James Allen vs. Brilliant Earth

Helping you decide which online giant is best for you – Brilliant Earth or James Allen

James Allen and Brilliant Earth are two top contenders in the diamond retail market, each with its unique offerings and strengths.

But which is best?

In this guide, I’ll cover everything you need to know about both of these online diamond retailers to help you determine which is the best choice for you.

James AllenBrilliant Earth
Visit NowVisit Now
Diamond Information
Number of settings657382
Number of natural diamonds166,23675,952
Number of lab-grown diamonds61,502348,373
Natural Diamond Price: Round 1 carat, Excellent Cut, VS1 round, G color$5,190$5,370
Lab Diamond Price: Round 2 carat, Excellent Cut, VS1 round, G color$3,190$3,730
Diamond imageryBest quality images of every single diamondHigh quality images on most diamonds and Interactive 360 video
Diamond labs: naturalMainly GIA, some IGIMostly GIA, some IGI
Diamond labs: lab-grownIGIIGI
Diamond searchVisit NowVisit Now
Company Information
Year founded20062005
Number of physical locations237
Owned bySignet JewelersBeth Gerstein and Eric Grossberg
Service Policies (Click each to learn more)
Finance availableCredit card at 9.90%Yes
ShippingFree to you, but you will have to pay to returnFree to US, UK, Canada, and Australia
Resizing1 year, freeComplimentary within the first 60 days of purchase
Returns period30 days30-day returns
WarrantyLifetime, with some exclusionsLifetime warranty
UpgradeCredit 100% of original price, if new diamond 2x priceCredit 100% of original price, if new diamond 2x price
EngravingFreeComplimentary within the first 60 days of purchase
Customer service hours24/724/07
Ringspo Ratings
Diamond selection
Value for money
Service policies
Overall rating
Ringspo overall opinionExcellent imagery of diamonds, allows you to understand exactly what you’re buying, with competitive pricesAn excellent choice for the conscious consumer.
Ringspo ReviewJames Allen ReviewBrilliant Earth Review
VisitVisit NowVisit Now

James Allen was established in 2006 with a mission to provide consumers with a wide variety of high-quality diamonds and engagement rings online.

The company is headquartered in New York and is now part of Signet Jewelers – the same company that owns Blue Nile and the largest jewelry company in the world.

James Allen possesses a strong reputation for quality and transparency coupled with affordability for a variety of budgets. They were the first online diamond retailer to provide 360˚ video on all diamonds, something that many other online jewelers still haven’t caught up to.

Brilliant Earth was established in 2005 by Beth Gerstein and Eric Grossberg. The duo was driven by a mission to provide ethically sourced, high-quality jewelry to consumers.

Brilliant Earth Homepage

Since 2005, Brilliant Earth has positioned itself in the jewelry industry of diamond retailers as a company that goes beyond conflict-free diamonds. 

Brilliant Earth is based in San Francisco and has made a name for itself as a front-runner in ethical sourcing within the jewelry industry. Those who are interested in purchasing traceable diamonds and other ethical engagement ring options often purchase from Brilliant Earth collections.

Based on our experience of working with both companies for more than 7 years, our goal is to help you make a decision that aligns with your style and financial goals. 

Whether you are searching for the perfect engagement ring or to invest in a piece of diamond jewelry, this comparison will provide the knowledge needed to make a well-informed decision.

Diamond Selection and Quality

Both James Allen and Brilliant Earth offer a large selection of loose diamonds and engagement ring settings, as well as an extensive collection of fine jewelry.

In this section we’ll look at several factors:

  • Diamond choice
  • Diamond quality
  • Diamond imagery

Diamond quality and origin play crucial roles in determining the value and appeal of the jewelry.

 In this section, we will explore the variety of diamonds offered by Brilliant Earth and James Allen, exploring the importance of certifications and ethical sourcing.

Natural vs. Lab-Grown Diamonds

Brilliant Earth was one of the first online retailers to embrace lab-grown diamonds – way back in 2012.

Lab-grown fit well with the ethos of minimising the environmental impact. In 2023, Brilliant Earth took this one step further and introduced the Carbon Capture collection featuring lab diamonds created from 100% renewable energy.

By contrast, James Allen was much slower to introduce lab-grown stones – only adding them in 2019.

As might be expected from their history, while James Allen offers significantly more natural diamonds, Brilliant Earth offers a far greater selection of lab created diamonds.

  • James Allen offers around 166,000 natural diamonds, Brilliant Earth offers around 80,000 at any one time
  • This is flipped with lab-grown stones through – Brilliant Earth leads with a substantial offering of around 350,000 lab created diamonds, while James Allen offers around 60,000.

For both retailers, there should be enough choice for you to find what you’re looking for. However, more choice is generally a positive then when choosing a diamond as there

Please be aware these numbers may change, so we advise clicking on each retailer link to check out their current selection.

Certifications and Ethical Sourcing

Both James Allen and Brilliant Earth provide certifications for their diamonds, ensuring that you are well informed about the quality and authenticity of your purchase.

James Allen offers GIA certified diamonds for their natural diamonds and IGI certifications for lab grown diamonds. Brilliant Earth offers a variety of diamond certifications for natural and lab diamonds including GIA, HRD, and IGI certified diamonds. Typically, I recommend only purchasing GIA certified diamonds, but IGI certified lab diamonds are acceptable too.

These certifications provide detailed information on the cut, color, clarity, and carat weight of the diamond. While James Allen offers GIA certified diamonds for their natural diamonds and IGI certifications for lab grown diamonds, Brilliant Earth offers diamonds that have been graded by GIA, IGI (particularly for lab-grown stones), and HRD.

Both companies value the importance of ethically sourced diamonds through the Kimberley process, but Brilliant Earth goes beyond industry standards regarding ethical diamond production.

Brilliant Earth provides extra transparency via blockchain enabled diamonds that allow you to trace their entire journey from rough diamond to your ring finger, as well as allowing you to choose whether your stone originates in Canada or Botswana:

As far as I know, this is unique and far exceeds anything James Allen or any other large retailer offers in terms of transparency around a diamond’s origin.

Brilliant Earth also gives to many charity organizations and has collections whose proceeds go to female miners in other countries. If these issues are a consideration when deciding where to buy from, you can learn more about Brilliant Earth’s ethical sourcing here.

Super Ideal Cut diamonds

Many retailers offer a ‘super ideal’ cut of diamond, which is intended to signify that they are higher quality than regular ‘excellent’ or ‘ideal’ cut diamonds and should therefore, in theory, sparkle more.

James Allen’s super ideal cut diamonds are known as ‘True Hearts’ diamonds have been cut to show ‘hearts and arrows’ when viewed under an Idealscope viewer. You can see an example of the hearts below, and find out more about True Hearts diamonds here.

james allen true hearts

With a higher quality product comes a higher price, with James Allen True Hearts being around 35% more expensive than a normal ideal cut, which reflects the greater skill required to cut diamonds so precisely.

It should be noted that not every True Hearts diamond is absolutely perfect hearts and arrows, but there are enough of a selection to choose from that if you want to ensure that your stone is perfect, you can.

Brilliant Earth don’t currently have a named ‘super ideal’ cut of diamond like the True Hearts, but they do have ‘Super Ideal’ in their diamond search engine filter.

What I wanted to point out here is that Brilliant Earth appear to be putting the vast majority of ‘excellent’ cut diamonds into the ‘super ideal’ category, which feels a little dishonest.

If we look for a 1 carat, VS1, G color diamond with ‘excellent’ cut Brilliant Earth returns only 4 results:

However, if we look for a ‘Super Ideal’ cut with the same specs, there are apparently 2,581 available:

The price difference between the regular ‘ideal; and the ‘super ideal’ isn’t huge, but I just wanted to flag this as it appears that just because you are selecting ‘super ideal’ on the Brilliant Earth site, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you are getting a diamond that is comparable with James Allen’s True Hearts, or other retailers’ super ideal cut diamonds..

Website and User Experience

In this section, we will evaluate the website and user experience offered by Brilliant Earth and James Allen focusing on the quality of diamond imagery and the interactive features available on their platforms.

User-Friendly Interface

When buying a diamond online, the way the website’s user experience can make a huge difference to how easy it is to find the right diamond for you.

Both James Allen and Brilliant Earth allow you to create your own ring by choosing to start with a natural diamond, lab diamond, or engagement ring setting. They offer 360˚ video and a variety of filters to narrow down your choices with.

When comparing the two, I find that James Allen’s filters and process is a lot easier to use. All of the main filters you need are easily displayed, like the diamond shape, cut quality, color grade, clarity grades, and carat weight can easily be adjusted.

If you would like to narrow your search by filters like certification lab or specific measurements, you can click the advanced filters button:

This allows you to easily narrow your search to exactly what you are looking for, quickly narrowing your search to a manageable number to consider.

Brilliant Earth offers the same types of filters, but has them split into three sections:

When specifying the diamond you’re looking for, it requires more clicks to narrow your search.

This isn’t the biggest deal, but can get a little frustrating when you’re using the website regularly during your diamond search.

The Brilliant Earth search screen also doesn’t include images of the diamonds straight away, so you can’t easily see the stones you are considering without clicking into the detailed product page. Again, this is more clicks which can get a little tiresome.

Overall though, both retailers’ search functions will allow you to find what you’re looking for, but James Allen’s does make it easier to narrow your search and find your diamond.

Diamond Imagery Quality

James Allen and Brilliant Earth are two of the best in the business when it comes to providing clear, zoomed-in imagery, which is essential when making a purchase as significant as a diamond.

However, James Allen’s has always been the best out of any online retailers since I started reviewing diamond websites back in 2014, and it continues to have the edge over Brilliant Earth.

Every diamond has a 360 degree video which are all consistently shot, so you can easily compare diamonds, plus James Allen offers ‘super zoom’ 40x magnification of every stone, which gives far more detail than you would see even in real life using a microscope:

This is particularly useful for diamonds with borderline clarity e.g. the SI1 clarity diamond above but can actually almost be too much detail ie. you may end up disregarding a diamond due to an inclusion that you can see in the superzoom when in real life it would be impossible to see, even with a microscope.

Brilliant Earth also offers high-quality images and 360 degree viewing on most diamonds, but the detail on them isn’t quite as high quality as James Allen.

If you’re choosing a diamond above VS2 clarity, this doesn’t matter too much as inclusions won’t be visible to the naked eye. However, if you are choosing a VS2 diamond or below, then some lighter inclusions may be more difficult to see on Brilliant Earth’s images compared to James Allen’s.

I will say, Brilliant Earth shows their rings in many ways including HD images, 360 video, via live model wearing the ring, and can superimpose your engagement ring on a skin tone selector.

Customization and Design Options

James Allen offers an extensive amount of 678 ring settings available to create your dream engagement ring. Brilliant Earth carries 410 engagement ring settings. Both retailers offer settings in platinum, yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold.

When browsing the engagement ring settings, I find that Brilliant Earth’s settings are more unique and cater to specific tastes, as well as having more ‘trendy’ designs, similar to those you may find at smaller, boutique jewelers. James Allen also has some distinctive ring settings, but mainly sells ring styles that appear to many engagement ring buyers – they have the classic styles very well-covered..

Despite the more varied offerings at Brilliant Earth, simple solitaire ring settings tend to cost more than the same style offerings at James Allen.

Cost and value for money

Many factors affect diamond prices, but they are significantly impacted by the 4Cs (Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat weight).

Other factors such as diamond certification, origin, and brand name can also contribute to higher prices. 

The place you buy diamonds from can have a huge effect on the diamond price. Some retailers charge up to twice-as-much for the same diamond.

To see how James Allen’s prices compare to Brilliant Earth’s,  I’ll take a look at a typical diamond size and quality that is often used when searching for an engagement ring:

  • 1 carat
  • Excellent cut, symmetry and polish
  • VS1 clarity
  • G color
  • GIA grading report

This diamond will cost you around $5,170 on James Allen:

A diamond with the same specs would cost $5,370 on Brilliant Earth:

These two prices are really close enough to essentially be the same.

Both James Allen and Brilliant Earth have a large number of diamonds that fit these criteria and diamond prices do change over time, so there is every chance that, depending on the exact combination of the 4Cs that you are looking at, Brilliant Earth may be priced lower than James Allen.

If we compare lab-grown diamond prices, at the time of writing, James Allen is coming in a fair big lower than Brilliant Earth.

Lab-grown diamonds tend to offer higher carat weight for lower prices, so there are very few 1 carat diamonds with these specs available a either retailer. If we increase the carat weight to 2 carats but keep everything else the same, a 2 carat, excellent cut, round brilliant with VS1 clarity and G color is priced at $3,190 on James Allen but $3,730 on Brilliant Earth.

Overall, James Allen and Brilliant Earth both offer excellent value when it comes to both diamonds, and which is better for you will depend on what you’re looking for.

The best way to see how the price compares for your shape and combination of the 4Cs is to click through and compare directly:

Service: Both Before & After Purchase

Buying an engagement ring is a special purchase.

You want to have confidence that the retailer will not only treat you well while buying your ring, but also that they will stand behind their product after the purchase too.

This attitude can be boiled down to one term: customer experience – essentially how hard a business is trying to make sure that your interactions with them are smooth, friction-free and, ideally, delightful.

Warranty and Repairs

Brilliant Earth offers a free lifetime manufacturing warranty, which does not include routine repairs, but rather protects your jewelry from factory defects, such as the same diamond falling out or a prong breaking.

Brilliant Earth offers repairs through their Extend Plan which may vary upon item and individual plans. You will be offered the Extend plans during checkout. Plans vary from 2 years to lifetime, depending on the item. Extend is a partnership company, so claims are facilitated through the Extend website.

James Allen also offers a lifetime warranty that covers manufacturer’s defects and routine repairs. To get your ring polished, rhodium plated, prongs re-tipped, or other routine maintenance, you will need to purchase a fully insured shipping label for $30. The repairs themselves are free for a lifetime. This only covers typical repairs, not accidental damages.

Payment and Financing Options

Both Brilliant Earth and James Allen offer a variety of payment methods and financing plans to accommodate a range of budgets and circumstances.

James Allen offers financing primarily through the James Allen credit card. There are multiple no-interest options depending on your purchase, although as with all financing, there are Ts & Cs attached, which you can see here.

You can pay for purchases using credit/debit cards, bank wire transfer, Paypal, or through SplitIt. SplitIt allows customers to purchase jewelry spread out in equal payments to avoid interest. This service is subject to approval.

Brilliant Earth’s financing plan is available to US customers through partnerships with Affirm or Wells Fargo. Affirm allows you to split the cost of your jewelry through easy payments split up to 36 months with varied APR rates. The Wells Fargo plan gives you 12 months no-interest if paid in full.

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.

Shipping, Delivery, and Returns

James Allen offers 30 day free shipping to you and free return shipping. Free return shipping is limited to US customers with a max of three returns per customer. International customers will have to pay a return shipping cost of $50. Special orders are excluded from the return policies.

To return with James Allen, you’ll need to contact their customer service at 1-877-826-9866. An associate will assist you. Return your purchase to the nearest chosen carrier. James Allen will receive it within two business days and returns will be processed within two weeks to the original payment method. You will also be given tracking information to track your return.

Brilliant Earth offers free shipping and free returns within 30 days. Free returns apply to the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. Returns under $1000 can be done online through the Brilliant Earth website. All other orders have to be done with Brilliant Earth’s customer service at 1-800-691-0952.  

In case of returns, as mentioned earlier, James Allen requires you to cover the return shipping cost. You can check for the return shipping costs for Brilliant Earth on their website or by contacting their customer service.

Return and Exchange Policies

Both James Allen and Brilliant Earth offer a 30-day return policy, allowing customers ample time to decide if their purchase meets their expectations.

This is pretty much standard to jewelers that operate primarily online, and better than more bricks and mortar retailers.

Physical Store Experience

Brilliant Earth has showrooms in 37 locations within the United States. Most stores are located within California. Store visits are available by appointment only. You can schedule a visit with one of their jewelry experts on their website or call to book an appointment at your nearest store.

James Allen operates just two physical locations in the United States, and focus more on their online presence rather than a physical store presence. You are able to book live video diamond appointments with their jewelry experts directly from the comfort of your home.

Discounts and Seasonal Promotions

Loyalty programs and promotions are strategic tools used by retailers to enhance customer retention, encourage repeat purchases, and attract new customers. 

Both Brilliant Earth and James Allen regularly offer promotions, although they usually take a different approach. Brilliant Earth’s sales promotion offers are often a ‘free gift with purchase’ , while James Allen is more likely to just offer up a straight discount.

At the time of writing, Brilliant Earth is offering a pair of 0.16 ct.tw., G/H color, SI clarity lab-grown diamond earrings with all purchases over $1000, which are valued at $225:

These promotions do change regularly, so it’s worth viewing the Brilliant Earth promotional page to see what they offer at the time you’re looking

James Allen frequently runs sitewide discounts, ranging from 25% to even up to 50% on some items. These discounts are often tied to a gift-giving holiday e.g. Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, etc. 

One thing to note is that diamonds themselves aren’t usually discounted, but the discount on a ring setting or an eternity ring could run to hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars.

Again, these offers do change, so it’s always worth checking out the James Allen site to see what the current offers are.

Our Conclusion on which is better

James Allen and Brilliant Earth are both good choices and which one is right for you will depend on what is important to you.

James Allen provides a great online experience and wider choice of diamonds. They offer excellent imagery that makes it easier to choose a lower clarity diamond (if that’s what you are looking for), and often have more generous promotions than Brilliant Earth. I still find myself recommending James Allen more than any other retailer when I’m helping people find an engagement ring.

Brilliant Earth offers more modern setting styles and more transparency around diamond origin. Those drawn to ethical practices beyond sourcing alone may want to support a company whose products and services match up to them personally. 

Ultimately, your decision between Brilliant Earth vs James Allen may reflect your values, preferences, and budget at the time you are looking. We recommend that you visit both to see which fits best with you.

Best for transparency
brilliant earth logo

More transparency around diamond source, including allowing you to choose Canadian or Botswanan origin

Greater selection of lab grown diamonds

Good free gift offers

Best buying experience
james allen logo

Smoother online experience makes choosing a diamond easier

Higher quality imagery means buying borderline clarity diamonds is easier

Offers a true ‘super ideal’ cut