Online sellers like Blue Nile have transformed how many people buy engagement diamonds by offering a virtual database of diamonds at prices that were previously lower than traditional retail prices. However, it is worth noting that the pricing structure in the retail jewelry industry has evolved due to the influence of Blue Nile and other online sellers. There is no doubt that these companies have revolutionized the jewelry industry.
One issues with companies like Blue Nile and other online diamond sellers is the process they use.
Compared to traditional retail jewelers, online diamond companies like Blue Nile do not have firsthand knowledge of the diamonds they sell. They act as intermediaries between diamond wholesalers and consumers, with no one in the "process" having actual knowledge of the diamond's appearance. These companies are simply brokers operating online.
There are two inherent drawbacks to purchasing a diamond in this way:
To demonstrate my point, I will present two actual, unedited photos of two different diamonds. The diamond on the left is representative of what internet shoppers might purchase based on the GIA report. It is a 1.70 carat cushion cut with proper depth and table proportions, and it is graded by GIA as having "excellent" polish and symmetry. However, despite these "paper" qualities, the diamond lacks the fire, brilliance, and scintillation that make a diamond beautiful. In reality, this diamond is dull and dark in the center.
The diamond on the right is a 1.72-carat cushion cut with depth and table proportions within the proper range, a symmetry grade of "good," and a polish grade of "excellent." Although it may be hard to tell from the photos, I can assure you that this diamond is much more attractive than the other one. Its faceting creates more life, brilliance, and scintillation, and it appears much brighter and whiter than the other diamond, which is graded as "I" color, even though it is graded as a "G" color. In this example, I can guarantee that the lower-graded diamond is nicer and more beautiful than the higher-graded diamond. I have personally seen both of these diamonds, which is why I am writing this article.
A GIA certificate does not provide information about the appearance of a diamond to they human eye or its overall beauty.
The GIA certificate is essentially a scientific document that outlines characteristics and terminology used to measure minor variations in gradations that are often beyond the ability of a consumer to discern with their own eyes without the proper conditions and equipment. While it is true that a "D/Flawless" diamond will generally be more beautiful than a "M/I2" diamond, it is often the case that a diamond with a lower GIA grade may be just as beautiful or even more beautiful than one with a "better" GIA grade. This is particularly true for fancy shape diamonds, where the color and clarity grades have little impact on the overall appearance of the diamond.
Another drawback of the online buying process is that internet consumers often prioritize price over the beauty and scintillation of a diamond. They may not appreciate that a diamond should be something extraordinary and exceptional.
When shopping for a diamond on a site like Blue Nile or another online diamond retailer, it can be easy to focus solely on price without considering the subtle differences that make one diamond more stunning than another. Without the ability to see and understand these distinctions, it is easy to overlook the fact that value is distinct from price. Buying a diamond based solely on price is similar to buying a cheap bottle of wine - it may not be enjoyable. In my wholesale business, I often ask retail jewelers which sells better in their store: the low-price diamond or the nice diamond. Almost universally, they say the nice diamond. I agree with this response. It is important to consider factors other than price when buying a diamond, such as its beauty and scintillation.
Based on my experience, a diamond consumer who is given the chance to learn about diamonds and see them with their own eyes will almost never choose the lowest-priced diamond. In fact, they may even opt for the most expensive diamond.
To address the main topic of this post, I do not have any issue with Blue Nile or other online diamond sites. In fact, I used to be a supplier for the company that eventually became Blue Nile, and I have also supplied James Allen and other internet diamond companies. One story that sticks with me is from when I was considering working with an internet diamond company. The person running the business asked me, "How good are you at playing the game?" When I asked for clarification, they explained that internet shoppers only look at the first page or two of diamond data, which typically includes the lowest-priced diamonds. This made it clear to me that the focus of these companies is often on price rather than quality.
During that conversation, it became clear to both of us that the "game" was about offering diamonds with defects that make them inexpensive. With a nod and a wink, the discussion confirmed that internet shoppers often have a limited understanding of diamonds beyond price, and that the goal was to give them what they were looking for. Whether it is Blue Nile or any other online site, consumers must be aware that these companies simply provide a list of diamonds and data that the consumer may not fully comprehend. Blue Nile, like many other online intermediary companies, does not typically have firsthand knowledge of what a particular diamond looks like or care about its appearance.
They simply showcase a database of diamonds, collect payment, and arrange for the diamond to be shipped to the consumer. Their primary focus is on making a profit.
It is possible to purchase a beautiful diamond from Blue Nile or any other online diamond seller. However, the consumer should be wary of similarly graded diamonds on Blue Nile that are priced 20%, 30%, or even 50% higher than others of the same GIA grade, especially if it is the same seller. It is important to understand that a low price often indicates a diamond that is not as beautiful as another one, or in some cases, not beautiful at all. If you are happy with a cheap bottle of wine, that is fine. However, if you want something of higher quality, you should be aware that low prices often come with a trade-off in terms of beauty. Remember that value is a combination of quality, beauty, and price. Buying a diamond is a significant, long-term purchase, so it is important to make the right choice. To get a better sense of what is available, I recommend visiting a jewelry store and seeing the diamonds in person. If you prefer to shop online, be aware that low price may mean a compromise on beauty and understand that value is determined by the combination of quality, beauty, and price.