Zales Lab-Grown Diamond Review (2022)
Zales Lab-Grown Diamonds$$$$
- Established name
- Acceptable support and service
- Acceptable return policy
- Stores in most malls
- Very expensive
- Not possible to choose diamonds
- Not possible to inspect diamonds
- Not possible to find any diamonds
- Stores in most malls
Summary of Zales Lab-Grown Diamond Review
Zales is one of the most well-known names in the jewelry industry and what we consider a traditional jeweler. They have ventured into the lab-grown diamond space and now offer select jewelry adorned with lab-created stones.
However, as you’ll learn in our Zales lab-grown diamond review, not only are their prices exceedingly high, their inventory is minimal, and so is the consumer’s ability to know what they are buying.
Zales’ approach to buying jewelry and diamonds online reflects their brick-and-mortar approach to selling diamonds to consumers. As a result, the experience is much like walking into a Zales at your local mall. Inventory is limited, and you don’t really know what you are getting.
To some extent, the buying experience reminds us of Lightbox (read our honest review of Lightbox Jewelry). Your options are similarly limited to pre-chosen categories, and you don’t know what diamond you’ll end up with. That’s not the right way to shop for diamonds or diamond jewelry. Learn how in our easy lab-grown diamond buying guide.
We can’t recommend that you shop for lab-grown diamonds at Zales (or even mined diamonds, for that matter). Instead, you will find much lower prices, access a much better inventory – and find a much better diamond at one of our favorite diamond sellers, such as Clean Origin, James Allen, Brillant Earth, and Ritani.
3 diamond jewelers we like better than Pandora Jewelry
Keep reading our Zales lab-grown diamond review to learn more about why you probably should not buy your next lab-grown diamond at Zales.
Zales company history
Zales’ history goes back all the way to 1924, when it was established in Texas. Zales struck gold when they offered punters a low downpayment and purchasing jewelry on credit. Back then, they were well ahead of their time. At least when it came to marketing and sales. Zales is probably one of the best-known jewelers and a ubiquitous brand name. In particular, if you have ever visited a mall. Any mall.
The Zales Corporation was acquired by Signet Jewelers in 2014, creating one of the world’s largest jewelry conglomerates. In addition to Zales, Signet operates several household brands such as Jared, Kay Jewelers, and, interestingly, our favorite seller James Allen.
Zales lab-grown diamonds
Like most diamond sellers, Zales has also expanded into lab-grown diamonds. And for a good reason. Unfortunately, lab-grown diamonds do not feature prominently, and Zales are not specialized in selling lab-created diamonds like Clean Origin, Ritani, or With Clarity do. While that is not an issue when shopping at James Allen, who offers an unparalleled buying experience regardless of diamond origin, it shows with Zales.
You have to make an effort to find lab-grown diamonds hidden between materials such as “gold” and “platinum” or between styles such as “1 carat” and “new arrivals.” We’re not sure why there is such a lack of consistency on their website. But we eventually managed to find the correct links.
Zales does have a section dedicated to (briefly) educating consumers on lab-grown diamonds. And they get most of it right. As you would know from reading our articles on the issues with mined diamonds, from environmental degradation to the enigma that is “conflict-free” mined diamonds, lab-created diamonds do not suffer from the same challenges. However, neither the societal nor ecological impacts are not mentioned on the website. Our guess is that they primarily sell mined diamonds and may not want to alienate would-be buyers.
Regardless, we are glad that Zales does sell lab-grown diamonds and that they have invested time and website space to let consumers learn more about (some of) the benefits.
Zales lab-grown diamond selection
As noted above, lab-created diamonds do not feature prominently on the Zales website. And that turns out to be indicative of their selection of lab-created diamonds or the lack of the same.
As of now, they have 27 engagement rings with lab-grown diamonds on their site. And just 23 earrings. Albeit, a few of the earrings can be “customized” by selecting carat weight (1 carat, ½ carat, and 2 carat – in that odd order). As you would know from reading our lab-grown diamond buying guide and our intro to lab-grown diamonds, you get the best deals when you buy a stone just under the “popular” carat weights such as those offered by Zales.
However, this is where it becomes a bit more perplexing. In reality, you don’t get a 1-carat diamond. Instead, what you get is an unspecified carat weight within a given range. For 1-carat diamonds, this range is between 0.95 to 1.11. But you’ll have to find the little notice linking to the below table of “tolerance ranges.”
Zales also offers a “create your own.” However, they do not allow you to choose a lab-grown diamond (only mined). Compared to other sellers where you can pick your individual stones and choose between hundreds or even thousands of jewelry sets, at no extra cost, this is a very restricted version to “create your own.” We asked customer support if it would be possible, but it was a hard pass.
Zales lab-grown diamond buying experience
The poor lab-grown diamond selection is just the start of a poor buying experience. As noted, you can forget about picking your own diamonds, and you are limited to choosing between a very, very limited amount of prefabricated jewelry pieces with lab-created diamonds.
If you are looking for a 1-carat (combined 2 x 0.5-carat diamonds), your options are limited to the below.
That means you have to settle with the diamond specifications that Zales has decided. That’s it. It reminds us of how Ada Diamonds also have pre-selected the 4Cs for you (read our review of Ada Diamonds). But unlike Zales, their pre-selections make more sense, and you do have a choice between “premium,” “recommended,” and “satisfactory.”
And it gets worse. The color here is noted as “F” and the clarity is “S12”. The latter is a range, but that is often an acceptable choice – particularly for diamonds with an excellent or ideal cut where brilliance outshines minor inclusions or blemishes.
Depending on the jewelry set’s material, there is often no reason to shell out for an “F” colored diamond. Instead, you can easily go down to lower grades. And if set in gold or rose-gold, consider a J or K grade and get a much better deal (or better cut). Learn more about diamond colors and what to choose when in our in-depth guide to lab-grown diamond colors.
As you would know if you have read any of our articles, what matters most is the diamond cut. Therefore, the diamond cut is by far the characteristic that you have to be aware of and prioritize. And always pick the highest grades (which are typically either excellent or ideal, dependent on grading institute).
But take a look at the above specification. Nowhere is the diamond cut grade mentioned. The most crucial aspect of any diamond (bar fancy-colored diamonds) has been blatantly omitted. That should not be acceptable for such a large and established diamond jeweler. But it reminds us of shopping in physical stores with patronizing sellers who try to lure you into buying a sub-par diamond. The mall jeweler has come online.
Zales lab-grown diamond inspection
As you might expect from the above tirade, the ability to perform proper diamond inspection and carry out due diligence on what may be one of the most significant purchases you make is nearly non-existent. Instead, all you get are a few generic sample photos that aren’t even of the diamond you’re buying. Also included is a video clip that is not of the actual diamond you are purchasing.
Also not surprisingly, you are not able to see the diamond certificate. They don’t even tell you the actual diamond specification. You just get a range—so many red flags.
Zales lab-grown diamond prices
At this point, you’re probably wondering if at least Zales offers you great mall-like prices. Lightbox, with their very similar buying experience, at least has reasonable prices (if you ignore that, the quality of the stone won’t be great).
But, Zales lists some of the highest prices on lab-grown diamonds that we have come across. And that’s even without knowing the most critical aspect of the diamond you are looking at – the diamond cut. So it’s hard to truly assess their prices.
But if we give Zales the benefit of the doubt and assume that the cut is either excellent or ideal, they still are far more expensive than price-leaders Clean Origin and Ritani. James Allen, owned by the same parent company, who are also cheaper while offering the diametrical buying experience.
Zales shipping and returns
At long last, a category where Zales does not fall haplessly and hopelessly behind. Zales actually offers a decent return policy. If you find the ability to visit physical store locations important, then Zales even has a leg up as they are found almost everywhere. We can’t see why you would subject yourself to that experience, but if for whatever reason you want to interact with pushy salespeople, Zales offers you that opportunity.
Returns are allowed up to 30 days after purchase, while exchanges are a little more generous, offering a 60-day grace period. That is pretty standard but far from Clean Origin offering an industry-leading 100-day free return period.
Shipping is not free – unless you pick it up at a Zales outlet. Costs start at $6.95 for 2nd day delivery with UPS all the way to $32.95 for Saturday delivery with the same shipper. You can also try your luck with USPS, but we would not trust them with a purchase of this size (USPS may be more reliable where you live). It’s a little stingy asking for $6.95 on a purchase that quickly runs into thousands of dollars. No other jeweler we recommend charges for delivery, and they all even offer free returns.
But it’s at least consistent with the general buying experience, and we speculate that when you have as many sales as Zales presumably does, then $6.95 adds up.
Zales lab-grown diamond review verdict
For anyone who has ever shopped at Zales or anyone who has shopped diamonds elsewhere, it may not come as a surprise that Zales is not a great place to buy a diamond. Let alone a lab-grown diamond. Therefore, we cannot under any circumstances recommend Zales, and we suggest you look elsewhere.
Zales disappoints across all categories, from the exorbitant prices to the poor selection and the lack of ability to choose or even inspect diamonds.
We did not think it would come to this, but we think that Zales may be a worse place to shop a lab-grown diamond than Lightbox Jewelry (read our scathing Lightbox Jewelry review). However, at least Lightbox’s prices are more reasonable. So if you want a fashion jewelry diamond, a mall-like shopping experience, a cheap but not very impressive or sparkling diamond, go to Lightbox instead of Zales.
If you want to get the best prices, the most extensive inventory, excellent customer service, and if you want to find the perfect diamond, visit one of the lab-grown diamond sellers that we recommend. Shop at James Allen for their unparalleled buying experience or Clean Origin and Ritani for the absolute best deals. And pick Brilliant Earth for their environmentally-friendly focus and sustainably graded lab-grown diamonds.
And read our other lab-grown diamond reviews to learn why there are better options than Zales when shopping for a lab-grown diamond.
Zales customer reviews
We’re not alone in not being fans of Zales. Trustpilot users are, on average, not impressed, and their experience of Zales is closely aligned with the conclusions of our Zales lab-grown diamond review.