H. Samuel review
Should you buy your engagement ring or wedding ring from H. Samuel?
The H. Samuel story begins in 1862, which means it has been supplying jewellery to the British public for nearly 150 years.
For any business to survive that long. it must be doing something right, and H. Samuel has grown to become probably the largest jeweller in UK, with over 300 stores nationwide.
H. Samuel primarily offers lower-priced jewellery than a designer jeweller like Tiffany & Co, but lower prices don’t always mean better value.
In this H. Samuel review, we will primarily examine them from the point of view of buying a diamond engagement ring. However, the findings are equally relevant for any other type of jewellery.
H Samuel Engagement Ring selection
H. Samuel offers 249 styles of diamond engagement ring to choose from. While the classic solitaire style is the most common style, there are many others too, so you should be able to find a diamond ring that fits what you’re looking for.
The rings are a mixture of cluster set diamond rings (where several smaller diamonds are placed close together to give the impression of a larger stone), while other rings have larger centre stones. A cluster of smaller stones generally costs less than one larger diamond, so cluster settings can be a good option for those with a lighter budget.
H. Samuel offers its engagement rings in seven kinds of metals; silver, yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, two colour gold platinum and palladium. Again, this wide selection of metals is a big plus point – you can customise your ring to be exactly what you are looking for.
While they do offer a wide range of precious metal, H. Samuel’s most common metal is white gold. White gold is a good option for an engagement ring as its rhodium coating makes it very durable, while being priced more affordably than platinum.
H. Samuel offers the largest number of rings in the classic round brilliant diamond shape. It’s the most popular shape for a reason – it’s the shape of diamond that reflects the most light and sparkles the most, so is always a great choice for an engagement ring centre stone.
Another good feature that H. Samuel offer is the ability to create your own engagement ring in four steps, allowing you to choose your ring style, centre stone shape, diamond size etc:
This level of personalisation isn’t available at many other high street jewellers and really does mean that you can create a ring that matches your taste and budget.
H. Samuel Diamond selection and quality
Engagement rings are all about the diamond, and being able to choose a diamond that will sparkle brilliantly will make the difference between a truly stunning engagement ring and one that looks dull and unimpressive.
In this section, we’ll examine the quality of diamonds H. Samuel offers, as well as how transparent they are about the quality of the diamonds themselves.
As you probably know, the biggest determinant of the cost of a diamond ring is the diamond itself and H. Samuel offers a range of carat weight from; 0.01 carat all the way to over 1 carat.
The largest choice is from 0.25 to 0.74 carats, which is a good range as you can get a ring that looks a significant size without paying overly-high prices:
But carat is just one of the ‘Four Cs’, with the other three being Cut, Colour and Clarity. Some people also include ‘Certification’ as a fifth C, and we will discuss the importance of this later.
Unlike some jewellers, the H. Samuel website’s product filter only allows you to choose by carat – it doesn’t allow you to select cut, colour or clarity. This makes it tricky to narrow the selection to diamonds with particular quality characteristics, if this is something that is important to you as a diamond ring buyer (and it should be!)
However, H. Samuel does have a feature that allows you to create your own ring, although it’s a little hidden away on one of the menus.
Using this feature, you can select a ring style, then a centre diamond shape and then select the diamond quality. As mentioned above, H. Samuel allows you to create your own dream engagement ring in just four steps, the third of which is to choose the diamond colour and clarity:
As you can see, only 5 colours are available from F to J. G or H are good colours, above this level and the diamond doesn’t look much whiter, but is much more expensive, below this level and the diamond can look yellow (which most people don’t like).
When it comes to clarity, H. Samuel offers five choices: VS1, VS2, SI1, SI2 and I1.
VS2 Clarity means that diamonds are “clear to the eye” and the inclusion is invisible while I1 clarity diamonds actual have significant flaws which can usually be seen. I’d usually recommend sticking to VS1 or VS2 clarity diamonds, to ensure that no flaws are visible in your diamond.
In other rings, H. Samuel also have diamonds at I3 clarity:
I3 is off the scale for low clarity and the diamond will be extremely negatively impacted by flaws. By offering such a flawed diamond, H. Samuel are able to offer 1 carat diamonds at prices that seem low. However, they are actually poor value as the diamond will look so flawed.
H. Samuel and diamond cut
A diamond’s carat weight is generally the biggest determinant of its price, but the factor that determines how much a diamond sparkles is the ‘cut’. Diamond cut is a measure of how well the diamond has been formed and it is essential that a diamond has good proportions to reflect light; otherwise it will be dull, lifeless and unimpressive. If a diamond is too tall or too shallow, it won’t reflect much light and therefore won’t sparkle.
Understanding the cut quality of a diamond is absolutely essential to be able to understand whether it will sparkle. If you don’t know the cut quality then you may very well be wasting your money.
Diamond is too shallow:
Light passes through the diamond and is lost, meaning the diamond looks dull and sparkles less than it should.
Diamond is too deep:
Light is bounced off the bottom facets at the wrong angle and is lost out of the side of the diamond, reducing sparkle.
Excellent / Ideal cut:
Light is reflected off the bottom facets and back through the table to your eye, meaning the diamond sparkles beautifully.
In the education section of their site, H. Samuel clearly explain the importance of cut:
“The cut of the diamond can affect the way the light catches the stone, affecting the way it sparkles. The way a diamond is cut affects three important diamond-attributes” and “A perfectly cut diamond will allow rays of light from all sides to bend towards the centre of the stone, and be reflected back through the top of the stone in a burst of rainbow coloured light. Diamonds with a poorer cut will allow light to ‘leak’ or ‘escape’ through the base or sides of the stone.”
Despite this, H. Samuel don’t show diamond cut grade for the diamonds on their website, even in their diamond specification section for each stone.
This means that despite knowing that diamond cut is the most important factor in determining how much a diamond sparkles, they don’t give customers this information!
When I asked H. Samuel about this on their live chat, they said:
“Not all information is advertised on some of the items that we stock I’m afraid” and when I asked why; she continued “This is just a decision that has made by our marketing team”.
The lack of information on cut quality is a huge red flag for H. Samuel. Many other jewellers do include diamond cut quality on their websites – some of which make it one of the filters on their search tool and some of them in their diamond specification.
Not knowing the diamond cut grade for a diamond means that it could be a very low cut grade and therefore appear dull, with little or no sparkle. Not good.
H. Samuel diamond grading labs
As mentioned earlier, while there are the 4Cs of diamonds, there is a fifth C which is also extremely important: certification.
‘Certification’, also known as ‘grading’ is when a diamond is assessed for Cut, Colour, Clarity and Carat weight, with these recorded on a certificate which is totally unique for each diamond. A diamond certifiate acts like a passport which tells you all about your diamond’s credentials and should give you piece of mind that you are actually buying what you think you are buying..
Diamonds which score higher in their grading report are generally more expensive – an F colour diamond will be pricier than an H colour, if everything is the same.
It’s important therefore that diamond grading levels can be trusted – you don’t want to pay more for an F colour diamond if it is actually an H. This is why independent diamond testing labs are important. An independent testing lab doesn’t have any incentive to say that a diamond is higher quality than it is, as they don’t make any more money if they do.
In fact, if they bump up diamond quality grades, it may mean people trust them less, which might mean they make less money.
Retailers do have an incentive to increase diamond quality scores, as it will mean that they can sell a diamond for a higher price. For this reason, I recommend that you always look for a diamond which has been graded by an independent authority – my usually recommendation is the GIA because they have the strictest standards, so you will be sure that you are getting the quality that you are paying for.
However, H. Samuel’s diamonds aren’t graded by an independent lab – they’re inspected by H. Samuel’s own internal team:
This is another red flag for me for H. Samuel – I wouldn’t rely on an assessment of a diamond by an organisation which has an incentive to increase the quality score and therefore make more money from selling that stone.
H. Samuel Service
Buying an engagement ring is a special purchase, and you want to have confidence that the retailer will not only treat you well during while buying your ring, but also that they will stand behind their product after the purchase too.
H. Samuel has over 300 stores in nationwide. Having a large number of stores has a big advantage, which means that visiting a store to choose a ring, or talk to staff is very easy.
If you decide to buy online, shipping is free and your ring will be insured while being shipped. This is good for peace of mind.
If you feel the ring isn’t right for you they will give you a full refund within 30 days and you will be refunded with the payment method you used to place the order.
Looking at reviews on reviews.io, H. Samuel scores 2.21 from 131 reviews, with a 31% of people saying that they recommend H. Samuel. It looks like many people are not happy with H. Samuel’s service and they give an average score from 2-3 stars.
Obviously this isn’t a great review score, which indicates that H. Samuel should possibly consider whether changes are required to the way they deliver their customer experiences.
H. Samuel value for money
At first glance, H. Samuel does seem like it could offer good value. Prices for many rings seem low and there are frequent sales and discounts.
However, the easiest way to understand whether a retailer offers good value for money is to compare it to others on a like-for-like basis.
Buying a diamond ring is a big commitment – both financially and emotionally. So it’s important that you ensure sure that you are getting good value for money and aren’t spending more than you need to. After all, if you’re buying an engagement ring, it’s likely that you will have a wedding to pay for soon.
To see how H. Samuel value for money compares, we’ll compare it to one of my recommendations of the best places to buy an engagement ring from – Blue Nile.
While Blue Nile is an American jeweller, but has a manufacturing and distribution centre in Ireland, so to all intents and purposes, buying from them is just like buying from a local company.
When comparing, we’ll keep the ring style, diamond clarity, metal, colour, carat as similar as possible. A good way to compare is looking at solitaire diamond rings as they are simple and timeless, without ornate settings to make the comparison more complicated.
Looking at H. Samuel, they offer The Diamond Story 18ct Yellow Gold 0.25ct Diamond Ring, with a 0.25 carat, H-I colour, I1 clarity and round shape for £1,399 including all taxes.
The specs that we know about this diamond aren’t great and, as we discussed earlier, H. Samuel don’t show us the cut quality of the diamond, only showing the shape and carat weight:
Important: The image on the H. Samuel website looks like a nice diamond but I1 clarity diamonds actual have significant flaws which can usually be seen like the image below:
To judge H. Samuel’s value for money, we’ll compare it to a very similar ring at my recommended retailer, Blue Nile.
The Blue Nile ring we will look at is a ‘Petite Solitaire Engagement Ring’ in 18k Yellow Gold with 0.26 carat diamond, H colour and SI1 clarity. SI1 clarity is acutally two grades higher than the H. Samuel diamond’s clarity grade of I1. Blue Nile doesn’t actually offer diamonds at I1 clarity because they are too low quality.
H. Samuel’s price for their ring is £1,399, while Blue Nile’s is £960, even allowing for the higher quality diamond:
The Blue Nile has been graded independently by GIA and has been certified to have a “very good’ cut diamond, which will display impressive sparkle.
This difference in price is significant – over £300:
So, by choosing Blue Nile, you would save over £300, plus have a higher quality diamond that sparkles more. Win-win all round.
With the money you save by choosing Blue Nile over H. Samuel, you could:
- Buy a larger centre diamond for your ring
- Save the money and put it towards your wedding
- Put the money towards a really memorable proposal.
Or possibly all of these!
The prices at Blue Nile may be different on the day you look – maybe higher, maybe lower – it’s worth clicking through to see today’s prices for exactly what you’re looking for.
H. Samuel Review
Value for money
Do we recommend H Samuel?
H. Samuel is a well-established company and the ability to visit them is undoubtedly a good benefit.
Their website is also pretty good, with the ability to create and design your own choice ring in just four steps.
However the lack of transparency over the cut grading of their diamonds (which is the biggest factor that determines a diamond’s sparkle) and the lack of independent grading for many of their diamonds are other red flags including when offering low quality clarity (e.g. I1-I3 clarity).
The biggest determinant of whether I can recommend a jeweller though is value for money, and H Samuel falls down here in our comparison test. You can get a higher quality diamond for a lower price at Blue Nile, which makes it a smarter choice for you.
- Large number of stores
- 30 days return policy
- Established company for over 150 years
- High quality for diamond colour
- Can create your own design ring
- Offers low quality clarity
- No diamond cut quality information
- No independent grading lab information
- Expensive price for lower clarity ring
- Low star rating on reviews.io