Is it safe to buy diamonds online?

Although it may seem like a risky venture, buying diamonds over the Internet can be a very safe way to buy the most beautifully cut diamonds at the best prices.

Pros:

More Selection - By shopping online and purchasing diamonds , one can find the best-cut (most beautiful) diamonds. This is because many Internet vendors list entire wholesaler inventories, whereas most stores that buy diamonds to have in stock can only buy so many and may not have the knowledge or desire to stock the best-cut diamonds.

Better Prices - The Internet prices are highly competitive because of lower operation cost for some and many dealers are competing to sell the very same diamonds. (There are some Internet or brick and click vendors who maintain their own inventory). In addition, you can save on taxes by buying diamond shipped to you from another state.

Flexibility - One benefit of Internet shopping is the ability to have diamonds shipped to you where you can view them in the lighting conditions where they will be worn. Consumers can also take a diamond shipped to them to a local jeweler to make comparisons. Just be aware of the return policy of the vendor from whom you buy.

Cons:

Uncertainty - How can I be sure that I'll get what I'm paying for?

Lack of trust - How do I know whether the vendor whom I've never met will provide what he promised?

Doubts - How can I be sure that I'll be able to get my money back if I am not satisfied?

To take advantage of the pros and avoid the cons we suggest you to consider these simple rules of common sense:


Educate yourself

Before buying diamonds, you need to get a good education about diamonds and what makes one more valuable and beautiful than the next. On PriceScope you will find an excellent, original diamond tutorial with basic and advanced information about how to buy diamonds, how to purchase a diamond and the 4 Cs (cut, color, clarity and carat weight) as well as a video to watch.

Pay special attention to crown and pavilion angles which are not shown on GIA reports. The beauty of the diamonds depends crucially on these parameters.

You can get answers to all of your questions from experts on our forum.

Compare diamond prices

Once you know what you are looking for, do a search on PriceScope to see what diamonds are listed and to compare prices. Use the search results as a general indication of price for the parameters entered. Be aware that many vendors list the same diamonds from wholesaler lists, so some diamonds online may not be available when you call to inquire about them. They may have been sold by another dealer, or they may be out on inspection only to be returned by a customer at a later date.

Check the vendors' references, credentials and services

PriceScope does not endorse any particular jeweler or diamond vendor. You should exercise your own judgment and precautions when dealing with online or traditional brick-and-mortar vendor.

A few things you should consider:

  • Vendor's credentials and associations with professional and public organizations. E.g. Jeweler's Board of Trade. Do not hesitate to inquire about a vendor's credentials if you cannot find them on his/her website.
  • Return and upgrade policies, as well as other services provided such as free shipping, solitaire setting, etc.
  • Check previous customers' feedbacks on the consumer forum. You can do it at the vendor list "read"-links in the ForumQuotes column for each vendor.

Evaluation

Make sure the online diamonds you are considering come with a diamond grading report from an independent laboratory. GIA, AGS, EGL and HRD are the best known. Many experts consider GIA and AGS to be the most consistent and reliable in their grading. This is why you will find that, in the US, diamonds with an EGL report are less expensive. There is a big difference in price for increases in diamond clarity and color grades. If a diamond is truly a G SI1 but is incorrectly graded to show an E VS2, the consumer is paying a much higher price for that diamond than he/she should be.

Another lab that has won the respect of many in the diamond industry is the Accredited Gem Laboratory. The lab is supervised by David Atlas, GG, GIA who is the President and head appraiser of Accredited Gem Appraisers in Philadelphia, PA. Mr. Atlas and two other members of his staff were awarded the title of Master Gemologist Appraiser from the Accredited Gemologists Association and almost all of the lab's staff members are GIA trained graduate gemologists. The lab is known for its diamond cut grading system. The AGA 1A cut grade for round diamonds is even narrower than that allowed by AGS for its "0" cut grade, and the Accredited Gem Laboratory is, at this time, the only lab with a cut grading system for fancy shaped diamonds. Thus, the AGA cut grading charts are used as a reference tool for fancy shaped diamond proportions by much of the industry. Accredited Gem Laboratory accepts diamonds for grading by the consumers and diamond dealers.

If you are looking for a round brilliant diamond, use our exclusive Holloway Cut Adviser to see how the diamonds you are considering will perform. The Holloway Cut Adviser describes how brilliant, fiery, scintillating and spread the online diamonds you are considering will be. You can save a lot of money by finding a diamond that rates well on the adviser, but does not fall into the well-known, but sometimes faulty AGS 0 ideal cut standards for which a premium is charged.

Independent appraisers

At PriceScope we recommend that you take any diamond you purchase to an independent appraiser during the time period the vendor allows for returns. The best appraiser is an independent appraiser i.e., one who does not sell diamonds. While most jewelers are quite reputable, there are unfortunately ones who will tell you the stone you bought is problematic just because he/she wants to sell you one of his/her own diamonds.

There are excellent independent appraisers who accept diamonds to evaluate before the customer has paid for them. (Of course, customers who have already paid for their diamond can also send their stones to these appraisers to be evaluated before the return date.) Just ask the vendor you are working with if they will agree to these terms. The customer does have to pay the appraiser fee (by carat weight-the fee should never be based on the price of the purchased diamond), but you need an appraisal for insurance purposes anyway.

The independent appraisers will make sure that the diamond matches the independent grading lab's grading report, check for structural problems with the stone, determine if the price was appropriate for the market in which it was bought, evaluate the diamond's beauty based on expertise and the use of special equipment, etc.

Click here for the list of independent appraisers.

Summary

Buying a diamond over the Internet can be a very pleasant experience. While there is great value in having a local jeweler whom you trust for setting your diamond, cleanings, maintenance, repairs, etc., the greatest variety of well-cut diamonds at the best prices can be found on the Internet.

Feedback

PriceScope is produced by consumers for consumers with the advice of industry experts. We rely upon consumer feedback and would appreciate if you would take a minute to tell us about your internet diamond buying experience so we can bring dependable information to other consumers. Please submit your feedback here. Thank you.