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Lab-grown diamonds, also known as synthetic or cultured diamonds, are man-made gemstones that are created in a laboratory environment using advanced technological processes that mimic the natural conditions under which diamonds form in the earth's mantle.
Sounds pretty technical, but the amazing thing is that these diamonds are essentially identical in chemical, physical, and optical properties to natural diamonds mined from the earth. They are also graded on the same 4Cs scale used for natural diamonds, which stands for cut, clarity, color, and carat weight. All of the same sparkle factor? Yes, please!
Wednesday, October 4th
Although James Allen is part of the Signet Jewelers family of brands, it has managed to preserve its distinctive identity among its sister stores. The company, established in 2006, boasts an impressive collection of over 47,000 hand-picked lab-created diamonds that are all available to view on their website through highly magnified 360 degree HD images.
Impressive selection of loose stones and jewelry
Whether you want loose lab-grown diamonds or ready-to-order jewelry, James Allen will have quite a few options to consider. You won't find any loose stones under $2,000, so we're not quite sure how you'd build an engagement ring with accents (unless you're creating a really luxe arrangement): gems started at $2,590 here and went all the way up to over $122,000. In-stock jewelry made with lab-created diamonds was a little more moderate, with around 350 pieces to choose from and ranging in price from $200 for several designs of stud earrings to $70,000 for a white gold mesh V necklace.
We love all of the ways that James Allen lets customers view their jewelry and loose lab-created diamonds. Let's say you're looking at the 14K White Gold Vintage Marquise and Round Bezel Diamond Ring for $530. Go to the product page and you'll see a video of the ring on a model's hand as she moves around, or zoom in on the still image for a better look. The display on loose stones is even better: click and drag to rotate the image in HD, or select the option to view in comparison with a hand. Or, click to view the report on the stone (such as IGI).
Real-time inspections as desired
Still not sure? James Allen lets you have a real-time diamond inspection with an expert gemologist. In short, you can get every possible piece of information about any lab-created diamond in James Allen's inventory before making your decision.
Exceptional shopper benefits
That's just the beginning of the customer perks offered by this jewelry store. As a James Allen client, you'll also get free shipping anywhere in the world, 30-day postage-paid returns, lifetime warranty coverage against manufacturer defects plus available extended coverage for damage, lifetime diamond upgrade options, and free engraving - all with access to 24/7 customer service via toll-free number, live chat, or email.
Does it sound too good to be true? Are you wondering "What's the catch?" Great news: there isn't one. This jewelry store not only received an "A+" rating and accreditation from the BBB in its own right (not just the overall rating for parent brand Signet), but it also has thousands of five-star reviews from satisfied customers. We are thrilled that their shipping is prompt, customer service representatives are knowledgeable and friendly, and the jewelry lives up to, if not exceeds, buyers' expectations.
#1 pick for lab-grown diamond jewelry
At every step, James Allen is going to impress you. From their free worldwide shipping to their exceptional commitment to customer satisfaction, as well as their outstanding quality and lifetime warranties, what's not to love? We're thrilled to give James Allen our highest recommendation among retailers offering lab-grown diamond jewelry, and we're confident that you'll be delighted with anything you purchase here. We encourage you to make James Allen the first place you look for lab-created diamonds and jewelry.
Grown Brilliance takes years of experience in the jewelry industry and uses it to provide high-quality alternatives to traditionally-mined diamonds. This retailer only offers lab-grown loose diamonds and jewelry, so that you can wear (or gift) beautiful pieces that are also socially responsible.
Check out those loose stones in 360 degrees
Most, but not all, loose lab-created diamonds offered by Grown Brilliance come with a 360 degree view. We were surprised that the most expensive stone at the time of our review, a 14ct emerald-shaped ideal cut priced at $174,695, didn't show up in the list as having that viewing option - but when we visited the stone's product page, we could indeed rotate it for a better look. There are over 42,000 loose lab-grown diamonds to choose from at Grown Brilliance, starting at just $680, so you'll want to use the filters to narrow them down by shape, any of the 4Cs, or price range.
Would you like a virtual appointment?
If you'd like a more hands-on approach to buying lab-created diamond jewelry or loose stones, consider setting up a virtual appointment with one of Grown Brilliance's jewelry specialists. That can be a brief Q&A session for 20 minutes or a more detailed consultation that lasts about an hour. You'll find the link for that at the bottom of the site, or on the listing itself for any loose diamond you're considering.
Beautiful selection of rings, bracelets, earrings, necklaces
How about ready-to-order jewelry that uses lab-grown diamonds? No matter which kind of jewelry you're shopping for, Grown Brilliance has a nice selection to choose from. In Rings, you'll see about 130 options starting with a dainty three-stone style by naas for $195, all the way up to a Badgley Mischka Pear and Oval Diamond Bypass fashion style for $13,430. You've got about the same number of options in necklaces. On the budget-friendly side, you could consider a freshwater pearl with a lab-grown diamond accent for $170, while your big-ticket choices include a round tennis necklace (94ct) for $110,000 plus some Badgley Mischka designs in the $10k-$20k range. Expect similar options and price points within earrings and bracelets as well.
Free 2-day shipping + savings for email subscribers
To save on a larger purchase here, you can join the Grown Brilliance VIP list and save $100 off your order of $1,000+. Just look for the pop-up asking for your email address and phone number. You'll also get free two-day FedEx shipping no matter the amount of your order, and you can take advantage of financing through Affirm if you need some time to pay off your purchase.
Generous return policy and other benefits
Grown Brilliance has a few other perks that put them ahead of the competition. Instead of the industry-standard 30-day return window, this retailer gives you 45 days - and they even cover the cost of the return shipping. They're also so confident in their everyday pricing that they don't offer sales or promotions on the site - and they back that with a price match guarantee on loose lab-grown diamonds. If you see any other US-based jeweler offering a similar stone at a better price, Grown Brilliance will match it. Finally, everything you buy here is covered by a lifetime manufacturing warranty: the optical properties of your lab-created stone will never cloud or fade, no matter how long it's worn.
Lots of positive reviews from happy customers
Although we couldn't find a Better Business Bureau listing for Grown Brilliance (or for its holding company, AJS Creations LLC), there's enough positive feedback about this jewelry store to know that it's worth considering. We encourage you to look through the independently-verified reviews on the Grown Brilliance site, to see customer comments and photos about the jewelry they purchased. Almost every one mentions the impressive sparkle of the lab-created diamonds, as well as the top-notch customer service. A few mentioned needing to return purchases because of product quality (like posts on earrings that were much longer than standard or off-center stones), but there doesn't seem to be any struggle in getting the retailer to handle those problems right away.
Excellent choice for lab-created diamonds
Grown Brilliance is one of our favorite sites to shop for lab-grown diamonds and jewelry. There's no need to sort out which pieces are mined and which are man-made - because they're all lab-created here. The selection is terrific, whether you need a loose stone for a one-of-a-kind ring or a quick-ship gift for a special someone, and there are plenty of customer-friendly features to make your purchase easy-breezy. Be sure to see what Grown Brilliance has to offer.
Ritani was founded in 1999 and specializes in high-quality, handcrafted jewelry, with all pieces made in New York: you won't find anything generic or mass-produced here. Ritani has gotten lots of buzz in top publications and news outlets, ranging from Vogue and Brides to CNN and Fox Business.
Remarkable inventory of loose lab-grown diamonds
If you're shopping for loose lab-created diamonds, either to buy separately or as the foundation for a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry, you're going to love the selection at Ritani. At the time of this evaluation, there were over 130,000 loose lab-grown stones available, all with HD video and images. Prices ranged from under $100 to a jaw-dropping $349,000 for a 5.02 ct marquise cut good/F/VS1 stone. Your best bet is to use the filters to sort by shape, price, any of the 4 Cs, or delivery date - but you can also use the "Best Value" toggle to zero in on the best diamond for your budget.
Full transparency on each gem's details
The level of detail on each lab-grown diamond sold by Ritani is extraordinary. They're fully transparent in their pricing: each stone shows you the cost of the diamond, the fulfillment cost, and Ritani's mark-up. Beyond that, you'll get lots of info on the gem's cut, color, clarity, and carat weight, delving into the symmetry and polish, and even the ability to view the Diamond Certification Report for that stone.
Takes some work to find jewelry strictly with lab-created diamonds
What if you're not shopping for a loose diamond or for an engagement ring? There are other jewelry options at Ritani, but it's not as easy to find pieces that use lab-created stones. You can browse your options for earrings, bracelets, and so on, but there's no filter that lets you see only one type of diamond. You'll have to pay attention to the item description in order to find the ones that specifically say "lab" . That gets a little tedious.
Slightly mixed shopper feedback
Ritani's reputation is pretty solid overall, starting with an "A" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau. Customer feedback is a little bit mixed, depending on where you look: on Trustpilot, for example, Ritani had a 3.8 average out of 5 stars across 530+ reviews, while on Reviews.io the retailer came out much better with a 4.5/5 average spanning 440+ shopper ratings.
Most customers have a fantastic shopping experience
Both compliments and complaints seem to focus on the same topics: customer service, the quality of the jewelry, and delivery. Most people have a fantastic experience with all of those things, but sometimes it seems like Ritani drops the ball. That seems to be the case more often when customers have a higher level of expertise with respect to diamond cut and clarity, how the stones are set, and so on. (In other words, if you're in the know, you might find issues with your lab-grown diamond jewelry purchase here.)
Free in-person preview on loose diamonds and engagement rings
However, on loose diamond and engagement ring purchases, Ritani makes it a little easier to be sure you'll love what you buy. They offer a complimentary in-store preview at a local jeweler, WeWork, or Regus location near you. You'll have to provide your credit card number to reserve the service, and be sure to click on the "Preview" button for the delivery method during checkout. If you go to your appointment and decide you don't want to buy it, there's no pressure or obligation. Ritani will unmount the diamonds and recycle the metal, no harm no foul.
Nothing noteworthy with customer service
In all other ways, Ritani's policies are pretty standard. You'll get free shipping on any purchase and 30 days to make returns. Customer service is available via phone, live chat, or email if you have questions before or after placing your order.
Great for the nervous shopper
Particularly for those looking for loose stones or engagement rings, Ritani has a lot to offer with its lab-grown diamonds. They know that it can be a little nerve-wracking to buy diamonds online, and so they go to great lengths to make sure you don't feel like you're ordering something "sight unseen" - by incorporating not only videos and photos of each stone but also the chance to preview in person before making the commitment to purchase. Ritani doesn't wind up in our #1 spot because they don't make it very easy to shop their lab-created diamond jewelry outside of engagement rings, but overall we give this retailer a strong recommendation.
12FIFTEEN is part of the Forever Companies brand family, which includes Diamond Nexus and Forever Artisans. The common thread? None of the brands use mined stones in any of their jewelry, letting you shop freely knowing that your purchase will always be conflict-free.
Small-ish selection of jewelry beyond engagement rings
The selection of lab-created diamond jewelry at 12FIFTEEN is small, if you're just looking at pieces beyond engagement rings. At the time of our most recent visit, the online store had just under 200 options, but some of them were chains or other items that didn't have diamonds. Choices included everything from simple necklaces and earrings under $300 to tennis necklaces and bracelets in the $6,000 to $9,500 range.
Generous selection of loose lab-created diamonds
But, when you jump to loose stones and engagement settings, your options expand exponentially. Of course, the selection will be different from one day to the next (because people are creating the pieces of their dreams), but you'll probably find over 17,000 loose lab-grown diamonds at 12FIFTEEN at any given time. We saw a couple dozen gems under $300 (mostly under a half-carat), and a little over a dozen in the $20,000+ category. The jeweler's highest-end lab-created diamond during our visit was a 11.12 ct round stone, ideal cut, E color and VS1 clarity, priced at $83,630.
Filter your choices
It's easy to find all of the man-made stones sold by 12FIFTEEN. Just indicate if you have a preferred shape, carat size, price range, color, clarity, or cut quality, and you'll be good to go. You can also check boxes that will display stones that are marked down, available for quick shipping, or that are designated as "Hearts & Arrows'' (a near-perfect round brilliant lab diamond that radiates a hearts-and-arrows pattern when seen through a professional scope).
Free design services for a hand-crafted piece of jewelry
Whether shopping for an engagement ring or some other type of jewelry, you can use 12FIFTEEN's design services to create a one-of-a-kind piece. Connect with one of their consultations with anything you have in mind - photos, drawings, even a sketch on a cocktail napkin - and within 72 hours you'll get a CAD file with the preliminary design. Once you've suggested any edits you'd like and approved the final design, your custom lab-grown diamond jewelry will be made by hand in Milwaukee.
No complaints here
Not only does 12FIFTEEN have an "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, there were also no complaints filed there over the last three years. Not bad for a company that's been around for a decade. There are also about 100 reviews on the 12FIFTEEN site you can browse, looking at customer photos and comments (which are, unsurprisingly, all positive). While we'd like to see a little more feedback in other places - Trustpilot, for example, only had one review when last we checked - this retailer is plenty active on its social media channels, so we have no concerns that 12FIFTEEN is anything other than a solid choice for buying lab-grown diamonds.
Free shipping and 30-day returns
How about shipping and returns? All orders over $100 ship free here. 12FIFTEEN gives you the standard 30-day period starting from the date your order is delivered. Just make sure your diamond or jewelry is in perfect, unused condition with all protective materials in place, and that you send it back with all original packaging and paperwork or else you'll be charged a $75 fee.
Worth your time to take a look
12FIFTEEN easily ranks as an above-average option for buying jewelry made with lab-grown diamonds. The selection of diamonds is good (but doesn't compete with rivals' inventories of 130,000+ stones), there's a nice array of non-engagement ring pieces to consider, and by all appearances 12FIFTEEN's clients love what they get. Although there are a few stores we'd shop first, there's no reason not to go with 12FIFTEEN if something sparkly catches your eye there.
VRAI is a jewelry company that specializes in lab-created diamonds and is based in Los Angeles, California. The company was founded in 2014 and is part of the Diamond Foundry family of companies, which is a leading producer of lab-grown diamonds. VRAI has been featured in several publications, including Vogue, Forbes, and Bazaar.
Environmentally-conscious and conflict-free
VRAI wants you to know from the outset that their lab-created diamonds are not just conflict-free, they're eco-friendly. The company uses its own zero-emission foundry in the Pacific Northwest to convert greenhouse gas into diamonds, which are then set in recycled solid gold. As they put it, "No mining. No emissions. No guilt."
On a budget? No problem
The selection of lab-grown diamonds at VRAI is vast - as you'd expect from a retailer that specializes in man-made stones. If you're looking for something beautiful yet budget-friendly, we recommend going to the Jewelry section, clicking on "Explore all jewelry" , then sorting by price from lowest to highest. We spotted some cute yellow gold hoops with diamonds for $195 and a tiny ring with a small stone for the same price, plus lots of options for bracelets and stud earrings for under $300.
Higher-end options too
Then again, maybe you're looking for a piece that's designed to turn heads. Just flip the sorting on the Jewelry page to see the highest-end jewelry in VRAI's inventory. At the time of this review, that included a pair of tennis necklaces for $24,500-$26,500+, a suspended solitaire cross in platinum for $12,500, and several tennis bracelets in the $3,000-$9,000+ range.
Ample inventory for ready-made or custom-designed engagement rings
Engagement rings are a category of their own, and you can choose among ready-to-order rings or design a one-of-a-kind piece from scratch. The jeweler's inventory of lab-grown diamonds is always changing as new stones are created and purchased, so your options may vary based on when you're designing the engagement ring. When we visited VRAI recently, there were two diamonds available for over $30,000: a 12ct pear-shaped stone and a 14ct emerald cut. Not quite what you have in mind? No problem. Just use the filters on the left side of the page to indicate your preferred diamond cut, color, carat weight, and price range. There really is something for everyone.
Free delivery and discounts
If you're making a larger purchase at VRAI, watch for the pop-up as you browse the store. We were offered a $100 discount on a purchase over $750 if we provided our email address and phone number. You'll also get free standard delivery (2-4 business days) on all orders. If your order is over $700, you'll get complimentary delivery within two business days, and free overnight delivery if it's over $10,000.
No customer service via phone
We're not the biggest fans of jewelry stores that only provide online chat or email for contacting customer service. As some customers have reported, that can make it take a long time to get important questions answered, like "when is my bracelet going to arrive?" , or for resolving any discrepancies between what you ordered and what you received. But, one unique feature of VRAI is that you can also schedule a virtual appointment via video call - though those are best used prior to making your purchase, not for post-purchase questions. When scheduling an appointment, you'll have to indicate if it's for an engagement ring, wedding band, or to "build your perfect earrings or necklace" from VRAI's solitaire diamonds.
Numerous five-star reviews
When it comes to reputation, VRAI starts out a little shaky. The Better Business Bureau gives the retailer a "D" grade - but that's because of VRAI's failure to respond to one of the four complaints filed with the BBB. Four complaints, even with one unanswered, is hardly a pattern of terrible service. And it gets better from there, because in most places outside of the BBB, VRAI receives lots of 4- and 5-star reviews. On the VRAI site itself, you'll find more than 5,000 of them, and even on third-party sites people wax poetic about how pretty their lab-created diamonds are and how often they receive compliments on their jewelry.
30-day returns - even on custom pieces
VRAI also impresses us with its return policy. You'll get the industry-standard 30 days to request your money back (or 14 days when buying loose diamonds), but this jeweler goes above and beyond by allowing returns even on customized pieces. That goes back to VRAI's eco-friendly approach to jewelry: they'll unset the diamonds in your jewelry and melt the gold for recycling. You'll have to pay a recycling fee ($200 on engagement ring refunds, $50 on wedding bands or made-to-order fine jewelry pieces), but that's still a huge perk compared with jewelry stores that have "no returns allowed" policies.
Give VRAI a try
VRAI comes in with a solid rating. We put it a little behind comparable retailers who offer over-the-phone customer support (because, let's face it, sometimes you need that reassuring voice telling you that yes, your expensive jewelry is still safe and en route), but overall we give this jeweler high marks for selection, quality, and service. We recommend checking out what VRAI has to offer when you're shopping for lab-grown diamond jewelry.
Since its start in 1999, Blue Nile has served over two million customers with nearly five million unique pieces of jewelry. Originally an online-only jewelry store, Blue Nile has grown to include retail locations in 17 states.
Get a discount if you subscribe to messages
Like many online jewelry stores, Blue Nile offers a pop-up discount if you register your email address. It's a little less generous than their rivals, though: just $50 off a purchase of $1,000 or more.
Very limited designs for ready-made jewelry
That discount isn't the only thing that's limited at Blue Nile. This jeweler's selection of ready-to-ship lab-grown diamond jewelry caught us off guard with how few choices there were. When you click on Eternity Rings, Pendants, Stud Earrings, Anniversary Rings, or Tennis Bracelets, you'll be taken to exactly ONE design of each. Yes, you can tweak things by specifying the total carat weight, but that's it. If you want any other style, or you prefer rose gold to white gold, sorry - Blue Nile just isn't going to offer that.
Great for lab-grown diamond engagement rings
But, if you're shopping for a loose man-made diamond to make into an engagement ring, Blue Nile's got you covered with over 22,000 stones to choose from. They range in price from just under $900 to $33,000+. You can purchase the stone alone or have it in a setting: when you select the diamond you want, you can either add it to your basket or save it for a ring, and then you'll be shown all of the settings that are a suitable match. You can move the image around to see a 360 degree view of the stone at any angle, or set up a virtual appointment to get a one-on-one consultation with a Blue Nile diamond expert to ask questions and get guidance in selecting the perfect piece.
Generous customer benefits
Blue Nile has quite a few free perks to offer customers. Those include free secure shipping on all orders, free returns within 30 days (they pay the shipping on what you send back), free lifetime warranty (manufacturing defects only), and free upgraded packaging (like presentation boxes for engagement rings and cloth pouches for smaller jewelry pieces). You can also take advantage of Blue Nile's price matching and diamond upgrade program.
Consistently ranks high with shoppers
What do customers say about the Blue Nile experience? The Better Business Bureau reports good things, giving the jeweler an "A+" rating and accreditation with only 18 complaints filed there over the last 12 months. Both on the BBB site and in other places you might look, expect Blue Nile to average at least 4 out of 5 stars in shopper ratings. Most people praise the quality of the jewelry, saying it lives up perfectly to expectations, and that customer service is typically on point.
Larger selection would be nice
So why doesn't Blue Nile land higher in our rankings? It mostly comes down to selection. If you're buying a lab-grown diamond specifically for an engagement ring, you're going to love what this jewelry store offers. On the other hand, if you were hoping to have several designs of earrings to choose from - not just studs but hoops and dangles, for example - or a broad array of bracelet styles besides tennis, Blue Nile's lab-grown diamond jewelry inventory will leave you disappointed. For that, you'll need to shop elsewhere, and that keeps Blue Nile from a top rating - at least within the category of lab-created diamonds.
Brilliant Earth is one of the original jewelers that made a commitment to a more "transparent, sustainable, compassionate and inclusive jewelry industry" , so that customers would never have to choose between conscience and quality. This includes their Beyond Conflict Free diamonds (selected for being responsibly mined), their use of 100% recycled precious metals when possible, and even blockchain-enabled diamonds to track a stone's origin and ownership.
Choose among 200 ready-to-order jewelry styles
If you're looking for jewelry with man-made diamonds, you'll find just under 200 pieces to choose from at Brilliant Earth. That ranges from stud earrings priced at $225 to the Infinite Icon Choker priced at $75,000. It's easy to shop by style: just click on the images at the top of the results to show only earrings, rings, necklaces, and so forth, or use the extra filters if you have a particular metal or style in mind.
Incredible selection of loose lab-created diamonds
If you're looking for a loose lab-grown diamond to use as the foundation for an engagement ring, you can jump to the Diamonds tab and select "Search Lab Diamonds" . Brilliant Earth's selection is extraordinary, with over 170,000 stones to choose from. There are many diamonds priced under $300 that could be used as a small center stone, but you'd be more likely to use them as accents with a larger solitaire. Just how large? That's up to you, and Brilliant Earth has many lab-grown diamonds valued at over $100,000 if you're going big. At the time of this evaluation, the jeweler's most expensive man-made diamond was priced at $216,480 for a 4.52 ct round super ideal cut. Ooh la la!
Great photos and videos
Many stones allow you to view multiple photo angles or even video clips. We particularly like being able to see just how large some diamonds look against the photo of a hand for perspective. You can even move a slider to change the skin tone on that hand (now that's inclusive). Keep in mind that Brilliant Earth's design services for lab-created diamonds are limited to engagement rings; if you wanted to create earrings or a necklace, you'd have to use a mined diamond from their inventory.
Free shipping and returns plus occasional jewelry freebies
No matter what you buy from Brilliant Earth, you'll get free shipping and free returns (the company will pay the postage) within 30 days of your order delivery. We also spotted a promo offering free diamond studs valued at $300 with any purchase over $1,000; be sure to look at the top of the site when you visit to see if there are any deals.
High ratings, but areas of concern
We have mixed feelings about Brilliant Earth's reputation. The Better Business Bureau gives the jeweler an "A+" rating and accreditation, citing Brilliant Earth's 100% response rate to all 130+ complaints filed there over the last three years. And, when you look at other customer feedback around the internet, most ratings wind up averaging around 4 out of 5 stars. However, as we read through the resolved BBB complaints and client comments, we found a few areas of concern.
Gets it right... eventually
The most frequently-mentioned issue is that the jewelry (rings in particular) arrives looking different than what was pictured. Some customers described having their Brilliant Earth pieces evaluated by a local jeweler who confirmed that the jewelry didn't match the description/image and often that it was poorly made. Brilliant Earth's response has been "We'll make it again" . While this it's encouraging that they want to make their customers happy, it's unfortunate that there are quality problems in the first place. Sometimes getting a suitable replacement - or even a refund under the jeweler's 30-day policy - can take a long time.
Impressive diamonds, but room for improvement
Make no mistake - we're impressed with Brilliant Earth's commitment to conflict-free diamonds and their selection of stones. We also like to see that they seem to do whatever's needed to make their customers happy. However, their customer reviews indicate that they've been suffering some quality issues with their jewelry. If you're looking for lab-grown loose diamonds, you don't want to miss the impressive selection at Brilliant Earth. However, for pre-made jewelry pieces, there is room for improvement.
In 1924, Zales was founded in Wichita Falls, Texas with a focus not only on jewelry but also on cameras and appliances. Today, the company has grown to over 700 retail locations across North America and Puerto Rico, and also operates an online store. Zales is now owned by Signet Jewelers, which also owns several other jewelry stores that we assessed.
Excellent selection of in-stock jewelry made with lab-created diamonds
Compared with many of its rivals, Zales has a better selection of ready-to-ship jewelry made with lab-grown diamonds: in fact, they have over 400 pieces to choose from. You won't necessarily find anything bargain-priced, with only two options under $500 (a floral pendant and a curved bar necklace), but there are many beautiful necklaces, earrings, bracelets and rings for under $1,000.
Luxury priced items available
On the higher end of the spectrum, Zales offers a number of stunning engagement rings priced at $15,000 and up. Clearance-priced at "just" $30,671, the TRUE Lab-Created Diamonds by Vera Wang 4.5 ct princess cut in 14K white gold was Zales' most expensive option at the time of this review. Whatever you're looking for, the filters make it easy to see the possibilities according to jewelry type, price, metal type, new arrivals, and several other criteria.
No loose diamonds here
What's missing? The ability to shop for loose lab-grown diamonds to create something unique. Many of Zales' competitors allow you to choose a stone and work from there, so this might not be your ideal jeweler if you have dreams of designing your own piece beginning with a lab-created diamond.
Free shipping and in-store pickup options
But, if you like something in Zales' selection, you could save by signing up for their email newsletter. Watch for a popup offering $50 off your first order of $300+. Just be aware that the fine print has some exclusions, like loose stones and clearance orders. Also, we noticed that Zales was offering free shipping on every order, with no minimum purchase required - it was described as a promotional deal, but since it was there the last time we evaluated this retailer, we think it's here to stay. And, of course, if there's a Zales near you, you might be able to order your lab-grown diamond jewelry online and pick it up at your preferred store. You'll see the link to indicate which store you'd like to use on each product page.
Reputation is nothing to worry about
Considering Zales' reputation, we know that larger companies tend to have more complaints, and this applies to Zales as well. The jewelry store gets a perfect rating and accreditation from the BBB, even though there were a little over 200 complaints filed in the last 12 months. And, a majority of those described issues with in-store experiences rather than Zales' website and online purchases. Generally, customers who buy jewelry from Zales are satisfied with their purchase, and the ratio of positive feedback to negative feedback is consistent with most big businesses.
Trustworthy jewelry store
When it comes to lab-grown diamond jewelry, we'd say that Zales is "good enough" . They have more in-stock items ready for ordering today than many of the rival stores we considered, which is perfect if you just need something lovely and conflict-free for an upcoming special occasion. You won't be able to design your own jewelry though, and that might be a drawback if you don't want a piece that someone else might be spotted wearing (like an engagement ring). Overall, though, we have no concerns about Zales as a jewelry store, so go ahead and get those lab-created diamond earrings or that bracelet you've been wanting.
REEDS has been a family-owned business since 1946 and is committed to providing every customer with an exceptional jewelry-buying experience. With multiple brick-and-mortar locations in 13 states, mostly in the South and East Coast, REEDS also offers an extensive jewelry inventory through their online store.
Selection is just average
The selection of lab-created diamond jewelry and loose stones at REEDS is middle-of-the-road. There's a little something for everyone - but that kind of makes this jeweler a "jack of all trades, master of none" . Will you find loose man-made diamonds here? Yes, but we had a hard time getting the REEDS site to show us just those, even when using the filters.
A little of everything
With a total selection of just 340-ish lab-grown diamond jewelry choices, REEDS doesn't have a loose diamond inventory in the tens of thousands like some of its rivals do. On the positive side, some of those stores that specialize in loose stones don't have much to offer in ready-to-order jewelry, while REEDS gives you a couple hundred possibilities ranging from necklaces to earrings and more.
Not the easiest to use website
You may find that the REEDS online store is glitchy, like we mentioned with not being able to use the filters to see just loose lab-grown diamonds. In browsing REEDS highest- and lowest-priced items in this category, we got different results with each way we filtered and sorted. Suffice it to say that you'll probably find prices ranging from $300 for a simple pendant necklace, up to nearly $19,000 for a bridal set.
Virtual and in-person appointments are available
One plus for REEDS is that you can schedule a virtual or in-store appointment if you'd like some expert input on your lab-grown diamond jewelry purchase. We definitely recommend that if you're trying to start with a loose stone: this jeweler goes into very little detail on individual stones, unlike competitors that show you multiple angles, sometimes even videos in HD. That's also going to come in handy if you're trying to create a necklace, bracelet, earrings or ring with your loose stone; in fact, we couldn't find any way to DIY with a setting or any other customization, so you may have to reach out for input from a REEDS rep if that's what you have in mind.
People are very loyal to this jeweler
It's really too bad that REEDS doesn't offer a better shopping experience for lab-created diamonds, because the store itself has a really great reputation with customers. On Trustpilot alone, more than 10,000 people took the time to leave a five-star rating, praising the quality of the jewelry, the attentiveness of the customer service team, and the safe and timely delivery. Plus, REEDS offers free shipping on every purchase, as well as risk-free returns and exchanges within 30 days.
Terrific store, lackluster selection and site
Aw, REEDS. We so wanted to give you our highest rating, because you do such a great job of taking care of your customers. But, for people shopping for lab-created diamonds and jewelry, the selection here just doesn't quite compare with our higher-ranked stores.
With over a century of experience, Helzberg Diamonds is a jewelry store that certainly knows its stuff. With over 200 retail locations nationwide and a strong online presence, customers have a variety of options for ordering jewelry and having it delivered for in-store pickup. This is an excellent way to ensure that you get precisely what you want and keep it under wraps until the perfect occasion.
No create-your-own jewelry here
If you're looking for loose lab-grown diamonds to use in an engagement ring or to custom-design another type of jewelry, Helzberg isn't going to be the right place to shop. There are no loose stones in their inventory, and so if you select the "create your own" option, you're really just making an engagement ring by choosing a stone shape and size, the type of prongs, and so forth - all within the parameters Helzberg provides.
Lots of variety in the ready-to-order jewelry selection
On the other hand, if DIY jewelry design is not your idea of a good time and all you want is something beautiful and ready-to-ship, you might like Helzberg's selection of just over 300 lab-created diamond options from engagement rings to earrings and more. While we found one super-spendy choice here (the Light Heart Princess-Cut Solitaire 5ct in white gold for a few pennies shy of $40,000), everything else was under $16,000. For the more budget-conscious, Helzberg had a few options under $400, including a pendant knot in 10k rose gold and knotted heart stud earrings in 10k white gold, both for $249.99.
Shoppers save by buying online
Online orders at Helzberg are often eligible for savings not offered on in-store purchases. For example, at the time of our most recent visit, the site featured a discount of $200 off $999.99+ or $400 off $1,999+ with the provided code. Since the retailer provides free shipping on all orders of $99+ and there's nothing in the lab-grown diamonds category for less than that, you won't pay for delivery either. Spend a little more ($499+) and you'll get a speed upgrade to 2-day shipping. And, of course, if you're trying to keep your purchase a surprise (or protect yourself from porch pirates), you can opt for store pickup if there's a Helzberg near you.
Extended care protection offered
Your lab-created diamond jewelry might be eligible for one of Helzberg's extended care plans. Most pieces we saw offered the Lifetime option, which covers jewelry inspections, cleanings, and eligible repairs due to normal wear and tear. Just be aware that you'll have to bring your jewelry in for inspection every six months to keep your plan active - and that won't work unless you have a Helzberg brick-and-mortar location near you. You can find any available care plans on each product's page: look for the checkbox underneath the delivery options.
Having been in business for a considerable amount of time, Helzberg Diamonds' "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau came as no surprise. There were only a few complaints registered, all of which were handled professionally and with courtesy by the company's representatives. However, there was a limited amount of feedback available on their online shopping experience, and even the jewelry products themselves were seldom rated by shoppers.
Just okay when looking at lab-grown diamond options
Given all that, how could we rate Helzberg as anything other than "just average" with respect to lab-grown diamond jewelry? It's a reliable jewelry store that's been around a long time, but you're absolutely going to find more options in other places. If you're really loyal to the brand, maybe particularly fond of your local Helzberg store, it might be your top pick. But for the average customer looking for a store with lots of information and a huge inventory of lab-created diamond jewelry and loose stones, the experience at Helzberg will be missing the "wow" factor.
Kay Jewelers is one of several jewelry stores in our review that are owned by Signet Jewelers. Established in 1916, Kay has over 1,000 retail stores and is widely known for its tagline, "Every kiss begins with K(ay)," emphasizing their focus on jewelry for every love story.
Easy to shop for lab-created diamond jewelry
In order to browse Kay's selection of jewelry made with lab-grown diamonds, you can easily choose a particular type: engagement rings, earrings, bracelets, and so on: just look for those sections in the dropdowns at the top of the site. You can also start your shopping from the Lab-Created Diamonds page, which will give you some insights into the differences between natural and man-made stones, answer some of the questions you may have, and get you started with your shopping.
Selection is good
Kay's overall selection of jewelry made with lab-grown diamonds is decent. You'll choose among 130+ wedding/engagement rings, 60 necklaces, 80 sets of earrings, and about 20 bracelets. Compared with at least one of Kay's sister brands, this jewelry store has a better selection on a budget: you can get anniversary bands in yellow, rose, or white gold for just $250, several dozen necklaces for under $1,000, and so on. Even the highest-end rings don't go quite as high as Kay's jewelry store "relatives" , with prices here maxing out at "just" $39,000. There are plenty of solitaires and bridal sets in the $1,000-$5,000 range too, if that's what you're looking for.
Save when you accept emails
Signing up for Kay's email newsletter might save you $25 on your first order of $99+. However, with many exclusions in the fine print, including any Lab-Created by Kay solitaire rings, your particular purchase might not be eligible.
Lots and lots of delivery options
Kay goes to great lengths to offer you multiple ways to get your jewelry once you place your order. You'll see all of the standard shipping methods on your Checkout page, as well as the estimated arrival date based on the one you choose. But wait - there's more. If you're in a hurry, you can enter your zip code as you shop and select the location nearest you - then browse the inventory for what's in stock there and pick up your order in four hours or less. Need your diamond brought to you? Kay partners with Roadie for same-day delivery service if you're trying to hide the fact that you forgot your anniversary (again). And, naturally, you can always order online from Kay's entire inventory and pick up your jewelry in person.
30 days for returns, 60 for exchanges
Returns at Kay aren't anything particularly noteworthy. You'll have 30 days to return your purchase, and 60 days to make an exchange.
Customer feedback is inconsistent
Kay's reputation leaves room for improvement. Although Signet, Kay Jeweler's parent company, enjoys an "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, customer feedback for this store is much less enthusiastic (and much less consistent). On Trustpilot, the retailer only had a 1.9-star average across 200+ reviews; looking at other places where shoppers leave comments, Kay had a 3.5-out-of-5-stars average in one spot and a surprisingly high 4.3 in another. It seems like your purchase of lab-created diamond jewelry is going to be a gamble, affected by whether you get your purchase delivered from Kay's main inventory or from your local store - and your experience with the local store (pick-ups and returns) could be amazing or awful.
Jewelry quality is disappointing
Unfortunately, the jewelry itself gets a lot of negative feedback too. It's not easy to tell if it's referring to lab-grown diamonds when reading through complaints about jewelry quality, but it's never encouraging to read words like "nightmare" and "disappointment" as descriptions of the quality of a high-spend item like jewelry. Customers said that they got items that were obviously used, jewelry under warranty wasn't replaced or repaired appropriately, and that the jewelry they received wasn't the quality advertised on the website. Sigh.
Better choices for lab-created diamond jewelry
We give Kay's lab-grown diamond jewelry selection a slightly higher ranking than its sister company Jared: you'll get a better range of options across price points here. But, as far as reputation and attention to customer service go, there isn't much difference between the two (and that's not a good thing). While we love companies with a long-standing history, Kay's 100+ years in business don't seem to translate to the kind of buying experience you'd expect. Try our higher-ranked jewelry stores when shipping for lab-created diamonds before buying from Kay.
Signet Jewelers, the parent company of Jared, owns several brands that we reviewed in the lab-created diamond marketplace. Jared specializes in "accessible luxury jewelry" with a focus on pieces that express love and contribute to a better world. With over 200 retail locations in the US, and an online shop, Jared offers a wide range of options to choose from.
Most jewelry starts at $1,000
What kinds of jewelry options does Jared offer that use lab-created diamonds? If you can imagine buying it with natural gemstones, you will probably find it in Jared's lab-grown pieces too. On the lowest end of the price spectrum, we found a lab-created diamond necklace in 14K white gold and a total weight of 1/2 ct, clearance priced at $499.99 (down from the original retail price of $999.99). There were a handful of additional clearance items also priced under $1,000, but expect to spend at least that much at Jared.
Mostly engagement rings with a few other styles
You could also jump to the highest jewelry pieces Jared offers with lab-grown diamonds; no surprise that they're all engagement rings. If your budget can accommodate $24,000-$55,000, you'll have about six different choices here. Generally speaking, Jared's selection of lab-created diamond jewelry is heavily weighted towards rings (175+), then evenly divided among bracelets, earrings, and necklaces (about 40 of each), for a total of just over 300 choices.
Free shipping or in-store pick-up
As we browsed the Jared site most recently, we got a pop-up discount offering a savings of $25 on any purchase of $100 or more if we signed up for their emails. Other customer-friendly perks here include free second-day shipping via UPS, as long as you're buying jewelry that's in-stock and not personalized in any way - or you can opt to pick up your online order at a Jared location near you, and even get it gift-wrapped while you're there. That's also a great way to make sure your purchase doesn't mysteriously disappear during the shipping process, but rest assured that all purchases over $1,000 will require an adult signature anyway.
Standard policy for returns
Returns for lab-grown diamond jewelry bought at Jared aren't anything exceptional. The retailer gives you 30 days from your order date to return or exchange your purchase, though the latter has to be done in-store and not by mail.
Disappointing customer feedback
Unfortunately, Jared's reputation is marred by an unacceptably high number of negative reviews. On Trustpilot alone, the jeweler has an average of just 1.9 out of 5 stars, with almost 250 1-star reviews citing poor quality, missing shipments, and unfriendly customer service. While parent company Signet has an "A+" rating and accreditation from the BBB, Jared's reviews don't reflect that.
Choose a different store for lab-created diamond jewelry
The bottom line is that Jared's reliability is in question. When it comes to lab-grown diamonds (or any other jewelry, really), we recommend buying from a store with a higher rating. You may find something you like here, but it may not last as a lifetime investment.
Better yet, lab-grown diamonds are generally less expensive than natural stones of the same size and quality. And, if you've ever been concerned by the idea of "blood diamonds" , lab-grown stones are perfect for you: they don't involve the environmentally damaging (and often unethical) practices associated with natural diamond mining.
However, lab-grown diamonds have a few small drawbacks. One major concern is that they may not hold their value over time as well as natural diamonds, since they aren't as rare or unique. Additionally, some people may prefer the idea of owning a natural diamond as a symbol of their love or commitment - even if lab-created stones are undetectable as such to the average person's eye.
When you realize that some jewelers offering lab-grown diamonds have an inventory of over 100,000 stones to choose from, you might feel a little overwhelmed. Take a deep breath, try to enjoy the process a little, and use these ideas to make your shopping easier:
Shopping for jewelry made with lab-grown diamonds can be an exhilarating experience, and Top Consumer Reviews has evaluated and ranked today's most popular retailers to give you an advantage as you browse. We hope this information helps take the edge off any nervousness you might be feeling, so that you can find - or create - the perfect piece of jewelry for that proposal, anniversary, or "just because" moment.
Select any 2 Lab Grown Diamond Stores to compare them head to head
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Wed, 20 Sep 2023