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In my Blue Nile review, I address the pivotal question: ‘Is Blue Nile good?’ I thoroughly assess the advantages and disadvantages of shopping with Blue Nile. This includes an examination of the cost and quality of Blue Nile’s diamonds in comparison to those offered by James Allen. Moreover, I explore the company’s background, highlighting its exclusive deals with diamond wholesalers, and critically evaluate its customer service and return policies to give potential customers a clear picture of what to expect.
- Blue Nile Pricing
- Blue Nile Lab Created Diamonds
- The Company
- The History
- Designer & Custom Items
- The Website
- The Imagery
- The Shopping Experience
- The Information on Offer
- The Choice
- The Packaging
- The Returns Policy
- Bottom Line Recommendations
Blue Nile is one the biggest and most well-known online diamond retailers, but does that automatically make you the best? There are many benefits to shopping with Blue Nile, such as free shipping, 30-day returns, jewelry insurance, and more.
This sounds great on paper but there is little evidence of backing up these selling points on the site.
Blue Nile Diamond Pricing
You cannot deny that Blue Nile is one of the least expensive online diamond retailers in the business but what you actually get for your money is open to debate.
Your average buyer will not be clued up on diamonds and not actually being able to see what they are buying will put a lot of people off. That said, they are a hugely popular company, but we wanted to find out if they were as inexpensive as they claimed to be in terms of their loose stones.
Considering the cheap and cheerful image Blue Nile has it may come as a surprise that they have comparable stones for sale with a higher price tag than James Allen. We selected the ever-popular princess diamond for our comparison.
With a 0.7 carat, Sl1 clarity, very good cut, and color l the results were unexpected. This stone sells on Blue Nile for $1,651 and on the James Allen site for $1,420. Over $200 less for a stone you can see which comes with a much better accreditation.
Blue Nile Lab Created Diamonds
If you are looking for a diamond with the same brilliance, sparkle, and beauty of mined diamonds, but at a fraction of the cost? Look no further than Blue Nile Lab Diamonds.
As a leading retailer in lab-created diamonds, Blue Nile is proud to offer diamonds that are made to the same exacting standards as mined diamonds.
Each diamond is crafted using advanced technology and processes that produce a diamond that looks, feels, and performs just like a mined diamond without the associated environmental impacts.
Why choose Blue Nile Lab Diamonds?
For starters, they are up to 70% less expensive than mined diamonds. Plus, with greater access to production facilities, Blue Nile can create larger diamonds with fewer inclusions for an even better value.
In addition, each lab diamond is certified by an independent gemological laboratory for quality assurance and to ensure it meets strict standards of optical performance, size, and weight accuracy, as well as overall quality. When you choose a Blue Nile Lab Diamond you get quality that rivals mined diamonds combined with incredible value and environmental sustainability.
Plus, you can shop confidently knowing your purchase comes backed by our 30-day money-back guarantee.
The impression that Blue Nile strives to purvey is that they go the extra mile to ensure their customers get the best possible deals. Their “Blue Nile Experience” promises that you will know what you are buying, receive lower markups, and always buy the best.
Their diamonds are accredited by two of the leading diamond grading labs in the country; GIA and AGSL.
Blue Nile proudly boasts that all their stones are conflict-free and come from ethical sources, carry certificates of authenticity, and will match the price if you find a comparable GIA diamond selling for less.
Blue Nile also has a number of jewelry stores located all over the world – if you’re purchasing an Astor Diamond you can even arrange to view them in person, however, this feature is not available for the rest of their virtual diamonds.
Mark Vadon founded Bluenile.com in 1999 after struggling to find an engagement ring for his girlfriend due to the lack of choice available. Mr Vadon believed that diamonds were a commodity and that by learning as much about them as he would then be able to source them and sell them.
He chanced upon an online site called internetdiamonds.com and contacted the owner. They formed a partnership and Vadon championed his idea around the venture capital network. The rest is a very successful, history that continues to go from strength to strength.
Today Blue Nile is owned by the Signet Group. The acquisition marked a significant move for Signet, further solidifying its position in the jewelry market. With Blue Nile’s strong online presence and Signet’s extensive retail experience, the merger has the potential to create a powerful synergy in the jewelry industry, offering consumers a blend of online convenience and in-store expertise. This partnership underscores the evolving landscape of the jewelry retail sector, where digital and physical retail channels are increasingly intertwined. Signet owns Kay Jewelers, Zales, Jared, Banter by Piercing Pagoda, Diamonds Direct, James Allen, Rocksbox, Peoples Jewellers, H.Samuel and Ernest Jones.
Blue Nile is known for signing exclusive agreements with several diamond wholesalers across the globe. These agreements stipulate that the wholesalers cannot list their stones on any of the other online retail sites, thus giving Blue Nile exclusivity to these diamonds.
There are pros and cons to this as yes you are getting an exclusive stone but on the other hand, you cannot compare the price Blue Nile is charging with any other retailer.
Blue Nile has replaced their Signature Collection with Astor by Blue Nile. The Signature Collection was graded by the GIA and AGS. The Astor collection seems to have taken a step backward and is only graded by the GIA and then GemEx. I’ve explained the pros and cons of the Astor Collection in a separate review along with my concerns about GemEx.
Designer & Custom Items
Every online retailer knows that their reputation is boosted instantly by being chosen as an outlet by specialist designers. In Blue Nile’s case, 3 top jewelry designers have chosen the Blue Nile website to purvey their wares; Colin Cowie, Monique Lhuillier, and Zac Posen.
Each is renowned for their beautiful and unique bridal jewelry, finding all 3 in one place is quite something. They each bring something different to the table in terms of design and elegance but all have one thing in common; inspired design skills when it comes to their settings.
What I will say is that Whiteflash does have a more comprehensive collection of designer engagement rings, so if you’re looking for a designer I would take a look at them as well.
Having tried the ‘build your own ring‘ feature on other sites I was keen to give Blue Nile’s a whirl. Verdict: unimpressed. All the standard bits are there: start with stone or setting, shape, clarity, etc except you don’t actually SEE the stone you are buying.
There are generic pictures of, for example, a round diamond down the left-hand side then you are told their carat, cut, color, and clarity, and choose one. It says there are 152,323 diamonds available yet I can’t view any of them. Certainly not what I was expecting of a company of Blue Nile’s caliber.
Highest Possible Quality
We have to take their word for it that we are buying the best quality possible as I quickly discovered that it wasn’t only in the build your own ring department that you don’t actually see the stone you are buying.
Maybe I’m being a tad unfair as they do come with their authenticity certificates but, personally speaking, all the diamond certificates in the world don’t mean anything to me if I can’t see them before I buy – especially if the diamonds are lacking in light performance images..
A great first impression. The homepage is clean, crisp, and very visually pleasing. The diamonds positively dazzle from their top quality images and you cannot wait to dig deeper and see them up close.
Click on the engagement ring tab and you get the customary selection. We chose solitaires and took full advantage of the 360° viewer to see the rings from every angle.
This isn’t as smooth as many other sites but at least they have it and it gives prospective buyers the chance to see more of the setting than you would from a straight-on shot.
Just as I was beginning to warm up to Blue Nile, they presented me with a surprise. I was eager to see how the ring I was eyeing would look on a hand, so I clicked on the image below.
Did my diamond shimmer against the delicate backdrop of a hand?
To my delight, it did! Gone are the days of sketches. Now, Blue Nile showcases their rings on realistic renders of hands. The on-hand shots are detailed and lifelike, giving a much better representation of how the jewelry might look in real life. Additionally, the 360° render allows for a comprehensive view of the ring from every angle. It’s evident they’ve channeled some of their vast resources into enhancing their product visuals, and it’s paid off.
The Contact Us options of telephone, email, and live chat still prominently feature on every page, but with these improvements, I found less reason to reach out in frustration.
As a visitor to this site, I had high expectations. While the site remains easy to navigate and informative, the enhanced visuals elevate the overall experience. The previous reliance on drawings has been replaced with high-quality renders, making the education section more engaging.
I no longer feel the presence of a frustrated artist who once seemed to dominate Blue Nile’s visuals. And while there’s still no FAQ section, the improved imagery makes up for it to some extent.
Choosing a ring to add to my cart was my next step. I soon realized that while the rings are beautifully rendered, the price tag often reflects the setting, requiring an additional selection for the stone.
Navigating back to the build-your-own section, I noticed that for designer settings, a call is still required. The message reads, “The item you’ve selected is exceptional and deserves special attention. Please phone a diamond and jewelry expert, and they will help you complete your order.”
Once I figured out how to pair the stone with the setting, the checkout process was a breeze. Quick, straightforward, and without any hitches, I was left feeling satisfied and ready to celebrate with a refreshing drink.
While previously, I asked, “Where are the images?”, Blue Nile has now introduced 360-degree videos for viewing diamonds. Although there aren’t traditional static images, you can pause these videos at any point to closely inspect the inclusions on the diamond. The quality of what is presented is commendable, even if it feels sparse. It’s understandable that photographing hundreds of thousands of diamonds is a monumental task, and given their significant sales revenue, perhaps they’ve found it unnecessary to provide static images.
The rings showcased are undeniably stunning, proving that the concept of “eye clean” hasn’t been overlooked. Since Blue Nile primarily uploads data about diamonds from their vendors, presenting them as their own, it’s evident that most of these diamonds are “virtual”. This is likely the primary reason for the scarcity of images. Given that these diamonds are sourced from various locations worldwide, it’s plausible that Blue Nile rarely, if ever, physically handles these stones. To address this, they’ve introduced a system that could be likened to “blind buying”. However, alongside the 360-degree videos, they also provide certification and essential details about each diamond. For those interested in the nuances of diamond buying, there’s more to learn about the significance of light performance images when making a purchase.
The Shopping Experience
I don’t actually know how to answer this, to be honest as shopping nightmare may be more appropriate.
I can only hope that the diamonds they sell have more clarity than their website but considering you only see a tiny picture of them I won’t hold my breath. I am used to dealing with top companies who offer outstanding shopping experiences right across the board.
I am not knocking Blue Nile’s products per se but the user experience their e-commerce site delivers is abysmal at best.
The Information on Offer
The information given on the Blue Nile website is certainly comprehensive and there’s an awful lot of it. A trip to the education section is recommended before anything else as to a rookie having to choose between sl1 and vs2 clarity will mean nothing.
This does, however, make your trip to the Blue Nile site a lengthy one if you aren’t at least a little clued up already on diamonds. Some of the information is great, some completely unnecessary and some written as if everyone is a diamond expert. A good section which could have been great.
I was thoroughly impressed with the selection of diamonds and the settings available.
The website was easy to navigate and the selection was vast. I was able to narrow down my search to the exact diamond and setting that I wanted based on the detailed descriptions provided.
What was lacking however was very high-quality cut diamonds.
A bog standard ring box you would receive from any high street jeweler is the packaging of choice for that ring you have just spent several months’ salary on. It does the job but there is nothing special about the packaging.
A ring box needs to purvey the quality of the ring it contains, hence the fact so many wily proposers in the past have forked out for an expensive box to house a much cheaper ring. A Blue Nile box does not scream style and elegance and needs an upgrade to match the cost of its contents.
Blue Nile Returns Policy
Blue Nile’s return policy allows customers to return any item within 30 days of purchase for a full refund or exchange. They also offer a one-year warranty on all new items and a free lifetime warranty on diamond jewelry.
Customers must ensure that their items are in original condition and include all original documents, packaging, and accessories for a successful return. Rather than bore you with any more details you can read the criteria for yourself here.
Blue Nile, as one of the most recognized names in the online diamond retail industry, certainly brings a lot to the table. Their vast selection, exclusive deals with diamond wholesalers, and the promise of conflict-free diamonds from ethical sources are commendable. The introduction of 360° imagery is a step in the right direction, providing potential buyers with a more immersive view of their desired products.
However, the shopping experience on their platform leaves much to be desired. The lack of high-quality images for a significant portion of their inventory, combined with the absence of light-performance images and HD videos, can be a deterrent for many. While the company offers a wealth of information, some of it can be overwhelming for the average buyer, and the presentation could benefit from a more user-friendly approach.
In comparison to other online retailers like Whiteflash and James Allen, Blue Nile has its strengths but also areas that need improvement. The company’s history, its merger with the Signet Group, and its exclusive collections showcase its potential and commitment to the industry. However, for a truly informed decision, potential buyers should consider all available options and perhaps seek independent advice.
Blue Nile Review
Name: Blue Nile
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