Engagement Ring University

Read our buying guides so that you can graduate with the perfect engagement ring!

Online vs. Offline


A BIG question that a lot of people have is whether or not buying an engagement ring online is a good thing to do. You might have one or more of these common questions floating around in your head:

  • Is buying an engagement ring online safe?
  • How is the quality and craftsmanship from online jewelers compared to brick-and-mortar stores?
  • I can’t physically see the diamond online…is this OK?
  • Are the lower prices online too good to be true?
  • If I purchase online, will I be able to return or resize the ring if necessary?

In this guide, we’ll break down all of these concerns and answer these questions. Ready? Let’s tackle these questions one-by-one.

Is Buying An Engagement Ring Online Safe?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: It’s now 2013, and online shopping security has come to the point that buying a ring online is just as safe as buying a book. If you buy anything online, then buying a ring is no different. If you don’t, then crawl out from under the rock that you’ve been living under and go buy something online… just for fun! ūüôā Anyway, the same guidelines apply for online purchase safety as for any other online purchases — make sure to buy from a reputable store (such as the stores that we list from), make sure that the connection is secure when you purchase, and make sure that you can safely receive the package.

How is the quality and craftsmanship from online jewelers compared to brick-and-mortar stores?

Quality and craftsmanship depend on the individual jeweler — online vs offline actually isn’t much of a factor here. You might tend to assume that you’ll get a better quality ring from a brick-and-mortar jeweler, but that just isn’t the case. The quality of craftsmanship of a ring is dependent on the jeweler that it comes from and the crafting process, regardless of that jeweler being online or not.

You can ensure that you get a high quality ring by making sure that you purchase from a good jeweler. For example, reputable online jewelers include Blue Nile, James Allen, Ritani, and others (all included in our engagement ring listings).

I can’t physically see the diamond online…is this OK?

Very common question here. This is one concern that many people have about buying an engagement ring online, so if share this concern, you’re not alone!

This is perhaps the biggest difference between buying online and buying in-person at a local jeweler. Online jewelers offer lower prices and convenience, but local brick-and-mortar jewelers have long justified their higher prices with the fact that you can see your diamond in person. However, a few online jewelers have come up with unique ways to overcome this problem:

  • James Allen offers real pictures of all their diamonds at 40x magnification. This is a great way to inspect a diamond without being able to physically see it in person. The 40x magnification gives you plenty of resolution to judge clarity, and other factors can be judged with a combination of the pictures and the diamond grades.
  • Ritani allows you to see your actual ring¬†in person, for free, before purchasing.¬†This is a very cool feature that they have recently released, and with it, they completely eliminate the problem with not being able to see your diamond (and ring) before purchasing. They have just launched this, however, so it might not be available in your city. However, they do have high-resolution images and videos of all their diamonds online, just like James Allen.

Diamond Grading Certificates — Another way to judge diamond quality online

Even if you can’t see a picture of the actual diamond that you’re considering, diamond certificates are a reliable way to judge the qualities of a diamond without seeing it. All online jewelers provide diamond grading certificates for their diamonds. This is actually a whole different topic in itself, but here are a few tips on using diamond certificates to judge a diamond:

  • First, make sure the diamond certificate comes from a good institute. AGS (American Gem Society) and GIA (Gemological Institute of America)¬†certificates are very reputable, so stick with those if possible. IGI certificates are OK, but sometimes are a bit less strict with their grades.
  • Next, use the diamond grades from the certificate (the 4 C’s) to judge the diamond for a good balance between price and quality. Our Engagement Rings 101 guide contains guidelines for getting a quality diamond without paying too much.

 Are the lower prices online too good to be true?

No, the price differences are simply a reflection of the costs that each type of jeweler has. Online jewelers are able to price their engagement rings because they generally have lower operating costs than brick-and-mortar jewelers. At a physical store, you’re paying extra because they have higher overhead costs: their building rent/lease, their fancy lighting setup (that makes their diamonds look better than they really are!), their retail employees, and more. So, the price difference is due to the differences in operating costs, not due to differences in quality.

If I purchase online, will I be able to return or resize the ring if necessary?

Yes. A 30-day return period is pretty standard across online jewelers. Some have longer return periods, but 30-days is the norm. Obviously, check the store for their specific return policy, just in case it’s different.

As for resizing, many online jewelers offer free resizing for 1 year after purchase, so this is usually not an issue for most people. Again, just check with the actual store to make sure.

So… Online or offline?

While this decision is obviously yours to make, we hope that this guide helped answer your questions. The trend is moving towards online purchases and it’s becoming much more mainstream. However, some people might still prefer to buy in-person at a physical store. However, if you’re on a tighter budget, you might want to seriously consider buying online (if you aren’t already) — you’ll get much more for your money.