This 1 3/8 ct halo setting by Neil Lane from Kay Jewelers can yield $1200 in Instant Rewards. But is is worth it?
Kay Jewelers runs their “Instant Rewards” sale several times a year, enticing consumers to make a big purchase now with the hopes of saving money down the line. The premise of this mis-named sale is that for every $300 you spend, you’ll receive a voucher for $100 off a future purchase (Not really so “instant” – is it?). Should you purchase an engagement ring for $3000 you’ll end up with vouchers for $1000 which can be spent on a future purchase.
At first, this sounds great. You can use those savings to buy a wedding band or some wedding day jewelry as you get closer to the big day. But there are plenty of reasons why I can not endorse this scheme. I’m here to tell you to save your money and buy a quality engagement ring elsewhere for less.
My Review of Kay Jewelers
Kay Jewelers made a name for themselves by opening 100s of shops in local shopping malls and taking over stores from Mom & Pop jewelry outlets nationwide. Their catchy advertising slogan – “Every Kiss Begins with Kay” – is so ingrained in the American Psyche that it’s the natural start of most couples engagement ring journey. They took it a step further by partnering with The Bachelor, and now their Neil Lane engagement ring line is marketed to the reality TV viewing population and through outlets like People Magazine at every turn. And that’s how they get you.
Employing hard-sell tactics, Kay Jewelers sells un-certified low-cost, low-quality diamond engagement rings and other jewelry to unsuspecting, uneducated consumers. The diamonds in their Neil Lane collection are not certified by any grading laboratory. This means that you’re just taking their word on the specs of your selected diamond. That being said, the specs on the diamonds they are selling are not the greatest. Every ring I looked at on their site when researching this article had a Clarity grade of “I1” – which means that it has visible inclusions apparent to the naked eye. Not good.
What makes Kay Jewelers so good at selling these heavily included stones is that they provide no opportunity for the shopper to view the diamond outside of the setting. All of their rings are sold pre-set with a diamond and there’s no opportunity for customization.
Are Kay Jewelers Rings Overpriced?
Kay Jewelers spends a lot of money on advertising to romance their brands and create strong demand. They also operate 100s of retail stores and pay their salespeople commissions on every sale. How do these numbers hit the bottom line? In higher prices to you.
Diamonds are a commodity, and in recent years, the marketplace has become very transparent with sellers like Blue Nile and James Allen opening their diamond inventory to the public through their online sites. This makes it very easy to examine the offering of jewelers like Kay and see how their prices stack up.
To start, I pulled up this 2 carat princess cut solitaire from Kay Jewelers. With a price tag of $13,899 I just had to see if we could do better online.
The listing for this ring says that the diamond is “Certified” but they don’t tell you which lab has certified the diamond. Nevertheless, with the information they ARE giving us – Clarity of “I2” and Color “I” (I’m assuming this is what they mean by “WHITE(I”)” in the listing details) I can do a search on James Allen and see if I can come up with a better value.
Right off the bat, the clarity rating of “I2” on the ring from Kay is a red flag. An “I2” rated diamond has inclusions visible to the naked eye. You can not purchase a diamond with a clarity rating below “I1” at James Allen and most other reputable online sites. So, I set my parameters on James Allen for an “I1” or better diamond.
My results are shown above. I found these 4 diamonds with a better clarity rating (2 steps above “I2” most with a higher color rating than the Kay Jewelers “I” rated stone, all for a lower price than the Kay Jewelers poor quality diamond. These stones from James Allen are rated by GIA – Gemological Institute of America, the most well-respected grading lab in the country.
Were you to select the diamond on the top left of the image above for $7630 you could set it in a white gold simple solitaire band like this one for $500 for a total ring price of $8130.
You COULD buy the Kay ring for $13,999 and get $4,666 in Kay Rewards to spend on overpriced jewelry in the future, but wouldn’t you rather save $5,869 on your ring today and get a better quality certified diamond ring in the process?
I’d say its a no-brainer. Read more about why I recommend James Allen for your engagement ring purchase.
More Ways to Save Money on an Engagement Ring Purchase:
- 25% Savings on James Allen Settings
- Black Friday Deals on Engagement Rings
- Cyber Monday Engagement Ring Deals
- Custom Engagement Rings Under $2000 – James Allen Edition