Blue Nile Review
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Launched in 1999, Blue Nile was one of the first online diamond retailers. They revolutionized the way people bought diamond engagement rings by offering low-cost stones and customizable rings. And until other stores such as James Allen and With Clarity came along to give them a run for their money, they were the ultimate disrupter of the diamond buying experience.
In this review, we will discuss Blue Nile’s diamond selection and their quality, the buying experience on their site, and tips to save some money with Blue Nile.
Diamond Selection: Are Blue Nile Diamonds Legit?
Blue Nile diamonds are absolutely legit. But because they cost less than diamonds at brick-and-mortar retailers, it’s understandable how someone shopping for a diamond might be skeptical. The price difference is all in the business model. Blue Nile, along with similar retailers such as James Allen or With Clarity, don’t have the overhead costs of traditional diamond retailers, and they pass that savings onto the consumer.
Blue Nile has over 120,000 diamonds available on their site – not as much as their competitor James Allen, but certainly enough to guarantee you’ll find something that fits your taste and your budget.
Does Blue Nile sell Lab-Made Diamonds?
All of Blue Nile’s diamonds are natural and they sell lab-made. So, if you’re looking to save some more money by opting for a lab-created diamond, head on over to James Allen or With Clarity, instead.
Diamond Shapes and Cuts
Blue Nile has over 85,000 round diamonds, the most popular shape for engagement rings, by far. But if you’re looking for something more unique, they also carry ovals, hearts, Asscher, emerald, princess, cushion, marquise, pear, and radiant diamonds.
You can’t shop anything less than a good cut for any of Blue Nile’s diamonds. Depending on the shape, their cut grades go up to ideal and Astor ideal, their own trademarked precision-cut diamonds.
As with other sites, the number of diamonds available in each shape changes. But at the time that we wrote this review, they had diamonds in every shape category they offer. What’s available will depend on the carat weight, clarity, and color you’re looking for, as well.
Keep in mind that the more flexible you are with your search parameters, the more diamonds you’ll have to choose from.
And if you’re looking for something really different, a more vintage-looking cut or a unique shape, Blue Nile won’t be the place to shop. A more bespoke retailer, such as Leibish & Co. or Taylor & Hart, is more likely to have what you’re looking for.
Fancy Color Diamonds
Blue Nile also offers fancy color diamonds. Like their fancy shapes, their availability changes, but you can search for red, orange, yellow, green, blue, pink, purple, gray, and brown. The drop-down menu in the search bar will automatically tell you how many of each color is available at the moment.
The fancy color search menu lets you search for price, carat, intensity, and shape, as well. You won’t find clarity or cut as search options because these aspects of a fancy colored diamond are not as important as the color itself. So, fancy colors aren’t graded for those two Cs.
Are Astor Ideals Worth the Price?
The Astor Ideal cut is available only for Blue Nile’s round, princess, and cushion diamonds. It’s a high-precision cut meant to create perfect symmetry and bring out maximum sparkle in the stone. In terms of GIA or AGS grading, it’s considered and excellent cut.
Like James Allen’s True Hearts collection, an Astor by Blue Nile is more expensive than a diamond just graded excellent or ideal, which will have intense sparkle, fire, and scintillation, as well. Compare this 1ct princess-cut Astor Ideal with this princess-cut stone graded very good. Can you tell the difference in performance?
Essentially, it’s up to you to decide if perfect symmetry is important to you in a stone. If it’s not, then take a look at the ideal or even very good cut diamonds on the site. They will be less expensive, but still perform well.
Ring Metals and Settings
If you’re building an engagement ring, you may have your heart set on a particular metal, rather than a particular diamond. If so, start with the metals and settings on Blue Nile’s site.
They offer what’s come to be pretty standard for metals: 14K and 18K yellow, while, and rose gold, as well as platinum. What’s unique about Blue Nile’s metals is that they are all responsibly sourced, something that not all jewelry retailers offer.
You can’t shop by metal from the engagement ring drop-down menu, like you can shop settings and stones. But once you choose a setting, you can toggle between metals.
Blue Nile offers an array of settings, from vintage, to three-stone, to what they call unique settings, which generally have a more contemporary feel to them. They offer designer settings, as well, from Bella Vaughan and ZAC Zac Posen, to name a few.
If you start your ring shopping with a setting, you’ll have to play around with diamond sizes and shapes, as well as with metals. Not all settings are available in all metals and not every diamond shape fits every setting.
The Buying Experience: Blue Nile vs. James Allen
In the world of online diamond retail, Blue Nile and James Allen are often mentioned in the same sentence. That’s probably because their retail structure and buying experience are very similar. They both have large diamond and setting selections, as well as a fair amount of metals to choose from.
And both companies allow you to build your own engagement ring in much the same way.
Like James Allen, Blue Nile allows you to start with a diamond or setting. But unlike James Allen, step one is choosing the diamond. That makes sense, since this is the single most important part of the ring. It makes sense to build the ring around the diamond rather than get a diamond that fits a ring.
The diamond search tool allows you to play with the four Cs. There are also advanced search settings such as fluorescence, symmetry, and depth, if you really want to get nitty-gritty about your stone. Or you can just set a budget and see what comes up.
Once you set your search parameters, you’ll get a list of diamonds. Unfortunately, you have to click into each diamond’s page to see a picture of it, a disadvantage over James Allen, which has a thumbnail picture of each diamond right on the search results page.
Just like James Allen and other retailers that let you build your own engagement ring, Blue Nile remembers your search settings, even if you step away from the computer for a day or two. Keep that in mind as you bounce back and forth between settings, metals, and stones, and check the finished product carefully before you buy it. Otherwise, you could end up with a stone, metal, or setting from a previous search.
When you do click into a diamond’s page, you’ll be able to see a magnified image, as well as what the diamond looks like on a finger. Note that not all diamonds have a 360-degree video, but you can check a box on the search page to get only results with videos.
If you need help, you can chat with a bot or have a live chat with an expert. Our favorite feature of the search page, though, has to be the Hint It Button. This feature allows you to share the diamond or ring your found via email to, say, a significant other.
You can also share it to social media, if subtlety isn’t your thing.
How to Save Money at Blue Nile
Saving money on Blue Nile is very much like saving money on other diamond retail sites. It’s all about the stone and metal you choose.
In the James Allen review, we explain how choosing a stone that’s less than flawless or has a little color to it can save you money. You can also play with diamond shape, since fancy shape diamonds typically run cheaper than traditional rounds.
You can also cut the cost by choosing a less expensive metal. If you love the look of white metals, for instance, but you don’t have the budget of platinum, consider white gold. Because platinum is rare and because more of the pure metal is used to make a ring, it is more expensive than white gold, which is made of the more common yellow gold and silver.
Customizing Your Diamond Engagement Ring
With all the diamond, setting, and metal options on Blue Nile’s site, it stands to reason you can create a pretty unique ring for your intended.
You can also have your ring engraved. But, unlike James Allen (who offers free engraving), engraving will cost you an extra $30.
Customer Service at Blue Nile
Once you’re on the Blue Nile site, it’s very easy to find everything you’re looking for to help you through the buying process. Head over to their education page to learn everything you need to know about diamonds, metals, settings, and rings in general.
Once you’re armed with that knowledge, build your ring confidently, knowing you can always chat with an expert who will help guide you through the process. If you have questions before or after the fact, they have a 24-7 hotline, as a contact form.
Once you have your ring built, it’s time to choose the size. Blue Nile has you there, too. You can use their helpful sizing page to figure out the size, or send away for a free plastic ring sizer ($15 if you want it rushed). And if you still get it wrong, they offer free ring resizing within the first year.
After all that, if you get your ring and you’re still not happy, you can send it back free for 30 days.
And if, down the road, you want to upgrade your diamond, you can trade it in for a 100 percent credit. The only catch is you have to buy a diamond that is at least twice the price of your original.
Blue Nile is an easy and affordable option for buying a diamond engagement ring. There are still a few kinks in their system that they need to work out, but with countless options to choose from, you can be certain you’ll find something love.