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Blue Nile vs Szul

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BLUE NILE

As Forbes magazine's "Favorite Online Jeweler", it should come as no surprise that Blue Nile also continues to come in first place as the best jewelry store on the internet - particularly for shoppers looking for engagement rings, diamonds in general, and fine jewelry overall. Blue Nile has an unmatched reputation for quality, attention to detail, best-in-industry pricing, and an exceptional level of customer service to nearly two million customers since its start in 1999.

Compared with other jewelry stores - both online jewelry stores and traditional brick-and-mortar jewelers - Blue Nile's selection is mind-blowing. In their one Seattle-area warehouse, they carry as much inventory as you'd find in almost 200 individual stores combined. And, within that same location, world-class jewelers and gemologists also craft customer-designed pieces; you can even see some of the most recently-created jewelry featured on Blue Nile's main page.

Shopping Blue Nile's website couldn't be any easier. You can click directly to the pages that feature Diamonds, Engagement Rings, Wedding Rings and related gifts, Jewelry, or Gifts through the links at the top of the page. Within each of those categories, you'll also find dropdowns that include diamond shapes, types of jewelry (necklaces, bracelets, and so forth), and more specific examples of what Blue Nile has to offer. You can also have some fun with the Build Your Own Ring feature, where you have the option to start with a diamond or with a setting.

Across more than a dozen jewelry stores we surveyed, Blue Nile consistently had the lowest prices while still maintaining very high standards of quality:

  • Diamonds: every loose diamond comes with a grading report from the GIA, an independent diamond grading lab that is well-known for consistency and strict grading standards.
  • Diamond Jewelry: all diamonds set in Blue Nile pieces must be colorless to near colorless (D-I color grade) and have exceptional clarity (FL-I1 grade).
  • Pearl Jewelry: although there are no industry-standard grading scales for pearls, Blue Nile makes sure that each one is of excellent quality.
  • Platinum Jewelry: all platinum used by Blue Nile is 95% pure.

Blue Nile offers free shipping, free returns within 30 days of purchase, and a guarantee that they'll match the price of any comparable diamond you may find at another store.

Blue Nile also excels with respect to customer education about jewelry. You can easily learn about the 4 Cs of diamonds, how to choose a diamond, even how the stone's shape affects its price. You'll find those articles both in the dropdown boxes at the top of the page as well as on the site's homepage. Or, just click on the handy Education tab towards the upper right corner.

Not sure if your order went through? Have a middle-of-the-night question about what type of diamond would be best for your bride-to-be? Blue Nile may be the only jewelry store of this caliber to offer 24/7/365 live customer service. You can access live chat or their toll-free number at the top left corner of the site.

Blue Nile sets the bar very high, not just as the largest seller of engagement rings in America but across all types of fine jewelry. Along with their world-class selection of diamonds, and pricing that invariably beats the competition, Blue Nile continues to earn our highest rating as the best jewelry store.

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SZUL

Szul is an online-only jewelry store with offices located in the heart of the Diamond District in New York City. This allows them to offer lower prices compared with traditional brick-and-mortar stores while still getting high-quality gemstones, rings, bracelets, and other jewelry for their customers.

This retailer has a decent selection ranging from earrings, necklaces and bracelets to engagement rings, wedding sets, and anniversary rings. Their inventory comes up a little short when it comes to men; there were no watches, cufflinks, or even bracelets/necklaces geared towards that market, only gold wedding bands and diamond rings.

If you are in search of the perfect engagement ring, Szul can help. You can start by browsing through nearly 1,000 designs - or, if you want something truly unique, you can create your own by choosing the exact diamond, ring setting and style. Szul has an inventory of thousands of GIA- and EGL-certified diamonds. Use the streamlined search tool to select the ideal diamond by shape, price range, size, even color/clarity/cut grades. Alternately, you can start by choosing the setting - yellow gold, white gold, or platinum, and classic, side stone or bridal set style - and then select a diamond to match.

Not looking for a wedding ring? No problem - Szul also offers traditional jewelry like gold hoop earrings and pearl pendants. Use the drop-down options at the top of the page to find the category you're thinking of, and then sort the available choices using the filtering tools on the side of the page. Overall, we found Szul's pricing to be competitive with other online jewelry stores'.

Would you like to save money? (Who wouldn't!) We got a pop-up offering a 10% discount if we entered our email address; this discount did not apply to any purchases of Certified Loose Diamonds. Szul also stays affordable by offering free ground shipping on every purchase, along with free gift packaging.

If, for any reason, you are unhappy with your Szul purchase, you can return your item within 30 days of purchase; be aware that unless you obtain a Return Merchandise Authorization number and write it on your return label, you may be subject to a restocking fee. Certified Loose Diamonds have to be returned within 15 days of delivery and with the original grading certificate as well; otherwise, you'll be on the hook for a certification replacement fee of up to $500.

Szul customers are usually happy with what they purchase and with the overall shopping experience. And, an "A+" rating with the Better Business Bureau shows that this jewelry store is doing an excellent job of meeting customer expectations and resolving any issues. But, we did find several reviews that complained that the items received weren't accurately represented by the photos on the Szul website, that packaging was sometimes subpar, and that some items lost stones within a few months of being worn. Considering that Szul's wear-and-tear repair guarantee only extends 60 days past the purchase date, that could be a problem for some shoppers.

One other slight issue we encountered that was also an issue mentioned in customer reviews came up during payment. When we created our new customer account, rather than signing in using our PayPal account, it seemed that we no longer had the option to pay using PayPal. We had to use a credit card instead. Because PayPal often offers incentives for paying using their service, those might be lost if you don't use your PayPal information to sign up for your Szul account.

Overall, however, Szul has a good reputation, an impressive supply of diamonds and ring settings, and enough other types of jewelry to keep the average shopper happy.

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Best Jewelry Stores

To help you find the Best Jewelry Stores, TopConsumerReviews.com provides you with an in-depth comparison of Blue Nile and Szul.

What's the best Jewelry Store? Every year, almost 40 million people shop online for jewelry - and with good reason! Why stand in line for over an hour during a peak season like Valentine's Day or Mother's Day, hoping that there might be something she'd like, when you can shop any time of day (or night) and get the world's best selection while sitting in your living room?

Today's best online jewelry stores make it almost unthinkable to shop at a local store. The lack of overhead with online jewelry means that they can bring you prices as much as 50% lower than what you'd find elsewhere. When you add in free shipping, extended return periods, and the same certifications and guarantees you get from a local jeweler, and it's easy to see why it makes sense to buy jewelry from an online store.

Of course, not every jewelry store is the same. Some specialize in "fashion" or "costume" jewelry; if you're looking for an inexpensive piece just to add some sparkle to a fun evening, or maybe an imitation item that won't break your heart if it gets lost, this type of jewelry might be perfect. Those stores are less likely to sell luxury, high-priced jewelry with precious metals and gemstones, however - so you may need to select a store that specializes in heirloom-quality craftsmanship and materials.

As you begin your search for the ideal online jewelry store, what should you keep in mind? Here are several criteria that can help you make your decision:

  • Selection. What does the store carry? Is it a limited range of rings, necklaces and earrings, or do they have options for men and children too?
  • Prices. How does the jewelry store measure up to the competition? Do they offer free shipping, pop-up discount offers, or any other promotions?
  • Quality. What do customers say about the jewelry they've purchased? Does it last, or have stones fallen out after a few wears? Are items marked as "diamond" authentic, or are they synthetic stones?
  • Return Policy. If you don't like the necklace, ring, or watch after you've received it, can it be returned? Will you have to pay a restocking fee?
  • Reputation. Are customers generally happy with their experience, both with the jewelry they received and with the customer service department if help was needed? Is the company easy to reach if there's a problem? Does the store have a rating with the BBB?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best jewelry stores available today. Whether you're shopping for an engagement ring, a necklace for your significant other, or just a new bit of sparkle to add to your collection, we hope these reviews will help you find the right piece of jewelry at the right price!



What You Should Look For When Buying a Diamond

A lot of people have this question. Buying a diamond is a commitment, so it's understandable that you'd want to educate yourself thoroughly before taking the plunge. Even so, this goes beyond picking the right jewelry store or knowing what kind of setting you'd like. What you should look for when buying a diamond directly relates to the four C's.

What Are the Four C's?

The four C's stands for carat, color, clarity, and cut. These are the main principles on which you should base your diamond purchasing decision. These attributes and their grading scales were developed by the Gemological Institute of America.

  • Carat
    The carat of a diamond is another term for weight. As an example, a 1-carat diamond weighs 200 milligrams. The weight of diamond you select depends on your budget and your preferences. A single large stone will cost more than several small ones. Still, the small ones could be of excellent quality.
  • Color
    The color of a diamond rates its color from white to yellow or brown. The whiter the diamond, the more valuable and the more beautiful. The grading system ranges from D (for white--very rare) to Z (brown). The closer to the letter "D" the color is graded, the more valuable the diamond will be.
  • Clarity
    The clarity of a diamond refers to how flawless it is. Flaws include pits, dips, cracks, scratches, and air bubbles. The grading system here ranges from F to I3. F stands for flawless, the rarest of diamonds. VVS stands for very, very slightly included. VS stands for very slightly included. S stands for slightly included. And finally, I stands for included. A diamond in the VVS-S range will be very attractive to the naked eye.
  • Cut
    The cut of a diamond refers to how it was cut by a jeweler. This is related to its shape, but does not refer directly to it. How a diamond is cut will effect how much light it reflects. The more precisely and symmetrically a diamond is cut, the more light it will reflect and the more shine and sparkle it will have. The highest cut grade is "Ideal".

Other Factors
When determining what you should look for when buying a diamond, of course you need to pay attention to the four C's. Still, you also need to think about the shape of diamond you would want. They come in several styles with Round Brilliant being the most common. Other shapes include Princess, Emerald, and Oval.

Also consider where you're buying the diamond from. Not just any jewelry store will do. They are all unique and it's very easy to get ripped off if you don't know what you're looking for. A jewelry store should be GIA certified and it should have a good reputation with the BBB. Remember to look into these things because diamonds are expensive. Do your due diligence, just as you would with any other major purchase.

 



Jewelry In The News

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