Kay Jewelers Lab-Created Diamonds Review – What You Should Know (2023)
Kay JewelersUSD 3999
Last Updated on February 18, 2023 by LabGrownCarats
SALES ALERT! Save when you buy at our best-rated lab diamond jewelers:
- Introduction to Kay Jewelers Lab-Created Diamonds Review
- Kay Jewelers Lab-Created Diamonds: Selection
- Kay Jewelers lab-created diamond prices
- Kay Jewelers lab-created diamond shopping experience
- Kay Jewelers customer service and expertise
- Shipping and returns of lab diamonds at Kay Jewelers
- Pros and Cons of Buying from Kay Jewelers for Lab-Created Diamonds
- Summary of Kay Jewelers Lab-Grown Diamonds Review
- Alternatives to buying lab-created diamonds from Kay Jewelers
Introduction to Kay Jewelers Lab-Created Diamonds Review
So, we kind of knew what we were getting ourselves into by reviewing another mall jeweler. But we tried to remain open and hopeful. Maybe Kay Jewelers have cracked it and managed to create a business that can rival the online master such as James Allen or Ritani. We also wanted to see how well they have embraced the future of the jewelry industry: Lab-grown diamonds.
Kays Jewelers is a well-known jewelry retailer that has been around for over 100 years! They offer an extensive selection of diamonds and diamond jewelry, including lab-grown diamonds. But are they the right choice for you?
3 diamond jewelers we like better than Kay Jewelers
In this Kay Jewelers lab-created diamonds review, we’ll explore the shopping experience at Kay’s for lab-created diamonds, weighing up the pros and cons of buying from them. We’ll compare prices, quality, customer service, return policies, shipping, and, most importantly, the ability to find the perfect diamond for the best price. We’ll also consider alternatives that might better suit your needs or budget better when it comes to purchasing lab-grown diamond jewelry.
By exploring all aspects of Kay Jewelers’ offerings in our review of Kay Jewelry lab-created diamonds, you can decide where best to buy your lab-grown diamond.
Kay Jewelers Lab-Created Diamonds: Selection
The first thing we’ll do in our Kay Jewelers lab-created diamonds review is to assess the selection of lab-grown diamonds at Kay Jewelers.
First, we look for the inventory of loose lab-created diamonds. But here, we already encounter the first problem. There are none. That’s right. Kay Jewelers do not display their diamond inventory online. Neither mined nor lab-grown.
You can only buy diamond jewelry with whatever diamond Kay Jewelers pick for you. This is similar to what we have seen at other mall jewelers, such as Pandora, Zales, and Helzberg, as well as with lab diamonds sold on-air through QVC.
As you will have learned in our guide to buying the perfect lab-grown diamond or guide to buying a lab-grown engagement ring, you should always create your own. This means you pick the diamond you want from the jewelers’ inventory of loose lab-grown diamonds.
But, alas, that’s not an option at Kay Jewelers. We’re starting off on the wrong foot.
Kay Jewelers custom lab-grown diamond jewelry
OK, but Kay Jewelers have the option to customize your own jewelry. So what’s wrong with that?
A lot, as it turns out. First of all, you can’t customize with lab-created diamonds. Only mined.
Still, you don’t really get to customize anything, including choosing the diamond that you want.
You just pick the gemstone, shape, size (weight), and jewelry design. We see this more as a filter or semi-guided flow to help you whittle down the selection of pre-set jewelry. It’s hardly the type of customization that you can do at Grown Brilliance or any of our other best-rated lab diamond jewelers.
The “Create Your Own” ring builder on their website does allow you to select from different quality levels – good, better, and best – corresponding to different clarity and color grades. While these are OK grades, they are certainly not the best specs available, as the best option here is I-color and VS2 clarity.
The color may be too yellowish for some people’s tastes or settings. And while VS2 clarity is a good grade and an excellent choice, it’s not exactly the ‘best’ level of clarity available. H color would be more suitable if you want your diamond to look white in all lighting conditions.
Since the “customization” doesn’t apply to lab-grown diamonds, we’ll skip this part of the Kay Jewelers lab-created diamonds review and instead look at their pre-set lab diamond jewelry.
Kay Jewelers pre-set lab-grown diamond jewelry
With customizing or create-your-own not available for either lab-grown (at all) or mined diamonds (not really custom), we can quickly move to the next section of our Kay Jewelers lab diamond review: Kay Jewelers selection of pre-set lab-grown diamond jewelry.
First of all, it’s easy to miss their lab-created diamonds collection. You will have to look under each main category and search for “lab-created” hidden next to other sub-menu items.
For example, under “Engagement”, you’ll find “Lab-Created” after “Men’s”. But, confusingly, also under “Lab-Created Diamonds by KAY”. Comparing the two reveals 210 items under “Lab-Created” and 124 under “By KAY”. So, presumably, 86 of their engagement rings are not “By KAY” (but by someone else).
Other categories produce the same result with “Lab-Created” tucked in between “Gemstones” and “Metal” necklaces. It’s obvious that lab-grown diamonds are merely an afterthought at Kay Jewelers. For lab-created diamond necklaces, there is only one sub-category. Unless “NFL True Fans Fine Jewelry” is, in fact, lab-created diamond jewelry.
It’s not, it’s mined diamonds. But disregarding sports-related diamond jewelry, Kay Jewelers do offer lab-created diamond jewelry. They have a decent selection of designs under each jewelry type. And, if you forego the chance of sporting an NFL logo, you can actually find a decent number of designs.
Kays Jewelers offers a decent range of options in terms of design, color, clarity, and carat weight (not cut, as we’ll go deeper into below). However, their product filter does not allow you to choose or see the clarity and color grades, making it difficult to narrow your search if you have specific quality grades in mind.
Worse than that, you can not filter for lab diamond cut grade, the most important of the diamond 4Cs for colorless diamonds. In fact, Kay Jewelers, except in a few rare cases, will not even tell you the cut grade!
It’s not uncommon for jewelers to “forget” to list the cut grade. And what’s also very common is for these jewelry pieces to be set with sub-par diamonds with a low cut grade. Typically, the sub-par grade used is “very good”, which indeed sounds very good, but, in reality, is poor.
Sure, the clarity and colors are decent, but all that does not matter as long as the cut grade is poor (as noted, very good = poor). The cut grade you want is always the highest. If GIA grades the diamond, then that’s Excellent. If by IGI, then the grade you want is Ideal.
Kay Jewelers do promise they do not sell Poor cut diamonds. But, remember, anything below Excellent (GIA) or Ideal (IGI) is, in fact, poor.
And, bordering farcically, Kay Jewelers, in their own guide to the diamond 4Cs, highlight that the cut grade is the most important of the 4Cs. So why on earth do Kay Jewelers not list the cut grade anywhere? (we think we all know why.)
Kay Jewelers do, in fact, sell a few jewelry pieces that supposedly are set with Ideal-cut diamonds. Unfortunately, you will have to look for them, and you can’t filter for them, but they are there if you browse for long enough (or use the search feature).
While it is not stated on their site who grades the particular diamond, the Ideal grade indicates that it could be IGI (a reputable diamond lab). But it’s certainly no guarantee. And, as it turns out, the jewelry set with Ideal-cut graded diamonds is all with mined diamonds.
Overall, Kays Jewelers offers an extensive selection of diamond jewelry designs. But the quality is, for the most part, poor. And other retailers out there offer high-quality diamond jewelry. But are Kay’s diamond jewelry at least cheap, knowing that the quality is questionable?
In our Kay Jewelers lab-created diamonds review, let’s explore their price level next.
Kay Jewelers lab-created diamond prices
So far, in our review of Kay Jewelers’ lab-created diamonds, we have learned that the diamond quality, at best, is unknown and often poor. But perhaps, their prices reflect the diamond quality, and, like at Lightbox Jewelry, you can at least score a cheap lab-grown diamond.
As it turns out, the prices for Kay Jewelers’ questionable lab diamonds are exorbitantly high. Yes, that’s right. Low quality, high cost.
Let’s look at some diamond price examples:
Price comparison for a pair of 1-carat lab-grown diamond stud earrings
Diamond stud earrings are perhaps the most popular piece of diamond jewelry. And the ubiquitous martini stud earring is more or less directly comparable. That is, they are apples to apples. So let’s see how Key Jewelers stack up to two of our best-rated places to buy lab-created diamonds.
|Grown Brilliance||VS2+||E-F||Very Good to Excellent*||$900|
As you can see above, not only are the lab-grown diamond stud earrings from Ritani and Grown Brilliance a lot cheaper, but the quality is specified (!) and much better (note that Ideal-cut is better than Very Good to Excellent, but Grown Brilliance now uses only Excellent+).
Price comparison for a pair of 1-carat lab-grown diamond engagement ring
Next, we’ll compare the prices of a minimalist solitaire engagement ring with just the ring and a center stone. That makes the lab diamond engagement ring directly comparable (you only need to compare the diamond quality and price).
Again, the price at Kay Jewelers is inexplicably high. It’s up to 5 times as high as a similar (but IGI-graded) lab diamond ring from Ritani and 3 times more than a similar ring from James Allen (but slightly bigger at 1.03 carats and IGI-graded).
The price difference between online diamond retailers and bricks and mortar stores such as Kay is quite staggering. Though Kay Jewelers have an online presence, the website is merely a storefront; you will still be buying from a store (more on that later).
Online diamond jewelers like Ritani, Blue Nile, and James Allen have vast inventories of diamonds they can list on their websites without ever having to possess them physically. This means they can offer much lower prices than a store that has to buy the diamonds or loan them for a fee. That is a widespread practice in the diamond industry and one reason why lab-grown diamonds online are much cheaper.
Summary of Kay Jewelers’ lab-grown diamond prices: It’s evident that the prices for lab-created jewelry at Kay are excessively high. And this is not even considering that our review also found that the diamond quality is most often unknown and very possibly low.
Kay Jewelers lab-created diamond shopping experience
Having determined that the prices for lab-created diamonds at Kay Jewelers are incredibly high and the quality is sub-par, you might be inclined to skip the rest of the Kay Jewelers lab-created diamonds review. If you do, skip to our recommended alternatives.
If not, then keep reading and brace yourself for more disappointments.
Diamond inspection at Kay Jewelers
In our typical reviews, we spend much time examining the diamond inspection features. That’s because this is how you ensure you will get the perfect diamond and avoid a dull and poor-quality stone. If you want to learn more about how, then read our guide to finding the perfect lab-grown diamond and our tips for saving on a lab-created diamond engagement ring.
The first thing you would typically do is to decide on a range of diamond grades. Of course, the cut quality should be perfect, particularly if you are searching for a colorless and brilliant-shaped diamond.
If you are looking for a fancy-colored diamond, follow our guide to lab-grown fancy-colored diamonds. But Kay Jewelers only has a limited selection of yellow lab diamonds, which are all grossly overpriced. Go to Ritani instead for fancy-colored diamonds.
As we noted earlier in the Kay Jewelers lab-created diamonds review, they do not let you pick your own lab-grown diamonds from an inventory of loose lab diamonds, such as James Allen, Clean Origin, Brilliant Earth, and all recommended lab diamonds jewelers do.
Instead, you have to make do with whatever lab diamond they choose for you. That means you can’t really perform a diamond inspection. All you can do is look at example photos and examine the product specifications, such as minimum grades. Not for cut, though, but for clarity and color.
Let’s start with the photos. As seen above, the images are so bright that you can hardly see the jewelry properly. This common trick makes the diamonds look more luminous than they are. The same reason the lighting at a jewelry store, such as Kay, will be bright and perfectly set up to enhance diamond sparkle.
Don’t fall for the trick. Neither in-store nor online. Diamonds that sparkle will do so in more relaxed lighting, too. But not poor-quality diamonds.
In addition, the images are generic and not of the actual lab-created diamonds you will receive. That means you have no idea what the diamonds you receive will look like.
Next, let’s look at the information they list about the lab diamond and the jewelry piece.
You have to click “Product Specs” to unfold the information. It seems like something you would have front and center. All our recommended diamond jewelers, such as Ritani and With Clarity, do that.
Typically, you would first look for the diamond 4Cs: Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat.
But notice something? The cut is missing. Remember, the grade Kay Jewelers taught us is “considered the most important of the 4Cs.” Well, not important enough to list it under product specs.
Color and clarity are correctly listed, so that is good. But notice the “Stone Carat Range”? In the first two rows (not highlighted), the total carat weight is listed as 1 carat (this is a solitaire engagement ring, so there is just one diamond).
But the range is listed as ½ to 1 carat. What does that mean?
Color is also listed again and here as “White”. While it’s common to refer to colorless diamonds as white, they are, in fact, colorless and not white. White diamonds, technically are cloudy white diamonds, a type of diamond fancy color. Not a big problem, but still.
Lastly, note that Kay Jewelers list the lab diamond as “Certified”. But, also note that they carry out their own grading. Just like we saw in our Lightbox Jewelry review and in our Vrai review.
Certifying your own diamonds is the same as grading your own homework. Grading diamonds is not an exact science, and each diamond institute will grade slightly differently. In fact, each diamond grader will grade slightly differently. While the guidelines of, say, GIA, GCAL or IGI are strict, they are still that: guidelines.
With room for interpretation and no one looking over your shoulder as your grade your own work, one could think of situations where the grading standards would, perhaps, slide a little. Or a lot. We’re not saying Kay Jewelers do that. We’re just saying it’s possible.
This contrasts with reputable diamond jewelers such as James Allen or Ritani, who rely on trusted independent laboratories such as GIA and IGI to grade the lab diamonds they sell. Sure, it’ll add cost, but it’s not like there is no budget for grading in Kay’s grossly inflated diamond prices.
As we saw in our QVC lab diamond review, they get their diamonds graded by GIA, but like Kay forget to mention the cut grade.
For reference, this is what information should be listed. It’s clear that when comparing Kay Jewelers to Grown Brilliance (or any other of our recommended lab diamond retailers), the list at Kay’s is 1) lacking critical data points and 2) flooded with irrelevant, contradicting, and superfluous information.
Of course, you could reach out to customer service and ask what the particular or at least minimum diamond cut grade is. So we did. Read what happened next in our Kay Jewelers lab-created diamonds review.
Kay Jewelers customer service and expertise
Kay Jewelers is one of the most famous jewelry stores in the United States, but unfortunately, their customer service leaves a lot to be desired. From long wait times on calls and emails that go unanswered to unhelpful staff when it comes to finding jewelry or answering questions about items – Kay Jewelers doesn’t make shopping for diamonds and diamond jewelry easy.
When making an online purchase from KayJewelers.com, don’t expect good customer service either – delivery dates often come and go without your package arriving unless you call and remind them to send it out. On the rare occasion that something does need to be returned or exchanged, their returns process can take up to two weeks for resolution.
We have thoroughly tested Kay Jewelers’ customer service by asking them very consumer-relevant questions. Sometimes several times. And each time, we experienced customer service representatives lacking knowledge, engagement, and ability to help or even answer simple questions.
As we alluded to above, we also asked about the la-created diamond cut quality not listed on the product page. Here’s an example of the responses we received:
If you’re looking for quality customer service from a jewelry store, then Kay Jewelers is not the place to go. With unhelpful staff, delayed responses, and poor returns policy – there are much better options out there. Shop around before committing yourself to buy from this particular store, so you know what kind of experience you will have with them as a consumer.
And speaking of shipping delays and returns, let’s look at that next in our Kay Jewelers lab-created diamonds review.
Shipping and returns of lab diamonds at Kay Jewelers
So, an area where Kay Jewelers does decently. Kay Jewelers offers free shipping on all orders over $50, which is better than Zales and Helzberg, two other mall jewelers we have reviewed.
Free shipping is either standard or expedited, but you won’t know until you check out. So expect standard and hope for expedited. Express shipping costs extra. The shipping costs at Kay Jewelers are comparable to most jewelers but not nowhere near our favorite places, such as James Allen or Clean Origin, which both offer free expedited shipping.
In our review, shipping times were as promised, and we did not experience any delays. But other shoppers report frequent delays in shipping times and delivery, something we also heard about when reviewing Brilliance.com. So be aware of this risk, especially if shopping for a specific date, the holidays, or Valentine’s Day. In a hurry, see our list of diamond jewelry that ships last-minute.
Returns and exchanges at Kay Jewelers are similarly pretty standard. You have 30 days from the shipping date to return anything you might not want to keep (there’s a high risk of disappointment). You can return it to any Kay store or mail it back, and they provide shipping labels free of charge. That’s actually pretty good and, again, better than what we saw in our Zales review (Zales is also owned by Signet).
Exchanges, too, are within 30 days if mailed, but you get an additional 30 days (60 in total) if you exchange in a Kay store. But, of course, chances are you will want your money back to you can get something much better at a better lab-created diamond jeweler.
Since you can find Kay Jewelers in almost all malls across America, the option to return (or change) at a store is a plus. That said, most people live closer to a UPS Store than a mall.
Pros and Cons of Buying from Kay Jewelers for Lab-Created Diamonds
Pros of buying lab-created diamond jewelry from Kay Jewelers:
While this Kay Jewelers lab-created diamonds review has been thoroughly unimpressed, there are a few benefits to shopping for lab diamonds at Kay Jewelers.
- Kay Jewelers has over 1000 stores across America, so it’s easy to find a store.
- The selection of lab-created jewelry designs is relatively good.
- They offer free engraving.
Cons of buying lab-created diamonds from Kay Jewelers:
If you’ve been reading this review of Kay Jewelers lab-created diamonds, you will have learned that there are many cons of buying lab diamonds from Kay Jewelers. Here are a few main problems with Kay Jewelers lab-created diamonds.
- The prices for lab-created diamond jewelry are 4-5 times higher than at our recommended jewelers.
- The diamond quality is questionable, unknown, or sub-par.
- The shopping experience at Kay Jewelers is poor.
- The customer service at Kay Jewelers is poor.
- The customization options are poor to non-existing.
Now let’s look at some final thoughts on buying from Kay Jewelers for lab-created diamonds.
Summary of Kay Jewelers Lab-Grown Diamonds Review
Kay Jewelers is perhaps the best-known retailer of diamonds and diamond jewelry, now offering shoppers the chance to purchase lab-created diamonds. Lab-grown diamonds are becoming increasingly popular for diamond shoppers looking to purchase beautiful and unique diamonds.
Lab-grown diamonds offer the same sparkle, clarity, and beauty as mined diamonds at a fraction of the cost. They also come with an ethical guarantee that no habitats or people were harmed in their production process.
But, as we have learned throughout our Kay Jewelers lab-created diamonds review, you might struggle to find their lab-created diamond selection when shopping for them at Kay Jewelers. However, when you do, it’s actually decent, and they do sell designs not immediately available elsewhere. In addition, Kay Jewelers has more than 1000 stores scattered across America, offering some convenience when shopping offline or returning products.
That’s about the positive things we have to say in our Kay Jewelers lab-grown diamonds review.
The negatives are a lot longer, but we’ll try to summarize our findings from our Kay Jewelers lab-created diamonds review.
Prices are ludicrously high. Not only for lab-created diamond jewelry but for mined diamonds, too. Conversely, quality is disappointingly low. In some cases, the diamond quality is unknown, usually indicating poor quality. If it were high, it would be advertised.
And, almost comically, while Kay Jewelers educates their visitors on how the diamond cut quality is the most important diamond grade, it is neither listed nor available. In fact, some customer representatives do not even know what it is. In addition, diamonds are not graded independently, so the quality of Kay Jewelers’ diamonds can’t necessarily be trusted.
When it comes to the shopping experience at Kay Jewelers for lab-created diamonds, there are both pros and cons to consider. On the one hand, their in-store experience is convenient with staff that can help answer questions about the product you’re looking at buying. On the other hand, the downside is that the staff is often pushy, inattentive, and uninformed.
The same goes for the online shopping experience, which mirrors the mall jeweler experience: Unenlightened customer service, lack of critical product information, artificial light conditions, and the lack of ability to properly examine diamonds.
In fact, the experience is even worse online because you can’t see any actual diamonds, only random example images. But, at least in-store, you will presumably be seeing the diamond you are being sold. Just not in natural light or with the ability to magnify or compare.
This is in stark contrast to shopping at any recommended places for lab-created diamond jewelry or the best places to buy lab-grown diamond engagement rings. There, you will be able to compare thousands of lab-created diamonds with HD images and 360-degree videos, see all details about the lab diamond (including cut grade), see the independent lab diamond certificates, and chat with trained expert gemologists.
None of that is available to shoppers looking for lab-created diamonds at Kay Jewelers. So shop elsewhere.
And to help you decide where, the last section of our Kay Jewelers lab-created diamonds review will compare the alternatives and list recommended lab-grown diamond jewelers.
Alternatives to buying lab-created diamonds from Kay Jewelers
Kay Jewelers is the largest chain of diamond jewelers in the US, owned by the world’s largest diamond jewelry group, Signet. But when it comes to lab-grown diamonds (or mined diamonds, for that matter), we cannot recommend Kay Jewelers due to their price, quality, and poor shopping experience.
Luckily, there are other options available. Here’s a look at some alternatives to consider when shopping for lab-created diamonds, all of which are our highest-rated places to buy lab-grown diamond jewelry.
James Allen review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
James Allen is one of our best-rated places to buy lab-grown diamonds overall and the best alternative to Kay Jewelers (interestingly, James Allen is also owned by Signet, just as Blue Nile is). Their service is top-notch, prices are low, and the quality and craftsmanship are superb.
Ritani review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Ritani tops our list of the best places to buy lab-grown diamonds because of their market-leading low prices and price transparency, the largest inventory of lab diamonds, customization options, and jewelry store partnership. That makes Ritani one of the best alternatives to Kay Jewelers.
Clean Origin review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Clean Origin is another of our favorite places to buy lab-grown diamond jewelry and alternatives to Kay Jewelers. We recommend Clean Origin for its unbeatable prices, a vast selection of lab-grown diamonds and jewelry, and excellent support (plus 100-day risk-free returns).
Brilliant Earth review ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Brilliant Earth is the leading sustainable lab-grown diamond jeweler. Their deep commitment to sustainability, including being the only seller of sustainable graded lab diamonds, sets them apart. The prices are excellent, too, and they are unbelievably better than Kay Jewelers.
Is Kay Jewelers trustworthy?
Kay Jewelers is a well-known jeweler that has existed since 1916 and has more than 1000 stores across America. Kay Jewelers is owned by Signet Jewelers, the world’s largest seller of diamond jewelry. Despite this, Kay Jewelers keep a lot of information from shoppers, and thus we don’t think Kay Jewelers is trustworthy.
Are lab-created diamonds from Kay Jewelers good?
In short, lab-created diamonds from Kay Jewelers are not good. The quality of lab-grown diamonds at Kay Jewelers is either inferior or unknown. Lab-created diamonds at Kay Jewelers are not independently graded, and the diamond cut grade is not listed, so it’s impossible to know what the diamond quality is.
Should I buy lab-created diamonds at Kay Jewelers?
We don’t think you should buy lab-created diamonds at Kay Jewelers due to their exorbitant prices for lab-created diamonds and jewelry. In addition, the lab diamond quality at Kay Jewelers is either unknown or inferior, so we can’t recommend buying lab-created diamonds at Kay Jewelers.