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Blue Nile Diamonds/enagemnet Rings


jay
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Hi Jay, I don't think that Blue Nile diamonds are bad but I can venture a guess about the mixed reviews.

 

Blue Nile doesn't hold any of their diamonds in their actual "inventory" like some other online vendors do (except for their Signature Diamonds). This means that you cannot ask a customer service rep to pull the diamond and visually inspect it to give you feedback on its characteristics. Buying from Blue Nile will require some homework on your part because there are a lot of characteristics about a diamond that a person with minimal experience wouldn't know how to look for.

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To add to the above:

 

1. Many if not most of the diamonds offered by Blue Nile are also available through other vendors, some of which offer higher service levels (and some of which may be slightly cheaper than BN). BN has sheer scale, reputation and solidity as its strong points. The diamonds themselves are as good as you are going to find anywhere else, as long as you look at truly comparable stones (e.g. there is no point in looking at EGL or IGI graded diamonds - which BN does not sell - and say "but they are cheaper"; they are not - they just seem to be).

 

2. It depends also on what diamond shape you are buying. Rounds have pretty good, relatively standard cut grades assigned by independent labs (GIA and AGS), which provide a buyer with a lot of the information needed to make a good choice (or at least avoid a poor one!). Fancy cuts (i.e. non-rounds) are much more varidable and the lab report provides almost no information useful to understand their cut - with the exception of a few AGS-graded stones.

 

3. Where I have seen mixed reviews on Blue Nile has been on the quality of the jewellery/metalwork. I suspect part of the issue is that they tend to go for a mid-low price point, and this has an impact on quality, particularly on relatively elaborate pieces (pavé settings, halos, etc.). Also, BN adopts the same business model for jewellery as they have on diamonds (pure intermediation between the consumer and the supplier), and that makes any form of customisation beyond ring sizing impossible, which again may be below some customers' expectations.

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I would put BN in the same general category with Costco and Walmart. They have generally pretty good stuff, they charge reasonable but not extraordinary prices for it. They honor their return policy if you decide to use it, they're large and well known, and they're likely to still be around a decade from now. That's a pretty good place to start. The downside is that they don't actually know much about what they're selling, it's logistically a pain to try on several things and see which one you like best, and they don't have much in the way of helpful advice, especially if you want something a bit outside of the ordinary. At the end of the day, nearly everyone who shops there ends up reasonably happy but they don't seem to garner great enthusiasm very often. It's a safe, low risk, low pain and reasonably priced way to get a ring. Is that the 'best'? Maybe. It depends on you and what you count as the alternatives. They have a ton of competitors and they too have happy customers.

 

Suggestions? If you want to shop with them, poke around for coupons. I think you can possibly save a few bucks with a little footwork. There may even be something somewhere on this site but I'm not sure. Perhaps ask the admins.

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I have observed that BN is actually significantly more expensive than Costco and Walmart. A few examples...

 

Seven-Stone Round Diamond Ring (1.00 ctw)14kt White Gold at Costco: http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product.aspx?Prodid=11674706&search=gold+diamond+ring&Mo=93&cm_re=1_en-_-Top_Left_Nav-_-Top_search〈=en-US&Nr=P_CatalogName:BC&Sp=S&N=5000043&whse=BC&Dx=mode+matchallpartial&Ntk=Text_Search&Dr=P_CatalogName:BC&Ne=4000000&D=gold+diamond+ring&Ntt=gold+diamond+ring&No=45&Ntx=mode+matchallpartial&Nty=1&topnav=&s=1

 

14-Stone Channel Set Princess Cut Diamond Ring in 14K White Gold (0.5 ctw) at BN: http://www.bluenile.com/product_details.jsp?oid=20324

 

Not a perfect comparison by any means but enough to see the difference. BN's rings with a full carat ctw fall in the $2300-2800 range. And here is a 1.5 ctw 9-diamond 14K white gold engagement ring from Walmart for only $2500...

 

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Facets-of-Fire-1-1-2-Carat-Diamond-14kt-White-Gold-Engagement-Ring/11604336

 

Even though I'm quite fond of what these companies have accomplished, generally speaking I place BN and Ice into more expensive categories, and often unjustifiably so, especially Ice. I personally manufacture everything in 18K white gold in Italy and Spain, and my prices coincide with comparable pieces from BN in 14K white gold.

 

I would also recommend looking at Macys and JC Penny, as they occasionally stock beautiful pieces at very reasonable prices.

Edited by Encore DT
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I think what Neil was pointing towards was the level of service/business model: basically, buying from Blue Nile, Costco or Walmart you are buying from companies that compete in the diamonds/jewellery market using primarily "commercial" strategy/tactics, rather than "expertise" or "prestige" ones.

 

As such, they are very good for some types of purchases, and horrible for others. Independent of the price they charge, or whether one is "better" (cheaper?) than the other.

Edited by davidelevi
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I would not blanketly say that Walmart is ‘better’ than BN any more than I would say BN is ‘better’ than your local jeweler. Sometimes they are and sometimes they aren’t. By and large I would say BN sells higher quality merchandise than Walmart but with any comparison like this it’s terribly important to understand the minutia. Tiny details make big differences in this business. Personally I would be more likely to buy from BN than Walmart but I’ve never bought a piece of jewelry or a diamond from either one.

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