BLUE NILE IN A NUTSHELL
Among the vast majority of diamond jewelers, Blue Nile is perhaps the largest, the biggest and definitely the brightest of all. That is precisely why this top jeweler has all its competitors wanting to dull its shine for the longest time. But, they only got this close. Luckily for Blue Nile, the previous year ended so well in their favor.
The company has proven, once again, that it can rise among its rival jewelers with flying colors. With its impressive inventory, top-notch customer service and advanced video technology, Blue Nile have definitely managed to maintain its reputable name in the industry.
HOW IT ALL BEGAN
Did you know that Blue Nile has one of the most humble beginnings?
The founder, Mr. Mark C. Vadon, was said to have been eyeing some engagement rings when he realized that none of his options actually impressed him anymore. So, he decided to learn more about diamonds, and from there, he began searching for the best price.
In his search, he came across the site internetdiamonds.com whose owner would later become his business partner. Soon enough, Mr. Vadon’s natural interest in diamonds led him to purchase 85% of the shares in the company and made some significant improvements on the website. In 1999, Bluenile.com replaced the old name of the site and marked the beginning of a new era for this world-renowned diamond retailer.
THE GAME PLAN
What is commonly practiced is not always the best way of doing things and not to mention the cheapest way to go. Blue Nile has proven that to be true.
While the rest of the diamond jewelers are filling in their inventories out of their own pockets, Blue Nile decided to go in a different direction. Instead of spending millions on purchasing the actual diamonds, they went ahead and made deals with the manufacturers and wholesalers themselves and signed exclusive contracts with them to have their pieces of jewelry listed directly on their site.
The result? An abundant inventory, a wide selection of settings from some of the biggest names in the industry like Zac Posen and Monique Lhuillier, and of course, an undisputed name in the diamond retail business. All these for a relatively lesser cost.
But, what does this even mean for consumers? As an online retail business, Blue Nile has already cut the cost of renting a physical store and purchasing actual diamonds. Hence, selling them need not be marked-up to ridiculous prices to maintain the business. Ultimately, it’s a win-win situation.
TAKING ON THE TEST OF CLARITY
If there is one important thing that all online vendors need to earn from their consumers first and foremost, it has to be trust. But, apparently, it is challenging to establish that trust when prospective buyers can’t have a clear image of the actual item they are supposedly interested in.
So, for products as expensive as a diamond jewelry, vendors need to double their efforts to prove themselves. Surprisingly, Blue Nile has been lagging behind in this aspect for a very long time, and this drawback only benefited its competitors.
It wasn’t until the late 2016 when Blue Nile finally decided to introduce a new technology which they claimed to be the most advanced video tool that allows consumers to meticulously examine their diamonds in a full 360° view. While the same technology is offered by James Allen, one of Blue Nile’s competitors, the former offers a more realistic image of an actual diamond. The latter, on the other hand, highlights the beauty of the stone more than its flaws.
That said, most diamond experts prefer the images over at James Allen and those provided at Blue Nile’s website are particularly more enticing for an average consumer. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it does make it easier for Blue Nile to convince consumers that their diamonds will be as eye-clean in actual as they seem on the website.
Aside from a diamond’s cut, carat weight, and color, its clarity grade is considered to be the most important factor that influences its overall quality and value. Hence, it only makes sense for consumers to pay closer attention to this aspect more than anything else. But, even diamonds with the same clarity grade can still differ in terms of whether they are completely eye-clean or not.
A good example would be to compare these two diamonds from Blue Nile: 1.09ct J SI1 and 1.01ct I SI1. Both diamonds are listed under the same clarity grade. However, with closer inspection, the latter does not appear to be as eye clean as the former. It turns out that the inclusions or the flaws of a diamond can be positioned in varying angles and locations within the stone that some may appear less visible to the naked eye.
The bottom line is, this type of technology can only do so much. At the end of the day, it will always be up to the consumers on how to take advantage of this feature in the best way possible to find the perfect diamond that should fit in well with one’s budget and preference.
BLUE NILE IN ACTION
Personally, I was not very impressed with what the company had to offer back in 2011 when I tried shopping on their site. Also, they seem to have been outsourcing a manufacturing company in Kentucky which can only mean one thing: they are putting their quality control at risk and for someone who has a name to uphold, that was not the smartest decision.
Nonetheless, everyone deserves a second chance especially if there is an obvious improvement in the business. So, we took the initiative to not only shop again at their site but we also paid them a visit to personally witness them in action.
I have to say, their corporate headquarters in Seattle showcases the company’s determination and dedication to better their business. The fulfillment center, headed by Hide, reflects the company’s commitment to providing quality diamond pieces and in maintaining a high-standard quality control.
Hide was a clear perfectionist when it comes to maintaining the quality of their products and we can see how the rest of his team is driven by his diligence.
On top of it all, the added video feature on their website is a clear manifestation of how they aim to improve their services in order to provide only the most convenient diamond shopping experience for their consumers.
Overall, judging by how they have risen to the occasion, one can easily say that Blue Nile is definitely living up to its name and reputation.
BLUE NILE THROUGH A LOUPE
There is no better way to judge a company’s overall performance than to look closely into the different aspects of how the business runs and what better way to do so than to be an actual customer, right?
Blue Nile has undoubtedly gained a large following through the years. But, for those who are still a bit skeptical of the company’s credibility, here is a sneak peek at what you can expect from them.
An Impressive Selection of Diamond Jewelries
Blue Nile has always been a believer that choosing an engagement ring, or a diamond for that matter, doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Driven by that idea, the company sees to it that its consumers are provided with the best options and tools to help them make the right decision.
While the company sells various types of diamond jewelry from earrings to bracelets and necklaces, nothing beats the one thing that Blue Nile is especially known for: the diamond engagement rings.
Consumers have the option to custom build their own rings starting from a setting or a diamond and given their new video technology, choosing the latter is now made easier more than ever. Take a look at this 0.70ct I SI1 round diamond. It has a perfect cut and an SI1 clarity grade that appears absolutely eye-clean.
Meanwhile, one of the most sought after engagement ring settings from Blue Nile is this 14k White Gold setting that looks stunning with its pavé-set diamonds accent along the shank. Note that this particular design doesn’t even cost half of the price of some of their settings, but the craftsmanship is really impressive.
Blue Nile offers international shipping to various countries and even have a base in Ireland which makes it more convenient for consumers living in Europe. In fact, Blue Nile could be your best choice.
The company website is also capable of displaying the prices in your local currency, and their customer service representatives can even assist with special requests regarding shipping and returns.
Reliable Customer Service
Speaking of Customer Service, Blue Nile has the reputation of having a great one, and I can attest to that based on personal experience. I did a live chat with one of their representatives, Gen, and the whole thing was a breeze.
I requested Gen to hold off the shipping of the ring I ordered until I fly to the US then asked her to send it to a FedEx address where I could pick it up. To my own delight, when I arrived in New York, my ring was already there waiting for me.
There might be some unhappy customers somewhere, but there is no perfect company after all. So, the point is that Blue Nile would never have been recognized for their customer service if they are not capable of living up to it.
Bang for Your Buck
Remember the 0.70ct I SI1 round diamond and the 14k White Gold setting mentioned previously? Well, I’ve decided to purchase both, and it cost me no more than $2,600. That sure sounds a lot for a ring. But, is the price worth the quality and value of the product?
Judging from the actual ring I received, I actually got a perfectly eye-clean sparkling diamond along with an elegant setting for a competitive price. Simply put, the ring was brilliant. The diamond is just as eye-clean as I expected it to be and its I color appeared white on the white gold setting. You can say I was very satisfied with my ring.
As mentioned earlier, Blue Nile has always implemented thin margins on their prices unlike most of its competitors. In fact, Blue Nile offers the best prices when compared to physical retailers when it comes to the online diamond retail business. Their prices are always either the cheapest or within the range of their competitor’s prices such as that of James Allen’s.
So, to cut the story short, that purchase was definitely a bang for my buck.
Highlights: Blue Nile vs James Allen
Inventory wise, Blue Nile definitely takes the cake. With almost two hundred thousand diamonds in stock, James Allen’s a little over a hundred and forty thousand diamonds is clearly falling behind.
While both Blue Nile and James Allen are offering the hi-tech video feature for a better view of their diamonds, there are differing opinions about the efficiency of how this technology is implemented on their websites.
James Allen’s images are proven to be more helpful for diamond experts as they look the closest to an actual diamond under a jeweler’s loupe. Basically, the images are clearer and the inclusions are easier to find. Therefore, it becomes easier to determine whether a diamond will be eye-clean in actual. Yet again, only those who know exactly how to find these flaws can appreciate this slight advantage of James Allen’s images.
Consequently, Blue Nile’s images are leaning more towards a user-friendly approach. Although they are not as detailed compared to that of James Allen’s, an average consumer can still work through the images with ease and see if the diamond is eye-clean or not.
One other advantage of James Allen is their Return Policy. While both offer a 30-day money back guarantee, they differ when it comes to the fees involved. Blue Nile customers will have to shoulder the fee for the return shipping and the insurance. James Allen, on the other hand, will pay for the return shipping for customers within the US and Canada.
I admit I was one of the skeptics before who doubted what Blue Nile can offer. But, seeing how the company has started to fully meet the overwhelming expectations from their consumers, I can finally say that they deserve every bit of complement they are getting.
There is no doubt that Blue Nile is worthy of recognition. The company boasts of an inventory like no other business in the industry can and that is perhaps their best and biggest advantage. Combine that with an excellent service and superior quality products, Blue Nile is definitely an epitome of what it really takes to be a world-renowned online diamond jeweler.