Blue Nile is a major player in the online diamond market. Having pioneered online diamond retailing, it has transformed the industry significantly.
Despite being one of the oldest and largest diamond retailers globally, reviewing Blue Nile entails more than merely cataloging its pros and cons. Their influence is vast, and their name is synonymous with online diamond shopping.
BlueNile.com, as one of the most visited sites by diamond shoppers, has built a reputation for reliability and authenticity.
However, even the industry’s giants are not without their shortcomings. Here, we delve into the strengths and weaknesses of Blue Nile to give you a comprehensive perspective.
- Industry Pioneers: They have revolutionized the diamond industry, making online shopping for diamonds a reality.
- Exquisite Collection: Blue Nile offers an extensive selection of rare diamonds.
- Certification: All their diamonds are certified by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), with their Astor™ diamonds also graded by GemEx.
- Diamond Imaging: Approximately 50% of their diamonds have 360-degree video imaging.
- User-friendly Website: The website is intuitive and offers a host of filters, making the diamond selection process seamless.
- Extensive Inventory: Particularly suited for those seeking smaller carats, with around 70% (~390k diamonds) of their collection under 0.7 carat.
- Customer Support: Their customer service is highly rated.
- Diamond Upgrade: They offer a Lifetime Diamond Upgrade Program.
- Price Match: Blue Nile offers a Diamond Price Match Guarantee.
- Ethical Sourcing: They are committed to providing conflict-free diamonds.
- Custom Design: The retailer offers custom design services for unique jewelry pieces.
- Money-Back Guarantee: A 30-day money-back guarantee ensures your purchase is risk-free.
- Average Packaging: The packaging of their products is relatively average and could use an upgrade.
- Returns: Their 30-day money-back guarantee process can be lengthy and somewhat complicated. However, if their Return Policy is understood and followed, issues are less likely to occur.
- Limited Images: As mentioned earlier, approximately 50% of their diamonds do not have accompanying images.
- Video Limitations: They either provide a 360-degree video for a diamond, or nothing at all. Placeholder images are used in the absence of actual diamond images.
- Wholesaler Referrals: Complaints and queries about the diamond you buy will be referred back to the wholesalers, which might not provide the most satisfactory resolution.
Blue Nile’s History
Blue Nile, a titan in the realm of online diamond retail, was born out of a desire to challenge the status quo.
The company’s founder, Mark Vadon, experienced firsthand the difficulties and obscurities of the diamond buying process back in 1998. Dissatisfied with his experience at a traditional jewelry store, Vadon turned to the online sphere for a solution.
His exploration led him to Internet Diamonds, an online platform that offered a rich repository of information, an image of the ring, and a certification from the GIA. This discovery ignited Vadon’s ambition to revamp the diamond purchasing process, placing transparency, accessibility, and customer empowerment at the forefront.
Vadon procured Internet Diamonds, rechristened it as Blue Nile, and initiated operations in Seattle in 1999. The company’s guiding philosophy aimed at simplifying the buying process, imparting knowledge to customers, and offering a diverse range of high-quality diamond jewelry that would be cherished for a lifetime.
Vadon’s revolutionary approach to diamond sourcing set Blue Nile apart. Instead of retaining a costly physical inventory, Blue Nile introduced a virtual inventory system.
Wholesalers provided the details of their diamonds, which Blue Nile listed on their platform. When a customer selected and purchased a diamond, Blue Nile would then acquire the diamond from the wholesaler.
This business model, akin to today’s drop-shipping, was groundbreaking in 1999 and significantly altered the dynamics of diamond retail.
Blue Nile’s Website Review
Analyzing Blue Nile’s website, it is apparent that a lot of thought has gone into the design and user interface. The site is visually pleasing and straightforward to navigate, with neatly arranged filters and sliders for efficient searching.
On the diamond browsing page, filters are systematically arranged in descending order of relevance, guiding customers seamlessly to their ideal diamond.
Each diamond’s individual information page is meticulously detailed and user-friendly, presenting all essential information in a clean table format, along with diamond images and GIA certificates at the click of a button.
Staying true to their mission of educating customers, the website houses a vast educational section, exhaustively covering an array of topics related to diamonds.
Additionally, Blue Nile proudly showcases its Astor™ (previously known as Signature) collection, which claims to comprise the top 1% of diamond cuts globally. While these superlative quality diamonds command a higher price, they present a compelling proposition for buyers where quality is paramount.
However, there’s one significant area where Blue Nile’s website could improve. Not all their diamonds are accompanied by images, which hampers the buying process.
The lack of magnified images makes it challenging for potential buyers to inspect any inclusions in the diamond, which might be noticeable when viewed physically. This gap needs to be addressed to instill confidence in customers and enable informed decision-making.
Their Selection and Price
Blue Nile boasts an impressive catalog of certified diamonds. At the time of writing this review, their site lists over 240,000 diamonds, an astonishing number that surpasses any physical store’s capacity worldwide.
Of course, the vast majority of these diamonds are owned by various wholesalers and are only purchased by Blue Nile once a customer selects one, thus streamlining the payment and logistics process.
Despite the emergence of numerous competitors since Blue Nile’s inception, they continue to offer very competitive prices, including a Price Match Guarantee, albeit subject to several terms and conditions.
One aspect that significantly contributes to Blue Nile’s appeal is its extensive collection of small to medium carat diamonds. While many websites offer a good selection of diamonds under 0.7 carats, the variety often dwindles when customers seek specific characteristics. However, Blue Nile is an exception, currently hosting about 390,000 diamonds that are less than 0.7 carat in size.
The pricing advantage of Blue Nile is even more pronounced when compared with traditional brick-and-mortar jewelry stores. These physical stores typically apply substantial markups to cover expenses such as overhead, rent, utilities, and more.
In contrast, online retailers like Blue Nile can bypass many of these costs due to their virtual presence, translating into considerably lower markups—around 20-25% compared to 40-50% in physical stores. These savings are then passed directly onto the customers, making online shopping more cost-effective.
Build Your Own Diamond Jewelry
For customers who can’t find exactly what they’re looking for, Blue Nile offers the “Build Your Own Diamond Jewelry” feature.
This option allows customers to design their ideal piece of diamond jewelry, choosing from a wide array of certified diamonds within their budget. This customization feature adds an extra layer of personalization, allowing customers to create a piece that truly reflects their tastes and preferences.
Blue Nile Financing: BN Credit Card
Blue Nile offers a credit card option for customers who prefer not to pay the full price upfront. This could be a suitable choice, as long as you’re aware of your financial capabilities and don’t overstretch.
The BN Credit Card provides zero-interest installment options over 6 or 12 months, or if you need a longer repayment period (24 to 60 months), you can avail of a 9.99% APR.
A financial tip to keep in mind: if you think you need 36 or 48 months to complete your diamond payment, you’re likely buying a diamond outside your budget. It’s not financially wise to pay thousands in interest for a diamond—it’s not a house, after all.
Always choose a diamond that aligns with your financial status.
When the card can be useful?
When there is an out-of-this-world discount on Blue Nile and you don’t want to miss it, and you’re sure money is coming the next month or 2 for example, get the diamond & card, pay in 3 installments, done.
Is Blue Nile a Safe Place to Buy from?
In the age of online frauds, it’s crucial to be cautious when making expensive purchases on the internet, particularly when it comes to jewelry. It’s normal to have questions about the company’s credibility, the quality of the diamond, and the delivery process.
To answer these questions, it’s worth doing a quick online research. Checking forums, review sites, and social media platforms, you’ll quickly discover that Blue Nile is a highly reputable company with a customer-centric approach.
Blue Nile was established almost as early as Google (1999 vs 1998), and has since sold hundreds of thousands of diamonds, generating billions of dollars in revenue (over $566 million in 2021 alone). A company with such an extensive history and substantial turnover cannot hide a bad customer experience.
When you purchase a diamond from Blue Nile, they provide a GIA grading report that includes all the diamond’s specific details, certifying the diamond’s grade, clarity, color, cut, carat, and more.
If you’re looking for a high-quality diamond at a competitive price, Blue Nile is definitely worth considering. Their extensive collection means you’ll likely find something to suit your preferences and budget.
While it’s always recommended to see the diamond you’re buying, about 70% of the diamonds sold on Blue Nile are accompanied by 360-degree images. For those without an image, making a decision could be slightly more challenging.
However, Blue Nile’s 30-day money-back guarantee provides a safety net. If you aren’t satisfied with your purchase after investing a substantial sum, you have the option to return it.
Just like with any online transaction, it’s crucial to exercise due diligence to ensure you find the perfect diamond that you will treasure forever.