Updated December 5, 2019

Blue Nile Review: Really Good Place to Buy a Ring?

Read more about Blue Nile
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Blue Nile offers diamonds up to 40% lower, but are they good? Our review tells you what you need to know about this large online jewelry retailer.

Blue Nile Promo Code

Overall Score

4.4

Price

5.0

Selection

5.0

Customer Service

3.5

Data

4.0
5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • Largest selection of diamonds online
  • Low price guarantee
  • Limited setting choices

Bottom Line

Good online diamond retailer with large selection and low prices

Thinking of an Engagement Ring?

Buying an engagement ring can be daunting. It can be especially terrifying if you have no clue about women's jewelry, don't have deep pockets, or you're worried you'll be judged the minute you walk in the jewelry store.

Going online to buy the ring can be quite a pleasant experience. It gives you a chance to design one in peace, from the comfort of your home. And you can also save a lot of money.

If you've considered this, you've probably heard of Blue Nile.

Blue Nile is the largest online diamond retailer, offering pricing of up to 40% lower than traditional stores. Is it good enough for your future spouse and your hard earned money?

Read on for our in-depth Blue Nile review.

Shortcut: If you value a large selection, lowest prices, and free shipping/returns, compare Blue Nile here. All their diamonds are certified and graded under the highest standards by reputable labs.

Who Blue Nile is Best For

Blue Nile is a good choice for those:

  • Looking for the lowest price on a diamond. Blue Nile's prices are very competitive. It even has a Price Match Guarantee (keep reading to learn about it).

  • With a specific budget. Blue Nile has a huge inventory of diamonds, so you have more choices in your price range with your preferred characteristics.

  • Shopping for other fine jewelry. Blue Nile has a big collection of other fine jewelry with diamonds, gemstones, and pearls. You can even design your own diamond jewelry.

    Counterpoint: If you're looking for a gemstone engagement ring, consider James Allen instead. It allows you to design a ring with a loose gemstone and setting of your choice.

Read on. In this Blue Nile review, you'll find:

Overview: What Is Blue Nile?

There's no denying it that Blue Nile is a mega online diamond giant. Back in 2004, Forbes reported that Blue Nile sold as many engagement rings in the U.S. as Tiffany and Co., and it's only continued to grow since then.

  • Large online inventory of diamonds: Blue Nile has over 140,000 loose diamonds listed. Prices range from just a couple hundred bucks for a tiny, 1/4 carat stone to over 20-carat monster rocks.

    Blue Nile gets this large inventory from signing exclusive contracts with diamond wholesalers all over the world.

  • Price match guarantee: Blue Nile also guarantees to have the lowest diamond prices. In fact, if you see another comparable certified stone for less, Blue Nile will match the price.

  • Conflict-free sourcing: All of Blue Nile's diamonds come from conflict-free sources. The company subscribes to the Kimberley Process, an international method for tracking diamonds from the mine to the market, to ensure the authenticity of the diamond.

We'll examine the pros and cons below. But first, let's highlight the current Blue Nile coupons and promotions.

Blue Nile Coupons 2019

History of Blue Nile

Blue Nile's principle is simple: diamond shopping should be easy.

Frustrated with a bad in-person shopping experience, founder Mark Vadon turned to the web and purchased an engagement ring from internetdiamonds.com.

A year later in 1999, Vadon had raised the funds necessary to purchase the small company. The name was changed to Blue Nile, and boom! - a diamond giant was borne.

Vadon parted ways with Blue Nile in 2013, but the company has shown no signs of slowing down. Blue Nile has since expanded into non-engagement jewelry by offering pearls, gemstones, and precious metal jewelry.

Blue Nile aims to provide a smooth online diamond shopping experience. It educates customers about diamonds so that they can shop from the comfort of their home. This was rare back in the day. Because of this, Blue Nile has repeatedly won the prestigious Bizrate Circle of Excellence Platinum Award.

Products Offered

Here's what you can find in this online jewelry store.

  • Loose diamonds: Find diamonds in all qualities, shapes and sizes. Every one of Blue Nile's 140,000+ loose diamond comes with a GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or AGS (American Gem Society) grading report - the 2 most respected labs in the industry.

  • Engagement ring settings: Pick from over 400 ring settings in platinum, white gold, yellow gold, and rose gold.

  • Wedding bands: You can find men's and women's wedding rings in both traditional and unique styles. It even offers men's wedding bands in alternative materials like titanium, tungsten, and cobalt.

    See our guide on the difference between an engagement ring and wedding ring.

  • Astor By Blue Nile™: This is Blue Nile's line of their highest quality diamonds. These super ideal diamonds are cut in the most precise angles and proportions to give off maximum brilliance.

  • Fancy colored diamonds: Want a little color? All of Blue Niles' fancy colored diamonds are natural, with no artificial enhancements. These special stones are prized for their color and intensity. You can learn more on Blue Nile's education page about what sets these gems apart.

    Did you know: Only 1 in 10,000 diamonds have a fancy color, with yellow being the most common and red being the rarest (so rare that only a handful exists in the world). The intensity can appear different according to how the stone is cut and polished. Fancy colored diamonds are usually cut into other shapes (other than round) in order to display the most intense hue.

  • Pearls: Blue Nile has a collection of pearl jewelry in four different varieties of pearls: Akoya, Freshwater, Tahitian and South Sea. The site provides an in-depth analysis of each variety and what sets them apart.

  • Other diamond jewelry: If you're looking for fine jewelry for other special occasions, you can find rings, pendants, bracelets and earrings. You can even design your own diamond necklaces and stud earrings.

    Blue Nile also has fine jewelry with gemstones, pearls, or just plain metal.

  • Designer rings and jewelry: For something a bit more special, you can choose jewelry created by designers, including popular bridal designer Monique Lhuillier and Zac Posen. It also has its own line of Blue Nile Studio designer rings.

Did you know: Most grooms-to-be spend an average of 4.8 months to research and learn about diamonds, and then 3.6 months to find the perfect engagement ring. They visit average of 5 retailers and see 25 rings before making the final choice. With Blue Nile's huge inventory, it's a good place to start this process.

Is Blue Nile Astor Cut Worth It?

Blue Nile recently introduced their premium Astor by Blue Nile™ line. This special collection of super ideal diamonds is a re-brand of Blue Nile's Signature Collection. Is it worth the premium? And is it cheaper than comparable diamonds elsewhere?

Let's do a mini review.

Tip: Many diamond experts will say that cut is the most important of the 4C's. The perfect cut means that the diamond has the most ideal proportions for maximum brilliance, symmetry, and light performance. It can make a diamond shinier and appear larger. To understand why this is the most important factor, check out our detailed article here.

Here's an overview of the Astor line:

  • Available in round, princess, and cushion shape.

  • All have an Excellent cut graded by GIA.

  • All have grades in the "very high" range for brilliance, fire, and sparkle as graded by GemEx (which grades diamonds for light performance). However, GemEx is not an industry standard and their certification is not a guarantee of quality.

  • 360-degree video the actual stone, along with the GIA and GemEx reports.

HOWEVER, you do not get Idealscope, ASET, or hearts & arrows images. These images are crucial to show the light performance and optical symmetry of the diamond. Without these, there's no way to truly tell the performance of the stone.

If you're looking to buy a super-ideal diamond and want to be confident about the quality, check out Whiteflash. Their A CUT ABOVE diamonds are AGS Triple Zero rated and come with light performance and hearts & arrows imagery.

Now, what about pricing? Let's compare Blue Nile's Astor pricing to Whiteflash's A CUT ABOVE® line, as both are touted to be super ideal diamonds.

Super ideal cut stones are pricier due to the level of perfection and the fact that more raw material is used.

This one here is a 1.01 carat, G, VS1 round diamond and costs $9,235. Whiteflash has a 1.007 carat diamond with similar specifications for $8,702 - over $500 less.

Among the many comparisons we performed, Whiteflash's A CUT ABOVE diamonds mostly came in at a lower cost. Between the two, we would pick Whiteflash's diamonds. Not only are they better priced, their diamond quality requirements go beyond GIA Excellent. Plus, Whiteflash provides detailed light performance imagery so you can feel more confident about the quality.

The upside of Blue Nile is that you have more choices, so you are sure to find something in line with your budget and the characteristics/size you want.

Overall, we have to say that Blue Nile's Astor diamonds offer great quality. However, the price isn't always the best. And it's also too bad that they don't offer light performance data. If you want to buy a diamond from this line, make sure it's within the ideal proportions.

360 Diamond View

Blue Nile has really made major improvements in this area.

Buying from Blue Nile is no longer the blind purchase experience it used to be. Blue Nile used to only have sample photos for their diamonds. But now they have added a 360° Diamond View feature.

Screenshot from Blue Nile Website

This mini video player allows you to get a full 360° view of the actual diamond. You can drag and spin it around to see it from all angles. This gives you an idea of what the diamond will look like in person to the naked eye. This enhances the online shopping experience and allows you to be more confident in what you're buying.

This feature can help you save a lot of money. Without a photo or video, you may feel like you need to buy a more expensive, higher quality diamond. But with a video, you can pick a stone lower in clarity, as long as you can't see obvious flaws. You just need to look for a stone that is eye clean.

Buying a diamond sight unseen is scary. It's nice that Blue Nile has finally addressed this deficiency. This now makes Blue Nile competitive with other online jewelers who long ago had this technology, such as James Allen.

SHOPPING EXPERIENCE

Designing your own custom engagement ring is easy on Blue Nile. The process is pretty intuitive. You can start by either selecting your diamond first, or choosing a setting. The website will guide you to the next step.

When searching for a diamond, narrow your search using the filters at the top. You can filter by price, shape, and the 4Cs (and even more specific proportions and characteristics, if you wish).

Make sure you click on "360 View Available", so you only see items with real videos.

Screenshot from Blue Nile Website

In a nutshell, a diamond's quality is characterized by the 4Cs - cut, clarity, color, and carat weight, with the cut of the diamond deemed most important. Blue Nile offers 10 shapes: round, princess, cushion, emerald, radiant (vintage), marquise, pear, heart, Asscher and oval.

For example, let's say we select this oval diamond below. Just click "add to ring".

Screenshot from Blue Nile Website

Next, Blue Nile will show you rings that can be set with the stone. You can filter your search by selecting the style of the engagement ring and type of metal. Let's say we want a white gold vintage setting. There are 22 ring options to choose from.

Screenshot from Blue Nile Website

Also note that Blue Nile will state if there's a matching band, in case you want to look for something in a matching set.

Each setting also has a 360-degree view, so you can see what it looks like all around. You can also see reviews and photos from customers who purchased the product.

After you've selected the ring you want, you can review the rendering and final cost of your design.

Screenshot from Blue Nile Website

For a huge online jewelry store, Blue Nile provides a relatively seamless buying process, even for first-timers.

You may want to begin with the site's comprehensive educational page that clarifies what to look for when buying diamonds, including an explanation about settings and how to decide on the right diamond.

WHY YOU MAY LOOK ELSEWHERE

There are a couple downsides of Blue Nile.

  • Limited setting choices
    We also think Blue Niles comes up a bit short in terms of engagement ring setting options. You basically get solitaire, halo, pave, 3-stone, rings with gemstones, or some vintage designs. If you want other specific settings like tension or bezel, you're out of luck.

    Blue Nile has around 400 setting options, while James Allen has over 500.

  • Not a lot of yellow or rose gold options
    It also doesn't offer a lot of setting options for yellow gold or rose gold rings. So if you're looking for any of those metals, you are very limited on choices.

Returns, Warranty, and Other Policies

  • Discount with wire: If you pay by wire transfer, you'll receive a 1.5% discount on your purchase of $750 or more.

  • Price match: Blue Nile has a lowest price guarantee. If you see another, practically identical, GIA-certified loose diamond at a lower price, Blue Nile will match the cost. But that has to be done before you make your purchase. The 2 stones need to match on the 4C's (cut, color, clarity, and carat), and even other criteria like polish, symmetry, and light performance.

  • Returns: Blue Nile has a 30-day full-refund return policy. This includes a fully insured, free shipping label sent via email. Purchases under $$2,000 can be returned fairly easily online, but anything over that amount requires you to contact the company for additional return instructions.

    On average, it takes about 4-5 business days to process the return.

  • Ring resizing: If you ordered the wrong size, you are allowed one complimentary ring resizing within the first year of purchase.

  • Warranty: Blue Nile offers a lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects. Damages caused by normal wear and tear is not covered. There is also lifetime complimentary cleaning and inspection (you'll have to pay for shipping).

  • Diamond upgrade: If you want a bigger stone in the future, you can trade in your diamond for 100% credit towards a new one, provided that it's at least twice the price of the original. The old diamond must be in its original condition with the original grading report.

  • Insurance: No matter how much your diamond cost, it's a good idea to insure your jewelry the way you would any other precious item for peace of mind. Blue Nile is partnered with Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co., the nation's leading jewelry insurer. You can receive a free quote and purchase insurance immediately as part of your total purchase price.

  • Refer a friend: If you refer a buddy, both of you will get a little gift. You'll both save $20 on an order of $100 or more; $50 on an order of $500 or more; and $100 on an order of $1,000 or more. This is a nice little perk if you want to buy more jewelry for your sweetheart down the road.

To learn more about diamond pricing, read our in-depth guide and find out what you should really spend for a diamond ring.

Blue Nile vs James Allen

While Blue Nile beats physical retailers when it comes to cost, they are up against more difficult competition when it comes to fellow online jewelry sites. James Allen is Blue Nile's biggest competitor.

Both offer competitive prices. While Blue Nile has a larger diamond inventory, James Allen has a better selection of settings in all metals and styles. James Allen also allows you to design your own ring using a gemstone center. Overall, James Allen has more options if you're looking for a new unique ring.

James Allen's customer service is also a little better. If you have questions, you can start a live chat with a diamond expert right on the screen. The expert can screenshare with you and help you compare diamonds and their specs. You can also request up to 3 Idealscope images for free, so you can judge which diamond has the best light performance.

Let's take a look at how the sites compare:

 

Blue Nile

James Allen

 

Benefits and Features

SelectionLargest selection of online diamonds, sourced from suppliers around the worldInventory sourced from local diamond suppliers
Customer Service
24/7 customer service
24/7 customer service
Data
Grading report
Grading report, 360-degree HD video
Return Policy30-day money back guarantee. Blue Nile will send you a fully insured free shipping label via email. Items must be in their original purchase condition, including all product documentation.If you are not 100% satisfied with your purchase, you may return it in its original, unworn condition within 30 days for a full refund or exchange. Free return shipping only applies to U.S customers and is limited to three per customer.
WarrantyLifetime manufacturer warranty. Terms and exclusions apply.James Allen warrant that all items will be free from any manufacturing defects at time of delivery. James Allen will repair and maintain your jewelry for a lifetime. Lifetime warranty offers free prong tightening, re-polishing, rhodium plating and cleaning services.
BuybackDiamond buyback program through Mondiamo based on market value. 
ResizingBlue Nile provides complimentary resizing for Build Your Own Rings®, and Diamond Bands when within the manufacturer's recommended sizing range, during the first year.All engagement rings and wedding bands, excluding eternity bands and alternative metals, may be resized once for free within the first year of purchase.
Upgrade PolicyLifetime diamond upgrade program on all GIA and AGSL graded diamonds. You will receive credit equal to 100% of the original price toward the purchase of a new diamond. The price of your new diamond must be at least twice the price of your original diamond. Your diamond must be in its original condition with the original diamond grading report.Any loose diamond purchased from James Allen can be exchanged at 100% credit for any replacement diamond of at least 2X or greater value. The diamond that is being upgraded must be in original condition and accompanied by the original laboratory grading document.
Price
Selection
Customer Service
Data
 Visit SiteVisit Site

Also read: Which online retailer is best for you? Blue Nile vs. James Allen vs. Whiteflash

Blue Nile vs Traditional Jewelers

In our opinion, Blue Nile has the edge over traditional retailers. Here are some reasons why:

  • Wider Selection: Blue Nile's huge inventory means that you have more choices within your budget and specs. Your local jeweler will not have nearly as many options, which may cause you to compromise on quality and/or budget.

  • Cheaper prices: By being an online store, Blue Nile can save a lot on overhead and thus offer better pricing to customers. In our research, we've found that Blue Nile's prices are as much as 40% cheaper than physical stores.

  • Magnified videos: Blue Nile provides 360-degree videos for most of their diamonds. In many ways, this is even better than viewing diamonds at your local jeweler. If you can't see flaws in a magnified video, you won't see flaws with the naked eye.

  • Browse in peace: Shopping from the comfort of your own home means you can spend days browsing at your leisure. No pressure to buy, no pushy salespeople, no up-selling.

FINANCING

Kim and Dan's Engagement
Kim and Dan's Engagement © ChrisGampat (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

We usually recommend buying a ring with cash you have saved, but we understand. You have other loans and bills, and it may not be reasonable to wait until you're debt-free to pop the question.

In this case, you have a couple of Blue Nile financing options. The exclusive Blue Nile credit card has no annual fee and provides special financing offers. Your options are:

  1. No interest plan: The 0% financing option charges no interest for a certain promo period.

    • 0% APR for 6 months for purchases $500 to $1,499
    • 0% APR for 12 months for purchases of $1,500 and over
    • 0% APR for 18 months for Astor by Blue Nile™ purchases $2,000 and over

    The APR is a steep 29.99% after the promotional period (interest rate information as of November 2019).

    IMPORTANT: Make sure you are able to pay off your entire balance within that timeframe, or you'll be subjected to a very high APR, PLUS deferred interest from the day of purchase.

    A lot of Blue Nile reviews from customers who took the financing plan were unpleasantly surprised when they got charged a huge amount of interest for just missing the deadline by a couple of days. A $6,000 ring could end up costing thousands in deferred interest if the entire balance isn't paid by the end of the 0% promo period.

  2. Equal payment plan:This financing option is a bit more complicated: you get a 9.9% APR and you'll make equal payments over a pre-set period of time - but you'll have to charge at least $2,000 to be eligible. For balances of $2,000-$2,999, you'll have 24 months to pay; $3,000-$3,999, you'll get 36 months, and anything $4,000 and over gives you 48 months to pay off your balance. If you still carry a balance at the end of your term, your APR will be increased to 29.99% (interest rate information as of November 2019).

Here is our expert tip: get a low interest credit card instead. Many cards on the market today have 0% APR introductory offers that last longer than Blue Nile's, and the APR after the intro period ends is generally lower. This is one of our top recommended tips if you're buying a large ticket item and will need breathing room to pay.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Blue Nile provides 24/7 customer service. You can contact them anytime by phone, email, and live chat. Blue Nile claims that a diamond expert will answer your call in 10 seconds or less.

You can reach customer service here:

  • Diamond Questions:
    1-888-565-7641 / diamondexpert@bluenile.com

  • Jewelry Questions:
    1-800-242-2728 / jewelryspecialist@bluenile.com

  • General Policy Questions:
    1-800-242-2728 / service@bluenile.com

Blue Nile reviews have split opinions when it comes to their customer service. Some people have had great experiences, while others had complaints about the delivery time, problems with returns and repairs, and financing plan.

Blue Nile will provide an estimated shipping date for your ring. Usually, this is in 4-5 business days.

Some customers do report shipping delays, so we suggest ordering your ring a little ahead of time (about 3 weeks before your planned proposal date). This way, you have plenty of time to receive the ring, pop the question, and return within 30 days if need be.

BOTTOM LINE: DO WE RECOMMEND BLUE NILE?

Blue Nile is a great online retailer with an unbeatable selection and attractive prices. It's a good starting point to learn about diamonds and do shopping comparisons with other online jewelers.

It's a good company if you are on a budget and want a lot of options. With competitive pricing, a large inventory, magnified videos, and generous return policy, Blue Nile provides a great shopping experience for buying engagement rings online.

We're happy to see that Blue Nile now has 360-degree videos for the diamonds on their site. This takes out most of the guesswork and lets you buy with confidence. This feature now puts them on an even footing with James Allen for online diamond shoppers.

For true super ideal diamonds, we would recommend Whiteflash over Blue Nile's Astor. Whiteflash provides better data, has high quality standards, and overall is priced lower.

(Updated Writing by Anna)

Cynthia Cohen is a retail analyst at CreditDonkey, a diamond jeweler comparison and reviews website. Write to Cynthia Cohen at cynthia@creditdonkey.com

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone. Please support CreditDonkey on our mission to help you make savvy decisions. Our free online service is made possible through financial relationships with some of the products and services mentioned on this site. We may receive compensation if you shop through links in our content.

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