October 20, 2022

James Allen vs Clean Origin

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James Allen and Clean Origin are popular diamond retailers. But which one is more reliable? Here's how they compare.

Thinking of buying your engagement ring online? You've probably heard about James Allen and Clean Origin.

The decision of buying a ring you haven't seen is scary. You're probably wondering which retailer is best. As well as, which one is more reliable, among other things.

Before you choose a retailer, let's compare their price, quality, policy, and more first.

Main Differences

Here's a glance at James Allen and Clean Origin's main differences.

  • James Allen sells both lab diamonds and natural diamonds. Its inventory of loose stones, settings, and fine jewelry is also 2x bigger than Clean Origin's.

  • Clean Origin exclusively sells lab diamonds. But its loose stones are a lot cheaper than James Allen's.

What kind of stone do you prefer?

What They have in Common

As you read, you'll find many differences between these two retailers. But they still have some similarities.

For example, both offer:

  • Conflict-free and certified diamonds
  • Loose lab diamonds in many colors, shapes, and specs
  • Ring settings in different styles and metals
  • Option to build your ring with your choice of stone and setting
  • Free shipping to the U.S. and Canada
  • Financing options
  • 360-degree videos for diamonds (not all for Clean Origin)
  • Lifetime manufacturing warranty
  • Free one-on-one sessions with experts

Engagement ring shopping is all about your preferences. And both retailers have their strong points. Depending on what you're looking for, you might like one over another.

Let's discuss when each store makes a good choice.

Why Choose James Allen

To build the perfect ring, you need the best stones and settings on hand. James Allen takes the edge with its larger inventory of loose diamonds and settings. All their stones are also zoomed 40x at 360 degrees, so you can inspect quality accurately.

Despite its large collection, you won't have a hard time sifting through thousands of stones. Their search function is very flexible and allows you to narrow specs down. Customizing your setting is also possible with The Ring Studio.

Working late or living outside the United States? James Allen's customer service is open 24/7, so you can call anytime from any time zone. Plus, they offer free worldwide shipping.

Clean Origin only ships to the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the UK. Their customer hours are also limited to the EST time zone.

You might prefer James Allen if:

  • You want variety in diamonds and settings.
  • You have something specific in mind.
  • You want to save on the ring setting.
  • You work late or you're not from North America.
  • You want to inspect your diamond up close.
  • You plan to upgrade in the future.

James Allen Pros and Cons

  • Wide selection of diamonds and settings
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Revolutionary 360-degree view for all loose diamonds
  • Cheaper settings
  • Customizable search function
  • Free shipping anywhere in the world
  • Not the best pricing
  • Few GIA-certified stones
  • Many complaints about delivery and setting quality
  • Short window period for returns

Curious about James Allen? Read our full review of the retailer.

Why Choose Clean Origin

Clean Origin's loose diamonds are one of the cheapest among retailers. If you're a government employee, military, nurse, responder, student, or teacher, you can get discounts.

But despite the low prices, Clean Origin still prides itself in its stones' quality. They offer only handpicked diamonds and mainly sell stones graded by GIA.

Still unsure about the ring? Clean Origin also provides a 100-day return policy, no questions asked, for your peace of mind.

You might prefer Clean Origin if:

  • You're on a budget but still want a high-quality stone.
  • You're a government employee, military, nurse, responder, student, or teacher.
  • You want a GIA-certified stone.
  • You're worried about not liking the ring.

Clean Origin Pros and Cons

  • Cheaper loose diamonds
  • Discounts for certain professions
  • 100-day return
  • More GIA-certified diamonds
  • More expensive settings
  • Limited selection for settings
  • No buybacks or upgrades
  • Ships only to the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the UK

If you want to know more, read our in-depth review of Clean Origin.

James Allen vs Clean Origin: In-Depth Comparison

Ready to dive into an in-depth comparison of James Allen and Clean Origin?

Let's begin.

Price

Winner: Clean Origin

Clean Origin takes the crown for cheaper loose lab diamonds. They can be up to 70% cheaper than James Allen's. This percent difference varies case-to-case. But Clean Origin diamonds are still generally cheaper.

Here's a comparison of the prices of their lab diamonds* per carat.

James AllenClean OriginPercent Difference
0.7 carat$860$75313%
1 carat$1,890$955 66%
1.5 carat$2,410$2,03317%
2 carat$3,850$1,80872%
2.5 carat$5,340$2,72365%

*All diamonds are in-stock as of August 15, 2022. They're the cheapest options for each carat size. As a benchmark, all diamonds are H color, VS2 clarity, and Ideal cut stones. These are specs that will give you the best value.

How much are you budgeting for an engagement ring?

It's a different story for the settings. James Allen beats Clean Origin, often by a huge gap, with cheaper setting prices.

James AllenClean OriginPercent Difference
Solitaire$240$55579%
Pave$870$1,54556%
Halo$1,490$1,4651.7%

However, if you try to build two similar rings from each store, Clean Origin still comes out cheaper.

Check out these 1-carat solitaire rings we built using the specs mentioned above. Even if the Clean Origin setting was 79% pricier, the complete ring still had a lower price.

Clean Origin

via Clean Origin

James Allen

via James Allen

Diamond Quality

Winner: Tie

Shopping for your ring online means committing to a stone you haven't seen. That's why buying from a retailer that only sells high-quality diamonds is important.

Both James Allen and Clean Origin get their diamonds graded by third-party labs. You can view the grading report of each stone. So you can be assured that they're not faking the diamond's quality.

Both retailers sell mostly IGI-certified stones. But if you want a GIA-certified stone, you might have a better shot at Clean Origin. The difference isn't huge, but it's still a thousand stones more.

Why should you choose GIA diamonds?
Compared to GIA, IGI is laxer with its standards. They tend to give high grades even to stones of lower quality. So it's always best to go with a GIA-certified stone.

Resizing, Warranty, Return, Upgrade Policies

Winner: Clean Origin for returns, James Allen for resizing, warranty, upgrades

Ring doesn't meet your expectations?

Here's what each retailer can do.

Returns
Clean Origin has a better return policy. They give you 100 days to return your purchase for any reason. Plus, they will shoulder the return shipping costs.[1]

James Allen allows returns at a tighter window period. You only have 30 days to return your purchase. That's a short time if you're busy with wedding or engagement plans. And only U.S. and Canadian customers get free return shipping.[2]

Resizing
All James Allen customers get free resizing within the first year of their purchase.[3] This is a better deal compared to Clean Origin's. Here, only U.S. customers get free resizing. That is if they return the ring within 100 days of shipment.[4]

Warranty
James Allen also wins in the warranty department. Both offer lifetime manufacturing warranties. But James Allen also covers:[5]

  • Prong tightening
  • Re-polishing
  • Rhodium plating
  • Cleaning services

If you're buying from Clean Origin, be ready to pay extra for these services.

Upgrades
Only James Allen offers a diamond upgrade program. Any loose stone bought from them can be exchanged at 100% credit for another stone at least 2x the original amount. This applies to both their natural and lab diamonds.[6]

Lab Diamond Selection

Winner: James Allen

With over 63,000 stones, James Allen has one of the largest inventories of lab diamonds. That's a lot more than Clean Origin's selection of over 13,000 stones. But remember that you only need one or a few stones. So both are still very huge numbers for your need.

But if you're looking for fancy shapes or fancy colors, James Allen becomes the better pick. They have twice the number of certain fancy shapes compared to Clean Origin. You're more likely to find the shape you want here.

For example, at the time of writing, Clean Origin had no in-stock heart-shaped diamonds.

The gap becomes even bigger for fancy-colored diamonds. James Allen has over 4,000 fancy-colored stones. That's a huge difference from Clean Origin's 118 options.

Customer Service

Winner: James Allen

James Allen takes the customer service crown. Their 24/7 lines allow you to reach them anytime from any time zone. That's more convenient than Clean Origin's, where customer service is open only 3-4 hours a day, EST. That's a short time if you're working late or you live outside the U.S.

James Allen also offers Real-Time Diamond Inspection. If you're interested in a stone, you can instantly start a session with their experts. No appointment is needed. They share their screen so you can review diamond specs together.

Clean Origin provides virtual appointments. You can ask them any questions about your buying process. But you can't inquire about specific stones since their experts have no access to inventory.

Website Experience

Winner: James Allen

Overall, James Allen's website is more user-friendly. You don't have to click on each diamond to view it in 360 degrees. Simply hover on each stone to rotate it. That means you can quickly compare several diamond videos in one look.

And if you want to see a stone in bigger detail, James Allen won't redirect you to another page. Just click on the magnifying glass icon and a window will pop up.

Here's what it looks like:

via James Allen

In Clean Origin, you can only view one diamond in 360 degrees at a time. If you want to see a diamond in detail, you must click on it and view its zoomed 360-degree video on another page.

via Clean Origin

James Allen has other features to enhance your shopping experience:

  • 360-degree views for all diamonds. All James Allen stones are zoomed 40x on a 360-degree view. Some stones in Clean Origin, especially smaller ones, don't have this feature.

  • Better video quality. For Clean Origin stones with 360-degree views, the videos are whitewashed. There's less contrast compared to James Allen. This can hide some flaws from your view.

  • Advanced search function. James Allen lets you search by depth, table, symmetry, polish, lab, and fluorescence. With Clean Origin, you can only filter by lab.

  • Comparison. You can select different diamonds and view them together on one page.

  • Virtual Ring Try-On. If you're using a smartphone, you can see what the ring looks like on your hand.

Engagement Ring Styles

Winner: James Allen

Both retailers offer the most popular ring styles. But James Allen has 2x more setting choices than Clean Origin. You can also find styles from designers like Verragio, James Cooper, and Martin Flyer.

Plus, James Allen recently launched The Ring Studio. This feature lets you select your ring's head and shank separately. That's even more customization for your ring. And you don't have to go through hundreds of styles to find the perfect setting.

via James Allen

But Clean Origin gives a better view of its ring styles. Unlike James Allen, it lets you see each setting from the side. James Allen offers side views only through its The Ring Studio feature.

Sustainability

Winner: Tie

As a lab diamond shopper, you're probably concerned about sustainability. But there's no need to worry whether you're buying from James Allen or Clean Origin. All diamonds from both retailers are conflict-free.

Customer Reviews: Reddit And Trustpilot

Winner: Clean Origin

Clean Origin has better reviews on Reddit and Trustpilot. They have fewer ratings, but the reviews are generally positive. The very few negative complaints are mostly about poor manufacturing quality.

James Allen has positive-to-mixed reviews. More and more buyers on Reddit are complaining about poor setting quality. You might read a handful of concerns about lopsided bands or diamonds falling out.

Some James Allen customers also experienced delays in shipping. To avoid headaches, it's best to order your ring at least one month before you need it.

Bottom Line

It's a tough choice between James Allen and Clean Origin. James Allen wins in variety, customer service, warranty, and website experience. But you can't ignore Clean Origin's strengths in price and return policies.

But James Allen has a slight edge. You're more likely to find the exact stone and setting you like here. And while their rings are pricier, they make it up with a better lifetime warranty policy.

Overall, they're both reliable stores. So choosing between them boils down to your specific preferences.

References

  1. ^ Clean Origin. Return Policy, Retrieved 9/25/2022
  2. ^ James Allen. Hassle-Free Returns with 100% Money Back Guarantee, Retrieved 9/25/2022
  3. ^ James Allen. 1 Year Free Resizing, Retrieved 9/25/2022
  4. ^ Clean Origin. Resizing Policy, Retrieved 9/25/2022
  5. ^ James Allen. Lifetime Warranty, Retrieved 9/25/2022
  6. ^ James Allen. Lifetime Upgrade, Retrieved 9/25/2022
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Compare:

What kind of stone do you prefer?
29% Natural diamond
54% Lab-created diamond
11% Moissanite
6% Other gemstones
Source: CreditDonkey
How much are you budgeting for an engagement ring?
21% Under $1,000
41% $1,000 to $5,000
20% $5,000 to $10,000
18% $10,000+
Source: CreditDonkey poll of 5,326 respondents
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