Blue Nile vs Kay Jewelers

A thorough comparison of Kay and Blue Nile, to help you decide which is best for you

This guide on Blue Nile vs Kay Jewelers is designed to provide you with comprehensive information to help you make informed decisions on which jewelry store might be the better choice for your purchase and is based on my 10 years of helping people buy diamond jewelry.

We’re going to look at:

Blue NileKay
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Diamond Information
Number of settings1,169Doesn't specify
Number of natural diamonds157,67842,519
Number of lab-grown diamonds14,743285
Natural Diamond Price: Round 1 carat, Excellent Cut, VS1 round, G color$4840-$8,520/
Lab Diamond Price: Round 2 carat, Excellent Cut, VS1 round, G color$3,990/
Diamond imageryInteractive 360 video on all diamonds HD images upon request360 interactive video for loose diamonds
Diamond labs: naturalGIAIndependent certification on some diamonds
Diamond labs: lab-grownIGIIndependent certification on some diamonds
Diamond searchVisit NowVisit Now
Company Information
Year founded19991916
Number of physical locations231,187
Owned bySignet JewelersSignet Jewelers
Service Policies (Click each to learn more)
Finance availableYesYes
ShippingFree and insured both waysFree shipping on orders above $50 and free returns
Resizing1 year, freeOnly resize two sizes up or two sizes down
Returns period30 days, extended over holiday periods30-days
WarrantyLifetime, with some exclusionsLifetime guarantee
UpgradeCredit 100% of original price, if new diamond 2x price100% trade-in value of diamond
EngravingFree, on selected ringsAvailable for a fee
Customer service hours24/0724/7
Ringspo Ratings
Diamond selection
Value for money
Service policies
Overall rating
Ringspo overall opinionA great all-round choice - now that they are part of Signet, their diamond imagery is as good as James Allens. Continues to be one of our strongest recommendations.Biggest plus is the high number of stores around the US is convenient. The negative is the high prices.
Ringspo ReviewBlue Nile Review
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Blue Nile was founded in 1999. They wanted to revolutionize the jewelry industry with a platform for consumers to buy diamonds directly from home.

The company was founded on the principle of providing transparency, education, and value to its customers. Owned now by Signet Jewelers, Blue Nile operates primarily online. They have lower overhead costs, resulting in better pricing for diamond jewelry.

Kay Jewelers was created in 1916 and has a much longer history. Their main idea was to offer a wide range of fine jewelry to customers at different prices. The company motto “Every Kiss Begins with Kay” is recognized all around the US.

Like Blue Nile, Kay is also owned by Signet Jewelers. Their extensive network of 1,187 physical stores allows you to do your jewelry shopping in-person instead of online-only. 

Diamond Selection and Quality

In this section, we’ll explore the diamond selection and other quality factors offered by Blue Nile and Kay Jewelers, as well as how transparent they are about the 4Cs.

We’ll look at several factors:

  • Diamond choice
  • Diamond quality
  • Diamond imagery

While natural diamonds have traditionally been used as the center stones for engagement rings, lab-grown diamonds have grown hugely in popularity over the last three years. Both Blue Nile and Kay Jewelers offer both natural and lab-grown stones.

  • Blue Nile offers 157,678 natural diamonds and 42,519 lab grown diamonds at the time of writing
  • Kay offers 14,473 natural diamonds and 2,690 lab grown diamonds.

Blue Nile has a vast selection of diamonds compared to Kay Jewelers. This extensive selection provides you with a broader range to choose from. One of Blue Nile’s advantages is their diamond education. As a result, all of their listings have detailed product information, including diamond grading specifics.

Kay’s loose diamonds aren’t as extensive as Blue Nile’s, but they have a wide range of jewelry options. Plus, you can see and try on pieces in person. You should keep in mind that many of their diamonds have lower color grades and clarities available than Blue Nile does.

The biggest difference between the information that Blue Nile and Kay share about their diamonds is that Kay doesn’t include ‘Cut’ quality in the description of their pre-made rings. Diamond cut quality is the key factor that determines how much a diamond will sparkle, so skipping this detail means that you may be stuck with a diamond that looks dull. Blue Nile is much more transparent about the cut quality of each of their diamonds, which means you can make sure that you are choosing a diamond that is going to sparkle beautifully.

Both stores carry everything from engagement rings to fashion jewelry, but Blue Nile eliminates the overhead costs by operating mainly online rather than in-store.

Certifications and Ethical Sourcing

Certifications from reputable organizations like the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the International Gemological Institute (IGI) are needed for authenticity and peace of mind.

Both Blue Nile and Kay Jewelers adhere to ethical sourcing practices, ensuring that their diamonds are conflict-free and sourced from responsible mines. However, the level of transparency and information provided about the certifications and sourcing practices is more comprehensive on Blue Nile’s platform.

Both Blue Nile and Kay Jewelers adhere to the Kimberley Process of ethical sourcing. Blue Nile provides GIA and IGI certified diamonds.

Most of Kay’s pre-set engagement rings have no certification, which makes it much more difficult to trust that the grading is accurate.

In general, I don’t advise that you select a diamond that has been graded by a retailer – it’s always safest to choose independent certification. Loose diamonds may be certified by a number of independent grading labs in addition to GIA and AGS certified diamonds.

Pricing and Value

The price of a diamond is influenced by its cut, color, clarity, and carat weight, often referred to as the 4Cs. The certification, brand reputation, and the retail model also play a part in determining the price. Though they both sell loose diamonds online, Blue Nile’s pricing on their vast inventory of diamonds is better than Kay’s.

A 1 carat ideal cut diamond with VS1 clarity and G color grades from Blue Nile can cost between $4,840-8,520.

 A similarly graded diamond from Kay’s range of products costs between $5,640-9,650. 

If you look at the two images, you may spot something surprising. They are, in fact, the exact same diamond! As mentioned earlier, Blue Nile and Kay Jewelers are owned by the same parent company and actually share diamond inventory, but Blue Nile is selling the same diamond at a much lower price.

Website and User Experience

If you’re buying a diamond ring online, the quality of the retailer’s website can make a huge difference in how smooth and enjoyable the process is.

A significant difference between Blue Nile and Kay is how much of a priority they place on their website. Blue Nile is an online-first company, which means that it has always been their primary focus.

By contrast, Kay is primarily a ‘bricks and mortar’ retailer, and as a result, their website is less of a focus.

Both Blue Nile and Kay Jewelers have designed their websites to be mobile-responsive and easy to navigate. Kay’s menu is a lot more complex than Blue Nile’s. It can take you a while to find exactly where you need to go. There are multiple ways to create an engagement ring, but one may not know exactly where to look.

Blue Nile’s menu navigation is clean and easy to use. There aren’t as many options as with Kay, but it can be easier if you’re looking for an easy online shopping experience.

Diamond Imagery Quality

High-quality imagery is crucial when shopping for diamonds online as it allows you to inspect the diamond’s quality, cut, and clarity closely. Here’s how both retailers fare in terms of diamond imagery quality for loose diamonds:

Neither diamond retailer has HD images for their diamonds, but they have interactive video instead. You’re able to click and drag the diamond to observe its features easily from your home. Blue Nile lets you zoom out and also shows you the diagram of your diamond’s proportions. Kay’s viewer allows you to click for super zoom, which blows up your diamond much larger than Blue Nile’s.

For pre-set diamond rings, Kay doesn’t include any images of the actual diamonds in the rings, and these are the rings where images would be most useful.

For example, Kay is selling this 1-carat round diamond ring which has been graded J for color and I3 for clarity:

While this image looks great in the picture, an I3 diamond actually has very obvious inclusions and wouldn’t look like this image in real life. For this reason, I always recommend viewing high-quality imagery of diamonds at clarity VS2 or below.

Customization and Design Options

Many customers aspire to build their own engagement ring by choosing their own diamond, setting, and choice of precious metal. This allows them to add a personal touch to their diamond jewelry. In this section, we’ll explore the customization and design options offered by Blue Nile and Kay Jewelers.

Design Your Own Ring

Both Blue Nile and Kay Jewelers offer a “Design Your Own Ring” feature on their websites, allowing customers to choose from a selection of loose diamonds and engagement ring settings. Kay allows customers to customize their rings even further by offering customization from pre-selected quality ranges and for their Neil Lane Collection. However, if you choose to do it this way, you’d be buying a more expensive diamond ring than you would at Blue Nile. It is better to find the perfect stone from a wide selection of loose settings, an offering that comes with either store you select.

Variety of Settings, Metals, and Side Stones

The variety of settings, metals, and side stones significantly impact the look and feel of the final jewelry piece. Here’s a comparison of the variety offered by both retailers:

  • Blue Nile offers 1,169 setting styles across several different metal types
  • Key Jewelers offers 80 setting styles

Blue Nile’s number of settings may be inflated by the different types of precious metals they offer. Still, the number of ring settings greatly differs, with Blue Nile having more.

ay’s engagement ring settings for their build-a-ring feature may be limited, but they have many more settings available with their pre-set engagement rings.

Service: Both Before & After Purchase

The service and customer support provided by the retailer are key to ensuring that you feel comfortable when making a purchase as significant as a piece of diamond jewellery.

It’s not just about the purchase; it’s also about the assurance of support throughout the entire shopping experience.

The service and customer support provided by the retailer are important. It’s not just about the purchase; it’s also about the assurance of support throughout the entire shopping experience. In this section, we’ll delve into the service and customer support policies of Blue Nile and Kay Jewelers, and how they compare.

Customer Support Policies

Here’s a comparison of their key customer support policies:

Service PoliciesBlue NileKay Jewelers
Customer Service Hours24/724/7
EngravingFree, on selected ringsAvailable for a fee
Finance AvailableYesYes
ShippingFree and insured both waysFree shipping on orders above $50 and free returns
Resizing1 year, freeOnly resize two sizes up or two sizes down
Returns Period30 days, extended over holiday periods30 days
WarrantyLifetime, with some exclusionsLifetime guarantee

Blue Nile offers free engraving on selected rings, which is a nice touch for personalization. Kay will do engraving for a small cost. Blue Nile offers free resizing once in the first year, while Kay Jewelers offers an additional purchased Extended Service Plan that covers your jewelry for life. The cost of this plan depends on the cost of the piece of jewelry.

Payment and Financing Options

Buying fine jewelry can be a significant financial commitment. In this section, we’ll explore the payment and financing options offered by Blue Nile and Kay Jewelers.

Methods of Payment Accepted

Both Blue Nile and Kay Jewelers offer a variety of payment methods to cater to different preferences and financial situations. Common payment methods include credit/debit cards, bank wire transfers, and PayPal. Blue Nile offers a 1.8% discount on wire transfers.

Financing and Layaway Plans

Financing options allow you to manage the cost of your purchase over time, making it easier to afford the jewelry piece you desire. Both retailers offer financing plans, but the terms and conditions may vary.

Blue Nile provides a financing option through their credit card, with promotional financing available. This can be a convenient way to spread out the cost of your purchase over several months, making it more manageable.

Kay Jewelers also offers financing through their credit card, with various promotional offers available plus a leasing option through Progressive Leasing.

Kay also provides a layaway plan in-store, allowing you to make smaller payments over time until the full price is paid.

Financing OptionsBlue NileKay Jewelers
Credit Card FinancingYesYes
Promotional FinancingAvailableAvailable
Layaway PlanNot SpecifiedYes (in-store)

Shipping and Returns

Both Blue Nile and Kay Jewelers have structured their shipping policies to ensure your purchase reaches you securely and promptly.

Blue Nile offers free and insured shipping on all orders. Kay Jewelers provides free shipping on orders above $199. Any purchase below this amount will incur a shipping fee. You may also pick up at a UPS shipping center or your local Kay store.

Shipping PoliciesBlue NileKay Jewelers
Free ShippingYes, on all ordersOn orders above $199
Insured ShippingYesYes

Returns and Exchanges

Blue Nile offers a 30-day return policy, extended over holiday periods. Kay Jewelers also adheres to a 30-day return policy as well as a 60-day in-store exchange policy.

Return and Exchange PoliciesBlue NileKay Jewelers
Return Window30 days, extended over holiday periods30 days
Exchange PolicyNot Specified60 days

Physical Store Experience

While online shopping offers convenience, the in-store shopper experience provides a tangible interaction with the jewelry and brand. Let’s check out the physical store presence of Blue Nile and Kay Jewelers to see how they compare.

Locations and Ambiance

Kay’s 1,187 jewelry stores greatly outnumber the 25 Blue Nile locations across the US. Blue Nile’s modest number of stores indicate their primary focus on online retail. Still, they offer in-person shopping in select locations for those wanting to see products in person.

Those who prefer in-person shopping to shopping online will love that a Kay Jeweler’s store is nearby. The ambiance in Kay stores is designed to be inviting and comfortable, allowing you to browse. Just watch out for over-zealous salespeople.

Physical Store AspectsBlue NileKay Jewelers
Number of Locations251,187
AmbianceUpscale, personalizedInviting, comfortable

Loyalty Programs and Promotions

Loyalty programs and promotions can significantly enhance your buying experience, offering you savings and benefits. Let’s delve into the loyalty programs and promotions offered by Blue Nile and Kay Jewelers to understand how they stack up against each other.

Discounts, Referral Programs, and Seasonal Promotions

Blue Nile has seasonal sales and discounts on select items. They also offer a referral program where you can earn credits for every successful referral. Kay Jewelers also has seasonal promotions and discounts. They often have sales during major holidays. They also offer various events for their in-person shopping experience. However, they don’t have a referral program.

Which is the better fit for you: Blue Nile or Kay Jewelers?

If you value wide selections and easy transactions from the comfort of your home, Blue Nile might be the place to buy the best diamond jewelry.

Their competitive pricing and exceptional customer service have many considering Blue Nile to be one of the best online jewelry stores. If trying on jewelry in person is your preference, Kay Jewelers may be a better option to go and see some rings as you can try rings on right out of the case at their store.

However, I would recommend that if you can make it to a Blue Nile jeweler in person instead of a Kays, you are much more likely to get a more beautiful ring at a better price.


What are the main differences between Blue Nile and Kay Jewelers?

Blue Nile primarily operates online with a large selection of diamonds and fine jewelry. Kay Jewelers has a substantial physical presence with over a thousand stores, alongside an online platform.

Which retailer offers a wider selection of diamonds and jewelry?

Blue Nile has a broader online selection of both natural and lab-grown diamonds compared to Kay Jewelers.

What are the financing options available at Blue Nile and Kay Jewelers?

Both retailers offer financing options. Kay Jewelers provides a credit card program, while Blue Nile has various payment and financing options available online.

Financing plans through Wells Fargo allow customers a 12 month plan with no interest. Affirm offers up to a 36 month plan, depending on approval and purchase. These options are only available to US residents, with a couple exceptions.

Alternatively, you can pay for your purchase using credit/debit cards, bank wire, Paypal, or ApplePay – you can find out more about Brilliant Earth’s financing options here.