Jewelry makes up nearly $80 billion dollars worth of the American economy.
Yet, despite buying over 2 million engagement rings alone each year,
a substantial percentage of diamond ring buyers have doubts about their buying decision.
And we think we know why.
Despite salespeople reciting the four C’s mantra Ad nauseam: Carat weight, Cut, Color, and Clarity, we believe there should be a 5th C… Comparing online! when buying diamonds.
With brick and mortar stores charging up to 50 percent more and actually having less inventory, shopping for jewelry online is a must.
Here’s Where to look:
#1. James Allen
Best Overall Online Jewelry Store
James Allen is your place to shop first for online diamonds. Operating since 2006, James Allen has a virtual inventory of over 300,000 diamonds to shop for.
More important than even the inventory are two major factors for purchasing online.
The first is that James Allen provides absolutely stunning visual imagery. Literally the best in the business.
The second is that within 30 days, you can return any ring with a rock-solid guarantee.
James Allen has so many other things going for it including superior customer service, and Gemological Institute of America, or American Gem Society or International Gemological Institute certificates ensures you are getting a quality diamond.
Rating: 5 Stars.
- Superior photos
- Gold standard GIA, AGS or IGS ratings
- Unconditional 30-day return policy
- Superior Inventory
- Ecellet reputation
#2. Ross Simmons
Best Discount Online Jewelry Store
Jewelry is more than diamonds. There are necklaces, tennis bracelets, anklets, Custom NFL watches and pearl necklaces.
At Ross Simmons, you can get beautiful and elegant jewelry and not break the bank. Just be careful when shopping this website because there are so many delightful products at a reasonable price that it’s hard not to overshop.
Rating: 4.7 Stars
- Superior selection of jewlery
- Low prices yet retains quality
- 30-Day No-Risk Guarantee policy
#3. Ice Trends
Best for stunning diamonds
Ice Trends has some stunning diamonds at a very reasonable price. And that’s a reason to buy. And if everything works out, people just love the stunning diamonds they receive.
That said, and we have to be honest here, the company does lose a bit on customer service, with a return policy which gives you just 7 days to return for a cash refund.
After that, and up to 30 days, you get store credit only.
Most diamond engagement rings start at around the $4,000 to $6,000 range at Ice Trends, so they aren’t the cheapest, but you sort out a lot of the fluff.
They also have a fantastic set of Moissanite Rings, a lab generated imitation diamond that some gemologists believe gives off a more brilliant “bling” than diamonds, at about half the cost.
- A smaller inventory but great set of diamonds
- Alternative of buying Moissanite
Get a 2 carrot ring for half the price of a diamond
- Has a wide variety of tennis bracelets, necklaces, and earrings.
#4. Blue Nile
Best overall variety
Blue Nile has a huge selection of fashion jewelry, brand names, and some of the best costume jewelry you’ll ever find. And at prices that are often 60 percent less than what you would find at retail jewelry stores.
- Wide variety
- Preces to fit every budget
- 30-day return policy
Best place to snag a jewelry discount
Jewelry.com is backed by a Berkshire Hathaway Company with a wide birth in the industry, so they have the ability to snag a lot of great deals and sell them at a discounted price.
You won’t find many Tiffany quality diamond rings here, but for as low as $10, to around an $80 or so average, you can get some great bargains.
- Wide variety of discount jewelery
- Huge selection of under $300 gifts
- Specialists in finding deals in jewelery
Best for custom jewelery
If you are tired if jewelry collections that all look the same, look no further than Camille Jewelry for the answer.
Each item such as the Carved Pink One-of-a-kind Tourmaline earrings are unique.
If you want to support an artist as well as wear unique jewelry, consider Cammile.
- Unique items
- Lovingly hand crafted
- Incredibly fashionable
#7. World Jewels
Best for direct dealer pricing
World Jewels is unique in that they are one of the few online (or offline for that matter) jewelry stores that actually design their own jewelry.
A remarkable 30 percent of World Jewels customers are repeat customers, which is an indication of the level of satisfaction this jeweler brings.
With over 7,000 diamonds in their inventory, they can customize practically any engagement or wedding ring.
- Customization specialists
- High customer return rate means discount prices
- 30-day return policy
#8. Miral Jewelers
Best for flexible options in financing
If you are not exactly swimming in cash, and who is these days during the worldwide pandemic, Miral Jewelers is a great place to start.
First, if your fiancee is shopping with you online, you won’t start out looking at 2 carat and more diamond rings. There are some handsome, under $500 rings here that not only look beautiful but are affordable.
Second, Miral Jewelers prides itself on its numerous financing options, so for the price of an engagement ring, you can also add a honeymoon trip to Cabo San Lucas
- Nice selection of affordable rings
- Several financing options
- Unique wedding bands for men
How to choose the best diamond engagement rings?
We gave extra points for some of the best online jewelry stores because of their wide assortment of other jewelry such the Blue Nile which has a really wide assortment of bracelets, necklaces, and pearl earrings.
We also gave high marks to Camille as one of the best online jewelers because of their artistic and uniquely crafted individual pieces.
Never the less, when comparing brick and mortar stores to buying online, how they treat the big-ticket items, which are primarily diamond engagement rings are the most telling.
So what are the principle differences between buying engagement rings online and at a traditional brick and mortar store?
We’ll start with the latter.
A primer on traditional brick and mortar jewelry stores
The first thing you realize, when going into a traditional jewelry store is that they aren’t cheap. There are no equivalents of a “Dollar Store ” in a traditional jewelry store.
In fact, many jewelry stores far outshine new car dealerships. Expect to see recessed ceilings, chandeliers, beautiful showcases, and plush seating.
While there is nothing wrong with that, realize that you the customer are paying for that showcase of a store in the price you pay for a ring.
And No matter what part of the country you live in, many jewelry stores like to set the ambiance that you’re in the middle of Rodeo Drive about to make the purchase of a lifetime.
In addition, the vast majority of the better jewelry salespersons work on commission and earn, according to GlassDoor, on average of $42.000 to $70,000 or more. So you are paying for that salary too.
The ring selection will be smaller
Realize as well, that the ring selection will be smaller. Buying diamonds, even from a wholesaler as brick and mortar stores do, is an expensive proposition.
A typical mall jeweler will probably have at most 300 rings at their disposal and another 50 to 100 loose diamonds for custom settings. Not the thousands of diamonds that many online stores offer.
Your traditional salesperson may not know much more about diamonds that you do
It’s a sad fact, but many traditional jewelry salespeople are really simply talking heads and may less than a couple of hours of training.
They may be good talkers convincing you that a $7000 engagement ring will make you a happier couple than a $2,000 one (it won’t) but roughly half of them couldn’t tell the difference between a diamond and a fugazi if their life depended upon it.
Besides the price markup, the number one reason that people are disappointed in their diamond engagement ring purchase as that it just doesn’t have the luster that it seemed to have at the jewelry store.
This is because jewelry stores spend a great deal of money on lighting. Special Halogen bulbs give off a “daylight shine” that makes diamond rings have that special sparkle in a traditional jewelry store.
The minute you take it home and show it off to anyone, except in the brightest light such as outdoors and sparkle is significantly reduced.
You are paying for advertising
Box stores at the mall such as Zales and Helzberg Diamonds spend millions of dollars worth of advertising to get people into their stores.
There’s no secret that millions of people can repeat the Kay Jeweler slogan, “every kiss begins with K.”
Unfortunately, you are paying for that advertising at a chain store.
The bottom line for brick and mortar jewelry stores?
Expect to pay a minimum of 40 to 50 percent more for your jewelry.
How do online jewelry stores compare?
At a quality online store such as James Allen, you scroll through 100s of engagement rings in a matter of minutes without any high-pressure salesperson or your intended fiancee anxiously awaiting you to buy the ring today so she can show it off to her friends tonight.
Second, you can save big money
Online diamonds are at least 40 to 50 percent cheaper than in a traditional store.
Since most online stores have no expensive showrooms and pay no exorbitant commissions. You pay less.
In addition, part of the reasons they can carry such a wide variety is that many of the diamonds are virtual, meaning they are offered to the online jeweler upon purchase, but that the wholesaler actually retains possession of the diamond.
This saves online sellers big money on inventory.
Companies such as James Allen, and many others, offer photos of the diamond under a microscope to 40 times actual size. This ensures you get photos that realistically
show faults in the diamond.
Certified Gem certificate included
Expect to get a Gemological Institute of America, or similar certificate showing exactly how your diamond is graded.
Never purchase a diamond, either off-line or online without one.
Only purchase with a 30-day money-back guarantee policy
If you make an online purchase with a 30-day money-back guarantee (be sure and read the online return policy completely) you eliminate all the worries of buying online.
In fact, the better online stores such as James Allen will send you a return package free of charge, if you live in the United States or Canada, so you are not out of pocket one penny for a return.
The bottom line for online diamond engagement sets
The best online jewellery locations will save you between 40 to 60 percent on your diamonds and have an infinitely larger selection.
With the accompanying Certificat (which should be branded on the ring as well), you are guaranteed to get exactly the quality ring you expected. And often, it comes with a case that outshines traditional jewelry stores.
Just be sure that when you purchase, they have a rock-solid return policy.
There are few high-value purchases that people know so little about as jewelry. And quite often, in-person jewelry salespeople are not much help.
Usually, they are there to reaffirm that you as a couple love each other, and as a symbol of your love, buy this expensive ring.
You can usually obtain a much wider selection of jewelry online than at a traditional jewelry store, and the price will generally be at least 40 to as much as 60 percent less.