you’re more a visual shopper, then James Allen probably has the slight edge with their 360-viewing platform (all angle views), particularly for loose diamonds.

Speaking personally, while Brick and Mortar jeweler shops are nice to visit, the lack of haggling online with an online jeweler (online retailer) means I’ll never be going back.

My Bottom Line Summary: I really like both of these online retailers, BUT if I have to pick one I’m going with James Allen here first (better selection and better imagery). I’ll still price compare over at Blue Nile here (it’s a good benchmark, sometimes cheaper). 

Ultimately, the choice is yours.- we hope this blog post helped you make your decision as a potential customer!


Question: Does Blue Nile sells real diamonds?

Answer: Yes, Blue Nile is a diamond wholeseller that sells real diamonds that come with a certificate and lifetime warranty, and they also offer lab-created diamonds as well, which are more affordable and still look like an original.

Question: Why are James Allen diamonds so cheap?

Answer: James Allen’s diamonds are cheap because they have an online store and customers can choose the shape they want without having to offer all the choices in person. 

Question: Is Blue Nile a good place to buy jewelry?

Answer: Yes, Blue Nile is a very good place to buy jewelry as the company dates back from 1999 and has lots of positive feedback from all their customers.

Rosie Greaves

Rosie Greaves is a professional freelance writer and content strategist. She specializes in all things weddings and lifestyle. Having previously written for Cake and Lace and worked as a wedding planner, there’s nothing she enjoys blogging about more!

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