Being in business for almost a century, Zales is a certified “giant” in the US retail jewelry industry.
Throughout this time, they’ve managed to thrive and redefine fine jewelry, opening up hundreds of physical stores and thousands of happy customers.
What sets them apart is their well-defined policies regarding renting, leasing, and financing, helping prospective buyers buy now and pay later for their engagement rings and bridal sets.
So, how does this all play out? Is Zales the best at “sales” when it comes to retail jewelry? Let’s find out.
- Offers jewelry repair services
- Lifetime diamond commitment policy
- Over 700 physical stores located in North America and Puerto Rico
- Easy-to-use custom jewelry design tool
- Specializes in lab-grown and earth-grown diamonds and gemstones for engagement rings
- A dedicated section for gifts and birthstones
- A well-cataloged collection of costume, semi-fine, and fine jewelry ranging from $50-$5,000
- Branded watches for men, women, and children
- A dedicated “Diamond credit card” for financing jewelry
- Constant sales and promotions on their website
- Solid upgrade policy for diamond jewelry
- Jewelry rental service
History and Background
With almost a century of experience under its belt, Zales Jewelers is a well-known retailer in the United States. Founded in 1924 by Morris (M.B.) Zale, William Zale, and Ben Lipshy, as a small retail store in Wichita Falls, Texas, Zales has expanded into a major international jewelry corporation, with over 700 stores located across North America and Puerto Rico.
In 2014, Zales was acquired by Signet Jewelers Inc., a multinational specialty retail jeweler headquartered in Akron, Ohio. Signet Jewelers owns several other popular jewelry brands, including Kay Jewelers.
Zales is renowned for its collection of gemstones and fashion jewelry. That said, they heavily emphasize diamonds, making it one of the go-to destinations for customers looking for bridal jewelry.
What You Can Expect to Find at Zales
With an exceptional selection of styles and diamond shapes to pick and choose from, customers can shop for ready-to-order engagement rings or customize one based on their favorite diamonds and designs.
The “Bridal Customizer” tool on their website is simple to use and is an excellent visualization tool. With well-displayed graphics that update in real-time, you can customize not just the diamond and gemstone shape but also details such as the prong setting, shank carving, and the metal for the shank.
However, when compared to sites like James Allen and Blue Nile, which offer higher levels of customization and better imagery, it’s clear that Zales online shopping is still somewhat limited.
For those looking for something more unique, Zales offers several famous collections, including Kleinfeld x Zales, Vera Wang Bridal, and Enchanted Disney Fine Jewelry. Each collection has a distinct style and offers a range of engagement ring options to suit different preferences.
Although not their specialty per se, Zales has a vast selection of rings, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and watches. Customers can choose from different materials, including diamonds, gemstones, gold, platinum, silver, and stainless steel.
There’s something for everyone as prices can range from $50 to over $5,000. So, whether it’s fashion jewelry or an eternal heirloom piece, you’ll definitely find what you need at Zales.
Besides that, women’s, men’s, and children’s designs are available for all traditional jewelry types, allowing customers of all ages to find pieces that suit their style and budget.
Engagement rings, personalized (custom engraved) rings, and promise rings for couples are some of the most popular ring designs. Meanwhile, custom-engraved necklaces and solid chains rule the necklaces section.
Although they’ve got dozens upon dozens of earrings to offer, the solitaire studs and drop earrings are some of their best items. Bracelets are also available in various styles, and you can find anklets, tennis bracelets, layering bracelets, and personalized engraved bracelets, to name a few.
Zales offers a wide selection of men’s and women’s watches. Famous brands such as Citizen, Casio, Invicta, and Movado are also available.
Jewelry Gift Ideas
Zales has a section purely dedicated to gift-giving. They’ve got dozens of jewelry gift ideas that are perfect for any occasion. Whether you’re shopping for Mother’s Day, a wedding, a graduation, a birthday, or any other special occasion, Zales has got you covered.
On top of that, Zales has detailed gift-giving guides and assorted selections. Customers can shop by occasion, budget, or recipient, making it easy to find something that suits their needs. Also, with prices ranging from under $250 to over $1000, there is a gift for every budget.
Zales’ bestsellers include jewelry sets, diamond studs, and personalized engraved jewelry.
For those who prefer to give gifts that are specific to a particular month, Zales also has a range of birthstone gifts for different months of the year.
The Problem with Zales Diamond Quality
When selecting an engagement ring, one of the most important factors to consider is the quality of the diamond. The quality of a diamond depends largely on the 4Cs. So, how do Zales’ diamonds compare?
The Zales website offers a good education section that covers the quality factors of diamonds. While this is all good, what’s most important when shopping for a diamond online is the ability to see the actual stone.
Unfortunately, Zales doesn’t offer this option. In many cases, what you will see is a stock image of the diamond. Diamonds are very individual in their appearance, and it’s important to check the actual stone prior to purchasing. Are there visible inclusions? How good is the sparkle of the stone? Has it been cut to proportion? Is there a bow tie? These are important questions to ask.
Zales does offer a Chat with an Expert option as well as free appointment bookings, where you could ask your questions.
Another point to note is that not all Zales diamonds are certified by an independent lab. They do offer some GIA diamonds, but not as many as you’d like. For example, out of 5277 rings available on their site right now, only 381 have certified diamonds. That’s an appallingly low number.
Zales doesn’t offer enough information about their diamonds, most notably the cut quality. This is a huge disadvantage and makes buying expensive diamond jewelry from them a hit or miss. What’s more, most of their diamonds are of low clarity, although the stock images they feature can be misleading.
Take a look at the diamond ring featured above. While the stock image features a beautiful, clear diamond, the product listing notes that it’s an S12 diamond. Here’s what an SI2 diamond really looks like:
It’s clear that the image featured on Zales is misleading. There is no way an SI2 diamond is going to look that perfect!
But here’s the real issue. The 1-carat SI2 three-stone diamond ring on Zales costs $7999 – an online exclusive, no less. Now compare that to this SI2 diamond three-stone ring setting that we created on James Allen – it’s a whopping $4500 less expensive.
What’s more, this diamond is certified by the IGI and there are also images of recently purchased similar rings to give you a clearer idea of what you’re purchasing.
This is why it’s difficult to recommend Zales for high-quality diamond jewelry when there are other much more transparent and better value options like James Allen.
Should You Buy Jewelry from Zales?
Zales has an exquisite collection of fine jewelry, no doubt about it. What puts them one step above the rest is they’ve managed to cater to both the financially green-lit returning customer and the slow investor.
So regardless of the budget, you can find pieces for anybody, and if you’re strapped for cash, you can still use their solid financing options to rent, lease, or reserve an amazing piece.
While diamond jewelry, specifically engagement rings, is their forte, we find that other online retailers offer more value. Zales are not as affordable as they like to make out, and similar items can be found on their competitors’ sites for better prices.
Check out our article on the pros and cons of the best online retailers.
Other Things to Consider
1. The Diamond Credit Card
Apart from Affirm and the Lease Purchase Program, Zales Jewelers offer a range of financing options to help customers purchase their dream jewelry pieces. One of the most popular is the Zales Diamond Credit Card. This card provides exclusive financing options and perks, making it an amazing choice for anybody hoping to finance their jewelry purchases.
Customers can leverage the zero-down special financing promotion to enjoy 6–18-month financing with zero interest if paid within the allotted period.
Besides that, Zales Diamond Credit Card holders also receive exclusive perks. These include a welcome gift, cardholder-only special events, everyday free shipping, inspection and cleaning reminders, and many more.
2. Trade-in and Upgrades Policy
Zales has a robust trade-in and upgrade policy to help customers move up to better pieces.
Sadly, only Zales diamond jewelry can qualify. Colored gemstones, pearl jewelry, and diamonds that have been damaged are not eligible for an upgrade.
The price of the upgrade piece you wish to buy must be at least double the original purchase price or more. Besides that, trade-ins can only be conducted physically, so you must take your old pieces and visit a physical store.
3. Jewelry Rental Service
Partnering with Rocksbox, Zales has a new service allowing you to rent diamond jewelry for special occasions.
You can rent pieces for 14 days with prices starting at $100 (nearly one-tenth the original purchase price). You can rent diamond necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and matching sets.
To rent, you must schedule an in-store appointment and reserve the pieces you want. Also, if you wish to purchase this piece at the end of your rental period, Zales will happily deduct the rental fee from the purchase price.
4. Delivery Options
Zales Jewelers offers multiple convenient delivery options for customers to choose from. You can pick up your purchase in-store or have it delivered right to your doorstep.
Store pickup allows customers to purchase items online and pick them up at their local store. Any purchase made online can be shipped free to the local store for pickup.
Besides that, curbside delivery is available for off-the-shelf items. Customers can also ship to a UPS Access Point.
Zales also offers Same Day Delivery on select products. However, you need to place your order by 1 PM local time.
An Estimated Delivery Date will be provided at the time of order placement.
Sadly, Zales doesn’t ship internationally. They can only ship jewelry and watches within the US territories.
5. Returns and Exchanges Policy
Zales has a pretty reasonable returns and exchanges policy. You can return the items within 30 days, while exchanges can be carried out within 60 days. However, you need to visit one of their physical stores to confirm an exchange.
Watches and jewelry must be in their original condition with all certificates and accessories intact. Specialty items such as custom designs and leased jewelry are not eligible for a return.
From what we’ve seen so far, Zales offers a good range of jewelry and can be a great place to check out fine jewelry and access a range of styles. However, if buying engagement rings and diamond jewelry, we wouldn’t recommend Zales, as they fall short in terms of value and options. There are much better options out there if you’re looking for high-quality diamonds and jewelry.