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If you've ever gone to your local jeweler in search of one of these precious gemstones but left disappointed, you're not alone! Most brick-and-mortar jewelry stores can't afford to keep thousands of diamonds in inventory - both financially and logistically, it's just too risky.
With that in mind, it's easy to understand why so many shoppers are turning to online diamond stores. Why limit the possibilities to just a handful of stones in limited sizes and cuts when you can browse literally hundreds of thousands of diamonds across the spectrum of carat size, shape, clarity, and, of course, cost? The best online retailers make it easy to see a 360° view of each stone, plus any available certifications and ratings from industry-recognized appraisers.
Friday, September 17th
If you want the absolute best selection of diamonds - online or elsewhere! - look no further than James Allen. With over 200,000 diamonds to choose from, including natural and synthetic stones, you'll have no trouble finding the perfect gem for your one-of-a-kind jewelry.
Even though you may not have heard of this diamond store, they're no stranger to the business with more than 20 years in operation. Both accredited and "A+" rated by the Better Business Bureau, you can rest assured that your purchase is in good hands here. You can also see James Allen's commitment to their customers with 24/7 customer service, free shipping on all orders and on returns within 30 days, and a lifetime warranty (with certain terms and restrictions, of course).
Shopping for diamonds doesn't get any easier than buying from this store. First, decide whether you want an earth- or lab-created diamond (keeping in mind that synthetic stones are usually less expensive but offer identical visual quality and chemical properties seen in natural diamonds). Then, indicate any preferences for shape, cut quality, color, carat, clarity and price (or select "advanced options" if you are something of an expert and want to specify even further details like certification lab or fluorescence).
Once you've found a diamond you like, you'll have an abundance of information about the stone, from its certification to a representation of how large it will actually look on someone's hand.
One novel feature offered by James Allen is their Real-Time Diamond Inspection. Via screen sharing, you and one of their non-commissioned certified gemologists can review your favorite stones from the online inventory in 360° HD and up to 40x magnification; they will go over all of the stone's specifications, the grading certificate, and any points of interest. It's like having your own personal diamond specialist on call!
You can also see when you can expect your diamond to arrive: usually within 3-5 business days when just buying it as a loose stone; delivery times vary when mounted into a setting. When you select a diamond, you will have three options: add a setting, add a pendant, or add to cart.
We were pleased by the wide range of settings available for all diamond shapes. There were more than 600 options in James Allen's inventory, and even for an unusual asscher shape we had nearly 100 choices. There were the usual pave and solitaire styles, but also some more one-of-a-kind designs; some of our favorites were Twisted Vine, Vintage Round Diamond and Marquise Sapphire, and Art Deco Inspired Fleur-De-Lis. Although most of the images show the settings in white gold, you'll see other options once you select the one you like (e.g. yellow gold, rose gold, platinum).
Once you've chosen the stone and its setting, you'll see the guaranteed delivery time. Don't be surprised if you're given a date a month in advance; it takes time to get your stone in the hands of their jewelers to be placed in the setting. Chances are good that it will be well worth the wait: browse the reviews below the settings to see what other customers say about the ring (and see many photos too). In general, most customers give James Allen a 4- or 5-star rating, with plenty of compliments about the quality and value of the diamonds and settings, ease of working with customer reps, and on-time delivery.
By the way, when we visited the James Allen site, we spotted an offer for a $100 discount on our first order if we gave them our email address. However, the fine print specified that loose diamonds were excluded.
James Allen provides everything you could want from the diamond shopping experience: in-depth information about your stone, ample choices for settings, expert consultations and a wide array of customer-friendly perks and policies. It's easy to see why this diamond store earns our highest rating, and we highly recommend you begin your search here.
Blue Nile is one of the most reputable online-only retailers of loose diamonds, and while they now share our 5-star rating with another store, they still earn our recommendation as an excellent place to shop.
What makes Blue Nile different from their 5-star rival? On the downside, not every stone sold by this diamond store has a 360° view; if it's important to see the exact gem you're buying prior to purchase (and why wouldn't it be?), you'll want to set that preference in your filters. On the other hand, Blue Nile allows you to place a 48-hour hold on any diamond in their inventory of more than 140,000 gemstones: other customers won't even be able to see that diamond in their search results until your reservation expires, assuming you don't finalize the purchase.
Because there are so many diamonds in their inventory, Blue Nile has a wide range of filters to narrow down the possibilities. The usual options are there, like shape, price, and carat size, but you can also check the box for "quick ship diamonds" if you're in a hurry.
Another feature we like about buying diamonds from Blue Nile is the "Compare Alternate Diamonds": once you select a stone you like, be sure to scroll down a little. Want to spend a little more for extra sparkle, or maybe you're willing to downgrade the color just a bit to save some money? You'll see several recommendations for comparable stones.
All of the loose diamonds sold by Blue Nile are GIA certified. This is an important distinction, because these certifications are considered to be more reliable and accurate than many other rating systems (AGS being the exception). You can view the GIA report right on the Blue Nile product page for the stones you're considering.
When you find the diamond you want to buy and click on "add this diamond", you'll then specify if it's being used for a ring or pendant, or just adding it to your basket as a loose stone. Blue Nile has an exciting selection of settings to choose from, especially for engagement rings. On the radiant-cut stone we selected, there were more than 200 matching settings; it made shopping much easier to see at a glance which ones came in options besides white gold, had matching wedding bands, or were on sale. Whether your style is traditional or modern, you'll find something to love here. (Our favorites were the East-West Sidestone and Pave and the Zac Posen Curved Cathedral Solitaire with Diamond Bridge Detail.)
As you put together your piece of jewelry, you'll be able to see your expected delivery date. It may take several weeks, or even up to a month, for your ring or pendant to be put together and delivered, but shipping is free.
In fact, "free" is pretty common at Blue Nile: not just shipping, but also resizing, returns, cleaning and servicing, and even a lifetime warranty (restrictions apply, like if you wear your ring while weightlifting and it gets damaged). You can also get a free consultation with a Blue Nile jewelry expert if you have any questions on which stone to select, what setting will best highlight the diamond you choose, and anything else you need to know to make an informed purchase.
Blue Nile's reputation is fantastic. We invite you to see for yourself: just look at customer reviews on the jewelry settings that catch your interest, and have fun seeing what people put together for their loved ones (or for themselves, why not?). This retailer also has an "A+" and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau; despite having a few dozen complaints registered there over the last three years, Blue Nile's representatives do an excellent job of responding in a timely, professional way.
Buying loose diamonds online might seem scary, but it doesn't have to be. Blue Nile makes it hassle-free to buy a stone, set it in a design you'll love, with all the confidence that you're getting exactly what you pay for. We love Blue Nile and their long history of making special moments even more precious, with diamonds that make you fall in love all over again. Blue Nile easily earns another high rating.
Fascinating Diamonds got its start in 2006 when business partners Raj Kumar and Salil Shah combined their experience in diamond-buying and working within the jewelry-manufacturing industry. This retailer has a good reputation, as evidenced by an "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau with no complaints in their listing.
Fascinating Diamonds has more than 20,000 loose diamonds to choose from, so you'll want to use filters to narrow down the results. Not every stone has a photo or 360° view; we recommend clicking on at least one of those filters to ensure that you're not buying a diamond without seeing it first. From there, you can specify which diamond shape(s) you prefer, as well as clarity, quality of the cut, carat size, color, and price.
If you know a lot about diamonds, you might enjoy what you'll find under "see more filters". There, you can specify polish, symmetry, fluorescence, depth, table, and culet - but if you're new to buying gemstones, you probably won't want to get that far into the weeds, so to speak.
Your results list won't specify if your stone has been certified by any of the industry-recognized rating institutes. But, for every diamond we selected, we found a report from the GIA: one of the most respected names in the business. Fascinating Diamonds promises that all of their loose diamonds are "conflict-free and GIA certified", and as far as we can tell they deliver on that commitment.
This diamond store has an in-house design team that can work with you to customize a ring to your exact preferences, whether for an engagement or just as an heirloom piece. Browse the "Design a Custom Ring" page to get an in-depth look at the design process and to get ideas for your own unique setting.
Of course, if you'd rather choose a loose diamond and have it placed in an already-designed setting, you can do that as well. Click on "Add to Setting" to see the possibilities (and you'll notice that "design it" is always an option if you'd like to tweak it to be more one-of-a-kind). Out of the nearly 2000 settings on the Fascinating Diamonds site, we spotted a number of interesting designs like the Two-Tone Celtic Wedding Ring Set and several sets that used black gold to make an eye-catching color contrast with the diamonds.
Fascinating Diamonds has a 30-day return policy, which is fairly standard among online diamond stores. However, you'll have a $20 fee deducted from your refund, to cover the "free" shipping on your order, and you're also responsible for the costs of returning your diamond with insurance and tracking. Also, if you paid for your order using PayPal, expect another 3% to be deducted from your refund.
With so many reasons to buy your diamond from Fascinating Diamonds, you might be wondering why they haven't ranked higher. In such a competitive industry, selection is king - and while this retailer's selection in the tens of thousands is nothing to criticize, their rivals carry anywhere from five to ten times that number of diamonds. Plus, the fees tacked on for return shipping and for refunds on PayPal payments feels a little nickel-and-dime when you're considering spending more than $50,000 on a diamond.
In short, Fascinating Diamonds has a lot to offer, and if you buy your diamond there you'll probably be very happy with it. Customize to your heart's content, knowing you've got experts who can turn your idea into reality. You just won't get the world's biggest selection of stones to choose from.
Jared is one of two diamond stores in our review that are part of the Signet Jewelers brand family. You probably recognize them from their advertising campaign with women excitedly exclaiming, "He went to Jared!" Compared with their sister brand, Kay Jewelers, Jared is usually considered to be the more upscale of the two.
When it comes to loose diamonds, Jared has a good selection of just under 40,000 stones. Unlike many retailers we evaluated, Jared gives you lab-created diamonds in addition to natural gemstones, which could get you an extremely attractive stone at a fraction of the price. You can shop specifically for either type of stone, or apply filters by shape, price, carat weight, color, clarity, and so on.
Almost every single diamond Jared offers has been certified by IGI. That institute isn't seen as having the same objectivity and reputation as several other rating systems, something to keep in mind if you're looking for a truly exceptional diamond. (Another interesting point: Jared has numerous brick-and-mortar locations, and in those stores it's easy to find a wide selection of GIA certified diamonds. We're not sure why none were offered through Jared's online store.)
Once you've found a diamond you like, you can see an actual view: just click to rotate to see the stone from multiple angles. The basic details can be found under the Description dropdown, and the more nitty-gritty specifics are listed separately under Diamond Specifications. You can also view and/or download the IGI certification for the stone.
You can either add the diamond to your shopping bag as a standalone time, or you can "select this diamond and continue" to choose a setting. We weren't overly blown away by the options at Jared: for the square emerald diamond we chose, there were only 34 settings that matched. Almost all of them were white gold solitaire designs, with very few that were uniquely styled or in yellow gold. Even if you choose a one-of-a-kind stone, the setting for your ring might have people saying, "Oh, evidently he went to Jared too...just like everyone else."
Many experts say that you'll pay more for your diamond when buying from a store that also has a significant brick-and-mortar presence, and that seems to be true for Jared. One evaluation showed that Jared's prices were consistently higher by around 20%, compared with online-only retailers.
On the other hand, one advantage of buying a diamond from Jared is the ability to have it shipped to a store. Yes, you'll get free 2nd day shipping via UPS, but if porch pirates are a concern in your neighborhood and you have a Jared retail location nearby, you've got a safer option for picking up your stone.
If you decide to return your diamond, you'll have 30 days to do so in-person or via mail. On the other hand, if you want to exchange it, that can only be done in-store.
What about reputation? Quite frankly, Jared's is slightly lukewarm. The BBB gives parent company Signet Jewelers an "A+", but there were nearly 300 complaints registered against them across their family of brands. Most of the reviews left specifically for Jared relate to their various retail locations, making it hard to get a feel for how the company performs overall - but the general picture painted isn't as enthusiastic as we'd like to see, especially on such a significant purchase as a diamond.
For all of these reasons, Jared lands in the middle of the pack among diamond stores. While shopping at this store gives you a few in-person perks you won't get from an online-only retailer, those advantages don't make up for the larger inventory and lower prices you'll find when you compare apples-to-apples (or carats-to-carats?). Jared isn't a bad place to buy diamonds, per se, but better options are out there.
Diamonds USA is owned and operated by David Braverman, a third-generation diamond cutter with more than 30 years of experience. While you'll find a few options for earrings and other jewelry on this site, the bulk of what Diamonds USA has to offer is, unsurprisingly, diamonds! From wedding and anniversary rings to tennis bracelets and more, you'll have no shortage of possibilities if diamonds are what you want.
Using the "loose diamonds search" function on this site can be a little glitchy. You can choose the criteria you know you want, ranging from cut to color, search strictly by carats or cost, or any combination you prefer. However, your results may not be 100% accurate: when we sorted our results by price, for example, the most expensive stone was in the $35,000 range - but as we browsed, we found at least one diamond priced at nearly $100,000. In other words, if you've got a very specific idea for the diamond you want, it might be worth it to reach out to Diamonds USA directly: look for the "chat online" box at the bottom of the site. (For what it's worth, we were pleasantly surprised to see that live chat was available even on a Saturday.)
Another helpful feature of this diamond store is the "recently viewed" button. After shopping for a while, it can be challenging to remember what you've already seen, or to find a stone that you loved but looked at early on in the process. Just click to go back and review any diamonds you saw previously. Alternately, as you're scrolling through options, you can click on the "compare" checkbox and make a list of the diamonds you want to consider more closely.
We really appreciated being able to see the certificate for each diamond offered by Diamonds USA, to verify all of the details in the listing. It's worth pointing out that the vast majority of their stones have been certified by EGL or HRD; many experts in the industry prefer GIA or AGS, especially on more expensive diamonds, because their evaluations are seen as more objective or scientific and thus more reliable. However, that's a small detail, and Diamonds USA offers stones that have been certified by GIA - you'll just have to look for that specific designation if it matters to you.
How does Diamonds USA measure up when looking at their rivals? The BBB lists this company as "Not Rated" - we would have expected a business with decades of experience to have a rating, leaving this diamond store slightly behind competitors with an "A+" and accreditation from the BBB. On the other hand, there were zero complaints registered against Diamonds USA on the BBB site, which is a plus. Current customer feedback was hard to find for this store, but there's nothing to indicate that's a red flag - just evidence that this store might be a "diamond in the rough" (pardon the pun).
Diamonds USA is a good option for loose diamond shoppers. Although the site has a few flaws, it presents all of the available diamonds in great detail, and there's likely to be a stone for every type of shopper. However, Diamonds USA has a much smaller inventory than higher-rated diamond stores, keeping this retailer from earning our highest rating.
Kay Jewelers is one of two diamond stores in our review owned by Signet Jewelers. When compared with sister retailer Jared, Kay is usually seen as the lower end of the two. The online diamond shopping experience gives the same impression, with far fewer stones available and a "not secure" URL for the loose diamond search page.
However, many customers prefer to buy a big-ticket item from a well-known brand, and who doesn't know that "every kiss begins with K(ay)"? Is it worth it to shop for diamonds at this retailer? Let's take a look.
When using the online diamond search tool, you'll have an experience almost identical to Jared's. You can use all of the customary filters to sort the options by cut, color, clarity, and so on, and all stones can be viewed with the 360° drag tool. Two big differences we noticed: Kay Jewelers doesn't have any lab-created stones in their inventory, but on a positive note they have many diamonds that are certified by AGS and GIA (which are considered to be more objective and reliable than IGI, the primary certifier of Jared diamonds).
Choosing a stone that interests you will lead you to all of the relevant details: description, specification, certification, and so forth. From there, you can either buy the diamond by itself or "select and continue" to choose a setting. For the pear-shaped stone we selected, there were only 20 matching settings, almost all of which were white gold and only one or two more unique designs.
Buying your diamond from Kay gives you a few benefits you won't get with most online-only stores. While free shipping is fairly common no matter where you shop, Kay lets you opt to have your diamond delivered to one of their retail locations - a fantastic choice if you're worried about your expensive jewelry being stolen from your porch or mailbox. You can also get your ring resized for free (once), and returns and exchanges can be done in-store as well.
But, there are some concerns with Kay Jewelers that are significant. Although parent company Signet Jewelers has an "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau, that reputation doesn't necessarily apply to each brand in their holdings. Not too long ago, there were several expose pieces in the media accusing Kay of swapping out diamonds in their jewelry, especially rings and other items brought in for repair and returned with lower-value stones. Such accusations were denied, but they still leave a bad taste in our mouth when thinking about such a big-ticket purchase as a diamond.
Customer feedback about Kay isn't overly positive either. Prices tend to be higher than their online rivals, and completed rings and ring sets wind up not having the quality the shoppers expected.
If you want a mall-quality ring at a shopping center price, Kay Jeweler fits the description. The only reason to consider buying your diamond here is if you have a brick-and-mortar location near you and want the reassurance of having an in-person representative if a problem arises. Otherwise, you'll find a better selection of diamonds at more competitive prices with the online diamond stores we evaluated.
Sun Jewelry has been in operation since 1983. But, you should be aware that it's anyone's guess exactly how much business this diamond store actually does: with a banner proudly advertising 30 years (as of 2013) and a site with a copyright date more than three years in the past, you might get the impression that this isn't the most reliable source of loose diamonds.
Using the Sun Jewelry website to find the perfect loose diamond is tedious at best. They offer what should be an easy-to-use tool for narrowing down all of their Certified Loose Diamonds - but it doesn't work. Instead, you have to go through each cut and scroll through the options that aren't organized in any discernible way: not by price, carat size, or any other criteria. Click on the certification for a given stone, such as GIA or EGL, and guess what! You're redirected to the main Sun Jewelry page.
Even worse, there are no images of the diamonds. You read that right: you can't actually see the diamond before you order it. We're not sure who buys diamonds sight unseen, but we wouldn't recommend it, especially since the site itself has a URL shown as "not secure".
There's just nothing about Sun Jewelry that gives us the confidence that they deliver on any of their promises. Their main page says that they have the biggest selection on the internet, but with fewer than 500 diamonds in their inventory, Sun Jewelry is far behind their competitors who offer more than 100,000+ stones to choose from. Will it do customers any good to have free three-day delivery or guarantees of lowest prices and lifetime warranties if they get a subpar diamond? Or if customer service doesn't respond to their requests for help?
The Better Business Bureau lists Sun Jewelry as "Not Rated", despite more than 30 years in business. True, there was only one registered complaint on the BBB site, but that customer described ordering an expensive ring for a 25th anniversary that was never delivered - and with zero response or help from the retailer. Ultimately, the shopper had to take it up as a dispute with the credit card company to get a refund.
At the end of the day, there's no reason to trust Sun Jewelry with your loose diamond purchase. You'll have a much more satisfying shopping experience with one of the higher-rated stores in our evaluation.
Diamond Princess is a New Jersey-based online retailer and designer specializing in fine jewelry. They offer a wide selection of rings, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, watches and jewelry sets for both men and women.
At the time of our most recent visit, we got a pop-up offering us a 5% discount on our order if we gave Diamond Princess our email address.
We're not entirely sure how this retailer earned an "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau. Those accolades are usually reserved for businesses with top-notch customer service and prompt, professional responses to any problems that arise. We found none of that with Diamond Princess.
First, when we tried to find a diamond - ANY diamond - using their search tool, we got zero results. This happened across multiple browsers and users, so it was definitely a systematic issue. In other words, if you want to buy loose diamonds, create a customized engagement ring, or browse what gemstones Diamond Princess has available, you're 100% out of luck because the search feature is broken.
Then, when we tried to use live chat to ask if the site was undergoing maintenance or if we could see their inventory in some other way, all we got was "We are offline" - and that lasted for more than a day during regular business hours.
Finally, looking at customer complaints and reviews on the BBB site was all we needed to put Diamond Princess at the bottom of our rankings. There were only three comments, and they were all negative: "nightmare", "shady", and "poor quality" were just a few of the phrases that stood out as reason enough not to trust this retailer with your money.
With so many reputable sellers of diamonds who go above and beyond to put their customers' minds at ease, particularly with beautiful websites that make it beyond simple to find the perfect stone, Diamond Princess simply has nothing to offer. This diamond store earns our lowest rating.
Buying loose diamonds is a wonderful way to create a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry: once you've chosen the stone, the sky's the limit with what you create next. The online diamond store you select will probably have an impressive array of settings: for engagement rings alone, the possibilities are nearly endless and range from traditional solitaires to the optical illusion of a tension set.
However, as you'd imagine, it's important to choose your retailer carefully. Your diamond purchase could represent an heirloom to cherish and pass down through the years, and you want to ensure that you get exactly what you pay for. We recommend keeping these criteria in mind, to help you choose the best diamond retailer:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best online retailers of diamonds today. We hope this information helps you find the perfect stone for your engagement ring, heirloom-quality pendant, or even for a timeless investment!
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