Diamonds Direct Lab DiamondsUSD 3900
Lab diamond prices2.0/5
Lab diamond selection1.0/5
- Free, expedited shipping
- 30-day free returns
- 25 jewelry stores
- Exhorbitant prices
- Extremely limited lab diamond selection
- Missing diamond information
- Mediocre customer service
- Middling shopping experience
Last Updated on July 8, 2023 by Rolf Hartmann
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Diamonds Direct is one of the most well-known and popular diamond jewelers. But do they sell lab-grown diamonds? And should you consider buying a lab diamond from Diamonds Direct?
In this Diamonds Direct lab diamonds review, we’ll give you the answer. We will delve into the world of lab-grown diamonds Diamonds Direct offers and explore their offerings in detail. From the inventory of lab diamonds at Diamonds Direct to their prices, customer service, shopping experience, and shipping and return policies, we asses every aspect of buying lab diamonds at Diamonds Direct.
As you read our Diamonds Direct lab-grown diamonds review, you’ll learn about their limited inventory and high prices for lab-grown diamonds compared to competitors like Ritani, Brilliant Earth, James Allen, and Clean Origin. Unfortunately, diamonds Direct also lacks in the shopping experience and does not disclose all lab diamond information, such as diamond cut grade, and throughout our review, we’ll explain why that matters.
But there are also some positives, namely an industry standard return policy, excellent shipping terms (free overnights FedEx), and the option to shop in one of their physical stores, should you live near one.
But keep reading our Diamonds Direct lab diamonds review to learn if the benefits outweigh the drawbacks and if Diamonds Direct is worth considering for your lab-grown diamond needs.
3 diamond jewelers we like better than Diamonds Direct
History of Diamonds Direct
We start our Diamonds Direct lab diamonds review by learning about their history.
Diamonds Direct was founded in 1995 in Charlotte, North Carolina, by diamond jeweler Alon Arabov to cut out the diamond mediators and sell diamonds directly to consumers. Hence the name.
Diamonds Direct has since become one of America’s largest diamond specialist stores. After continued expansion throughout the 2000s, Diamonds Direct was acquired by Blackstone Tactical Opportunities in 2016 (Diamonds Direct meanwhile had acquired Diamond Doctor).
In 2021, the world’s largest jeweler, Signet Group, which owns household jeweler names such as Kay Jewelers, Jared Jewelers, Zales, James Allen, and Blue Nile, acquired Diamonds Direct for an estimated $490 million.
Today, Diamonds Direct has over 25 stores across the South, South-East, and the Mid-West. And, of course, online, allowing anyone (including us on the North East and West Coast) to shop at Diamonds Direct.
They offer an inventory of over 11,000 loose stones, and the selection includes both mined diamonds and lab-grown diamonds for customers seeking more sustainable options. While they are known for their vast inventory and fine jewelry offerings, such as engagement rings and precious metals, this review will primarily focus on their lab-grown diamond selection.
Due to their affordability, ethically sourced origin, and reduced environmental footprint compared to mined stones, the demand for lab diamonds has exploded. And as consumers become more aware of these alternatives through resources like LabGrownCarats.com, Diamonds Direct has recognized this trend by offering some pre-set lab-grown diamond pieces and loose lab diamonds alongside their traditional mined diamond collection.
Inventory of lab diamonds at Diamonds Direct
The first thing we look at in any lab diamonds review is the selection of lab-grown diamonds, both loose stones that can be paired with jewelry pieces of your choice and pre-set lab diamond jewelry.
We’ll start our Diamonds Direct lab diamond review by examining the inventory of loose lab diamonds at Diamonds Direct.
And, quickly, we run into our first disappointment. While Diamonds Direct offers a decent inventory of around 9,000 mined diamonds, they have only 769 lab-created diamonds at the time of writing. That’s fewer than almost any other diamond jeweler we have reviewed in the past.
When we assess lab diamond inventory, do not only look at the total amount of lab diamonds available but also qualify the selection by looking for a diamond with popular lab diamond 4C grades. Our reference diamond is the following:
- Carat weight: 1.0 (plus-minus a little)
- Cut grade: Excellent or Ideal (whichever is the best, depending on the laboratory)
- Color grade: I-J
- Clarity grade: VS1-VS2
- Shape: Round Brilliant
- Origin: Lab-grown (naturally)
Searching for these ranges yielded no results. However, removing our color grade limitation returned 5 lab diamonds (four G-rated and one F-color). It’s common to see an inventory of higher color grades, which we also found in our James Allen lab diamonds review. But while James Allen had thousands of lab diamonds available, Diamonds Direct has just 5.
Searching for lab diamond jewelry is similarly challenging. As we have seen in our reviews of other physical diamond jewelers, such as Kay or Helzberg, jewelry set with lab-grown diamonds has a separate menu item and is not considered part of their main inventory.
And it’s indicative of the inventory of lab diamond jewelry available. As it turns out, Diamonds Direct has only 4 pieces of lab diamond jewelry on sale. Four! That is the smaller inventory of lab-created diamond jewelry that we have seen in any of our many lab diamond jeweler reviews.
So for lab-grown diamonds, Diamonds Direct’s selection is significantly limited compared to other retailers like Ritani or Grown Brilliance. It’s also considerably smaller than any of the other Signet Group brands, such as James Allen and Blue Nile – even compared to mall jewelers Jared, Kay, and Zales.
This severely limited inventory not only restricts the options available but, as we shall learn in the next section of our Diamonds Direct lab diamonds review, also results in higher prices.
Prices of lab diamonds at Diamonds Direct
So far, we have learned that the inventory of lab-grown diamonds at Diamonds Directs is severely limited. But what about the price? Diamonds Direct was founded with the vision of bringing lower diamond prices to consumers at the expense of mediators. So is that the case, and does it also go for lab diamonds, which are already 60-80% cheaper than mined diamonds?
Let’s start with the prices of their 769 lab diamonds. Similar to when we evaluated the inventory of loose lab diamonds at Diamonds Direct, we used the reference diamond range to compare with the prices of other jewelers.
Of course, Diamonds Direct had no lab diamonds in our range. So instead, we’ll compare with the F and G ranges they offer.
The prices of their five (!) diamonds start at $1710 and go up to $1900. Even adjusting for the higher color grades, these prices are double what you will find at price-leading Ritani or similarly low-priced lab diamond jeweler Clean Origin.
In our analysis of prices of 1-carat lab-created diamonds, you can see just how cheap lab diamonds are. For example, Ritani’s prices for a similarly G-rated lab diamond start at $516 and run to $1400 for the most expensive (of their 643 available diamond with these grades).
In addition, the lab diamond they have are not very impressive. We selected clarity grades VS1-VS2, which generally will only allow very few clarity flaws. However, this VS1-graded lab diamond goes beyond limited imperfections and, perhaps, should have received a lower grade.
So what about the prices of lab diamond jewelry at Diamonds Direct?
Of the four (!) pieces of lab diamond jewelry available, all are grossly overpriced. Let’s examine.
When we carry out our lab diamonds jeweler reviews, we typically assess the prices of diamond jewelry by comparing the most popular diamond jewelry pieces, such as lab diamond stud earrings.
At Diamonds Direct, one of their four pieces is indeed lab diamond stud earrings, but the lowest total carat weight is 2 ct. and not 1 ct., which is more popular.
They are on sale for a whopping $3,900. The average color range is E-F, and the average color grade is VS. It’s unclear what “average” refers to, but you might receive a pair of lab diamond earrings with a grade lower than the average. That’s concerning.
In our experience, that typically means a “Very Good” diamond cut grade. And when it comes to diamond cut ratings, “Very Good” is actually not very good. So when considering round brilliant diamonds such as those used for these diamond studs, you should always go for either Excellent or Ideal cut grades (GIA uses Excellent as the best rating, while IGI uses Ideal).
Somewhat surprisingly, while Diamonds Direct does not list the cut grade, they claim that they use Excellent or Ideal-rated lab diamonds in their pre-set jewelry. However, we suggest ensuring that the grade is awarded by an independent grading laboratory such as GIA or IGI.
Below, see our comparison of prices with some of our recommended best places to buy lab-diamond earrings.
|Clean Origin||VS2+||F+||Very Good||$1,895|
With lab diamond prices so inflated at Diamonds Direct, we wonder what happened to cutting out the intermediaries and offering lower prices to consumers. From what we have learned, Diamonds Direct keep all the saving to themselves. Plus some.
So whether you’re looking for loose lab-grown diamonds or pre-set diamond jewelry, Diamonds Direct is so expensive that you really don’t need to keep reading. Instead, you should review our list of the best places to buy lab-grown diamonds (or, in case you’re searching for an engagement ring, see our list of the best places to buy a lab diamond engagement ring).
But if you’re still considering Diamonds Direct, read on to learn if they redeem themselves in the following sections of our Diamonds Direct lab diamonds review.
Lab diamond shopping at Diamonds Direct
In this section, we’ll review the shopping experience at Diamond Direct and focus on online shopping since, today, that is the better way to shop for lab diamonds. It allows you to compare prices easily and gives you access to a far more comprehensive inventory of lab diamonds and jewelry. Well, perhaps, with the exception of Diamonds Direct. But let’s dive deeper into the shopping experience at Diamonds Direct and find out.
When buying lab-grown diamonds, you should look for the following features:
- High-Resolution Images: When browsing through their inventory of lab-grown diamonds, you can view detailed photos that showcase each diamond’s unique characteristics. This allows you to make informed decisions about which diamond best suits your needs.
- Advanced Imaging: Besides high-quality photographs, some jewelers offer advanced imaging tools like 360-degree videos and Idealscope images. These features help you better understand a diamond’s light performance and overall quality before making a purchase.
- Access to diamond certificates: The lab diamond grading certificates allow you to assess each diamond further and, in many cases, indicate the location of flaws that you can inspect in the HD images.
- Search Options: Comprehensive search filters help you narrow down the lab-grown diamond selection. When they are lacking, you must manually browse through all available stones without being able to narrow down choices based on specific criteria such as cut grade or symmetry.
The online shopping experience for loose lab diamonds at Diamonds Direct has some positive aspects, such as 360-degree images offered as standard. However, Diamonds Direct does not link to the actual lab diamond grading certificate or display the diamond diagram so you can assess the lab diamond symmetry.
It’s much better than any other mall jewelers, who use stock diamond photos, but it’s far from satisfactory. Compare with a fellow Signet brand in our James Allen review, and you’ll understand the difference.
One area where Diamonds Direct lacks transparency is providing information about the cut grade of their diamonds. They sell IGI and GIA-graded diamonds but do not offer AGS-graded stones, which provide more detailed information on cut quality. It’s also not possible to filter for diamond grading institutes, but from spot-checking, it seems that more than 90% of their inventory is IGI-graded, which is fine. We did not find any diamonds graded by EGS or other less-reputable institutes, so that’s good, too.
In general, shopping for loose lab-grown diamonds at Diamonds Direct is not a bad experience. The filters are limited, and not all information is available. Still, it’s almost on par with competitors such as Jared and miles ahead of other mall jewelers such as Kay Jewelers, which do not even offer the option of shopping for loose lab diamonds or pairing jewelry yourself.
And that leads on to the next part of our review of Diamonds Direct lab diamond shopping: Buying pre-set lab diamond jewelry.
Buying pre-set lab diamond jewelry at Diamonds Direct
As we have already highlighted, we recommend pairing jewelry with lab diamonds from the jeweler’s selection of loose lab-grown diamonds. This way, you avoid the often sub-par diamond pairings when buying ready-made jewelry, and instead, you often both save and get a better and more suitable diamond. Learn more in our guide to buying loose lab diamonds.
However, in some cases, the diamond pairings are suitable (e.g., at Ritani), or you cannot pair the particular jewelry design with the diamonds you have picked yourself.
The importance of diamond cut cannot be overstated as it directly impacts the diamond’s light performance and beauty. A well-cut diamond will exhibit maximum fire, scintillation, and brightness, while poorly-cut stones may appear dull or lifeless regardless of their color or clarity grades.
The diamond cut, in particular, is crucial in determining the stone’s overall appearance and brilliance, making it an essential factor to consider when purchasing lab-grown diamonds.
That’s why we focus so much on the quality of lab diamonds and why you must be extra cautious when buying pre-set lab-grown diamond jewelry.
Earlier in our Diamonds Direct lab diamond review, we were surprised to find that they only offer four (!) jewelry pieces set with lab-grown diamonds. So let’s see what shopping for those (four) pieces is like.
The positive first. It’s super easy to get an overview of their selection of lab diamond jewelry. You don’t need to filter or anything. You can see all four pieces on one page. Of course, you can sort them, but that seems unnecessary.
We have already shown that the shopping experience is poor due to the lack of critical diamond information. At times, it’s just confusing, such as this odd piece of detailed information.
No, it’s not a wedding band. It’s diamond stud earrings. Diamonds Direct could have used the space to tell us the lab diamond cut grade.
The checkout process at Diamonds Direct is pretty straightforward and as expected. Shipping is not calculated until you enter your shipping information, but as we’ll learn in the next section of our Diamonds Direct review, we were actually positively surprised!
But first, let’s look at the lab diamond engagement ring buying experience.
Buying lab diamond engagement rings at Diamonds Direct
One feature that makes Diamond Direct stand out, at least compared with other jewelers, is its engagement ring designer. We’ve seen similar tools at our recommended lab diamond jewelers, where notably, James Allen and Grown Brilliance offer some of the best ring designer features.
The ring designer at Diamonds Direct is decent, though not as good as at James Allen or Grown Brilliance. It guides you through all the available options, such as ring setting design, metal, etc. You can see the ring in 360 degrees and rotate it to see it from all angles.
In the last step, you pick the diamond that you want to fit the engagement ring setting with. And that’s where the problems start. You are limited to mined diamonds. Why? We don’t know because, as we learned earlier in our Diamond Direct review, they do sell lab diamonds.
We speculate that, perhaps, Diamond Direct prefers not to sell you a more affordable lab diamond engagement ring. Maybe because margins are much greater on mined diamonds. But who knows?
Diamonds Direct Customer Service Experiences
Customer service at Diamonds Direct can be a hit or a miss and largely depends on your expectations. Unfortunately, our experience with Diamonds Direct’s customer service online is not great. Simple questions about the diamond cut quality of pre-set diamonds, guidance in choosing the right diamond, or precise information about warranty and diamond care services, were hard to come by.
However, the customer service at their physical locations is sometimes better. It varies significantly depending on the location and staff expertise, and if you’re unlucky, you’ll end up with poor interactions with employees and a pushy salesperson.
Other times you’ll find salespeople helpful and knowledgeable in assisting them in finding the perfect diamond or jewelry. However, our experience of assistance when looking for lab-grown diamond jewelry, in particular, was very poor, with staff clearly not adequately trained and lacking knowledge. It’s not that surprising, given the limited focus Diamonds Direct gives to lab-created diamonds.
- Positive experiences: In some cases, staff are friendly, knowledgeable staff, and willing to take time to explain different aspects of diamond quality, such as cut, color, clarity, and carat weight, as well as assist in selecting from a range of precious metals for their fine jewelry pieces.
- Negative experiences: Conversely, some shoppers have encountered pushy sales tactics or felt rushed into deciding without fully understanding all available options. Additionally, there were instances where customers experienced difficulty reaching customer service representatives through phone or email.
Shipping and returns at Diamonds Direct
After a slew of disappointing experiences throughout our Diamonds Direct lab diamond review, we’re nearing the end. And fortunately, it seems we may end on a high note.
Shipping is free on all online orders! Diamonds Direct ship with FedEx Overnight, and shipping is completely insured. This is at the level of some of the best lab diamond jewelers, such as Clean Origin, James Allen, or Ritani! And far from what we have seen at other jewelers, such as QVC, Zales, Swarovski, or Kay Jewelry.
You also have the option to have your lab diamond jewelry shipped to a local store, allowing you to see it in person (but you have to purchase it online, still).
The return policy at Diamonds Direct is likewise on par with the best places to buy lab diamonds online. You have a 30-day return period, and you will receive a full refund (not for custom jewelry). You can return by mail or by stopping by one of their physical stores.
This is pretty good, and while it’s what you should expect, sadly, often, it’s not what many jewelers offer.
After-Sales Support Policies Offered by Diamonds Direct
Diamonds Direct provides a lifetime warranty on all diamond jewelry purchases bought in their stores, covering any manufacturing defects or issues that may arise over time. They also offer complimentary services such as lab diamond cleaning, polishing, and prong tightening for the lifetime of your jewelry piece. Services include:
- Complimentary Services: Cleaning, polishing, and prong tightening are offered at no additional cost.
- Lifetime Warranty: This covers manufacturing defects and issues for the life of your jewelry piece.
- 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee: Allows returns or exchanges within 30 days if unsatisfied with the purchase.
It’s unclear if the same services are always available when purchasing online, but you’re instructed to contact their customer service team with any questions. We did, and Diamonds Direct confirmed that they also cover online purchases.
Diamonds Direct also has a good trade-up program in place for those who wish to upgrade their diamond at a later date. When trading in their old stone, customers can receive credit towards a new diamond equal to the original purchase price. But sadly, it does not apply to lab diamonds. It’s not a huge surprise, as the only real downside of lab diamonds is that they may not hold value as well as mined diamonds (but that should not matter).
Summary of Diamonds Direct lab diamonds review
Overall, our review of Diamonds Direct lab-grown diamonds found that while they offer a decent selection of settings and a variety of precious metals, their limited selection and lack of information make them less attractive for anyone looking for lab-grown diamond jewelry.
Notably, the prices for lab-grown diamonds at Diamond Direct are much higher than those jewelers offering the best prices, such as Ritani, Clean Origin, or With Clarity. In fact, they are the highest prices we’ve seen anywhere and even exceed some of their mall-jeweler peers.
We do appreciate that Diamonds Direct (supposedly) use Excellent or Ideal-cut lab diamonds in their pre-set jewelry, but even if that grade is independently certified, prices are still much higher than at Ritani or Grown Brilliance.
We don’t know what happened to lowering prices for customers by cutting out the middle persons and selling directly to consumers. Someone must be pocketing all those savings, but it’s certainly not you as a shopper.
Diamonds Direct provides excellent after-sales support with a 30-day money-back guarantee, lifetime warranty, reasonable trade-up program, and free, fast shipping and returns. That, however, is the only real highlight.
Grossly inflated prices and the small inventory of loose lab diamonds and lab diamond jewelry significantly decrease our review rating of Diamonds Direct. Ultimately, we cannot recommend buying lab diamonds at Diamonds Direct.
Our Diamonds Direct lab diamonds review lands on 2.4 stars out of 5. Diamonds Direct is not the worst of the mall jewelers, and we rate Diamonds Direct similarly to Zales (read our Zales lab diamonds review) and Helzberg (read our Helzberg review).
But it’s not great, either.
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Diamonds Direct lab diamonds review frequently asked questions
If you’re in the market for a diamond, you may be wondering if lab-grown diamonds are a good option. Diamonds Direct offers both natural and lab-grown diamonds, and we’re here to give you a review of their lab-grown diamonds.
Does Diamonds Direct use lab diamonds?
Yes, Diamonds Direct offers both natural and lab-grown diamonds. However, the selection of loose lab diamonds and lab diamond jewelry is minimal, with very high prices.
Are Diamonds Direct diamonds ethically sourced?
Diamonds Direct is committed to responsible sourcing and adhering to the Kimberley Process, which should ensure that their mined diamonds are conflict-free. However, this cannot be guaranteed. Fortunately, they also offer lab-grown diamonds as an eco-friendly alternative with minimal environmental or negative societal impact.
Are lab-created diamonds worth it?
Lab-created diamonds are much better value than mined diamonds. This is because while maintaining the exact same characteristics, such as cut, clarity, color, and carat weight, lab diamonds are 60-80% cheaper! These lab-created stones also have fewer ethical concerns associated with them than their mined counterparts.