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Buying jewelry online has grown in popularity as retailers have shifted their focus from an in-store experience to one that starts and ends on their website.
Blue Nile is one of the industry leaders in selling diamonds and other jewelry online. Whether you’re searching for a loose diamond, an engagement ring, or a necklace, the company offers a significant number of choices in every category.
Overall, we give Blue Nile our full recommendation. They’ve consistently impressed us with their selection and value, all while providing a seamless customer experience.
In our Blue Nile review, we’ll detail all the areas most important to your purchase, including their quality, prices, online buying experience, and drawbacks.
Blue Nile Overview
Blue Nile’s story began in 1995 when Doug Williams started selling diamonds online. In 1998, Mark C. Vadon bought a diamond from the site.
A year later, he purchased a majority stake in the company, changed the name to Blue Nile, and improved the online experience.
Blue Nile became a pioneer of selling diamonds online. Their business model involves working directly with manufacturers and wholesalers to avoid the high markups charged by other jewelry vendors.
But based in Seattle, Washington, they’ve become one of the largest online jewelry retailers in the world.
In recent years, Blue Nile has opened physical locations in cities across the United States, including:
- Portland, Oregon
- Los Angeles, California
- Short Hills, New Jersey
- Scottsdale, Arizona
They’re committed to only selling conflict-free diamonds that abide by the Kimberley Process. This means their diamonds aren’t used to fund civil wars against legitimate governments.
One of Blue Nile’s competitive advantages, especially compared to brick-and-mortar jewelry retailers, is a huge selection. They aren’t limited by the space available in a storefront and instead can list hundreds of thousands of pieces on their website.
Their main product lines are:
- Wedding rings
- Other jewelry (earrings, bracelets, necklaces)
Let’s explore each of these types of jewelry in detail.
Blue Nile has more than 600,000 loose diamonds available across all the most popular cuts.
Whether you’re interested in round, emerald, Asscher, or radiant cut diamonds, you’ll find all these and more across every cut, clarity, and color grade.
For example, if you’re searching for a one-carat princess cut diamond to place on an engagement ring, there are more than 150 eye-clean, colorless options to explore.
Even for shapes that aren’t as common, like pear cuts, you have plenty of choices. Blue Nile sells more than 17,000 pear cuts and 10,000 cushion cuts.
Their diamonds are as small as 0.23 carats, and the largest weigh more than 20 carats.
They also have thousands of colored diamonds in 10 cuts. There are orange round cuts, blue radiant cuts, and purple heart-shaped diamonds.
Blue Nile sells lab-grown diamonds through their partnership with Lightbox. It’s a more affordable option for those who aren’t concerned about its origin, because they look identical to natural diamonds.
For whatever pieces of jewelry need a diamond, from engagement rings and necklaces to bracelets and pendants, Blue Nile has thousands of options.
An engagement ring isn’t complete without the right setting. Blue Nile has more than 700 styles available, including:
- Single and double halos
On the engagement rings page of their website, you can filter by price, shape, metal, material, and more.
It’s within those filters you’ll find all they have to offer.
In most cases, their settings fit all the different diamond cuts. For example, if you select a four-prong setting, it can hold a princess, cushion, radiant or emerald cut.
Their bezels settings, where a ring of metal wraps around the stone, is a popular choice for round cut diamonds.
Blue Nile has some of the best setting designs in the industry. Our favorite is their line of pave settings.
This petite micropave engagement ring features round diamonds cascading down both sides of the shank from the center stone.
It’s an effective way to add more sparkle to the piece without the significant price increase that accompanies a heavier center diamond.
You can view all of Blue Nile’s pave settings here.
Blue Nile’s selection of bridal jewelry continues with more than 1,000 types of wedding rings for men and women. Many of the same filters for settings are applicable to wedding rings.
You can choose whether to view rose, white, or yellow gold or platinum bands.
Some are a classic style without the addition of diamond accents, but others are channel-set and eternity bands.
Our favorite type of metal for wedding rings is their white gold line because you can match it with a white gold engagement ring.
The two rings won’t compete with each other but instead serve as the perfect complement.
This 14K white gold Riviera pave diamond eternity ring can hold up to one carat of diamonds.
It has a subtle sparkle and can match an engagement ring with a similar design.
If you buy an engagement ring from Blue Nile, we also recommend purchasing your wedding ring there as well. You can select “has matching band” from the setting style filter to find the right fit for the two rings.
This feature is available from many Blue Nile alternatives as well.
You can learn about the quality of Blue Nile diamonds because they’re graded by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
The GIA is the most renowned organization for assessing diamonds and is known for a rigorous process.
So you shouldn’t judge the quality of a diamond by its price or the vendor but instead by the grades listed on the GIA report.
Blue Nile includes a GIA report for all its diamonds. The best part is it’s accessible on their website, so you don’t have to take that extra step to request it.
For example, the site includes the GIA report for this 0.71-carat round cut. Using the report, we can see it has the following qualities:
- Color: E
- Clarity: VS2
- Cut: Very good
We know it’s an eye-clean diamond with strong brilliance.
Their highest quality diamonds are the Astor by Blue Nile line. The super-ideal cut stones are designed to maximize brilliance and fire.
Although there may be marginal differences between an ideal cut and Astor ideal cut, we don’t think it justifies the premium.
It’s difficult to tell the difference with the naked eye, so you can save money by instead choosing a very good or ideal cut diamond.
Blue Nile’s other jewelry is also high-quality. The settings are handcrafted, and their necklaces, bracelets, and earrings have exceptional designs.
Take this rose gold tennis bracelet as an example.
It’s total carat weight is five carats, and it’s plated with rhodium for durability and sparkle.
No matter if you’re browsing for an engagement or wedding ring or other pieces of jewelry, you don’t have to worry about sacrificing quality if you choose Blue Nile.
Blue Nile offers lower prices than many other diamond vendors because they partner directly with wholesalers and manufacturers and list them online.
The company avoids the high overhead costs associated with physical stores and doesn’t run expensive marketing campaigns like Kay or Zales.
Instead, their prices are comparable to their main competitor, James Allen.
The best way to grasp Blue Nile’s competitive prices is to compare similar diamond rings from other retailers.
As an example, Zales sells this one-carat round cut diamond engagement ring for $8,999.99. It’s set in an 18K white gold solitaire setting.
The diamond earned an I color and VS2 clarity grade from the GIA.
We created the same ring on Blue Nile’s website, and it’s priced at $5,377.
That’s a 40 percent lower price at Blue Nile compared to Zales.
At James Allen, this similar ring costs $5,112.
These examples show that while Blue Nile’s diamond rings are significantly less expensive than many of the popular jewelry retailers, their prices are more aligned with other online diamond stores.
But Blue Nile’s low prices don’t stop with engagement rings. You’ll also find value with their other jewelry.
Their wedding rings start at $140, and you can find ones with diamonds set in the band for less than $2,000.
They offer the perfect combination of low prices on jewelry that don’t lack in quality.
Online Buying Experience
Blue Nile didn’t only lead the way in buying diamonds online.
They’ve created an exceptional online buying experience that gives you confidence in your purchase without having to visit a store.
One way they create that experience is through high-quality images and videos of their jewelry. For the majority of diamonds on the site, you can view a real photo instead of a stock image.
This allows you to see how the diamond will look to the naked eye, so you can determine how inclusions may affect its appearance.
For example, this 0.80-carat round cut diamond earned an SI2 clarity grade.
The high-resolution image shows us how the inclusions are barely visible, but there are a few black spots scattered across the table.
When you rotate the diamond 360 degrees, these flaws become more noticeable at certain angles.
The same feature is available for its engagement rings and most other jewelry. Once you’ve paired the diamond and setting, you can get a complete picture of the ring.
Blue Nile’s online buying experience also includes quick comparisons.
Instead of starting your search for a diamond from scratch each time, you can compare alternate diamonds that have slightly different grades along the four Cs of color, cut, clarity, and cut.
For example, this one-carat diamond has the following grades from the GIA:
- Cut: Very good
- Clarity: SI1
- Color: F
If you scroll to the bottom of the page, you’ll see a section titled “Compare Alternate Diamonds.” Blue Nile lists your current selection along with diamonds that are:
- Smaller with more color
- Similar across every aspect
- Bigger with more color
It’s an easy way to find the diamond with the right qualities for your ring and is another way Blue Nile excels with its online buying process.
You should also consider the jewelry packaging. It’s an important part of the piece, especially if it’s a gift or engagement ring. With Blue Nile, it’ll add to the experience.
They offer unique packaging for diamond rings and other jewelry. If you’ve bought a ring, it’ll come in a rectangular white box, which holds the blue or white box containing the diamond.
The Blue Nile name is on the top, and it has a cushioned interior. It’s the perfect packaging for a proposal and to store the ring.
The package also comes with everything you need to know about your engagement ring. This includes a cleaning and care guide, the GIA report, and information on insuring your ring.
Blue Nile’s packaging is comparable to James Allen’s, but our favorite is from Brilliant Earth. Their wooden boxes are sleek with the brand name etched on top.
Here’s our full Brilliant Earth review.
Blue Nile’s other jewelry often arrives in blue or white rectangular packaging. It’s durable and elegant, so there’s no need to swap the box if you’re presenting it as a gift.
Engagement rings are often an expensive purchase, so you might consider Blue Nile’s financing options to avoid paying the full cost upfront.
Blue Nile’s credit card has no annual fee and provides access to cardmember-only promotions and offers.
There are three financing options with the credit card that involve different interest rates, depending on the balance of the loan and how quickly it’s paid off.
One plan includes no interest if the balance is paid within six, 12, or 18 months. If your purchase is between $500-$1,499.99 and you pay within six months, you avoid interest.
For longer pay periods, between 24 and 60 months, the introductory interest rate has an APR of 9.99%, but it jumps to 28.99% APR after the initial period.
You can learn more about payment options on Blue Nile’s financing page.
One concern buyers have about buying jewelry online is a potential lack of customer service. In-person retailers have built their brands around the personalized service their experts offer when you walk in the door.
At an online retailer like Blue Nile, you can’t get the same personalized experience unless you visit one of its showrooms.
But that doesn’t mean Blue Nile lacks customer service. In fact, we’re consistently impressed with the interactions we have with their team. They’re available 24/7 to chat, text, email, or call.
You can connect with a diamond expert about a particular gem you’re considering, discuss the logistics of your order, and inquire about upgrades or returns.
Our favorite feature is the ability to schedule a virtual appointment. They can answer your questions about ordering jewelry or walk you through each aspect of a GIA report.
Blue Nile has also earned an A+ from the Better Business Bureau.
Like every jewelry company, they’ve earned some poor reviews, but the rating indicates they consistently address customer complaints in a timely manner.
Shipping, Return Policies, and Warranty
You should also understand Blue Nile’s shipping, return policies, and warranty. These are important aspects of your purchase, whether you need the jewelry in a rush or are considering requesting a refund.
Blue Nile offers free shipping on every order. The insured shipping box is discreet, so you won’t have to worry about ruining the surprise.
FedEx Ground shipping is free for orders under $500, and two-day shipping is free for orders between $500-$1,500.
For any order over $1,500, priority overnight shipping is free.
For orders outside the United States, shipping times are generally between three days and six weeks.
You can return your jewelry to Blue Nile within 30 days for a full refund and no questions asked. There are exceptions to this return policy, such as engraved jewelry, diamonds purchased as part of the upgrade program, and other special orders.
In some cases, you can instead exchange it for another piece.
You can learn more about their 30-day money back guarantee here.
Blue Nile includes a lifetime manufacturer warranty on their jewelry. They warrant all items won’t have manufacturing defects. If it does, you can return it to their team for an inspection.
If they determine it qualifies as a manufacturing defect, they’ll repair or replace the item for free. If they decide it’s not covered, they’ll send you a quote for its repair.
As part of the lifetime warranty, they offer free cleanings and inspections every six months. This includes repairs to the ring mounting.
The customer pays for shipping, but Blue Nile pays for its return.
Although Blue Nile provides an overall positive experience, there are some drawbacks about the company you should know.
Some buyers aren’t content buying jewelry without inspecting it in-person. Unless you live close to one of its showrooms, you won’t have the opportunity to view it yourself before you buy.
Even if you do visit one of its physical locations, its inventory pales in comparison to its online store, so they may not have your choice of diamond or setting.
Instead, you’ll have to make the purchase and consider returning it. Between the initial purchase and refund, that process could take more than two weeks.
Some customers have also complained about the time it takes to receive their refund.
Another downside is not all of their diamonds have a high-quality image. For example, if you’re scrolling through their selection of round cut diamonds, you’ll notice some diamonds have a stock image that says “image coming soon.”
Their competitor, James Allen, always has images of their diamonds.
There are also instances in which the checkout process is delayed because you have to contact their team.
The page will display a message that says the piece you’ve selected deserves special attention, and it requires a jewelry expert to complete the order.
Our Bottom Line Recommendation on Blue Nile
The bottom line recommendation for our Blue Nile review is they’re an excellent place to buy diamond rings and jewelry.
You can’t ask for a larger selection, with a variety of diamond cuts, settings, gemstones, and jewelry all available for purchase online.
That’s coupled with low prices and the ability to view what your piece looks like in high-resolutions before you buy.
You can complete the entire purchase without stepping into a store or speaking with their team, but if you have questions about a piece or the ordering process, Blue Nile is there to help.
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