Blue Nile is a major player in the online diamond business and in fact it was even the first one to start selling diamonds online! It has been around ever since 1999 and is a Seattle based publicly traded company. Nowadays it is boasting the largest online assortment of diamonds with a staggering number of 270.000 diamonds to choose from! Their slogan is “The Source of Brilliance”!
Read my in-depth Blue Nile diamonds review to find out why Blue Nile is not the source of brilliance anymore though when it comes to buying diamonds online!
Blue Nile runs its store as a pure dropshipping business like most online diamond vendors. This means that Blue Nile does not possess any of the diamonds listed on its website. And in fact, this is also the reason why Blue Nile is able to list so many diamonds on its website.
Once you have chosen a diamond and a ring setting, the diamond supplier will ship the diamond to the ring setting contractor. There your diamond will be mounted and directly be shipped to you!
This model is advantageous insofar as the prices are comparably cheap. However, this also means that your diamond and ring will not be reviewed by any Blue Nile staff before shipment. Basically, only the diamond supplier and the ring setting contractor will get to see the diamond before you receive it! These typically don’t have any incentive to review their product in an unfavourable way. Thus, you cannot expect any objective review from Blue Nile’s staff that is going to tell you that for some reason they would rather recommend you to buy another diamond. And this is fine as long as you know about it.
Inventory of diamonds
To put it upfront: Blue Nile offers every kind of diamond! Superb diamonds and utterly lousy diamonds! That is no surprise considering that Blue Nile is offering altogether around 270.000 diamonds! All diamonds are GIA or AGS certified! This means that Blue Nile only offers diamonds graded by reliable grading labs. Thus, you don’t need to worry about ending up with an inferior diamond. As previously mentioned, Blue Nile possesses the largest diamond assortment that you can find online!
Blue Nile has all of the 10 most popular diamond shapes in its inventory. Moreover it also offers over 1000 fancy colored diamonds. These are usually rare and hard to find. All of Blue Nile’s fancy colored diamonds are natural fancy colored diamonds so that you won’t have to worry about getting a treated diamond.
The amount of diamonds to choose from is therefore huge! In general a wide array of options to choose from is a great thing. In Blue Nile’s case the amount of available options can become paralyzing though, especially if you are browsing very popular diamond shapes like the round cut diamond. It can become very hard to compare one diamond to another diamond.
Usability of Blue Nile
Now, it might seem a little bit strange that I am criticizing the large amount of diamonds that you can choose from. You would actually think that this is a very positive thing! However, in my opinion that issue becomes especially pronounced with Blue Nile because you cannot even really see the diamonds you are browsing:
You see, this is the way you browse through diamonds at Blue Nile! You don’t actually have any clue what your diamond looks like in actuality! If you click on a diamond, a random sample picture pops up that does not have anything to do with the real diamond. You can then access the GIA or AGS grading report. Such a grading report will provide all the technical details of a diamond but it won't tell you anything about the actual look either:
It is different with Blue Nile’s signature ideal diamonds, however. These are diamonds that match certain quality criteria set out by Blue Nile and which are therefore called signature ideal diamonds. There are over 2.000 signature ideal diamonds within Blue Nile on offer. You can specifically filter for these diamonds within the Blue Nile filter function:
If you click on any of these signature diamonds you also get to have a grading report by the GCAL grading lab. Before getting to know the Blue Nile signature ideal diamonds I have never heard of GCAL, however. What I mean by that is that GCAL is certainly not a reputable grading lab.
I will discuss the Blue Nile signature diamonds in depth in a moment but for the moment being I just want to mention the fact that the GCAL report contains two pictures of the actual diamond: one crown view picture and a pavilion view picture.
Thus it is possible to view actual pictures of all Blue Nile signature diamonds! This sounds good and in fact it is better to have these two pictures than no pictures at all! However, both pictures are very small and static. It is very difficult to make out any inclusions just based on these two pictures!
Other companies such as James Allen or Whiteflash are doing a way better job of providing high definition 360 ° videos of ALL their diamonds and also provide additional light performance data of their diamonds:
And this is the main problem with Blue Nile. You don’t get to see any diamond pictures and thus, you won’t be able to make out whether your diamond has any inclusions or not. And if you choose a Blue Nile signature ideal diamond with the tiny pictures provided by GCAL lab, it will still be a gamble to guess whether this particular diamond will be eye clean or not! Thus, in order to make sure that your diamond is eye-clean you cannot take any clarity grades worse than VS1. This means that you will have to pay more money!
Furthermore, having no pictures of the actual diamond is especially inconvenient for fancy shaped diamonds. Fancy shaped diamonds badly require a picture of the diamond because the grading report of an oval, pear or marquise shaped diamond will not tell you anything about whether the diamond will exhibit a bow tie effect or not!
On the next page I will examine the Blue Nile signature ideal diamonds more in depth.