Diamond Brand Reviews: Blue Nile Reviews

Bottom Line

Blue Nile is the largest and most well known internet diamond seller, but their business model has serious drawbacks. The inability discover their diamonds forces which pay more for unnecessary upgrades in color and clarity to insure you don’t get stuck through ugly stone.

You can get much more on your own money on a site like James Allen or Brian Gavin Diamonds which has extremely high quality images of their diamonds enable you to cherry-pick the best diamonds with SI1 and SI2 clarity grades likewise let be “eye-clean,” thereby helping you save a lot of riches.

The History

Bluenile.com was founded in 1999 by Mark Vadon. The story goes that around that time Mr. Vadon was shopping for an engagement ring and was fed up with his options.

He felt that diamonds were essentially a commodity, and that all he necessary to do was learn more about this commodity and then shop for the best price.

He discovered an internet site online called internetdiamonds.com and was serious. He contacted the owner, formed a partnership, and shopped around his idea to the venture capital circuit. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Facts

Blue Nile’s business model (speaking now only of their engagement ring business which usually overwhelmingly their primary associated with revenue) is a fairly simple one.

Blue Nile signs exclusivity agreements with diamond wholesalers more than the world that stipulate that these wholesalers can only list their diamonds on Blue Nile and no other online retail location.

The reasons for that exclusivity are simple – Blue Nile doesn’t want the clientele comparing prices for your same stone that they’ll find on 3 other sites, and they would also like to maintain an advantage over their competition in terms of how many diamonds they list as quite at any with time.

Blind Business


Figure 2 – The Packaging – Click to Enlarge

For purposes of this review, I ordered an gemstone from Blue Nile using a pseudonym.

Figure 1 is really a copy of my invoice. As you can see in the invoice, I ordered a single.01 carat J color SI2 clarity diamond mounted in an easy solitaire engagement ring setting. I couldn’t find any Blue Nile coupon code, so I bought it as happens to be.

Since I’ve already reviewed Blue Nile’s customer support inside my[/caption] article, I decided this time location the order online. Their check-out system was very elegant straightforward to use.

The Package

Blue Nile’s packaging was average at best. See Figures 2 & 3. They ship the ring from a custom-made brown cardboard box with a special cutout in the center for your jewelry box which has the actual ring.

On top these is a blue paper envelope making use of various documents accompanying the purchase (invoice, appraisal, and diamond certificate). In Figure 3, you can easily see the actual jewelry box removed by reviewing the cover.

First Impressions

I’m that if you’re paying several thousand dollars as a product, you shouldn’t make available the shipping box locate your jewelry box perched in the middle of brown cardboard.

Your initial impression of the social bookmark submitting a package is when well it is wrapped and presented, and this presentation does not befit the significance associated with the purchase.

The Product


Figure 3 – The Packaging – Click to Enlarge

As you can see in my articles on color and clarity, the best value to get a round diamond set within a solitaire setting can be performed by going for a J color diamond in addition a clarity grade as little as possible that’s clean towards the naked eye.

Since with Blue Nile, it’s not possible to review a magnified picture within the actual diamond, I couldn’t choose a clarity grade that would be too low (like an I1), otherwise it is definitely unfairly likely to have eye visible blemishes.

Compared to Others

On other sites that have pictures (such as James Allen, Zoara, and Brian Gavin Diamonds), you can shop around and cherry pick the one I1 clarity diamond that in order to clean to the human eye.

On Blue Nile, however, that’s improbable. Therefore, I decided i would go by having an SI2 Clarity Diamond since of the particular eye clean and this is often where you find the best mix needed and visual appeal.

As for the way I chose this specific stone, I conducted what I felt most Blue Nile customers would do – I selected the cheapest Ideal Cut J SI2 1 carat stone they’d available.


Figure 4 – The Diamond – Click to Enlarge

The Diamond

Figures 4 and 5 are images of the diamond itself and the GIA certificate, respectively.

As you can see in Figure 4, this stone comes easily noticeable icy white inclusion all of the center of the stone.

Hidden Elements

This inclusion was easily visible to the naked eye from the very moment the lid was lifted from its presentation area.

This is not only a stone I would ever recommend, associated with budget, but I didn’t have a choice of seeing a magnified picture in advance to rule it out.

My Impressions

My research for this article exposes several problems with Blue Nile’s business fashion model. Remember, that the very founding of corporation was based on Mark Vadon’s premise that diamonds are a commodity.

The definition to a commodity is that all you need recognize is its price to make a purchasing decision (ie, a bar of gold is a bar of gold and a bushel of wheat can be a bushel of wheat – the only variables are quantity and price).

But can diamonds really be evaluated by price it is own? Yes, it’s true that if you’re using VVS clarity round ideal cut diamonds, then all you really want is the diamond’s price to set up if it’s a whole lot or not.

The Importance of Evaluation

However for just about every other category of diamond, that simply isn’t the case. You need to see at least a picture of the diamond to evaluate its cut (primarily with regard to fancy shapes) and, just like importantly, to evaluate the diamond’s clarity.

Blue Nile treats SI2 clarity Oval Cut diamonds as they do Flawless Ideal Cut Round diamonds.

Anybody with any experience in diamonds business knows this is absurd when the vast majority of Oval cut diamonds are very poorly cut and there’s no way of identifying the nice ones using a piece of paper alone – have to pay the problem of potentially ugly eye visible inclusions.

Figure 5 – The Cert – Click to Enlarge

Figure 5 – The Cert – Click to Enlarge

Preventing Disappointments 

You see, if I had tried to order this same stone from a vendor with physical access to, and magnified pictures of, their diamonds (like James Allen, Zoara, and Brian Gavin Diamonds), there’d be two major roadblocks preventing me from shooting myself in the foot:

1) I wouldn’t resulted in mistake of ordering this stone because I could see very easily in photographs that the stone capabilities a noticeable inclusion dead center, and

2) Since other companies personally set the diamonds they sell, prepare extremely own shipments, and perform their own Quality Assurance, they enjoy seen my selection and before they even set it they would have contacted me to analyze that my choice might been top one.

Better Safe Than Sorry

I’m not claiming they would do this in a situation where the stone is borderline (probably because they assume you’ve seen image quality and have decided to look at risk upon yourself), but in a case where the stone is this bad, I believe they would warn you – no store wants to cope with costly returns.

To your other hand, it would seem that Blue Nile doesn’t have first-hand knowledge of the things your diamond looks appreciate.

In my case, as confirmed with Blue Nile customer service agent I dealt with, my diamond was shipped from New York to their jewelry contractor in Kentucky.

Realizing the Faults

How did I even think to ask about the ring being put together in Kentucky? Well, take a look at Figure 6. That’s a screenshot of the tracking information for my shipment from Blue Earth.

Blue Nile is founded on in Seattle. Diamonds was from Oregon and the ring was shipped from Kentucky. It would seem that the Jeweler in Kentucky isn’t owned by Blue Nile – substantial a contracted tiny.

The reason it appears this way would be the fact Blue Nile does not charge sales tax in Kentucky. On the best of my knowledge, then, you would have it that no Blue Nile employee ever touched the diamond or the completed ring at any stage along carpet.

Figure 7 – The Appraisal – Click to Enlarge

Figure 7 – The Appraisal – Click to Enlarge

Unrealistic Appraisals

Knowning that brings me to my final concern about Blue Nile: Their appraisals appear to lack abilities. Here’s what I mean:

My total bill for the ring at Blue Nile was $4262. For comparison’s sake, for my review of James Allen, I ordered an alike diamond and ring (almost identical on paper, but far superior in actual quality).

My total bill from James Allen was $3994. Blue Nile appraised their ring at a worth of $7800 while James Allen appraised their ring for $5600.

The purpose within the appraisal is permit the insurance company know what a full retail replacement value of the ring is actually.


The Pros and Cons of Higher Appraisals

You desire a higher appraisal than what paid because it’ll produce your life easier if it gets lost or stolen and needs to get replaced. But you don’t want excessive of an appraisal because then that’s just going to make your insurance premiums needlessly higher.

In my opinion, Blue Nile will probably be way overboard.

Signed Appraisals

Unfortunately, it would seem how the problems run even truer. Take a look at Figure 7. This may be a copy of the appraisal provided by Blue Nile. Notice the arrows I have added for main focus.

The appraisal states that this Blue Nile employed gemologist, who, according regularly in their customer service rep, works in Blue Nile headquarters in Seattle, has signed off on the valuation given in the appraisal.

Listen – if Blue Nile believes that you, the consumer, can any diamond ring without ever seeing a picture of the diamond or the actual ring, then, in theory, it should be OK for a gemologist to appraise a diamond ring without ever seeing it as well (of course, I wholeheartedly disagree by using these an assertion).

Misleading Facts

But Blue Nile appears to essentially make the claim that the ring was inspected via the person signing off on the appraisal. This doesn’t appear to be possible if the stone was not ever sent to Blue Nile’s Seattle headquarters, but rather went straight from the wholesaler to the jewelry sales person.

I was deeply concerned about this issue, and didn’t want to make accusations about a consultant without fully investigating the issue, to find out decided to contact Blue Nile for a concerned customer in regards to this specific issue.

Blue Nile’s service representative confirmed that the diamond was shipped from New York to Kentucky – never having passed through Seattle.

The Truth About the Appraisal

She confirmed that their contracted jeweler’s employee actually prepared the appraisal, not a Blue Nile employee. She confirmed that the gemologist who signed the appraisal (or, more accurately, whose signature was printed on the appraisal) sits in Seattle and not Kentucky, together with never seen this nuptial ring.

When I questioned her on the propriety of this, she said, “well, this is what’s printed on all the appraisals.  She is our head gemologist and has many people who work beneath her.

When I challenged her on the fact that the gemologist who actually did examine the ring wasn’t her employee, she said, “Ok, but I don’t understand why that’s a problem.”

Confronting the Situation

After questioned her on the size of the appraisal. Her response was very unusual. She said to me,

“there is no right or wrong once it heats up comes to appraisals. And appraisal could be anything. Diane puttman is hoping what individual in Kentucky felt the ring was worth. Many manufacturers will a person that they’ll appraise the ring for double with the they pass it on for. Our appraisal isn’t even that bad. You’re welcome to get it appraised again, seeking wish, together with a number more to your liking.”

After this conversation utilizing customer service rep, Identified it in order to believe that the jeweler in Kentucky even looked in the ring while preparing the evaluation.

If he had, I highly doubt he could have given it such a large valuation, because for is actually is – an ideal cut 1 carat J Color SI2 clarity solitaire – it’s about as bad as this may get the the terribly visible center inclusion.

The Conclusion

Blue Nile is clearly a powerhouse of a boss. They are the leader in online diamond sales. Nobody can compete with them within the the size of their inventory of loose diamonds, and nobody has as deep of an inventory of engagement ring adjustments.

It happens often that readers will contact me saying they want to buy a diamond at one place an additional (not Blue Nile), but they feel they have purchase from Blue Nile because they’re the only ones who sell the particular ring they want.

In that regard, they are very much in tune without the pain . likes and dislikes of the majority of diamond consumers offered. But aside from those two points, there are a few of problems with Blue Nile as I detailed in offers you insight into.


  • Blue Nile is no longer the cheapest online diamond seller.  They’ve become so large that they need to make a slightly higher margin than their competitors in order to cover all the expenses related to being a very large public company.
  • Blue Nile doesn’t have pictures of their diamonds.  This means you can’t reliably evaluate cut and clarity before you buy.
  • Blue Nile didn’t handle the diamond ring that I bought – not before setting and not after.  They were not involved in the QA of my ring at all.
  • Blue Nile doesn’t have physical access to the diamonds in their “inventory.”  So when you ask for a stone to be examined by a gemologist, all they do is call the stone’s owner and ask their opinion from afar.  A diamond’s owner can’t be trusted to give an objective opinion since they want to push their stone over a competitors.
  • Blue Nile’s high appraisals cost you more money through higher insurance premiums.  Blue Nile gemologists sign off on these appraisals even though they, at least in my case, never actually see the rings themselves.
  • In my opinion, Blue Nile’s packaging is low-budget and cheap looking.

Reviewed By: Michael Fried

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