James Allen Diamonds Review

James Allen Logo

You might’ve heard that a faction of Millennials raise their middle finger to diamond engagement rings today! But the old-school ones still value the timelessness of diamonds despite newer alternatives.

Smack in the middle of these two groups are Millennials who try to understand the science of sparkle so they can continue tradition without breaking the bank. This is where the new age of diamond shopping comes in. Enter: James Allen Diamonds!


James Allen

In this review, I’m going to share my shopping experience, the pros and cons, and how James Allen appeals so much to the younger gen yet still manages to attract diamond purists around the world.

Let’s start with their beginnings!


The James Allen Story – 10 Years of Yes


James Allen Founders

A decade may sound young compared to jewelers with a century under their belt. But James Allen’s 10-year existence was created by diamond and online retail connoisseurs with decades of expertise. And with the boom of millennial platforms, ten years is already legendary in the World Wide Web.

Four creative minds, Oded Edelman, James Schultz, Michele Sigler and Dean Lederman, combined their talents to create JamesAllen.com – and it soon became the largest privately held online diamond and bridal jewelry retailer in the world. Their mission: to offer consumers online the highest quality diamonds and largest selection at the best price.


A Cutting-Edge Business Model


Dropshipping

James Allen runs their business as a “modified” dropshipping model. This means that they don’t physically own the diamonds on the website. How is James Allen then able to sell these gems to you?

Well, they use the following strategy: suppliers are in near proximity to the JA New York offices, and they have photography centers in all manufacturing centers so that they can photograph and QC diamonds 24/7. It is for this reason that JA can provide 360° HD videos for all their diamonds!

Dropshipping Model

Now, once an order is placed, the diamond is sent to the James Allen office where it’s inspected by their in-house gemologist to ensure quality before being shipped to you.

James Allen also attempts to secure exclusivity agreements with their vendors so that the same diamonds on their website won’t be found on other sites. Since James Allen doesn’t have to buy all the diamonds upfront, they can offer very competitive prices!


Pricing Compared to Brick and Mortar Stores and Online Vendors


James Allen Showroom in New York

They only have to pay for website maintenance, photo and video staff, customer service, and diamond specialists. It doesn’t take much imagination to explain why a physical store that has to pay for expensive showrooms, salespeople, and diamonds in stock will require higher markups on every sale.

From my experience, offline diamonds will be approximately 30% – 70% more expensive than online diamonds with the same 4Cs. Insofar, there’s no doubt that the price offered by James Allen will be way better than the price you would get at any brick and mortar store.

Compared to other online vendors like Blue Nile, for example, James Allen isn’t really more expensive. If you take the average of all the diamond prices, they seem to be around the same. That said, I wouldn’t prefer JA over Blue Nile because of lower prices but because of the advantages below.


Inventory and Quality of Diamonds


James Allen Inventory and Quality of Diamonds

With over 150,000 diamonds of different shapes and 4Cs, it’s easy to add poor cut stones into the mix. But JA made sure that even Good Cut diamonds can still be quality diamonds if you’re on a budget. James Allen also exhibits Canada Mark Diamonds and their own signature line called True Hearts if you want to own the best of the best.

      • round cut diamond
      • princess cut diamond
      • heart shaped diamond

Apart from traditional whites, they also offer fancy-colored diamonds. Although stunning pieces, they have a limited selection. So in this case, Leibish&Co. might be a good alternative as they specialize in fancy colors. However, I would first try to browse at James Allen as Leibish&Co. doesn’t possess high definition 360° videos for their diamonds in stock.

GIA and AGS

James Allen also walks the talk as they ensure the quality of diamonds by offering grading reports from GIA and AGS – the only labs that you should trust! Choosing a well graded GIA or AGS diamond will guarantee that the stone’s quality or 4Cs namely the cut, color, clarity, and carat size, and even the monetary value will match your expectations or better yet, surpass it.


James Allen Website Experience


James Allen Website


Now, since online shops don’t have fancy showrooms, they lure you with their online presence. Their website is their exhibit, and a minimal, up-to-date website connects them easily to the Facebook generation around the world. Seen on digital giants like Forbes, Huffington Post, and The Knot, the James Allen Blog and education center are able to keep up with the age of blogging.

James Allen Technology

As for diamond shopping, their intuitive search tool makes navigation and filtering a hand’s on experience – far from the pressuring pitch of a salesperson in a brick and mortar store.

I find it way more user-friendly not to browse through lists of specifications but with real life photos of real diamonds. This way, we’re able to see at a glance if a particular diamond is worth considering. This saves a lot of time when diamond browsing!


Comparing diamonds to each other


The fact that you can see all the inclusions in every diamond makes it apparent that James Allen is not trying to hide anything. You may also compare your chosen pieces side by side by clicking the “Add to Compare” icon. Once it gets stored in the comparison folder, you’ll be able to scrutinize each stone!


360° Video Technology in Action: Finding Cheaper Eye Clean Diamonds!


James Allen Video Technology

Most online vendors don’t offer quality photos and 360° videos. And the ones who could are only able to provide for selected diamonds. In my opinion, this is not only a fancy marketing feature, but it can also contribute to making customers better diamond shoppers and in the process saving more money!

For instance, you can have a SI1 diamond that has visible inclusions, and a SI2 diamond that's eye clean. On the image on the left, you have a SI1 stone that has a visible dark inclusion under the table. Thus, the SI2 diamond on the right is the better choice even though it's one clarity grade lower:

      • 1.12 CARAT H-SI1 EXCELLENT CUT ROUND DIAMOND
      • 1.10 CARAT H-SI2 EXCELLENT CUT ROUND DIAMOND

Without actually seeing the diamond, you wouldn’t know that this SI2 diamond is the better deal! In general, we can never be sure what a diamond looks like by only basing from the grading certificate.

Sure, if the diamond is VS1 or better, it’s definitely going to be eye-clean. But from VS2 to SI2, there is no guarantee. Although, take note that this is the clarity range where you can make the best deals!


Browsing through diamonds at James Allen

Unfortunately, a lot of online vendors don’t offer enlarged pictures, and some even dare to post fake images. Buying a diamond this way is a gamble unless you're willing to spend significant amounts of money on the best clarity grades. The golden rule is: never buy a diamond blindly!


Here are Some More Perks on Browsing with James Allen’s Diamond Display Technology:


Easily Spot Diamonds with Higher Degrees of Scintillation

The Excellent/Ideal cut combined with Excellent symmetry allows for a high quality of light performance. Just have a look at the two diamonds below. They both have Excellent cut and symmetry:

      • 1.00 CARAT G-VS2 EXCELLENT CUT ROUND DIAMOND
      • 1.01 CARAT G-VS2 EXCELLENT CUT ROUND DIAMOND

The diamond on the left has a very distinct pavilion mains that are black. This will give the diamond a much better contrast and thus, the scintillation will be quite high!

The diamond on the right, however, has a weak contrast, so the scintillation is low. Also, the one on the right has black areas under the table which signifies light leakage. This makes the diamond on the left a much better option, but without HD images and videos, it’s hard to truly know!


Find Diamonds with Better Fire and Brilliance

Some diamonds exhibit much more fire or – amount of “rainbow colors” reflected from a diamond – than others. For instance, the one on the left has greater fire than the one on the right:

      • 1.01 CARAT G-VS2 EXCELLENT CUT ROUND DIAMOND FIRE

        Diamond with More Fire

      • 1.00 CARAT G-VS2 EXCELLENT CUT ROUND DIAMOND BRILLIANCE

        Diamond with More Brilliance

Well, you can't see it on these pictures. But if you click on the diamonds, you can view them from all angles. Can you see that the one on the left shows much more rainbow colors? This has to do with the diamond proportions! The left diamond maximizes fire while the right diamond maximizes brilliance.


Discover Fancy Shaped Diamonds with Good Light Performance

The high definition videos are also a great help when trying to make out certain characteristics for fancy shaped diamonds. For example, you cannot see from a grading report whether a Cushion shaped diamond has a “crushed ice” look or not.

Similarly, it’s hard to know if an oval, marquise, or pear shaped diamond is prone to exhibit a bow tie effect or not. Just like the examples below, the oval cut diamond on the left has the undesirable bow-tie effect. The diamond on the right, however, is completely fine:

      • 1.00 CARAT G-VS2 OVAL CUT DIAMOND

        Oval Cut Diamond with Bow-Tie Effect

      • 1.01 CARAT G-VS2 OVAL CUT DIAMOND

        Oval Cut Diamond Without Bow-Tie Effect

James Allen ups the game with their Designer Rings, Gemstones, Fine Jewelry, and Custom Design Engagement Rings. That’s right, you can design your own ring! After choosing the setting and the diamond shape, you will be able to view a 360° video of the complete ring:


James Allen Complete Ring

When you see the videos of different diamonds in a ring setting, you quickly realize that you can go way down in color grade to save money as ring settings tend to pick up some of the diamond’s color.

If you need inspiration for which ring setting to choose, check out James Allen’s recently purchased engagement rings. It can give you a pretty good idea of what the rings would look like when worn:

James Allen Social Media Gallery


24/7 Customer Service


James Allen Chat Function

Google can answer anything under the sun, but it’s best to ask a professional!

Although you can comment or email me your queries, I also need to sleep, so if you have an urgent question, you would need a 24/7 customer service.

I’ve tested James Allen’s “Chat Now” button that can be seen on every page.

Their staff responded within a minute and was able to provide an honest opinion on diamonds and a real-time inspection service where experts can share their screen with you.


Even if you come up with a complex question, the answer might take longer, but it will be solved. Unlike Blue Nile, you can ask the customer service staff for up to three Idealscope images for free.

They offer ASET images on select fancy shapes and Idealscope images on select rounds:

 

Idealscope and ASET images

This possibility is due to the fact that all of James Allen’s suppliers are near their New York offices. JA asks suppliers to make Idealscope images that will be sent to you within 3 to 5 business days.

Unfortunately, due to a recent policy change, it’s not possible to reserve stones anymore. This means that while you think you might have found the perfect diamond, someone else could snatch it away from you by buying it first. The only way to get a reservation is by asking for an ASET image, Idealscope image, or a gemologist inspection. Then your diamond can be reserved for up to a week.


Terms, Conditions, and Benefits


James Allen Guarantee

I’ve also found that James Allen offers a superbly risk minimizing package as far as their terms and conditions are concerned.

The shipping is ALWAYS free and fully insured. It doesn’t matter whether you order a diamond for $300 or $300,000. You get a 100 % full return if you return the item within 30 days. This way you have enough time to check out the engagement ring.

If you change your mind, you can even return the ring for free (only inside the US as you will have to pay for the return shipping outside the US).

At your local jeweler, you would hardly be able to check your ring for 30 days and return it for free. Furthermore, I think that James Allen’s conditions are ideal if you want to design your own engagement ring. You can engrave your ring for free. Although if you return it, you will have to pay $25 for re-polishing.


James Allen Engagement Ring

And if ever the ring is too big or too small, you can still resize it within 60 days for free. It’s available for all platinum, yellow gold and white gold engagement rings, as well as for all 3-Stone Rings. James Allen engagement rings also come with a lifetime warranty that covers prong tightening, repolishing rhodium plating, free cleaning, and replacement of lost side stones.


Here are All the Benefits in Short Form:



James Allen Packaging


James Allen Ring Box

The packaging is not just a pretty little bonus. It’s part of the brand and upholds the reputation of the company. Now, I’m very much aware that most online shops battle with their ring boxes.

James Allen made an impact because they also provide a jewelry box for the ring box itself. Vendors like Blue Nile secure the package with fillers and cutouts, while James Allen designed a beautiful kit to protect the hardwood ring box from bouncing or falling off during delivery.


James Allen Packaging

And not only is their packaging the most secure, it’s also the classiest. The box I received has a drawer that contains a GIA certificate, an appraisal, and other documentations.

There’s also a polishing cloth and a H&A scope since I ordered a True Hearts diamond. Given its quality and aesthetics, I can see myself using it for other jewelry aside from the JA ring I purchased.

 


So, What are the Cons?


Thinking man

If you’re like me who initially hunts for the drawbacks, this review may seem biased because of all the positive feedback. But it is so because James Allen has proven to be one of the top choices for diamond engagement rings for the techy era. They deserve it.

Of course, there are also downsides. For instance, if you are ordering from outside the US, you’ll have to pay for the return fees if you decide that you don’t want to keep the diamond. Furthermore, it’s also not possible to reserve round cut diamonds anymore. And as already mentioned, for specific fancy colored diamonds, you might find that James Allen is not offering enough choices.


The Bottomline is…


James Allen Diamonds


James Allen is the new face of online diamond shopping, period. Their prices are great, their high-tech imagery lets you know of your money’s worth, and to top it all off, they bridge the gap between a mere consumer and a gemologist by sharing meaningful, easy-to-read diamond education.

So, it’s pretty evident that James Allen is the current favorite among engagement ring shoppers today. But don’t just take my word for it, see for yourself!

Click Here to Check Out Hundreds of James Allen Customer Reviews


Should you have questions, don’t hesitate to write to me or drop a comment down below.

I’m here to help! 🙂

READ NEXT: JAMES ALLEN'S TRUE HEARTS SIGNATURE DIAMONDS


  • Editor Rating
  • Rated 5 stars
  • 100%

  • Your Diamond Teacher Sebastian
  • Reviewed by:
  • Published on:
  • Last modified: November 2, 2017

About 

Sebastian Naturski loves to write about diamonds and share his knowledge with his readers.
When he is not working on his website he is studying law at Humboldt University of Berlin.
He has taken part in several international law competitions and likes to broaden his horizons.
His other big passion are languages. He is fluent in German, English, Polish and Japanese and got basic skills in French and Spanish as well.

16 Comments

  1. Hello Sabatian,
    After reading your post. The Tolkowsky cut should be 34.5 degree crown angle and 40.75 pavillion angle. What is the acceptable tolerance ?
    If diamond has CROWN angle=35.5 and PAVILION angle =40.80 . Is this good enough ?

    • Hi Thang Tran,

      It’s within the standard cut proportions so it should be enough. Read my post on Diamond Cut to know more. 🙂

  2. great description and website! can you buy loose diamond and setting on two separate orders on James Allen in order to take advantage of new customer code as my BF and I have signed up two diff accounts?
    thank you!

    • Hi Abgile,

      According to their FAQs, it’s possible, but you might want to check first or ask their customer service about the setting-only purchase. 🙂

  3. Thanks for the great review! I totally agree with your comments.
    I have a quick question: What are your thoughts on the fluorescence of a diamond? I’ve found a few diamonds that look good but they are marked as “high fluorescence” will that affect the look of the diamond as I hear it can make the diamond look oily/cloudy.

    • Hi Trevor,

      Thanks for your feedback! No fluorescence is usually more preferred, but some see the blue glow as a unique feature in their diamond. You can actually compromise on fluorescence and diamond color. Learn more about it in my post here!

      • I am wondering if G color with strong fluors will have any negative impact on the appearance? since you’ve mention about high color from D-F and lower colors, but what about near colorless like G?
        thank you! =)

        • Hi Abgile,

          The only setback is if your diamond has a Very Strong Fluorescence as the G color doesn’t have sufficient body color to counterbalance the level of fluorescence. But check your diamond under UV light/the sun to truly know because some may still appear hazy.

  4. Have you had any experience with the actual rings/settings? A lot of the reviews I’ve read have expressed concern over the setting and stones falling out. I tend to think that may be due to the people choosing the incorrect shape for the setting but am interested in hearing your opinion. If I order from JA I plan on using for the whole thing, not just the diamond.

    • Hi Vince,

      I have seen a couple of James Allen diamond rings and there hasn’t been any issue with them. Also, no one has ever written to me regarding such issues. Diamonds are durable, but they may fall out due to accidental bumps and chipping. Settings also require routine maintenance due to wear and tear. And your right, in some cases, it’s about the wrong choice of mounting design. That’s why it’s important to know which settings will suit your diamond’s shape.

  5. Great review! I just ordered a bridal set for my wife on James Allen. Previously I was going to get it from Kay’s Jelewers but quickly realized their rings are not graded by the GIA and many of their diamonds have clarity of I1 which is not worth over $5,000. Kay also tells you the diamond is 1ct but when you look at the specifications you see the actual center stone diamond is only 1/3ct. James Allen is a perfect choice to buy diamonds from.

  6. Under the section, Easily find diamonds with higher degrees of scintillation, where you compared the 2 diamonds, left and right, your conclusion is that the one on the left is better. Considering your reasoning, and being of same color G, and VS2, AND it is bigger carat, why then is it cheaper than the one on the right? What’s missing?

    • Hi Paul,

      This is where a proper diamond education is much needed. A diamond can cost more and still be the worse choice than a cheaper diamond. In this case, the diamond on the left is significantly cheaper due to the medium blue fluorescence. Medium blue fluorescence is absolutely fine and will only be perceivable in situations with UV light and therefore, it might also be noticeable in sunlight. Still, diamonds with fluorescence come with a good discount. It is another way to maximize what you are getting in a diamond.

      If you have more questions, feel free to contact me anytime! 🙂

  7. Thanks for the thorough Review. Is there any way of knowing that James Allen will really send you the diamond they are showing in their videos?

    • Hi Jordan!
      You always have the accompanying grading report. You can always look up the GIA and AGS grading number on the internet so that you can verify all the diamond parameters. The grading number is imprinted on the girdle of the diamond.
      Furthermore, I think that James Allen is really sending you the diamonds it is showing you on the videos because any variations in terms of clarity for instance would be very easily recognizable. And it would not make any sense for James Allen to lose its reputations and have its customers send the diamonds back.

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