James Allen Review

by Thomas J Stevens GIA DG CSG - Last modified November 2, 2020
Reading time: 8 minutes

An Ambitious Plan

Four creative minds pooled their talents to bring into reality. Oded Edelman, James Schultz, Michele Sigler and Dean Lederman created what has become the largest privately held online diamond and bridal jewelry retailer in the world.

Their mission from the onset was simple: to make buying a diamond online a breeze. From the very beginning the founders of James Allen decided that all their diamonds would be displayed using high resolution imagery. - As good, if not better, than a jeweler's loupe.

They wanted to bring into being the best place to buy diamonds online. They began with an incredibly ambitious plan: To take high resolution photos of each diamond they were to list. The genius of this plan was that they would photograph diamonds under identical conditions.

woman looking at ring box

This way it would be possible for a prospective buyer to compare diamonds side by side. This proved to be the secret sauce. Shoppers loved it. It gave prospective buyers control and played a huge role in helping them make informed purchases.

The diamonds were by necessity initially all ones held by manufacturers within easy reach of their photographer. Eventually the collection grew to include over 200,000 individual stones.

An Eye For Detail

Oded Edelman’s family were renown for having the most discerning eye in the diamond business. Oded, a relentless innovator, was determined to translate this eye for detail to the online market place. He imagined that if he bought a diamond online he'd want to be able to examine it in great detail from all angles.

man viewing James Allen website

The Opportunity

James, an early adopter to the internet with an expertise in online retail, had bought an engagement ring at an online auction. When he checked with jewelers to find out what an equivalent diamond was being sold for, he learned he had gotten a high-quality diamond for half of what he would have paid in store. He decided to let more people benefit from better prices by opening his own diamond jewelry retail business. He saw this would be possible by focusing primarily on being an online retailer.

A Key Member

Michele, the lucky recipient of that beautiful diamond ring, joined her husband James in the venture and brought her retail experience along to help oversee the Customer Service operations. She diligently kept track of the books in those early days and is a crucial part of the success story.

Diamond Experience

Dean brought his expertize in both diamond manufacturing and international distribution of polished diamonds to the team. He joined forces with Oded, James and Michele contributing operational and financial management skills to the venture.

Today is the one stop shop for thousands upon thousands of diamond shoppers. Due to the excellence and efficiency of the business James Allen is being sought out by diamond manufacturers as a preferred channel for the promotion for their diamonds. Manufacturers around the globe are giving James Allen the first pick of their best gems.

James Allen has offices in one of the world's biggest diamond centers, New York. They also have offices in Maryland, and Washington D.C.

Happy couples showing off their James Allen rings

How James Allen Has Benefited Diamond Shoppers

Since coming on the scene James Allen has brought to the table a number of things that have provided an immediate benefit to customers. Many other diamond retailers have been under pressure to up their game as James Allen is setting the standard in many areas.

Increased Transparency

Allowing such a close and detailed inspection of diamonds on offer means that one does not need to rely only on the word of the diamond jeweler as far as the diamond goes. For a long time diamonds held a sort of mystique, shrouded in mysterious terminology, and could only really be examined for quality under a jeweler's loupe. Not so anymore. James Allen gave everyone access to a vast inventory of diamonds without needing to wait on a diamond expert to pull out their magnifying glass to give you their considered opinion. This new transparency made a lot of people sit up and take notice. while at first there was some uncertainty in the diamond world as to how this would play out, the benefits soon became obvious: diamond manufacturers could reach a much wider audience.

woman texting

Excellent Return Policy

Diamond jewelers that sell online now routinely offer a 30 day return period. We can easily take this for granted, but this was not always so. When James Allen started out it was common for jewelers to offer a mere 7 day return period on diamonds that were sold online. A 30 day return period on diamonds has now almost become industry standard. Initially James Allen offered a 60 day return period, which made a lot of people sit up and take notice. Eventually this was readjusted to a 30 day return period as 60 days was found to be unnecessary. Instead James Allen focused on helping people get what they want the first time around rather than relying on a long return period. Buyer confidence has consequently improved. Having live 24/7 support has drastically reduced the amount of returns needing to be processed.

Variety of James Allen rings

Wider Variety

This is one of the things that has helped James Allen become the strong brand it is today. The wide variety increases the chances of finding the specific, shape, size and color you are looking for. Listing thousands of diamonds makes it so much easier to find what you want. The incredible range of diamonds and jewelry styles that James Allen offers is only made possible by the original business model being built in such a way that the technology could be leveraged for this type of expansion. Whatever the trend is this year, whether it's emerald cut diamonds, cushion cut diamonds or oval diamonds, you are likely to find what you want at James Allen. Tennis bracelets, diamond studs, or even fancy color diamonds, James Allen has it all.

James Allen ring box

Diamond Ring Shopping at James Allen:
What You Need To Know


James Allen encourages its customers to educate themselves regarding diamonds. James Allen provides a fairly comprehensive education section that covers all the basics on not only diamonds, but jewelry and precious metals. One of the reasons diamonds have historically been the domain of specialists and don't trade as a commodity is because there are so many differing qualities of diamonds. It is up to the comsumer to understand what the quality of a diamond means not only as it relates to its beauty, but in rarity too. Some pricing factors add cost without necessarily being optically obvious. However it is easy for a complete novice to buy themselves a dud of a diamond if they don't take at least a little time to understand how the 4C's relate to a diamond's beauty and value. In this regards James Allen is like a power tool, or a powerful car. You have to make sure you know what you are doing. I have often traced comments regarding James Allen that were less than positive to the person's lack of diamond education. If you don't feel inclined to learn about diamonds it may be a good idea to find a diamond concierge that can do the heavy lifting for you.

James Allen ring boxes


James Allen offers financing on purchases of $1000 or more. They have a couple of different options depending on the amount. As is the case with any financing I suggest you really really think about it before getting financing on a diamond ring. If it's out of your budget then try for a smaller stone. That is my advice. And I think most diamond experts will agree. Don't go into debt to buy a diamond. It's a luxury item and store financing adds considerable cost in the long run. It's generally more expensive than even a credit card. Even so don't buy a diamond on credit. James Allen does offer it as it is expected from all big retailers. While I expected this to be an issue to be brought up in any negative reviews I haven't actually come across this in any James Allen reviews. This is likely due to several contributing factors: first of all James Allen has something for every budget. You can get a diamond ring for as little as $600 at the time of writing. The second contributing factor could have something to do with most James Allen promoters agree that it's generally not good practice to borrow money for a diamond purchase and advise their readers accordingly. The third factor I attribute the low rate of financing complaints to is that James Allen's financing terms are not vague nor ambiguous. This is in keeping with their philosophy of making diamond purchase easy and wanting to build a trustworthy brand. One of the many reasons I love having the honor of being permitted to promote James Allen.

James Allen heart diamond ring


Just the fact that James Allen is set up in the way it is, matching up diamond manufaturers' inventory with customers, and having the diamonds set for their customers, can make you wonder if the craftsmanship of the rings is really up to scratch. Well, yes, it is. James Allen has worked hard building a respectable brand. In this day and age where people check online for reviews before even buying a coffee mug you can bet they will be looking online for reviews before buying a diamond ring. James Allen simply could not survive if it sent out shoddy rings. Pure and simple. I have probably read more James Allen reviews than most people as it's part keeping my hand on the pulse as it were. The quality of the rings sent out by James Allen is excellent. If ever there are sizing issues or any other matter James Allen customer service reps are quick to respond and make sure all issues are dealt with in a timely and efficient manner.