The Best Online Jewelry Stores
Ultimate Buyers Guide

Best Online Jewelry Stores for 2017

In my experience, the best jewelry stores offer an unparalleled shopping experience while offering the highest quality product at the lowest possible price. You may find, however, that a trip to your local mall's jewelry store is limiting compared to the best online store selections. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to determine which of the many online jewelry stores to use.

For this reason, I have researched and created a thorough list of the best online jewelry stores evaluated by variety, budget options, customer service, and overall satisfaction. These jewelry websites will make your shopping experience stress-free and convenient.

Best Online Jewelry Stores: What to Consider

Best Online Jewelry Stores

  1. Zales
  2. Jared
  3. Kay
  4. Pandora
  5. The Jewelry Exchange

Simply put, online jewelry stores are the best way to shop for jewelry. They have more options, can offer affordable deals, and you don't have to deal with merchants directly. Some online jewelry stores even offer customization options to suit your unique preferences. Making a custom ring or bracelet for a loved one is a great way to celebrate any special occasion.

Making a custom ring or bracelet for a loved one is a great way to celebrate any special occasion.

Fine jewelry usually comes at a premium price. Therefore, it's important to consider certain things before you buy.

1. Know What You're Looking For

When shopping for jewelry online, it's important to know what you're looking for. Would you like a gold watch with a champagne dial for your husband, a pair of elegant pearl earrings for your daughter, or a diamond ring with a white sapphire frame for yourself? How many carats? Do you know what size will fit best?

The great thing about shopping online is the seemingly infinite variations of colors, shapes and sizes available. On the other hand, these variations can become overwhelming if you have no clue what to look for. It's a good idea to know a little bit about the 4 C's (cut, color, clarity, carat) before choosing an online jewelry store.

Cut - Considered the most important of the 4Cs, the cut is what determines the way it will interact with light and consequently the amount of sparkle it creates (known as scintillation). Look for a stone that is symmetrical, has defined angles, and calculated planes. Use the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), which grade the cut from 'poor' to 'excellent'.

Color - This interestingly enough refers to the diamonds absence of color. The less color it has, the higher the value. While it may not be noticeable to the naked eye, the stones color has a significant relation to its price and overall quality.

Clarity - The clarity of a diamond refers to the number, size, and location of the internal inclusions as well as external blemishes. The clarity grade ranges from flawless (with no inclusion or blemishes) to included (clearly visible inclusions). Be careful with the lower clarity grades because they're often discounted but don't have nearly the same value as higher grade stones.

Carat - The carat is another way of indicating the diamond's weight. As you probably already know, the higher the carat weight, the more you'll end up paying.

Note: If you're purchasing a diamond from an online retailer, you might see a range for each one of the aforementioned points. It's crucial you request the exact grades and have them backed up with a grading report from the GIA or other reputable gem authority.

Don't worry too much; the best online jewelry stores will have fantastic customer service experts available to guide you in the right direction. At the very least, though, you should know what size you want and have a good idea of what you are willing to spend.

2. Online Jewelry Store Variety

Does the company have a wide enough range of inventory to choose from? This is a significant determining factor when choosing an online jewelry store. I like to make sure I have seen every option before making a purchase.

If a site doesn't have enough options, you could end up settling on an expensive jewel that isn't what you envisioned. Do not let that happen to you. Instead, make sure to choose a jewelry website whose selection exceeds your expectations.

The jewelry websites I have selected stock a broad range of men and women's watches, necklaces, bracelets and rings. Each type of jewelry comes with options including:

  • Gold, silver, platinum, titanium, tungsten, stainless steel, or cobalt
  • Diamonds, pearls, or gemstones

These are just a few of the classifications within each best jewelry store. You can even shop by specific brand or collection if you choose. If you're not sure what to look for, you should check out this list of jewelry trends throughout the ages. You'll want to make sure your jewelry website of choice has everything you need to make your unique purchase.

3. Customizable Options

Customized jewelry shows an extra air of attention and detail. Maybe you want to create a gold ring with a special engraving, a meaningful stone or a favorite setting for your favorite person.

Does your online jewelry store allow you to design custom pieces of jewelry? If so, be cautious. Online stores will often refuse refunds or exchanges on customized merchandise because they cannot resell the item. Do not commit to a custom item until you understand the return policy and are guaranteed the style and quality you are requesting. It is not fun to receive a piece of jewelry that isn't what you paid for; but it's even less fun to discover there is nothing you can do about it.

4. Decide on a Budget

I never shop for anything before deciding on a budget. This is particularly essential when shopping for jewelry online. It is devastating to find a piece of jewelry you love, only to discover it is wildly out of your price-range. Trust me, I know. Do not let this happen to you. Always make sure to filter your price options before you begin your search. This way you can shop for jewels within your budget and prevent potential devastation.

5. Shipping and Returns

Make sure you know the terms and conditions of your purchase beforehand.

  • How flexible is your online jewelry store with shipping and returns?
  • Are you entitled to free shipping when you pay a certain amount??
  • What is the duration of your return policy?
  • Is there a warranty of some kind?

These are all important questions to consider before making a purchase. A quality return policy and warranty is the best way to guarantee you don't get stuck with the wrong piece of jewelry.

6. Customer Service

Consider your online jewelry store's customer service support.

  • How reliable is the customer service department?
  • Are they available 24/7?
  • Can they help you decide on the perfect piece?
  • Can they answer questions about your outstanding order?

You should be aware of these details before choosing an online jewelry store.

Online Jewelry Stores on the Rise

The global jewelry market has expanded considerably in past years with the rise of e-commerce via online jewelry stores. In 2014, fashion and online fine jewelry stores made $125 million in sales combined compared to just $2 million the year before, according to Forbes Magazine. In 2015, a whopping $150 million was brought in. As you can see, the online jewelry industry is growing rapidly.

The Best Online Jewelry Stores

Zales Review

  • Pros
  • Lifetime Diamond Commitment
  • 24/7 customer service
  • Financing available
  • Pleasant shopping experience
  • Education center
  • Cons
  • Shorter return policy

Zales began as a modest jewelry store in Wichita Falls, Texas in 1993. Since then, it has become one of the largest retailers of fine jewelry in the world.

Morris and William Zale, along with Ben Lipshy, established Zales with one major goal in mind: to provide customers with quality products at the lowest possible prices. To complement this mission, they originally devised a credit plan in which customers could put a penny down and pay only a dollar a week. Though this credit plan is no longer available, Zales continues to prioritize customer satisfaction and affordability above all else.

Zales online jewelry store offers hundreds of necklaces, rings, bracelets, and watches. Their online inventory features an extensive selection of diamonds for both men and women. They offer practically every gemstone you can imagine; each comes equipped with a proper certification and paperwork that verifies authenticity.

It's no surprise that wedding and engagement jewelry is on their list of best-selling departments. Using Zales jewelry website, men and women can design their very own anniversary bands, engagement rings, and pendants. This is the perfect option if you can't find what you are looking for among their inventory or if you want to purchase a one-of-a-kind gift.

Shipping is free for all orders over $149. If you're not satisfied with your purchase, you have 60-days to return it for a full refund (30-days for watches.) You can also take returns to your local Zales store, unless you purchased through the Design Your Own program.

For additional peace-of-mind, all diamond purchases over $200 come with a Lifetime Diamond Commitment. This means Zales will replace the diamond if it gets chipped, lost, or broken from its original setting. Zales also offers a range of other protection plans to insure your jewelry purchase.

After a detailed overview, Zales online jewelry website is extremely easy to navigate. Not only that, but it has few, if any, bothersome advertisements that lead you away from your shopping experience.

Customer service is available 24/7; you can even chat online with an expert if you have questions regarding their products. Zales scores at the top of our list for obvious reasons. Keep in mind, however, they have reduced their return period in the last year from 100 days to 60 days.

Jared Review

  • Pros
  • Financing available
  • Customizable options
  • Extensive selection
  • Long-standing history
  • Education center
  • Cons
  • Limited customer service hours

Jared The Galleria of Jewelry welcomed the first of many customers through its doors in 1993. As the digital revolution took over, they expanded their product line and transitioned into so customers could browse their jewelry nationwide.

Today, Jared's online jewelry store stocks a broad array of engagement and wedding pieces, diamonds, gemstones, watches, and more. The best way to find an item is to type the stock number or name into the search bar. If you don't have an exact piece in mind, you can scroll through various categories laid out across the top ribbon. These categories include:

  • Engagement & Wedding
  • Design-A-Ring
  • Diamonds
  • Gemstones
  • Watches
  • Gold, Silver & Other Jewelry
  • Personalized
  • Jewelry Education

In addition to their large collection, you have the option to design your own ring. You can create your design using the hundreds of available settings and choose from any one of their 15,000 Independently Certified Diamonds. This feature is perfect for someone with specific needs. For example, if you have a job that requires hard work with your hands, you may want the diamond on your ring set closer to your finger.

If you're absolutely lost in the selection process, feel free to chat with a representative. They will be able to alleviate some of your concerns and offer guidance throughout your shopping experience. Having the ability to turn to an experienced representative is incredibly important, especially when you're buying from online jewelry stores.

It may seem easier to ask a salesperson about an item when shopping in person. When you shop online, you may hesitate to raise inquiries because it can be hard to get ahold of someone or it may delay the process. Fortunately, Jared has an instant chat function. Unfortunately, it is not available 24/7; so just make sure to contact them during regular business hours.

According to the company, Jared is also into philanthropy; they are a sponsor for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. I always appreciate when a large corporation makes a point to give back to the community; so let's applaud them for that.

Jared The Galleria of Jewelry website has so much to offer individuals in the realm of jewelry. With their organized site and vast selection of jewels, it's hard to walk away disappointed.

Kay Review

  • Pros
  • Coupons and discounts
  • Financing available
  • Lifetime diamond and gemstone guarantee
  • 90-day exchange policy
  • Philanthropic involvement
  • Cons
  • Limited customer service hours
  • No jewelry education center

Kay Jewelers has cultivated a brand that's recognized in homes across the country. In business for nearly as long as Zales, they initially sold much more than just jewelry. Their original stores included products from razors to eyeglasses to kitchen appliances: quite different from their current selection of high-end rings, earrings, and bracelets.

Do you need to purchase a piece within a specific price point? No problem. You can easily filter your search by price, brand, style, material, size, and shape. They carry thousands of unique pieces in sterling silver, gold, platinum, titanium, and more. If you'd like a more personalized item, you can design your own piece with engravings, personal stones, metals and more. The jewelry site even provides a visual display after you apply each element.

On regular items, you have 60-days to return it for a full refund. If it doesn't fit properly or doesn't live up to your expectations, you have 90-days to exchange it. Be aware, however, if you design a custom piece, it does not qualify for a refund or exchange.

Another great feature when shopping with Kay is their Lifetime Diamond and Color Gemstone Guarantee. Assuming you get the routine 6-month inspections, your stone is eligible for free replacement if it gets chipped or lost from its setting.

All in all, Kay is an extremely distinguished jewelry provider. Their online jewelry store does a fantastic job ensuring client satisfaction through product guarantees. Like Jared, they are also philanthropic to charity organizations including St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and the American Diabetes Association. This gives them an extra plus in my book.

The biggest drawback when using Kay's online jewelry store is that their customer service hours are limited. You should make sure their hours work for you before choosing to make a purchase on their website.

Pandora Review

  • Pros
  • Free 3-day shipping for every order
  • Affordable
  • Some customizable options
  • Cons
  • No live chat
  • Limited selection
  • No education resources

Pandora markets high-quality jewelry at affordable prices. Established in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1982, Pandora is unique compared to the other best online jewelry stores.

Every piece you purchase from Pandora is created with sterling-silver, 14K or 18K gold and boasts original, hand-made Danish designs. Pandora is known for their bracelets; they sell a huge variety of sterling and gold charms you can collect to reflect your unique personality through your bracelet. They also sell a variety of rings, earrings, necklaces and pendants on their jewelry website.

Keep in mind, Pandora is not the right online jewelry store for you if you're looking for higher than 14K. In order to keep their prices affordable, their products are less rare than other companies. Luckily, their designs are extremely unique.

Pandora's online jewelry store does offer limited customization options. You can design your own bracelets and rings using a simple program on their site. Choose your style and easily create an affordable, individualized hand-made bracelet or ring for you or your loved one.

What I like about Pandora is that it offers a 1-year warranty for all "non-watch" products. Be careful, though. They may not cover your bracelet if you use charms from different companies and it breaks. They say this abuse can damage your bracelet. They also do not have a live chat option; you can only e-mail or call them with any questions. I recommend you read their full list of exclusions and limitations before purchasing a product.

The Jewelry Exchange Review

  • Pros
  • Easy financing
  • Competitive Prices
  • Double value guarantee
  • Education Center
  • Cons
  • No live chat
  • Short, online-only return period

The Jewelry Exchange is a one of the United States' largest direct diamond import companies. According to their site, they have "access to hard-to-find diamonds and import them at lower prices than their competitors."

The Jewelry Exchange has some crucial policies to consider when picking an online jewelry store. Their return policy is online-only. They will give you a full refund within 15-days if you want to return your item for any reason. Just make sure you send the product back before your 15-days are up. The same goes for exchanges, except you have 30-days to send in your product.

One awesome characteristic of the Jewelry Exchange's online jewelry store is that you can finance your piece. They have a layaway option: if you put 25% down, you can receive a 6-month pay-off period. Your payments will be due every 30 days. According to my research, the only catch is that layaway payments are not refundable. You must make sure you love your purchase before committing to payments.

Another unique attribute of The Jewelry Exchange is their double value guarantee. They will guarantee that the retail price of your piece will be appraised at double what you paid for it, as long as it was manufactured by The Jewelry Exchange. However, the price of the item must be under $3,000 and it must not be a custom item. Their jewelry website does offer limited ring customization options; but I would definitely recommend reading through their special offerings and conditions.

Overall, The Jewelry Exchange's jewelry website is a great place to find rare, competitively priced gems. One last thing to consider before making a purchase, though, is their lack of a live chat option. If you have any questions or concerns, you'll have to call them during business hours.

Different Types of Jewelry at the Best Online Jewelry Stores

There are many different types of jewelry terms, so I've provided a short summary of each to guide you through your shopping process:

1. Fine Jewelry

Fine jewelry is made from exquisite, rare materials such as gold, diamonds and pearls. If you're looking for something elegant, make sure your online jewelry store offers a wide variety of fine jewelry options like Zales, Jared and Kay.

2. Fashion Jewelry

This type of jewelry is made with more common, less expensive materials such as brass. If you're looking for collections of somewhat cheap jewelry online, fashion jewelry is your market.

3. Body Jewelry

Body jewelry cannot be found on every online jewelry website. If you are looking to purchase an edgy new nose ring, make sure your jewelry site has those options available. Keep in mind, body jewelry may have very different return/exchange policies.

4. Costume Jewelry

Like fashion jewelry, costume jewelry is made with imitation gems and inexpensive materials. It can usually be found in the same places as fashion jewelry.

5. Personalized Jewelry

Are you looking to inject a personal touch into your purchase? Many sites will engrave your jewelry upon request. Just make sure your online jewelry store of choice gives you that option. I would use Jared or Kay for this.

6.Custom Jewelry

Custom jewelry, like personalized jewelry, is special. If you want something specifically designed for you from scratch, make sure you pick a jewelry site with the best customization options like Jared or Kay.

7. Men's Jewelry

Men's jewelry can be hard to shop for. Choose a jewelry website that has a specific men's section with ample options to suit your specific needs. Zales, Kay and Jared all have men's sections to choose from.

8. Bridal/Wedding Jewelry

Looking for a wedding ring or in need of some jewelry for the bridesmaids? I would use Jared, Kay or Zales for beautiful options at great prices.

9. Gold Jewelry

Some jewelry lovers can't resist the gold. If you're one of them, I would stick to Zales or Jared.

Best Online Jewelry Stores - What to Remember

  • Know what you're looking for.
  • Make sure your jewelry website has an adequate product-selection.
  • Determine if your site has customizable options.
  • Decide on a budget.
  • Pay close attention to shipping and return policies.
  • Be aware of customer service hours and support options.

Best Online Jewelry Stores Recap

Ultimately, any one of these trusted online jewelry stores will make it easy to purchase a perfect gift for yourself or your loved one. Before you make any decisions, it's important to take all details into consideration. As a reminder, if you elect to design a custom piece from an online jewelry store, remember the return and exchange policy may differ from a regular purchase. You don't want to end up stuck with a defected or wrong item.

If you are looking for smaller gifts or a seductive scent to accompany your new jewels, check out our review of the Best Online Perfume Stores. Perfume can be a perfect present for a good friend or family member and it may save you money to buy online. You may also be interested in checking out our review of the best online flowers.

Online Jewelry Stores FAQs

Q What does the word "carat" mean in relation to gemstones?


The word carat, is derived from the Greek word kerátion meaning carob seed. This seed was used as a measure of weight for the Greeks, and to this day we continue to use it in this sense. When measuring precious stones, diamonds or pearls, one carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams. 142 carats are the equivalent of one ounce. This is not to be confused with the word karat which is not a unit of weight but refers to the amount of gold in a piece. You've likely heard of 24 karat gold-this is considered the purest gold.

18 karat gold on the other hand consists of 18 parts gold and the remaining 6 parts alloys (i.e., nickel, zinc, copper, and silver). When shopping for a gemstone or piece of jewelry, be sure to inquire the carat or karat and have this valuation provided in writing. Many online jewelry stores automatically include a certificate of authenticity and a jewelry summation along with your purchase.

Q What is diamond certification and why does it matter?


Prior to purchasing jewelry with diamonds, experts recommend reviewing a 3rd part diamond certificate. Unlike a certificate which comes from the seller, a diamond certificate serves as evidence that the stone has undergone and passed a professional examination. The certificate sometimes referred to as a diamond grading report or quality assurance document details the thorough evaluation.

The American Gem Society Laboratories (AGSL) and Gemological Institute of America (GIA) are two highly trusted laboratories who conduct diamond testing and certification. They use industry tools including microscopes and loupes to carefully analyze the diamond's dimensions. In particular, they outline the 4 C's-color, clarity, carat weight, and cut.

Once you decide to purchase a diamond, be sure to get a copy of the certification for your personal records. What if the seller doesn't want to provide a certificate? This may indicate that the diamond has been compromised and that the seller knows an inspection would reveal that. If that's the case, you may be better off purchasing your gemstones from another outlet.

Q What does it mean when a gemstone is "enhanced"?


Gem enhancement can be defined as any type of process or act of manipulation which improves the look or durability of a stone. It's important to note that while the term is called 'enhancement' the overall value of the gem may increase or decrease after this process. To put it simply, if the enhancement process transforms an unusable gem (due to its durability) into a useable one then the value will obviously goes up for that piece. However, there is a high value in the gem world for stones that have never been treated. Much of this has to do with rarity and the origin of the gem. A few techniques frequently used to improve the appearance of a gemstone include applying heat/radiation, diffusion, oils, waxes, and fracture filing.

Gemstones treated with waxes and oils typically look richer in color and the fine lines in the surface are temporarily hidden, making them appear better quality. Another common method is laser drilling which improves the stone's clarity by removing inclusions. To determine if your gemstone has been enhanced, it's best to consult a professional gemologist who has access to high-tech equipment.

Q What is precious metal?


Precious metals, once the sole form of currency, are now commonly used in jewelry due to their high economic worth and aesthetic appeal. There are a total of eight metals considered precious. But what makes these different than other types of metals? Precious metals are "less reactive than most elements" and have a higher average melting point when compared to other metals. Can you guess which three precious metals are typically used in jewelry?

  • Gold - The price of gold may fluctuate on a daily basis depending on the changing market value. It is the most non-reactive metal which doesn't oxidize under regular conditions. Since pure gold is very soft and would scratch easily in a jewelry piece, other studier metals are added to it to enhance its overall durability. For example, 18 karat gold is 75% pure gold and 25% nickel, copper or zinc alloy
  • Platinum - commonly used to mount or set quality diamonds/gemstones
  • Silver - naturally a very soft metal which tarnishes in the presence of ozone, sulfur or hydrogen sulfide. Sterling silver is 92.5% pure silver and the rest is copper alloy.

Other remaining five precious metals are iridium, rhodium and palladium, ruthenium, and osmium.

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