So, how does the service standards at JamesAllen measure up? I had purposely chosen a fancy cut diamond shape (oval) for the undercover test. This is because they are much more difficult to purchase online as compared to the common round diamonds.
The thing about ovals is that they have an intrinsic bow-tie effect that could not be fully determined from pictures alone. In order to properly assess a diamond’s bow tie effect, you need to tilt the diamond at various angles and view how it behaves.
Initially, two ovals were shortlisted from their website and a request for these diamonds to be examined for brilliance (use of ASET images) and bow-tie effects was made. For the purpose of this test, I made it very clear that my utmost priority in selecting an oval diamond was one that exhibited good brilliance and scintillation.
The process for the in-house gemologist to call in and examine the diamonds typically takes about 2-3 working days. Once the examination is completed, an analysis report will be sent to your email address together with the requested ASET photographs. For people who aren’t sure that an ASET is, please read our article on How to Choose a Diamond to find out more.
Oval Shaped Diamond 1.04 carat G VS1
Oval Shaped Diamond 1.09 carat G VS2
Quote from email: “Diamond 1470433 (Oval 1.04crt G VS1) has a nicer outline and faces eye clean, but isn’t as bright as your other oval. On the other hand, diamond 1466465 (Oval 1.09crt G VS2) faces up larger and brighter but it has an egg-shaped outline and a dark, wide bowtie. If you are leaning towards oval diamonds, the gemologist suggested considering other oval diamonds.”
From the response, I was blown away by their level of professionalism and honesty. In the diamond business, finding an honest dealer is not easy because most businesses care more about their profit rather than their customer’s needs. James Allen completely nails it down for me by being upfront with their analysis based on my requests for a diamond’s optical performance.
That’s a huge plus point for considering that this is a significant purchase and you’ll want to work with someone with integrity.
Have you ever tried walking into a physical store and viewed diamonds while a sales staff is persistently breathing down your neck? Have you experienced annoying pressure selling tactics to make you purchase something regardless of whether it is suitable for your needs? Well, I had and I always hated it.
Instead of taking time to properly assess a customer’s needs, the majority of sales assistants are more concerned about making a commission from a sale instead of putting your interests first.
Say for example, you are comparing 3 oval diamonds that are available in a store and they all happen to be of a lower cut quality. If you do not have the experience of discerning oval diamonds, do you think the sales staff would be honest enough to tell you that all these diamonds have poor optical performances?
Do you think they would risk losing a potential sale by being honest? I highly doubt so.
This kind of complete honesty in the diamond industry is very RARE. In this aspect, James Allen scores real high on my review sheet.
I personally selected another 3 random oval diamonds and made a follow up request to have them examined for optical performances.
Oval Shaped Diamond 1.17 carat D VS2
Oval Shaped Diamond 1.09 carat E VS1
Oval Shaped Diamond 1.13 carat G SI1
Quote from gemologist review: “I’m happy to say that diamond 1459249 (1.17crt D VS2) has great fire and brilliance and is brighter than your other options! It’s perfectly eye clean and is icy white in color. Additionally, its bow tie is small and blends very well. This is a gorgeous diamond and will look very elegant in any setting.
Diamond 1482860 (1.09crt E VS1) wasn’t quite as attractive to our gemologist based on its dark bowtie. The bowtie is small and dark and you may find it to be a little distracting. Otherwise, it is icy white and has a very nice outline. Diamond 1474926’s (1.13crt G SI1) bowtie is the widest and it has the weakest light performance of the group.”
Here’s my analysis on the 1.17 crt diamond: The black ASET picture shows a more distinct colored red and green image for light return as compared to the other diamonds. The patches of red distributed around the diamond also indicate good scintillation and brilliance patterning.
However, when I look at the ASET picture to the right, there is a small halo of white that shows light leakage near the edges of the table facet. Granted, this may not be the best oval ASET I had seen. Overall, the diamond has still has better optics as compared to the other ovals.
After factoring in the bow tie effect and taking the gemological reports into consideration, the 1.17 carat D colored diamond still takes the cake out of the 5 stones. More importantly, the deciding factor is largely weighed in by the gemologist’s opinion because nothing beats an up close examination.
As you can see, buying diamonds online is definitely not a straightforward process that involves a simple comparison of prices or paper certificates. It is very important for you to work with someone who is trustworthy and not someone out to make a sale at your expense.