Site Review | Professional Jeweler

June 13, 2000

Keeping your customers happy and coming back for more is the key to surviving and prospering in the online world. Now add in memorable commercials and smart ad placement, and you have the ingredients for success., an online-only jewelry store, was founded with the goal to provide the ultimate shopping experience for diamonds and fine jewelry, and that is just what it does. Blue Nile's recipe for success is one part customer education and another part quality jewelry, with a touch of helpful advice, a dash of free shipping, a pinch of ads that pop up on most search engines when you search for "jewelry" and a hint of elegance.

Blue Nile's site stands out because it is obviously set up with the customer in mind. For those struggling to find the perfect gift, Blue Nile's main page showcases a variety of gift guides ranging from wallet-friendly selections to jewelry every woman needs. The guides suggest a variety of jewelry for various occasions and cover a large range of prices. If customers don't find what they want in the gift guides, they can browse through the collections of loose diamonds and fine jewelry.

The main page also features Blue Nile's guarantee of a 30-day return policy and free FedEx shipping as well as a link to the buyer education section. Their extensive education guide goes beyond explaining the four C's of diamond grading and covers pearls, gems, gold and platinum.

The strongest, or at least most exotic, ingredient in Blue Nile's recipe for success is its "Build Your Own Ring" section. For any customer having trouble finding the perfect diamond ring, this option could be a life-saver. While this section does not allow shoppers to build a ring any more complex than a simple one-diamond ring, it does allow them to choose the diamond perfect for them and the ring setting they like best.

In the search for the right diamond, customers are allowed to select: shape, price range, size range (in carats), color, clarity, cut and selection method (best balance of quality and cost, finest quality for the price or biggest diamond for the price).

The search returns a list of suitable diamonds with detailed descriptions, and customers can select the one to use in a ring. Next they are shown the variety of settings that fit the diamond they chose. The process is surprisingly simple; however, in some cases, there are no ring settings that fit the selected diamond.

The final ingredient that makes the site complete is the ease of purchasing. Customers can purchase jewelry online or via bank wire or phone, and customer service is available for anyone with questions.

- by Julia M. Duncan