Whiteflash vs James Allen [Nov 2019]: Which is Best?

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A diamond engagement ring is, for many, among the most important purchase of ones’ life. It can also be quite expensive, which is part of the reason why couples are opting for online retailers like Whiteflash and James Allen, where diamonds can be up to thirty to forty percent cheaper.

That’s especially important to keep in mind, especially considering that, for college graduates, the average student loan debt as of 2017 was an astounding thirty eight thousand, a number that appears to only be increasing.

Even if a couple isn’t facing student loans, credit card debt, down payments on cars and homes are also realities; as of 2017, the average American household carried a debt of nearly one hundred and forty thousand dollars.

And the average price tag of a wedding, at around twenty eight thousand dollars (as of 2019, based upon one hundred and thirty guests) doesn’t help the debt situation, either. For many, it makes sense to cut costs on an engagement ring by shopping online with a retailer like Whiteflash or James Allen.

Main Differences Between Whiteflash and James Allen

The main differences between Whiteflash vs James Allen are:

  • Whiteflash has higher-end super ideal cut diamonds, whereas James Allen appeals to the mid-market
  • Whiteflash offers more support from expert gemologists, whereas James Allen is more self-service
  • Whiteflash has a 1-year buy back guarantee for 70% of the ring value, whereas James Allen does not
  • James Allen has a wider overall selection of diamonds and settings compared to Whiteflash
  • James Allen has a 360 degree camera view of all diamonds, whereas Whiteflash does not
  • James Allen offers deeper discounts during promotion periods, whereas Whiteflash prices stay consistent

whiteflash

Of course, that’s not the only reason why consumers are favoring shopping online for diamonds. Shopping online provides a larger inventory to browse, more options for customization, and easy to search features by style, price point and more.

It’s an excellent option for those who are looking for alternative engagement rings too, whether they’re considering moissanite, morganite, white sapphire, or even something like an emerald.

That isn’t to say retailers like Whiteflash and James Allen are perfect, or that online shopping in general is not without its flaws or risks. From downright scams to false advertising or even simply becoming overwhelmed, it’s easy to see why many might hesitate to shop online for something as important as diamonds, or even fine jewelry for special occasions.

The good news? Both James Allen and Whiteflash are professional and reputable jewelers. And while neither are perfect, it is possible to find which company is the better fit for you. In this review, we’ll look at how James Allen fares compared with Whiteflash, and discuss which company is the better place to make your purchase.

How much should I spend on an engagement ring?

wedding rings

Before you even start looking at Whiteflash vs James Allen, let’s discuss how much you should look to spend on your engagement ring. You may have heard to old advice that you should three months of your salary on a ring, but this is no longer commonly seen as necessary. In fact, it is instead a personal decision, predicated on your current financial status.

Bringing extra debt into a marriage for the sake of a ring that’s outside of your increasing your chance of divorce, and overall is not truly a great investment. So how much should you spend? An amount you feel comfortable with.

How can shopping online save me money?

online shopping

 Shopping online with a place like James Allen or Whiteflash, as we’ve mentioned, can save you as much as thirty to forty percent, and even more, depending on what you purchase and when. While too low of prices can be suspect (for instance, diamonds selling low below the market price per carat), there are a number of reasons why it makes sense that you can save so much online, including:

  • Price matching. A number of online retailers offer price matching if you see a competitor’s product for less.
  • Wholesale. Many online companies, if they have access to a large supply, are able to get discounts.
  • Store markups. There’s also the simple fact that sometimes physical stores try a variety of tactics, such as possible markups on new offerings or during certain time periods. While online retailers are not immune from such tactics, there is so much immediate competition readily at the consumer’s fingertips, rather than having to travel from store to store, that they tend to be less common.

How do I pay for my engagement or wedding ring?

You have a number of options to pay for your engagement ring. Most companies, both traditional and online-based, offer some form of financing. Ideally, paying immediately is best, but that’s also not always a reality for everyone.

If possible, pay upfront. This is always the ideal. See if you can find an engagement ring within budget and comparison shop before settling on one .

Look for a zero interest loan. If you really don’t feel paying upfront is an option for you, then look for a zero interest loan. If the company doesn’t offer a zero interest loan, consider comparison shopping first.

Read financing conditions carefully. Even if a variety of financing plans are offered, be careful you understand all of the terms mentioned. Simply because flexible payments are offered, doesn’t equate to a financing option that makes sense for you.

In some cases, for example, there are interest-free limited periods. Once that period ends, and uncollected balance begins accruing interest. Even worse,  sometimes that is interest is based upon the original loan, rather than the remaining balance.

In short: don’t buy an engagement ring without a concrete way to pay it off.

Besides shopping online, are there any other ways to save money on engagement rings? 

Shopping online from companies such as James Allen or Whiteflash may save you money, but there are other ways to cut costs as well, including these simple steps:

  • Buy an off carat. A slightly odd carat, just under your desired carat, will look quite similar and cost you less.
  • Make sure the company is reputable. Just because you save money initially, doesn’t mean it will be a good long term investment. Verify contact information, reviews, accreditation, and information about diamond and gemstone sourcing.
  • Consider gold over platinum. While platinum has its own appeal, high quality white, rose or yellow gold will cost less and still is considered fairly durable.

How does Whiteflash vs James Allen compare?

james allen ringIn our review, we’ll be considering not only costs but the overall value Whiteflash vs James Allen offer when compared. Whether you’re looking for a traditional diamond ring, alternative rings, or even jewelry for a special occasion, we’ll show you where each company has strengths and weaknesses in every category. Finally, we’ll make a recommendation as to whether we can recommend James Allen or Whiteflash more.

What is James Allen’s vs White Flash’s mission?

James Allen declares itself as ‘the most prized diamond’ selection, emphasizing the use of innovative technology in order to provide high end diamonds at more affordable prices. They also make a point of showcasing that they have a large collection of diamonds–over two hundred thousand–and that their diamonds are conflict free. Much of the emphasis is placed on their history beginning in the tech industry.

White Flash also emphasizes a large selection, but this time of ‘AGS (American Gem Society) and GIA (Gemological Institute of America) certified diamonds. In addition, there’s a good deal of focus on diamond cut and scintillation. Finally, they emphasize their line of designer diamonds and their coverage in major new outlets such as New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Kiplinger’s.

Is one better? Nothing is inherently wrong about either White Flash or James Allen’s missions. James Allen does stand out a bit with their offer of conflict free diamonds, while White Flash emphasizes diamond quality.

How long have James Allen and White Flash been around?

wedding

James Allen has been in business for almost two decades and has been accredited through the Better Business Bureau for just as long; there have been 25 resolved or answered complaints on BBB, and it holds an A plus rating for accreditation purposes.

White Flash has been accredited for not quite one year shy of James Allen, since 2001, and also has been in business for nineteen years. It too holds an A-plus rating; there are no complaints listed on BBB.

There is no notable winner. While James Allen has been accredited one year more, James Allen has more complaints–though resolved–on file.

How do customer policies compare?

In terms of customer policies, we’re concerned about overall service, as well as fine print you may not immediately be aware of.

Payment Options:

Within the United States and Canada, White Flash accepts major credit cards and bank wire for international orders. Bank wires are given a three percent discount. You have the option to split payment between credit cards, but this must be done over the phone.

In terms of financing, you have the choice between three, six, and twelve-month payment plans though that carries a ten percent APR. You can also opt for a ninety day Flex Plan, which allows you to place twenty percent down on a purchase of fifteen hundred dollars or more. Under that plan, you make equal payments every thirty days with no interest, so long as the balance is paid by the end of the period.

James Allen accepts major credit cards, but also Paypal, as well as wire transfers for purchases over one thousand dollars; wire transfers receive a one-point-five percent discount. As is the case with Whiteflash, you may split payment between two credit cards, but must do so via phone. James Allen offers two financing options: you may either take out a twenty four-month payment plan, with nine point nine percent APR, or you can make minimum monthly payments for six months, which carries no interest so long as the balance is paid in full by the end of those six months.

Shipping:

Whiteflash offers secure shipping that’s free with initial orders, which are insured during the shipping process. They use FedEx and require you to pick up the package for security reasons; tracking numbers are offered for bank wires but not for payments paid by credit card.

James Allen also offers free and secure shipping, with shipping insurance. Anything valued over five hundred dollars are shipped via FedEx Overnight and you can track your order online. Deliveries are made to homes, but not to addresses with P.O. boxes, and require a signature. You may also request the shipment be made to an alternate address, or arrange for the shipment to instead be picked up at a FedEx location.

Returns and Refunds:

Whiteflash allows you to return ‘in stock’ items within thirty days, while any diamonds from the ‘Virtual Selection’ may be returned within ten days. Any custom orders cannot be returned. Returns must include a return request number, must be in original condition, and include the original documentation.

James Allen does not segment diamonds into two separate return policies, but instead allows you to return products within thirty days; you will also receive a pre-paid and insured FedEx shipping label, so you will not have to pay for shipping. Like Whiteflash, custom items cannot be returned, and loose diamonds must be accompanied with official documentation. If you don’t have official documentation, however, you can still return the diamond but will be charged a one hundred and fifty dollar fee.

Does Whiteflash or James Allen offer any notable customer perks? 

white flash ring

Whiteflash and James Allen both have lifetime trade-in policies for diamonds; with Whiteflash, diamonds purchased elsewhere may or may not be eligible, though they are considered. Diamonds must be from James Allen to be available for an upgrade; they also must be in original condition and accompanied with documentation.

Both Whiteflash and James Allen provide free ring resizing for one year, excluding eternity rings.

Both companies also offer engraving services. Whiteflash charges thirty nine dollars on most rings, and you can opt for script or block lettering. James Allen offers free engraving up to twenty characters with any purchase.

In terms of customer policies, James Allen has a slight edge. Not to be confused with overall customer experience–which we will see based upon customer reviews–James Allen does offer slightly more forgiving policies, set all but custom items at a thirty day return policy, and allowing you more room more diamond trade-ins. On most other fronts, including financing, Whiteflash, and James Allen are on fairly even footing.

How does their diamond selection compare? 

a jaffe

When looking at overall diamond selections and offerings, we want to look not only at inventory, but overall quality and transparency.

What are diamond sourcing standards?

James Allen carries conflict-free diamonds, which means they do not finance civil wars and adhere to the Kimberley Process. All diamonds also come with GIA or AGS professional certification, as well as what they call ‘deep grading’ in order to determine if it’s ‘eye clean’. James Allen offers both natural

Whiteflash diamonds has three categories of in-house diamonds: A Cut Above Super Ideal cut, Expert Selection  AGS Ideals, and GIA certified diamonds. All diamonds include an analysis of light performance. In addition to in house diamonds, you can also opt for their virtual diamond selection, through affiliate vendors, which are not eligible for refunds or exchanges. There is also information as to whether diamonds are ‘eye clean’. As James Allen, Whiteflash offers both lab-grown and natural diamonds.

What shape cuts are available for diamonds?

James Allen offers diamonds in the following shapes round, princess, cushion, emerald, oval, radiant, Asscher, marquise, heart and pear. They also offer a selection of fancy colored diamonds. Cut quality is available in good, very good, and ideal cut.

Whiteflash offers diamonds in the exact same options. Cut quality has a few more options, and ranges from fair to good, very good, excellent cut diamonds, and ideal cut.

What additional search filters are offered?

For both James Allen and Whiteflash, the search is easy to use and includes multiple filters including carat, color, cut, clarity, price, shape, and other categories. Both also allow you to directly compare two diamonds at a time, and you can filter by natural and lab-created diamonds. The only main difference is that Whitefish has separate collections for in house vs their ‘virtual’ diamond collection.

How do prices compare?

In order to compare diamond prices, we need to look per carat, and the easiest way to do so is to look at the price per one carat. Whiteflash offers an excellent cut one-carat diamond at around four thousand and three hundred dollars, while James Allen offers an excellent cut of one carat at around four thousand dollars.

While there are variations, James Allen runs as much as a few hundred cheaper; however, you can of course potentially order a cheaper cut quality with Whiteflash.

Can you see the diamonds?

You have the option to preview diamonds a few ways. Whiteflash does rely, it appears, on sample and stock images that are 2D. However, there is a separate section where you can see those items in 3D video. Whiteflash does have a physical showroom in Houston, where you can preview diamonds and discuss the option with GIA trained specialists. This requires an appointment.

James Allen also relies on sample images, but you have the option to examine diamonds with a 3D viewer, with up to twenty times magnifying power. James Allen offers physical locations in Washington D.C. and New York where you can meet with ‘non commissioned’ GIA experts.

In terms of diamond selection, it depends on what you’re looking for. James Allen and Whiteflash both have a number of ways to view their diamonds and the ability to buy GIA certified diamonds. James Allen gets an advantage for natural diamonds, as they are conflict-free, while Whiteflash lab grown diamonds, while a bit more expensive, seem to be available in more options for higher-end cuts.

How do the options for engagement and wedding rings compare? 

engagement rings

Whiteflash offers solitaire, halo, three stone and pave engagement rings; you can also customize your own. They carry eight different designer lines (including their own), and platinum, white, yellow and rose gold, and palladium, as well as alternative metals. Prices range from two hundred and thirty to nearly eleven thousand dollars. Wedding rings are available as diamond, eternity, and classic styles, as well as designer lines.

James Allen has the same style options for engagement rings, but also channel set, tension, vintage, and sidestone styles. You can select from one of five designers, create your own engagement ring, and select from white gold, yellow gold, rose gold and platinum metals (palladium and alternative metals are not available).

Engagement rings range from two hundred and forty dollars (one hundred and eighty on sale) to a setting/ starting price of almost eight thousand and five hundred dollars. For wedding rings, you can shop eternity, diamond, anniversary, stackable, and carved and alternative rings for men.

For less conventional metals, Whiteflash wins; James Allen has a larger collection of rings overall, as well as more styles. 

What other jewelry does Whiteflash vs James Allen offer?

James Allen offers gemstone rings, earings and pendants (gemstones include multiple colors of sapphires, as well as emeralds) and customizable options; diamond and pearl earrings; gemstone, pearl and diamond necklaces, and birthstone gifts.

Whiteflash carries diamond earrings, pendants, and bracelets, as well as the option to fill out a request form for gems, though it is unclear what they would supply. In addition, Whiteflash has a special Dreams of Africa Collection, which includes diamond pendant necklaces. In this collection, all profits go to Jewelers for Children (JFC), a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving standards in the diamond industry and fighting inhumane labor practices as a result of diamond mining in Africa.

Whiteflash gets the edge for its special collection. Both James Allen and Whiteflash offer a nice range of fine jewelry options, but the Dreams of Africa collection is truly special.

How do customers review Whiteflash vs James Allen?

Based upon approximately three hundred customer reviews, across Yelp and Trust Pilot, has an average of three out of five stars. Experiences were highly polarized, with a nearly even split between ‘excellent’ and ‘bad’ experiences.

Customers were pleased with the easy process, the customer service from the in-house team, and large selection of diamonds, while dissatisfied customers cited everything from problems with ring quality and damage, to lack of refunds, slow service and more. Reviews were mostly negative on Yelp, where forty-eight percent of customers gave James Allen the lowest rating possible.

Whiteflash has fewer reviews overall but carries a notably higher average of four and a half out of five stars on help, based upon around ninety customer reviews. This does seem mostly to pertain the buying directly from the physical storefront, which is important to bear in mind. Nonetheless, consumers described a no pressure environment, excellent diamond quality, and being helped by experts. Most complaints surrounded individual cases citing a slow service, or expensive prices, of which Whiteflash offered a reply online.

Whiteflash easily takes the advantage in terms of customer satisfaction. While we would like to see more reviews specific to the online shopping experience and neither company is perfect, Whiteflash consistently received more positive feedback than James Allen. It’s not just the average ratings, either: the polarization of James Allen reviews are more concerning, as are the nature of the complaints. While most complaints for Whiteflash were concerning expensive products and slow service, James Allen complaints often concerned the actual quality of the rings themselves.

Do we recommend Whiteflash or James Allen more? 

ring

In many ways, James Allen and Whiteflash are close competitors; both offer a fairly wide range of prices, sizes, styles, cuts and metal types. Mostly reasonable customer policies and financing options, options for customization, BBB accreditation and diamond viewing options are all great features.

When it comes down to the main discrepancies, I have to recommend Whiteflash a bit over James Allen, at least for lab-grown diamonds and gems. Whiteflash has far better customer reviews and some higher-end options. James Allen seems to focus a bit more on supply and price, while Whiteflash has also received awards for quality.

Some caveats:

  • In the case you’re only looking for natural diamonds, however, James Allen are certified conflict-free; it’s a bit more nebulous, for the most part, with Whiteflash
  • If you have a tight budget and want a larger carat, James Allen will initially save you money

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Erin Jamieson

Erin has always loved wedding-related planning and fashion, and regularly follows bridal fashion in the news. She has also worked for a bridal boutique and is passionate about helping couples plan and budget so they can enjoy their wedding day with as little stress as possible. She is an accomplished writer who writes on many subjects, but she has a special place in her heart for new brides and is here to make their day extra special with great recommendations and ideas you can't find anywhere else. 

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