Buying An Engagement Ring Online – My Blue Nile Experience

The holiday season is fast approaching and with it comes one of the most popular times of year for guys to propose. Before you see too many of those sappy commercials for the chain jewelry stores and head down to the mall to buy an engagement ring. I want to share why you should strongly consider buying an engagement ring online.

My Story

blue_nile_engagement_ringI proposed to my girlfriend a little over a month ago (and she said yes!). Regardless of what my budget for the ring ended up being, I knew it would be one of the most expensive purchases I’ve ever made behind only my house and car. Being the finance blogger that I am, I didn’t want to break the bank on a ring. But being the hopeless romantic I am (Fiance’s edit: Hopeless romantic?! I wish!) I wanted to get something that she could proudly show off to all her friends.

After brushing up on my 4 C’s I set out to find the perfect ring. I started by hitting up some of the mall stores and national chains. Besides the sales people reminding me of used car salesmen, they just didn’t have that great of a selection and the diamonds that fell into my price range weren’t nearly up to the quality I was looking for.

Next came the local mom and pop jewelry stores. The service was much better and I did actually find a ring I was all set to buy, but I wanted to make sure I did my due diligence and exhausted all of my options before actually making the purchase.

As anyone who’s ever Googled anything related to diamonds or engagement rings knows, you’ll soon start seeing ads for BlueNile.com at every turn. Well, the ads worked, because I gave one of them a click and started poking around the website and…spoiler alert…I ended up purchasing my engagement ring from Blue Nile.

Is buying an engagement ring online safe? 

This is what I was most worried about: Can I trust the company? How can I be sure I’m actually getting the diamond I’m paying for? Is it really a good idea to have an expensive diamond ring shipped to me?

First of all, yes, it’s safe. I did it and my buying experience couldn’t have been better. Blue Nile is a publicly traded company and is the largest online retailer of diamonds and fine jewelry.

blue_nile_gia_report

The actual GIA report that came with the engagement ring

The largest worry I had is that the diamond on the ring I received was actually the quality they claimed it would be. To put those fears to rest, Blue Nile sends a GIA (Gemological Institute of America) grading report with the diamond. Think of a GIA report like a credit report for diamonds. It has all the identifying information for your diamond and certifies the diamond’s grade in the 4 C’s (cut, color, clarity, carat).

Even though I’ve had thousands of online transactions over the years, shipping something as expensive, and as important as an engagement ring made me a little uneasy. Blue Nile shipped the ring insured through FedEx overnight, with a signature required. I was a little worried that the ring would show up at my house with “Blue Nile” written all over the box and my girlfriend would find it and be tipped off to what was coming. So I called Blue Nile and arranged to pick up the package at my FedEx office which they were more than willing to accommodate.  If you’re wondering, the ring shows up in a plain box with only the address of a warehouse on the box. So no one will have any clue that it’s anything out of the ordinary showing up at your door.

Why Buy An Engagement Ring Online

Because you’ll save a lot of money! Diamonds, and all jewelry for that matter, comes with a huge markup in stores. Online shops like Blue Nile can cut out a lot of that markup because they don’t have the overhead that traditional stores do and they sell on higher volumes than your local jewelry store. The ring I bought from Blue Nile was actually higher quality (better clarity and color – same cut and carat) than the diamond I was going to buy from the local store…and it was $800 less expensive. Once I saw that, it was a pretty easy decision!

Shopping at Blue Nile

I’m admittedly lazy. I had already put more effort into learning about diamonds and shopping around at different stores than I had ever planned on putting into this endeavor. So when I sat down to check out Blue Nile I wanted it to be as easy as possible, and I wasn’t let down.

You can either browse their engagement ring collections, or create your own ring by choosing a specific diamond and setting. Because I had a good idea of what cut, color, clarity and carat I was looking for. I opted to build my own ring.

blue_nile_diamond_search

You can narrow down the search for your perfect diamond based on whatever criteria you choose. Different people weight each “C” differently, so you can sort the results by whichever category you’d like. Also notice how many results were found for this search. 5,022 different diamonds that met my basic criteria! I’m willing to bet that your local jewelry store can’t match that selection.

Pro Tip: If you’re looking for a 1 carat diamond, consider buying a diamond that is .9 or .95 carats. Even if you have it right next to a 1 carat diamond it will be very hard to tell that it’s smaller and you’ll save a few hundred dollars. As you definitely pay more just to say that a diamond is a full carat.  This is another advantage Blue Nile has over B&M jewelry stores. At most stores it’s really hard to find diamonds in this range as they want to sell the 1ct rocks with the extra markup. Online you can purchase any sized diamond you want, down to the 1/100th of a carat. 

Once you find the exact diamond you want to buy, you add it to your cart and then it’s off to pick your setting.  You can search and sort through all the different styles in the exact same way you do for the diamonds to complete your ring. Thankfully through some “subtle” hints she had dropped and some poking around on her Pinterest page, I had a good idea of the style of ring she liked. Otherwise I may have been a little overwhelmed by all the styles and variations that are out there! If you don’t have an idea what she likes by now, Pinterest is an amazing way to snoop on what she likes. Seriously, women put everything on there! If that doesn’t help your cause, talk to one of her close friends. Or if you’re suave enough to pull it off without letting the cat out of the bag, take her to a jewelry store and take close mental notes on what kinds of rings she gravitates towards.

If you buy your engagement ring from Blue Nile and need to return or exchange it for any reason, you can do so for just the cost of return shipping within 30 days. It adds a little piece of mind if god forbid, she says no, or is super high-maintenance and wants a different setting because you didn’t pick the one she’s always dreamed of. (Which sounds like a serious red flag in my book, run while you still can!)

In my case, we had to return the ring to get it sized 1/4 of a size smaller. All it took was a quick phone call to their US-based, native English-speaking (for those of you who care about such things) customer service to explain what we needed. We sent the ring back, they resized it for free and my fiancé had her ring back on her finger within a week.

Final Thoughts

Buying an engagement ring is one of the most important purchases a man will ever make. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the nuances of diamond buying, or to get talked into spending a lot more than you had planned on by a pushy salesman.

The most important thing is to set a budget and stick to it. While we’d all like to think we’re Kanye and give our ladies a 15 carat rock, we have to remember that the ring is just the first of many large expenses that will come afterward, and as long as she’s in it for the right reasons she’ll be happy with any ring you choose for her.

There is something to be said for supporting your locally owned stores,and some people just insist on being able to see what they’re buying in person. But the ease of getting exactly what I wanted from Blue Nile was just too much to pass up. Being able to get a higher quality diamond for hundreds less than in the store was just icing on the cake. Plus the 30 day return policy eased my mind about possibly hating what I just spent thousands of dollars on when it actually showed up at my doorstep (or in the case of getting cold feet or her saying no!).

In the end I was happy enough with my Blue Nile experience to write 1600 words about it, she smiles every time she looks at the ring and wedding planning is going smoothly so far. So if you’re planning on proposing anytime soon, set a budget, read all you can on the 4 C’s, and don’t rule out buying the ring online. But most importantly, Good Luck!

Readers: Where did you buy your engagement ring? What was your experience like? If you had to do it all over again would you make the same choice?

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15 Responses to Buying An Engagement Ring Online – My Blue Nile Experience

  1. Congrats on your engagement! That’s a pretty big deal. You must be very excited. My fiance bought my ring in a store, but online would work too!

  2. “Buying an engagement ring is one of the most important purchases a man will ever make.”

    That’s debeers talking right there. They have done one of the greatest jobs of marketing in the history of humanity. Turning what is essentially a pretty bauble of limited value into a massively priced commodity.

    Ever since dowry’s were made illegal and debeers stepped in to fill the gap, they’ve managed to replace a real down-payment for a persons future, with a pretty diamond that can’t be resold for anywhere near its appraised value.

    ” I wanted to get something that she could proudly show off to all her friends.”
    Keeping up with your neighbours I see. I find it amazing that financial bloggers are still relent to the expected Psychology of the masses of needing to get something pretty to show off to friends.

    I would much prefer to instead of buying a ring, add that money as a payment off the house, or a trust fund for any future kids.

    The sad thing is, i’m going to be going through the exact same process shortly.

    Congrats on the engagement.

    • The importance is based more on what you’re comitting to rather than the dollar value of the item. Sure, the whole process is a little stupid if you think about it, but you’re going to lead a lonely life if you’re on the hunt for a woman who won’t want one.

      And there is absolutley nothing wrong with buying nice things. “Keeping up with the joneses” is a problem when it means stretching yourself beyond your means. Yes, I wanted to buy a nice ring. I also drive a nice car, try to dress well, and have a weakness for nice watches. These things aren’t mutually exclusive from also saving a significant portion of each paycheck and agressivley contributing to retirement accounts. Being frugal, and being responsible with your money doesn’t have to mean living in a studio apartment and learning to make your own laundry detergent!

  3. Congrats on the engagement! When I was looking for an engagement ring, I also looked on Blue Nile. I would have used them but my cousin had a friend in the business who got me a deal. I like the Blue Nile website interface and I learned a lot on their website. They also have some discounts too if you use shopping portals or coupon codes. My friend used them and he was happy with his purchase.

  4. Congrats on your engagement! I had considered buying from Blue Nile, but ended up purchasing offline. The reason being, it is one of the biggest purchases you’ll make (so I wanted to inspect these rings in person before committing money), plus if you did have to return the ring(s), you don’t only pay shipping, but for insurance as well, which could be $50-60. If you have to do that a number of times, it starts adding up.

    • I’m pretty sure we only had to pay shipping (no insurance) to ship the ring back to be re-sized, I’ll have to double check though. Still, with the money I saved I could afford to send it back 5 or 6 times and I’d still come out ahead of the b&m stores I had looked at.

  5. Thanks for this review and I’m glad you had a good experience. My husband considered going through Blue Nile but in the end bought my diamond at a going-out-of-business sale for a local jeweler.

  6. I bought my wife’s engagement ring back in 2010 through Brilliant Earth online. Loved the service and was a great experience. Was able to customize without the hassle. Highly suggest them.

    The Warrior
    NetWorthWarrior.com

  7. Congrats on the proposal! So tell us, what exactly was the cut, clarity, color, and price! :)

  8. Pingback: Yakezie Personal Finance Carnival | Your Money Mentor | Lorillia B. Phillips

  9. Congrats on the engagement, that is so awesome. I remember that I took the plunge last year about this time. I bought my wife’s ring online from Amazon. It turned out fantastic and was about $1,000 cheaper than a comparable ring at the local stores. They have so much overhead…

  10. My engagement ring came from Ebay. We saved a ridiculous amount and could not be happier with the product!

  11. Kevin says:

    Congrats to you on your engagement, that is wonderful.
    BUT I have to interject and say with much experience that although GIA certification is creditable not all certificates are correct and created equal. It is an subjective result on colour and clarity which if it is not correct can be produce differences of thousands of dollars yes $1000.00′S. Check for yourself, search bluenile 1ct Rounds F colour Si1, so if all stones are created equal on “Paper” then why is there a huge difference in prices among all the “same on paper” diamonds! Also Bluenile creates yes creates the word Ideal or signature Ideal but no where is there the word Ideal or signature Ideal on the GIA cert thats because the highest grading GIA has is Excellent. Little misleading don’t you say. Not fare when you compare then with the local jewellers that have actual diamonds to show you. So if one does not know diamonds and is not a trained gemologist then you have no idea what you are buying online you are JUST BUYING a PIECE of PAPER that is very expensive, does not sound like a good deal to me. Also to add to this, prices also vary on diameter of a stone, florescence of a stone, table and depth percentages etc. these are all factors that a trained Jeweler can help you navigate. They are professionals and know there business the average person has no idea. Sorry not to be negative about your day just want the truth to be told and have a say for the other side, there is always the other side and we all have to be open to the proper information. Best of luck.

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