Updated September 26, 2017

James Allen Review: Is It Good?

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Thinking about buying an engagement ring from James Allen? Read this in-depth review to find out if it's the right retailer for you.

James Allen
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Overall Score






Customer Service



5-point scale (the higher, the better)

Pros and Cons

  • 360 degree HD video for every diamond
  • Competitively priced with good selection of diamonds
  • Large selection of setting options
  • Limited selection of super ideal cut diamonds

Bottom Line

Good online diamond retailer with 360 degree HD videos

A Winning Combination

We are huge advocates of shopping for an engagement ring online because you get a much bigger selection and cheaper prices. At the same time, it can be scary to make such a huge purchase online.

James Allen understands the importance of purchasing an engagement ring and provides an unmatched online diamond shopping experience.

James Allen is our top recommended online diamond retailer for several reasons:

In this review, we'll go into more detail about what it's like to shop at James Allen.

Jump to a section below or scroll down to read the whole article.

What Makes James Allen Unique: Inventory and Quality

It's hard to sell diamonds online. Retailers often have to sacrifice in one area or another. For example, Blue Nile has a huge selection because they source from all over the world, but the downside is that you won't see actual photos of the diamond you purchase. On the other end of the spectrum, small retailers stock their own diamonds and can provide exceptional data, but as a result they have a much smaller selection.

But James Allen is the best of both worlds. It offers a wide selection and detailed images of the actual diamonds.

  • Big Selection: James Allen has over 75,000 diamonds in 10 different shapes. It even has about 2,000 fancy colored diamonds. And every single diamond is GIA, IGS or IGI certified.

    It also has a decent selection of sapphires, rubies, and emeralds if you want a gemstone instead.

  • Inspected in Person: James Allen sends out staff members to take stunning HD videos of every diamond on the site from nearby suppliers in the New York area and diamond hubs worldwide. Even though James Allen doesn't stock its own diamonds, each one is examined by in-house experts before it's shipped to you.

  • A Range of Options: James Allen offers diamonds at every point along the spectrum. Since you can see each and every diamond, you can find the most affordable stones that look virtually flawless.

    They even have an exclusive line of ideal cut diamonds called TrueHearts. This means that the diamonds have an arrow pattern when seen from above and tiny hearts when seen from the side, indicating perfect optical symmetry.

  • Conflict-free Guarantee: You can also feel good about your purchase because every diamond from James Allen is conflict-free and procured through legitimate means.

We'll examine the pros and cons below. But first, let's highlight the current James Allen promotions and perks.

James Allen Promotions: January 2018

    Free Engraving

    Free engraving on most engagement rings and wedding bands. If engraving is available for your selection, it will be presented as an option during checkout. Personal engravings can be any alpha-numeric combination up to 20 characters in length.

    60-Day Free Resizing

    All engagement rings and wedding bands, excluding eternity bands and alternative metals, may be resized once for free within the first 60 days of purchase

    Lifetime Upgrade

    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.

Why We Like James Allen

Who James Allen is Best For

  • If you’re nervous about buying blind. James Allen has a 360-degree HD video of every diamond in its collection, so you can “see” the actual stones from all angles. This gives you more confidence when buying online.

  • If you’re on a budget. James Allen has some of the lowest diamond prices among jewelry retailers that we’ve seen. This means you can find a larger stone on your budget.

  • If you’re looking for a gemstone. James Allen has a huge collection of loose sapphires, emeralds, and rubies. You can design your own gemstone ring.

Let's take a more detailed look at what makes James Allen such a standout.

360-Degree HD Videos of Each Diamond

Though you can't examine the diamonds in person, James Allen provides you with the next best thing: their trademarked "Diamond Display Technology" which provides true-to-life, 360-degree, HD videos and images of every single diamond in their collection.

View each diamond from every angle.
View each diamond from every angle. Screenshot from James Allen Website

It's actually better than looking at diamonds at a local store because you can zoom in up to 20X to view the diamond in stunning detail. You'll be able to clearly see any flaws on the surface of the diamond.

Tip: If you create a free account, you can even access a "super zoom" feature. This allows you to examine the diamond as if you're using the tools of a professional jeweler. You get 5 free SuperZoom images.

Most other sites only offer a description of the 4Cs (cut, clarity, color, and carat) and the price. They use a stock photo, so you'll receive a diamond that matches the characteristics you choose but not that actual diamond. That means you're taking a risk that the diamond might not be quite what you expected as no two diamonds are exactly alike. Even if they have similar grading, they can look different.

Related: Don't Get Ripped Off: the 4Cs and Buying a Diamond for Best Value

You Can Find Eye-Clean Diamonds for Less

Because most other sites don't offer photos of the actual diamonds, many people feel like they must choose a higher quality stone to play it safe and they therefore end up spending more.

But when you're able to see clear pictures, you can look for cheaper, lower specification diamonds that are eye-clean.

Let's take a look at this example:

Screenshot from James Allen Website

The diamond on the left is 0.97 carat. It has a color of G, a clarity of VS2 (small imperfections), and an excellent cut. It costs over $6,000. But thanks to the HD video, you can see the black flaws scattered throughout. There's a good chance this diamond may not be eye-clean.

The diamond on the right costs $1,000 less and is slightly over 1 carat. The clarity grade is lower at SI1 but you can barely detect any flaws even at 20x zoom. You can see from this example how a lower quality diamond can cost less and look better. You would never know which diamond was truly eye-clean without the magnified videos.

Seeing the diamond is especially important if you're shopping for a fancy cut diamond (i.e. not round). Shapes such as oval, pear, and marquise have a bow-tie effect. This is a dark shadow caused by light blockage, which you can only see through visual inspection.

For example:

For example, the oval diamond on the left costs over $5000 and has an undesirable large bow-tie effect. The diamond on the right costs almost $1000 less and has an effect that's minimal to none.

Again, there would be no way to know this without being able to spin the photos of the diamonds around to view all angles.

Tip: If you need help, you can get a Real Time Diamond Consultation with a customer service rep (available 24/7). This feature is the first of its kind in the online diamond industry. You can review the specs and compare diamonds with an expert in real time.

Setting and Customization Options

James Allen's diamond selection may not be as vast as Blue Nile's, but it makes up for it with more setting choices. You can design a fully-customized ring with over 500 setting options in a range of metal materials. You can also customize with gemstones. James Allen offers blue, pink, and yellow sapphires, red rubies, or green emeralds.

Warning: Thin settings could bend out of shape during normal wear. If she's very active or does a lot with her hands, it may be better to go with a sturdier band. Or consider getting a platinum band, which is more durable than gold. If platinum is out of your price range, then go for 14k gold, as it's sturdier than 18k.

They also offer free engraving for most engagement rings, so you can add a personal message to your design as well.

The idea of designing your own ring can seem daunting, but James Allen walks you through it, step by step.

If you know nothing about settings, you narrow down your search by selecting from the simple illustrations or looking through the hundreds of options. Each setting also comes with a 360-degree HD video. Keep in mind that super customized settings can take a few weeks to ship.

Screenshot from www.jamesallen.com/

If you choose your diamond first, James Allen will then only show you settings that fit that diamond. If you want to choose a setting first, the website will then automatically take you to the next step by showing you diamonds that match it.

Tip: If you don't see a setting you like, James Allen can work with you on a custom design. Of course, you would have to purchase the diamond from them as well.

If you have a loose diamond from somewhere else, James Allen can set it for you in one of their settings.

James Allen

24/7 Customer Support

So what if you've looked at the website and are still confused?

James Allen's customer service representatives are available 24/7 to help. All reps have specialized training and are available around the clock to offer expert advice.

You can get a Real-Time Diamond consultation while navigating the site. You can even screen-share with a rep, so they can see the same diamond as you. They will review the specs along with you and help you compare diamonds.

Tip: You can request free Idealscope images (which examine light performance) for up to three diamonds. This feature is not offered by most diamond retailers.


Sometimes, it's not possible to buy an engagement ring in cash. If this is your situation, James Allen offers two financing options:

  1. No interest for 6 months: This is good if you have a solid plan to pay off the amount in 6 months. However, if can't manage to do that, you'll be charged a very steep interest, currently 28.99%. The interest is assessed from the purchase date, so watch out.

  2. 9.9% interest for 2 years: A more attractive offer might be the 9.9% interest rate on the 2-year payment plan. With this, you'll have a full 24 months to pay off the balance.

In our experience, such financing options can work out if you are diligent about the terms. But if you're not, you can end up with a big balance of interest charges at the end. A more practical solution could be to sign up for a low interest credit card and take advantage of a 0% APR introductory period and a lower APR when that time comes to an end.

If you have the cash and want to save a few bucks, you can pay via wire transfer. James Allen offers a discount of 1.5% off the listed online price if you do this. This could be a good amount in savings, but you also have to factor in the what your bank may charge you to make the transfer.

Another thing to consider is the sales tax. James Allen does not collect sales tax unless you live in Maryland or New York, where its offices are located. Sorry, Orioles and Yankees fans.

After Your Purchase Protection

  • Returns: James Allen offers a 30-day money back guarantee. This gives you a decent amount of time to pop the question (and hopefully get the "yes").

  • Warranty: Each purchase comes with a comprehensive lifetime warranty that covers cleaning, polishing, prong tightening, rhodium plating, and other maintenance (though you'll have to pay for shipping costs).

  • Upgrades: If your financial situation improves after a few years and you want a bigger rock, James Allen has a lifetime upgrade policy as well. You can swap out your diamond for a new one as long as it's at least 2X the value. In exchange, you get a 100% credit for the value of the original stone.

Wedding Bands

It’s smart to think about the wedding band at the same time as you shop for the engagement ring, especially if you want the rings to match. Matching rings will create a nice uniform look.

  • Finding matching bands: When you’re looking at an engagement ring, if you scroll down all the way to the bottom, you’ll see suggestions for matching wedding bands (if there is one). Sometimes a certain ring setting (such as a tension ring or some halo rings) need a specialized band that fits with its curves. You don’t need to decide right away if you want the matching band or not, but it’s nice to know your options.

  • Wedding sets: James Allen also has a small selection of wedding sets. These are engagement and wedding rings pairings that come in a matching set. The advantage is that they will perfectly match and fit well together.

    If you’re looking for a matching set, in our opinion, James Allen’s selection is lacking compared to say, Whiteflash’s designs. In our opinion, not all of James Allen’s sets are a perfect match and some set don’t even sit flush together.

  • Men’s wedding rings: Aside from men’s rings in classic gold or platinum bands, James Allen also offers rings in alternative metals, such as titanium, cobalt, and ceramic.

James Allen Compared to Traditional Retailers

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

  • Wider Selection: James Alllen has over 75,000 diamonds on their site at every price, shape, and size. Your local store will not have nearly as many options. If you are looking for something specific, you'll have limited choices. This mean you may have to compromise on quality and/or budget.

  • Ability to see magnified videos: In many ways, this is even better than viewing diamonds at a store. If the jeweler isn't very trustworthy, he may not let you examine the diamonds under a magnifying glass. Also, on James Allen, you can sign up for a free account and examine up to five diamonds with 360 Super Zoom. This feature allows you to view the diamond as if you're holding a jeweler's loupe.

    Screenshot from James Allen Website

    See flaws with the 360 Super Zoom feature (sample diamond here)

  • Ability to request Idealscope images: You can request up to three Idealscope images for free on James Allen. It's a good idea to do this after you're down to your final three diamond choices. These images show the light performance of the diamond. Most jewelers at traditional stores do not have Idealscope images, and untrustworthy jewelers may refuse to show you them even if they do.

  • Cheaper prices: Since James Allen is an online store and does not stock their own diamonds, they save a lot on overhead. This allows them to offer better pricing to customers. In our research, we've found that James Allen's prices are as much as 40% cheaper than they would be at physical stores for diamonds with the same characteristics.

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

James Allen

James Allen compared to Blue Nile

Now that you understand more about James Allen, you should know what your other online diamond options are.

James Allen and Blue Nile are at the top of the online engagement ring game. Let's compare the two and you can decide which one is the better fit for you.


James Allen

Blue Nile


Benefits and Features

SelectionInventory sourced from local diamond suppliersLargest selection of online diamonds, sourced from suppliers around the world
Customer Service
24/7 customer service
24/7 customer service
DataGrading report, 360-degree HD video
Grading report
Return PolicyIf 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.30-day money back guarantee. You will pay for shipping and insurance fees. Items must be in their original purchase condition, including all product documentation.
WarrantyJames 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.Lifetime manufacturer warranty. Terms and exclusions apply.
Buyback Diamond buyback program through Mondiamo based on market value.
ResizingAll engagement rings and wedding bands, excluding eternity bands and alternative metals, may be resized once for free within the first 60 days of purchase.Blue Nile provides complimentary resizing for Build Your Own Rings®, and Diamond Bands when within the manufacturer's recommended sizing range, during the first year.
Upgrade PolicyAny 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.Lifetime 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.
Customer Service

Blank fields may indicate the information is not available, not applicable, or not known to CreditDonkey. Please visit the product website for details.

We zeroed in on specific areas that are most important to ring buyers:

  • Price: Both online retailers offer more competitive pricing than traditional brick-and-mortar stores. While Blue Nile has a diamond price match guarantee, there are some strict terms and conditions involved.

    James Allen doesn't offer price matching, but their rings are already competitively priced. Sometimes, you may even be able to find a comparable ring for less than what Blue Nile charges.

    For example, we searched for a 1-carat, Princess-cut diamond on both sites. We used Clarity: VS1, Color: G, and Cut: Very Good. With these specs, Blue Nile's diamonds started at under $5,000. On James Allen, comparable stones were priced between $500 and $700 less.

  • Selection: A quick search of James Allen turned up 75,000 diamonds and over 500 setting choices. A similar search on Blue Nile found 198,000 diamonds but only about 300 settings. Both retailers offer other fine jewelry as well, including pendants and earrings. James Allen has the edge when it comes to gemstones. But if it's pearls you're after, you'll find those at Blue Nile.

    Neither jewelers actually owns the diamonds they sell. James Allen gets their stones from local New York diamond suppliers and at diamond hubs worldwide while Blue Nile works on a drop-ship model with wholesalers from all over the world.

  • Diamond preview: James Allen definitely wins here. On Blue Nile, you're browsing through a list format that only includes the stone's 4Cs. On James Allen, you're browsing based on a 360-degree view of the actual diamond you'll buy. You can also request up to 3 IdealScope images for an even more detailed examination.

  • Customization: We think James Allen has the edge in this area too. Both sites allow you to design your own ring, but James Allen has more options when it comes to settings and metals.

    If your sweetheart prefers something other than a diamond, creating a customized ring may be difficult with Blue Nile. The retailer offers only pre-set gemstone engagement rings. James Allen lets you design your own, using blue, pink and yellow sapphires, red rubies, or green emeralds.

  • Service: Both companies have great reviews for their customer service. Both James Allen and Blue Nile have representatives available to answer questions and handle problems by phone 24/7.

In regards to policies, here's how the two compare:

  • Refunds: Both offer a 30-day guarantee for refunds or exchanges. But Blue Nile does charge you for shipping the ring back while it's free with James Allen.

  • Warranty: Both offer a lifetime warranty. Blue Nile's warranty covers manufacturer defects but doesn't apply to normal wear and tear or accidental damage. James Allen's warranty covers cleaning, polishing, prong tightening, and rhodium plating for maintaining white gold. It also covers the loss of side diamonds.

  • Complimentary resizing: Blue Nile offers complimentary resizing for customized engagement rings during the first year. James Allen only gives you a 60-day window to resize your ring at no charge.

Why You Might Prefer Blue Nile

Still not sure? You may be better off shopping with Blue Nile if any of the following applies to you:

  1. You want more selection: James Allen has a large inventory, but it's a fraction of what you'll find on Blue Nile. As long as you don't mind seeing a list of stones (vs a 360-degree interactive view), you're going to have more choices in your price range with Blue Nile.

  2. You need some time to think it over: If you spot a diamond you like on James Allen, you'll have to act quickly to nab it. Blue Nile, on the other hand, lets you reserve a specific diamond for up to 48 hours.


James Allen is an online retailer, but it does have a physical location. If you’re in New York City, you can schedule an appointment to see their showroom on Fifth Avenue:

551 Fifth Avenue
6th Floor, Suite 601
New York, New York

You can enter by appointment only by calling customer service at 877-826-9866 or scheduling it over live chat on the website.


It’s smart to insure your precious ring. After all, it’s a huge financial loss if something happens. Insurance will provide protection if you ever damage, lose, or get it stolen.

James Allen is partnered with Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company. You have the option to insure your ring with Jeweler’s Mutual. Some protections they offer include:

  • Protection against damage, loss, theft, and mysterious disappearance
  • You can choose your own jeweler for repair (to the same quality as original)
  • For lost rings, you can get it replaced with another one in the same brand and style

Virtual Ring Sizer

One of the trickiest things about shopping for an engagement ring is finding out her ring size. If you get the size wrong, it’s not the end of the world as most rings can be resized. But it ruins the magic of a romantic proposal followed by slipping on a perfectly fitting ring.

We do have some tips on secretly finding out her ring size. But if you’re unable to do any of these, James Allen offers some help. You can either request a free ring sizer to be mailed to you, or use their virtual ring sizer.

There are two virtual ring sizers:

  1. If you have a ring that fits: First, the sizer will have you measure a credit card against your screen in order to calibrate your screen. Then hold up the ring over one of the circles to find the one that matches.

  2. If you don’t have a ring: Get a strip of paper or a string and wrap it around your ring finger. Mark the length of the circle. Then after calibrating your screen, hold the strip of paper up to the virtual ruler to find your ring size.

While this helps to get an idea, it may not be 100% accurate. If you do get the ring size wrong, James Allen offers one free resizing within 60 days of purchase on eligible purchases.

Related: Ring Resizing

Order Status

Unfortunately, one of the most common customer complaints is the wait time.

When you first place your order, James Allen will give you an estimated ship date (which is usually about 2 weeks out). But there are quite a number of reviews saying that their order was delayed. Some people already made proposal plans but the ring didn’t come in time.

If you do want to go with a James Allen ring, we suggest that you order it way ahead of time. Give yourself about a month before your planned proposal date. That way, you can receive it before your proposal and have enough time to return if you need to.


James Allen scores major points for their packaging. It’s classy and doesn’t scream "I bought the ring from the internet!".

  • The jewelry box: First, the ring box itself is packaged inside an elegant white and silver keepsake box. There is a pull-out drawer at the bottom that holds a cleaning cloth and a silver folder with the diamond’s lab certification, appraisal certificate, lifetime warranty, and quality assurance guarantee.

  • The ring box: The actual ring box is a glossy red plastic lacquered box (it used to be hardwood). Some people say they think the plastic looks cheap. But we think it’ll still look classy when you pull it out of your pocket for the big moment.

Overall, the packaging is excellent. Some other online retailers wedge the ring box in a cardboard cutout for protection. So it’s nice that James Allen goes the extra mile to make the entire package presentable.

Ring Cleaning: You can clean your ring at home by letting it soak in warm water and soap, and then scrubbing it with a soft toothbrush. James Allen offers lifetime ring cleaning services as well, but you’ll have to be willing to part with your ring for a few weeks and pay for shipping costs.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why James Allen is cheaper?
    James Allen doesn't stock their own diamonds. Instead, they get them from local suppliers around New York. This means they don't have expensive retail stores to pay for and they aren't paying interest on the diamonds sitting on their shelves. This allows them to cut overhead costs and offer better pricing.

  • Is James Allen reputable?
    All James Allen diamonds are 100% natural and untreated. The diamonds are certified by either Gemological Institute of America (GIA), American Gem Society (AGS), or International Gemological Institute (IGI).

  • Does James Allen charge sales tax?
    James Allen only collects sales tax on orders shipped to Maryland and New York.

  • Are James Allen diamonds conflict free?
    Yes, every diamond on James Allen's website is certified conflict-free. James Allen only works with vendors who are members of the professional diamond trade and procure their diamonds through legal sources.

  • Does James Allen have a store?
    Yes, you can stop by the showroom to try on rings if you're in New York. The showroom is located at the heart of the NYC diamond district at 551 Fifth Avenue, 6th Floor, Suite 601.

  • Are the diamonds inspected?
    Every diamond is inspected by James Allen's in-house experts before being shipped to you. This ensures that you are getting the exact diamond and quality you ordered.

  • Does James Allen offer discounts?
    If you pay by wire transfer, you will receive a 1.5% discount on your entire order.

  • What if I order the wrong size ring?
    James Allen offers one free ring resizing within 60 days of purchase. But please note that not all rings can be resized, such as eternity bands and tension settings.

  • Where does James Allen ship and what are the shipping costs?
    James Allen ships worldwide for free, no matter the order amount. However, international customers will be responsible for any duties, VAT, or taxes charged by their country.

Bottom Line

James Allen understands that buying a diamond online is tricky, so they really go the extra mile to make you comfortable. Their 360-degree HD videos have revolutionized the way people shop for diamonds. Add in their great pricing, liberal return policy, and lifetime guarantee, and shopping at James Allen can be a real joy. Most importantly, buying an engagement ring online through James Allen can give you confidence about what you'll get with the final product. Hopefully, that will trickle over into a happily-ever-after proposal.

James Allen

Rebecca Lake is a journalist at CreditDonkey, a diamond jeweler comparison and financial education website. Write to Rebecca Lake at rebecca@creditdonkey.com. Our data-driven analysis has been recognized by major news outlets across the country and has helped young adults make savvy financial and lifestyle decisions. (read more)

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are those of the author's alone. Please support CreditDonkey on our mission to help you make savvy financial 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.

More from CreditDonkey:

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How to Buy an Engagement Ring

How to Buy an Engagement Ring

Best Time to Buy Jewelry

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