From the moment I met my girlfriend, I knew she was The One. After a brief period of dating, I decided that it was time to start looking for that perfect engagement ring. Fortunately for me, my girl is not exactly shy about the subject of marriage and had already given me some not-so-subtle hints about the type of ring she desired. I was looking for a princess-cut (square) diamond solitaire ring, in a simple four-prong setting. Sounds easy enough, right? So I set out to my local malls and jewelry shops to do some window shopping and pricing. At this point, I had done absolutely zero diamond research and knew nothing of diamond grading, pricing, etc. All I knew was that I wanted to keep the costs under $5000, which in my mind should fetch a really nice diamond ring. After completing my visits to the local diamond shops, I was disheartened to say the least. What I saw were diamonds that were not exactly stunning, for outrageously high prices. I didn't know if this was the "norm" or if I was getting ripped off, so I decided it was time to do some research.
My first Google search for diamond information was overwhelming. Where does one begin when they have absolutely no background information whatsoever? I literally spent hours upon hours combing over website after website, picking up little tidbits of information along the way. Gradually, I began to get an idea of how things work in the diamond industry. I learned that diamonds are evaluated and graded based on four qualities: Cut, Color, Clarity, Carat. Each of these four qualities has its own set of grades--see the charts for a better understanding of the grading scales, or check out the links I have included to some of the premier diamond information sites on the web.
Now that I had an understanding of how diamonds were graded, I went back out to the local shops to find out the quality of the previously-mentioned overpriced engagement rings that I had checked out the previous week. What I found were .75 - 1 carat diamonds that were in the I-J color range, I-1 and I-2 clarity range, being priced in the $4000-$8000 + tax range, which really is outrageous. I-J color and I-1/I-2 clarity is on the decidedly lower end of the quality scale, and despite jewelers best efforts to trick the consumer by polishing and using bright lighting in their stores, these diamonds were very unspectacular to the naked eye. I wanted a ring that had the "WOW" factor. Something that my girl would instantly fall in love with. Not only were these rings below the quality I was looking for, they were mostly ABOVE the price range I had set for myself. Now what?
Back when I was doing my research, I stumbled upon some online jewelry stores that were selling engagement rings. At the time, I quickly dismissed them--buying an engagement ring online? Come on. The idea seemed unromantic and unsafe. After all, how was I supposed to buy a diamond ring without even being able to see it? I decided that, while I still wasn't going to buy an engagement ring online, I would at least check out the prices--I had to know if the prices that I had seen at my local shops were the "norm" or if they were gauging the customer. The first site I stumbled upon, Blue Nile, had a professional looking website and by all accounts was safe and secure. They offered high quality diamonds, but they too were out of my price range. I did notice, however, that their lower-end engagement rings were cheaper than those in my local stores (I live on the east coast of Canada), which caused my eyebrow to raise. Not quite satisfied with what I had seen, I pushed on and found the website that changed everything: JamesAllen.com.
My first impression of James Allen was that they had a great website. They have a feature that allows you to build your own engagement ring: search their extensive database for the diamond you want and then add it to whichever setting (band) you like the most. The loose diamond search page is, admittedly, fantastic. You can search by cut, color, carat, clarity, price and more, which lets you really narrow it down to exactly the diamond you are looking for, and a quick scan quickly showed me that their prices were considerably better than I had seen anywhere else--locally and online. While that was all well and good, I still had one problem: I wanted to see the diamond before spending thousands of dollars. To my amazement, I found that James Allen featured actual pictures of the diamonds in the database, complete with 360° view and extreme close-up magnification that allowed me to closely inspect the diamonds I was looking at for imperfections. I was blown away--but still skeptical.
I am a skeptical person by nature, so despite the great prices and website features, I still wasn't convinced. I searched the web for James Allen reviews from actual customers--this was actually harder than it sounds. James Allen has a lot of positive reviews on various "diamond expert" types of websites who all generally said the exact same things, but I couldn't help but question their motives. I wanted to hear from ACTUAL customers, not "mystery shoppers" or people who were otherwise only writing for the purpose of making a positive review. Ultimately it was various message boards that generated what I determined to be the most genuine customer reviews--from people without incentives or any other alternative motives. People like me who were making the most important purchase of their life--online of all places--and wanted to get the best quality for the best price.
|Click here to browse hundreds of high resolution recently-purchased diamond rings.|
And of course, lets not kid ourselves--in the end, it's all about the prices. I could ramble on about how James Allen's prices are considerably lower than local retailers for higher quality diamonds, but I'll let them speak for themselves. You've read this far, after all, which makes you an intelligent consumer--take the time to compare prices and decide for yourself. You should also check out a super-cool feature from James Allen: actual images of recently purchased diamond rings. Have a look and see if the ring you're looking to purchase is there and get a realistic picture of what you can expect to receive.
James Allen FAQ Snippet:
Q: What if I don't order the correct ring size?
A: Each customer is entitled to one free ring resizing within 60 days of purchase. After 60 days, the fee is $25 for gold rings and $50 for platinum rings.
We'll return your ring to you (for free) via two-day FedEx.
Please note that eternity bands and tension rings cannot be resized and must be completely remanufactured.
Q: What if my jewelry gets lost during shipment?
A: Click HERE to read more...
Despite my hesitations, I went ahead and contacted James Allen's customer support. I just wanted to get a feel for them--how quickly they'd respond, how friendly they were, whether or not they'd try to "push" a sale on me, etc. My mind was put at ease when I received an extremely quick and friendly response. She assured me that if I was not satisfied with my purchase, a full refund would be given without hesitation, and the fact that they are listed in the Better Business Bureau (BBB) also went a long way in convincing me that they were for real. After reading their Risk-Free Retail policies, I could no longer wait. I decided it was time.
Having already known exactly what I was looking for, it wasn't very difficult for me to find the engagement ring I wanted. I settled on an ideal cut, .77 carat, E color, VS2 clarity diamond set in an 18kt four prong setting. The price was just within my budget, with free express shipping via FedEx (to Canada, no less). Within minutes of placing my order, I was contacted by one of their employees who let me know that she would be working with me throughout the process. I can't say enough about their customer service, by the way, they are assets to the company and I hope they are well taken care of.
It took a couple of days for my engagement ring to be put together. It was a custom order after all, and I had no problems with waiting a little for the ring to be expertly assembled and shipped. I then received my shipping notification email, letting me know that my girls engagement ring was on its way. Very exciting times--the ring was on the way, now all I had to do was think of an unforgettable way to propose! But wait, the story isn't without problems. Canadian customs, being the omnipresent powerful force that they are, contacted me and told me that I had to send them some papers in order for them to "release" my engagement ring.
James Allen FAQ Snippet cont'd:
Q: What is the cost of shipping?
A: JamesAllen.com provides fast, free shipping on all order destinations within the continental United States and Canada, regardless of order amount. Click here for more.
Q: Where do you ship diamonds?
A: We ship diamonds to the U.S., Canada and internationally. We deliver to your home, business, APO, or nearest Fedex location.
Regarding deliveries to Canada: Customs taxes may vary, depending upon the nature of the item and the Province you are having the item shipped to. For example, buying a loose diamond will not incur a... Click here to read more...
I was definitely confused--I had never heard of this practice in my years of online shopping, so I contacted customer support with my concerns. They immediately replied and let me know that they would have their own customs expert look into it and get back to me. They calmed me down and guided me through the process of signing some paperwork and paying the customs and duty charges to have the ring released (as Canadians, we are already all-too-aware of the fact that we have to pay taxes all the time). It was back in the air and on the way. The excitement builds...
***If you're Canadian and want more information on the customs process and duty fees, send me an email and I'll give you some more details.***
Tracking the order on FedEx.com all along the way, I anxiously waited for the doorbell to ring. When the ring was delivered, I couldn't wait to rip open the box and check everything out. Even with the Customs delay, it was still delivered within four business days. As promised, James Allen's packaging is extremely impressive--see the images I have included for a better idea of what I mean. Included with the ring was my GIA certificate, which I would later use in getting the ring appraised--more on that in a moment. I open the beautiful wooden jewelry box and I was simultaneously awestruck and relieved. The ring was absolutely stunning, just as I hoped it would be. It sparkled and reflected light from all angles, and I could not have been happier. I wrote my customer service rep to let her know it arrived safe and sound, and she immediately replied and wished me all the best with my proposal. I had made the most important purchase of my life: the engagement ring, and I was on top of the world.
Click here for more pictures of the ring, packaging and GIA certificate.
I already knew that I had gotten a fantastic deal on my ring--when the customs duty and taxes were applied and the currency was converted to Canadian dollars, I had spent around $4500 (this was when the Canadian dollar was trading at around .85). Comparable rings in local shops were $5500 minimum, but even those weren't graded nearly as highly as stone I bought from James Allen. I had my now-wife get the ring appraised for insurance purposes (I love my girl, but lets just say I wouldn't be shocked if she somehow managed to lose the ring) and the results were fantastic. The appraised value for local replacement purposes was $8200--nearly $4000 more than I paid for the ring. If that doesn't convince you that James Allen might just be the best place to buy an engagement ring, then perhaps the final part of the story will.
My fiancé, who I love to pieces, is not the most coordinated of people. Some might say she's a bit of a klutz, maybe just a tad clumsy. I'm sure some of you who are reading this can relate. Anyway, not long after I proposed, she managed to loosen one of the prongs on the ring, causing the diamond to rattle a little bit when moved quickly. This was obviously cause for concern and had to quickly be dealt with. The local jeweller explained that this is a common thing for new brides-to-be, they are not used to having a big diamond ring on their finger and thus aren't familiar with the "dos and don'ts" of wearing an engagement ring. She explained all these little tidbits to my fiancé, but the problem remained: the ring needed to be fixed. Naturally, I contacted my representative at James Allen.
She called me back within 30 minutes and explained the process. I had to pay a small sum for express shipping via FedEx to get the ring back to their service department, where they would fix it for free and ship it back to me via express FedEx shipping. No questions asked. Once again, it goes without saying that I was impressed. The ring arrived in New York the very next day, and just over a week later, it was returned to us without any issues--looking as beautiful as ever.
I hope you've enjoyed my long-winded yet completely true and honest account of buying an engagement ring--this is the most real, genuine and honest James Allen review you will find anywhere online. Without James Allen, I genuinely don't know what would have happened. I may or may not have spent more than $4500, but I definitely would not have received such a high quality engagement ring that appraised for $8200. It's hard for me put into words just how fantastic James Allen truly is without sounding like a shill--just trust me when I tell you that everything I've written here is true. They offer the highest quality diamonds and jewelry at the best prices, and their customer service is the best I've ever received anywhere in my 30+ years. If you are in the market for an engagement ring, you owe it yourself to at least browse JamesAllen.com and see for yourself--I'll be shocked if you aren't impressed with what you see. Feel free to contact me and ask me anything you want--I would love to help anyone out there who finds themselves in the boat I was in--lost and looking for a high quality engagement ring that won't break your bank account. Thanks for reading, and good luck to you all! --Adam
Related Pages: • Photos of the engagement ring purchased from James Allen