Blue Nile Diamonds Review
In 1999, one of the first “legitimate” Internet diamond retailers came online. Up until that point, buying diamonds on the internet was very risky indeed. That retailer, Blue Nile, change the way diamond buying would occur from that point forward…
Several years ago, we ran a contest between Blue Nile and James Allen here at Jewelers.NYC. At the time James Allen outperformed Blue Nile because of two primary factors. 1) James Allen’s 3D, high-definition, 20X rotating diamond imaging, and 2) its A+ Better Business Bureau Rating. Blue Nile used stock images that represented the diamond being purchased. We surmised at the time that Blue Nile thought that if they showed a diamond grading report that summarized the color, cut, clarity, carat weight, fluorescence and symmetry as well as the shape, then nothing else mattered (many diamond industry professionals do in fact buy and sell diamonds based on the diamond grading report alone). While this may or may not be true depending on your philosophy, most people still want to see the diamond they will ultimately end up purchasing. Another element that we were not thrilled with was Blue Nile’s Better Business Bureau rating. At the time, Blue Nile had a BBB rating of A, not A+. While the difference may seem insignificant, (After all Amazon.com is rated “B” by the Better Business Bureau!) an “A” rating means that the company had some unanswered complaints. This was problematic for us, especially when compared to James Allen’s “A+” rating. That was then, this is now
Blue Nile’s Reputation
Blue Nile Diamond’s reputation has improved significantly. It now offers rotating 3D, High Definition, 20X magnification, exact diamond viewing on many of the diamonds in its inventory. Further, the A+ Better Business Bureau rating that Blue Nile now possesses, as well as its “raving fan” base has firmly placed Blue Nile in the running as one of the top online diamond dealers that we recommend here at Jewelers.NYC.
The Ultimate Disruptor Model – Amazon, GEICO, Priceline and Blue Nile
if you read our review on Kay Jewelers, we make the statement that Kay is not overpriced, it’s just that players such as James Allen, Brian Gavin and Blue Nile are underpriced… What do we mean by that? Well, traditional brick-and-mortar diamond stores need to pay for storefront rents, salespeople, inventory, and a host of other costs that are not applicable to an online business. The difference in the cost to the buyer is often 50% to 75% or more in many cases. Are Blue Nile diamonds worse than Kay Jewelers diamonds? Nope. In fact, both Kay and Blue Nile offer GIA graded stones that memorialize the true quality of the diamond under consideration. GIA does not have a special “online diamond grade” that is worse than the brick and mortar store grade… If they did, their reputation as one of the world’s best and most accurate diamond grading labs would be “shot to smithereens!”
Blue Nile’s business model is called a disruptor model, which is a buzz-term of the 21st century. It means they run a business that transfers part of the work onto the customer, and in return the customer pays a lower price. Amazon.com does this when you buy a book from them. You no longer get to feel the book, flip the pages, smell the ink, or compare the book to others in the same category on the bookshelf. GEICO does it by taking out the agent and “saving you a ton of money on car insurance.” Priceline does it by taking away your ability to choose the exact hotel you want (while maintaining the same quality through a five, four or three- star rating system), instead they search the zip code in which you want your booking, and they give the business to whoever will give you the best deal. Finally, and most importantly, Blue Nile does it by removing the cost of the rent, salespeople, and inventory (most of Blue Nile’s diamonds are purchased on consignment, meaning Blue Nile buys the diamond from the wholesaler a split second after you buy the diamond from Blue Nile). This all translates into far lower overhead costs for the same quality diamond. What you give up is the ability to hold the diamond in your hand before buying it…
How about Selection?
If you go on to Blue Nile right now and choose round diamonds as an option, there are approximately 225,000 diamonds for sale. They range from $306 to $2.8 million. This means there’s a very good chance that Blue Nile will have the exact diamond that you are looking for, as long as you know what you are looking for (if not, read our four articles on color, cut, clarity and carat weight). The challenge at Blue Nile is not having enough inventory to choose from, but rather having too much!
While we’re not a big fan of navy blue, the Blue Nile packaging is nice and high quality. Each diamond jewelry piece comes in an attractive navy-blue box with the discrete Blue Nile logo embossed on the outside and emblazoned on the inside. Most jewelry givers would be proud to use it to give the engagement ring, necklace, bracelet, or whatever the jewelry piece is to the recipient.
Blue Nile Engagement Rings and Settings
In our review of Tiffany & Co., we say that their customers buy Tiffany jewelry for the setting, not the diamond. This is because Tiffany has some amazing designs for its jewelry that other jewelers have tried to copy for over 100 years. While Blue Nile is not Tiffany in its jewelry designs, it can stand side-by-side against almost any well-respected diamond store retailer and deliver a terrific result. They offer over 300 different settings for engagement rings alone. Add to that Blue Nile’s selection of bracelets, earrings, pendants, cocktail rings and other jewelry, and you have a formidable provider of jewelry for the piece under consideration.
Blue Nile Discounts
Blue Nile often runs sales on non-engagement ring jewelry. It’s a little more-rare for Blue Nile to offer a discount on wedding rings, but it does happen from time to time, depending on the time of year. To see the store’s current discount and coupon offerings click here.
Blue Nile offers a 30-day money-back return policy. This is about as good as it gets in the diamond trade, and it is better than one or two other players who only offer 14-days. What this means however, is that the clock starts ticking the minute you receive the diamond, so if you’re going to pop the question on vacation two months from now, our recommendation is to wait until right before you leave to buy the engagement ring.
Buying Diamonds from Blue Nile – Price, Price and Price
This is where the rubber meets the road at Blue Nile. We’ve done the hard work for you so all you need to do is look at the side-by-side comparison with Kay Jewelers (as a reference point) to know how much you would actually save.
First, we started with the Identical “4C’s” on diamonds available at both of the stores (fortunately Kay has online pricing available). For this exercise, we chose a nearly perfect, one carat diamond with the following attributes:
- Color: both D (i.e. the best)
- Clarity: both Internally Flawless (IF) (i.e. 1 away from the best)
- Cut: both Excellent/Ideal (i.e. the best)
- Carat weight: both 1.02 carats
- Polish: both Excellent
- Symmetry: both Excellent
- Florescence: both None
- Grading lab: both the Gemological Institute of America (GIA)
- Price Kay Jewelers: $25,500
- Price Blue Nile: $14,759
- Price Difference: $10,741
Kay Jewelers is 72% more expensive than Blue Nile for nearly the exact same diamond…
One of the aspects about Blue Nile that we absolutely love is their ability to take complicated “diamond terms,” and explain them to the reader in plain English. This is quite refreshing because frankly, the diamond trade is filled with words and terms that are both ambiguous, and misleading. Blue Nile eliminates all of this and calls it like it is. If you read our book: Buying a Diamond Online is Easy (Amazon, $6.49 (Kindle), you’ll find that this is one of the key attributes that we like most about Blue Nile.
The bottom line is this, Blue Nile’s diamond site is intuitive and helps an educated customer choose a great diamond at a significantly reduced price. We like Blue Nile diamonds and believe that the company has done a lot of work to improve its already good standing, making it one of the great players in the online diamond industry.
One Click Price Compare – See Blue Nile in Action