Zales vs. Blue Nile

Helping you decide which online giant is best for you – Blue Nile or Zales


Before you buy a diamond engagement ring, you’ll need to know some key factors before making your final purchase. The store you purchase from can impact the quality, integrity, and the overall cost of the jewelry you’ve got your eye on.

In this guide, we’ll compare two popular diamond retailers: Blue Nile and Zales. We’ll explore all the need-to-know info to help you decide between these two stores.

Blue NileZales
Visit NowVisit Now
Diamond Information
Number of settings1,16931
Number of natural diamonds157,67810,042
Number of lab-grown diamonds14,743252
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 requestHigh-quality images for every ring
Diamond labs: naturalGIAGIA, indepentent certifications
Diamond labs: lab-grownIGIGSI
Diamond searchVisit NowVisit Now
Company Information
Year founded19991924
Number of physical locations23700+
Owned bySignet JewelersSignet Jewelers
Service Policies (Click each to learn more)
Finance availableYesYes
ShippingFree and insured both waysFree shipping on orders above $199
Resizing1 year, freeAvailable for a fee
Returns period30 days, extended over holiday periods30-days
WarrantyLifetime, with some exclusionsLifetime warranty
UpgradeCredit 100% of original price, if new diamond 2x priceCredit 100% of original price, if new diamond 2x price or more
EngravingFree, on selected ringsFree one-time engraving
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.Zales offer a huge range of diamond ring styles and settings – the ability to visit them in one of their 700 plus stores is a big benefit. While it may be tempting to go to a Zales because of the convenience, on reviewing their online store, we can see that the expensive real estate in shopping malls has resulted in high prices.
Ringspo ReviewBlue Nile Reviewhttps://www.ringspo.com/reviews/zales/
VisitVisit NowVisit Now

Blue Nile was founded in Seattle in 1999 and is well-known as the first retailer to sell loose diamonds and other jewelry online through its website instead of at a jewelry store. Blue Nile is is now owned by Signet Jewelers, the same parent company as Zales, and has branched away from being purely online.

Currently, there are around 25 Blue Nile showrooms to visit locally. Their expansive online inventory caters to a wide range of preferences. This vast selection, along with their online retail model, places Blue Nile in a strong position in the digital domain.

Zales has been one of the world’s oldest jewelry stores, having been in business since 1924. They are one of many stores owned by Signet Jewelers, alongside Kay Jewelers and Jared the Galleria of Jewelry. Zales is known for its in-store experience, one-on-one diamond inspections, and wide range of jewelry.

Zales’ initial financing model of a “penny down and a dollar a week” helped customers in purchasing bridal jewelry without the burden of paying the full price upfront.

This innovative approach helped Zales build a strong network of over 700 retail locations across America, offering the option for those who prefer a hands-on approach.

Diamond Selection and Quality


Whether you buy a ring online or in-store, it’s important to make sure the retailer you’re choosing from has a good selection of diamonds.

Let’s explore the diamond selection and quality offered by Blue Nile and Zales. 

In this section we’ll look at several factors:

  • Diamond choice
  • Diamond quality
  • Diamond imagery

Natural vs. Lab-Grown Diamonds

Natural diamonds are formed over millions of years under extreme heat and pressure conditions beneath the Earth’s surface. Lab grown diamonds are created in a controlled environment in a matter of weeks to months by simulating the same geological conditions.

Blue Nile’s online store has an inventory of 157,678 natural diamonds, which is a lot more loose diamond inventory than Zales. Their lab grown diamond collection consists of 14,743 loose diamonds.

Zales doesn’t carry any loose diamonds, natural or lab-grown. There are many preset engagement rings and custom building options, but you aren’t able to hand-pick your diamond center stone.

Certifications and Ethical Sourcing

It’s important to buy diamonds with certifications from reputable organizations like the Gemological Institute of America or the American Gem Society (AGS). These certifications provide detailed information about the diamond’s cut, color, clarity, and carat weight,

The majority of diamonds at Blue Nile are GIA certified, which are considered the most reputable certifications in the industry.

Zales also has GIA certified diamonds, but they are more pricey than Blue Nile’s diamonds. They also carry engagement rings with independent certifications, which aren’t usually as credible as GIA or other grading labs.

The majority of their engagement rings don’t have grading reports at all, which we advise against purchasing. You should always buy diamonds with certifications from a reliable grading laboratory.

Both Blue Nile and Zales claim to have responsible sourcing practices, ensuring their diamonds are conflict-free using the Kimberley Process.

Pricing and Value

You’ll want to know if the diamond you’re buying has a good value for money. A cheap price tag doesn’t necessarily mean low quality. A higher price tag doesn’t mean high-quality diamonds either. Let’s see which store provides more value for money regarding their diamonds

Diamond Pricing

There’s a number of factors that affect diamond price. Most people assume the 4Cs are the only influencers, but there are other factors too. Certifications, retail model (online vs in-store) and other offerings contribute to costs as well.

Blue Nile is known for their low overhead costs and competitive prices. They are able to offer cheaper diamonds than other places because of their online-only business model.

Zales customers will find their engagement rings with a higher price tag. Usually this has to do with operational costs of owning a store, as well as requiring inventory to fill them.

Zales doesn’t have a  selection of loose diamonds, but allows you to choose from pre-selected diamond grades to create your own engagement ring.

Since you can easily choose your own diamond from Blue Nile, we can compare a standard solitaire setting with similar diamond grades that Zales offers.

A 1 carat diamond ring in a 14K white gold solitaire cathedral setting with F color and VS2 clarity from Zales’ custom engagement ring builder costs around $8,250. This is without knowing if your diamond is an ideal cut diamond or if it’s certified.

A similar ring style with the same diamond grades from Blue Nile costs around $5,600. The ring setting isn’t exactly the same, but the diamond specs are the same.

The round cut diamond from Blue Nile is also GIA certified.

When compared to Blue Nile’s loose diamond pricing, the price difference between the two is substantial.

That’s almost a $3,000 difference!

Website and User Experience


When you’re online jewelry shopping, a user-friendly website is important when making a purchase. Both Blue Nile and Zales’ websites are navigable and informative, but one makes it significantly easier to find the right ring for you.

Both Blue Nile and Zales offer a platform for you to design your own ring, which allows you to add a personal touch to your jewelry.

Blue Nile’s Customization Options

Blue Nile provides a robust Design Your Own Ring feature on their website. This feature allows you to choose from a variety of settings, metals, and side stones to create a ring from scratch that resonates with your taste.

They also offer over 1,160 settings to choose from, though the number is inflated by the different metals they offer for their ring settings.

blue nile singapore inspiration

Blue Nile’s site offers a 360-degree view of all of their diamonds. This allows customers to observe any stone closely to identify its clarity characteristics and sparkle using interactive video.

Blue Nile also has a virtual try-on feature, allowing you to see how a ring might look on your finger before you order it.

Zales’ Customization Options

Like Blue Nile, Zales offers a design-your-own ring feature, with limitations.

Zales doesn’t offer 360 viewing like Blue Nile. You don’t know what the diamond looks like and are solely basing it off the pre-selected diamond grades provided.

Zales also has other builders you can use for different collections including the classic Bridal Customization, Disney Engagement Ring Custom, and Vera Wang LOVE Custom. They also have options for custom engraved bands and gemstone engagement rings.

While the options seem extensive, the lack of filters make shopping online with Zales lackluster. You don’t get to pick the exact grades of your diamond or see it in a 360 degree view. You can’t see the diamond before purchasing it online. You’ll need to go to outlets or retail store locations to physically see what Zales has to offer.

Zales offers a choice of metals including white gold, yellow gold, rose gold, and platinum. They also give you the option to choose side stones, allowing for additional customization, though the variety might not be as extensive.

Service: Both Before & After Purchase


The support and services provided by a retailer can significantly impact your buying experience, and it’s essential to know what to expect.

In this section, we’ll look into the service and customer support offered by Blue Nile and Zales.

Both Blue Nile and Zales have set policies to assist and support their customers throughout the buying process:

  • Customer Support Hours: Both retailers offer extensive customer support hours to assist you with your inquiries and concerns.
  • Engraving: Personalization through engraving is available at both retailers, allowing you to add a unique touch to your jewelry.
  • Finance Available: Financing options are available to help you manage the cost of your purchase.
  • Shipping: Both retailers offer shipping services to deliver your purchase to your doorstep.
  • Resizing: Resizing services are available to ensure your ring fits perfectly.
  • Returns Period: A specified returns period is provided to allow you to return your purchase if it doesn’t meet your expectations.
  • Warranty: Warranty policies are in place to cover any defects or issues with your jewelry.
  • Upgrade: Upgrade policies are available if you decide to upgrade your diamond or jewelry in the future

Reviews

Customer reviews provide real insights into the experiences of previous buyers. On Trustpilot, Blue Nile has an average rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars based on 470 reviews. The reviews highlight both positive and negative experiences, with some customers praising the quality and service, while others mention issues with pricing and customer support responsiveness.

It’s best to take both positive reviews and negative reviews with a grain of salt. Most people take to reviews sites like the Better Business Bureau to express frustration rather than a good experience.

You’ll find more negative reviews about Zales than with Blue Nile, but the popularity of each store should be considered.

Majority of these complaints are toward the salespeople at different Zales’ stores. Customer service at Zales may be derived from store employees or the Customer Care center phone number. 

Customer Service

You can contact Blue Nile customer support through chat, email, and phone, 24/7. They are known for their positive customer reviews on many popular review sites.

Blue Nile has non-commissioned diamond experts that can provide an unbiased opinion on quality jewelry. You don’t have to worry about a sale meaning more to them than you do.

Zales associates may be more biased, focused on making a sale rather than providing high quality handcrafted engagement rings.

Payment and Financing Options

Having flexible payment and financing options can provide a smooth and easy checkout experience.

Both Blue Nile and Zales offer various payment methods and financing plans to cater to different financial situations. Here’s a breakdown of the payment and financing options provided by both retailers:

Blue Nile Payment and Financing Options

Blue Nile accepts a variety of payment methods including credit cards, bank wire transfers, and PayPal, providing flexibility in how you choose to pay.

They offer a credit card with special financing options. Depending on the purchase amount, you can benefit from promotional financing offers that allow you to spread the cost of your purchase over several months.

Zales Payment and Financing Options

Zales accepts a range of payment methods including credit cards, PayPal, and bank wire transfers.

Zales also provides financing options through their Diamond card. The Diamond Card has promotional financing with varying terms based on the purchase amount.

They also provide leasing options through Progressive Leasing, where no credit is needed.

Shipping, Delivery, and Returns

You’ll want to know the shipping and delivery services each retailer has before making your purchase. Find out the process to return or exchange your item beforehand, just in case it’s not exactly what you want.

Blue Nile

Blue Nile offers free and insured shipping on all orders within the United States. They also provide international shipping to various countries, so you can receive your purchase regardless of your location.

They have a convenient and customer-friendly 30 day return policy, which is extended during the holiday season.

Zales

Zales also offers free shipping on orders above $199. They provide shipping within the United States and to several international destinations.

They also have a 30-day return policy, similar to Blue Nile. However, Zales offers a 60-day exchange policy, exceeding Blue Nile’s offerings.

Physical Store Experience

The number of locations and the ambiance of the stores can significantly impact your shopping journey.

Both Blue Nile and Zales have physical stores, though the extent of their presence varies.

Blue Nile has 25 locations designed to provide a serene, no-pressure environment for customers. You can browse through their collection, and have one-on-one consultations with their non-commissioned jewelry experts.

Zales boasts a robust network of stores with over 700 locations across America. Their stores are traditionally designed, providing a classic jewelry shopping experience. The ease of finding a store close to you makes it convenient for in-person shopping.

Loyalty Programs and Promotions

Loyalty Programs and promotions can significantly enhance the value you get from your purchases, especially if you’re a repeat customer or planning to make a large purchase.

Blue Nile also offers a referral program where you can earn credits for referring friends who make a purchase.

Zales offers a variety of seasonal promotions and discounts, which can be found both online and in-store. Zales frequently does discounts, especially during holiday seasons.

Promotions are often found on the website or by subscribing to the email list.

Conclusion

Both Blue Nile and Zales are reputable retailers, each with unique offerings that cater to different customer needs.

When you buy a piece of jewelry at Blue Nile, you are in complete control. The online inventory and competitive prices make it one of the most popular online diamond retailers. The ability to customize your rings at Blue Nile and the high-quality imagery on their website are notable features that enhance the online shopping experience.

Zales offers a more traditional and personalized shopping experience. If you value the ability to try on jewelry before making a purchase, the wedding rings and engagement rings at Zales might be the better choice for you. Their in-store exclusive items and services, along with their seasonal promotions add value to the in-person shopping experience.

Your personal preferences and priorities will ultimately guide your choice between these two retailers in your quest for the perfect piece of diamond jewelry.

FAQs

What are the main differences between Blue Nile vs Zales’ online stores?

Blue Nile primarily operates online and has a user-friendly website with a vast selection of diamonds and jewelry. They provide high-resolution imagery and detailed information on each diamond, along with a robust educational section to help buyers understand the intricacies of diamonds. They also offer a customization feature for designing your own ring.

Zales has a stronger physical store presence alongside its online platform. Their website complements their in-store offerings, but the online diamond selection is more limited compared to Blue Nile.

How do the diamond qualities compare between Blue Nile vs Zales?

Blue Nile has a broader range of diamond qualities available, catering to various tastes and budgets. They provide detailed information on each diamond’s cut, color, clarity, and carat weight, along with high-resolution imagery and certification details.

Zales offers a limited selection of diamond qualities online. While they provide the basic information on the 4Cs of diamonds, the lack of detailed imagery and certification for many of their diamonds online may not provide as much transparency.

Are there any exclusive brands or collections available at Blue Nile or Zales?

Blue Nile has exclusive collections such as the Astor by Blue Nile™, which features high-quality, well-cut diamonds. They also have exclusive partnerships with designers for unique jewelry collections.

Zales has a variety of exclusive collections and brands such as the Vera Wang LOVE collection, and the Celebration Diamond collection.