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Times Have Changed
Many things have changed since 2020. Some of those changes have expanded old paradigms, including the ways we interact and how we buy things.
- “Zoom” has become a verb, describing a widely embraced system of safe interactivity which altered the way people and even institutions now conduct business.
- Digital purchases replaced many face-to-face interactions. From grocery stores to Sotheby’s auctions, sellers in all sectors have developed better online product information, imaging, and shopping functionality. Free shipping and return policies have become normalized.
In the jewelry sector, Signet (parent of Kay, Zales, Jared, and others) experienced a staggering 61% growth in digital sales between Nov 2020 – Nov 2021. Even Tiffany & Company offers online selection and purchase of diamond rings now. And let’s remember that those companies don’t even specialize in eCommerce.
Buying philosophies have changed. Long considered an in-person process, buying diamonds and jewelry online is more and more accepted by young shoppers in this new digital normal.
Buying a Diamond Step 1: Trustworthy Research
Every company has a website promoting the diamonds, gems, and jewelry they are selling. The information provided on any seller’s website is promotional, by definition. Cross-referencing is key. Be sure to check what’s said about a product with reliable, neutral sources of education on diamonds, gems, and jewelry. There are many “Diamond Buying Advice” websites claiming to provide this information and much of the basic information they post is reliable. However, be aware that most advice sites exist for one reason, and one reason only: They intend to steer you toward a company that will pay them for your click-throughs and provides them with a percentage of your ultimate purchase.
Best! Ask the PriceScope community.
If you want no-nonsense answers to specific questions right now, ask the experienced members of the PriceScope community. It’s a forum of jewelry enthusiasts who willingly offer education and advice to new shoppers – for no compensation – simply because they love jewelry and helping others. The vast majority are consumers, not pros, but have more knowledge than the average professional. The collective community is also familiar with many companies, traditional and online, and what those companies offer. Logically, some members will recommend their favorite places when giving advice, but no one on the forums is getting compensation for their feedback and observations. It’s honest input from experienced diamond and jewelry lovers.
Help yourself: Study PriceScope’s education section.
If you have time and are motivated to elevate your knowledge about diamonds, especially the all-important area of cut-quality, you’re in the right place. The comprehensive PriceScope education section is written from a standpoint of cut-quality as a focus, since great cut helps a diamond look larger, brighter, and more visually stunning. They are also composed primarily to assist online diamond buyers, as much as those shopping in-stores. Most importantly, even though PriceScope is supported by the world’s top online sellers, we keep references to those supporters separate from core education. When we give them the occasional shout-out it’s done succinctly, in blue boxes, like this one.
Wherever you see a blue box it’s a supporter shout-out. The education offered around those boxes is seller-neutral, with a focus on cut-quality and assistance for online diamond and jewelry buying.
Get Help: Use the PriceScope Concierge.
If you’re short on time or prefer the help of a pretty amazing expert, you can use the PriceScope Concierge Service, led by industry expert Dave Atlas: GIA Graduate Gemologist, Senior member of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers, a former Ethics Chairman for the Accredited Gemologists Association and the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers and gemological consultant for the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Customs, the Internal Revenue Service and The Smithsonian Institution. Our concierge can answer your questions, direct you to resources, and connect you with our trusted supporters. Important disclosure: The PriceScope Concierge will work to connect you with one of our loyal supporters. If you are seeking recommendations outside our list of trusted vendors, your best bet is to ask the PriceScope community.
Buying a Diamond Step 2: Choose a Seller
There are many different places to buy a diamond. In our post-2020 new normal digital sales have skyrocketed. Most diamond sales are still made over a sales counter, but digital shopping and buying has never been easier than it is today. For that reason, we recommend that you consider all options.
You can travel to the oldest, most celebrated luxury jewelers headquartered on 5th street in New York, visit your local family owned jewelry store or hit the malls and look through the various national chains featured in commercials. Just be aware of the wide range of quality propositions that exist between those places. The diamonds seen in certain chain stores, malls and discount outlets may be graded in-store or graded after mounting, which doesn’t permit the same range of detailed assessment as loose diamond and gemstone reports, issued by top-tier laboratories. There are also reports from organizations which may be less strict than the standards enforced by top-tier laboratories, leading to a negative impression regarding certain grades – especially in color and clarity – when compared to diamonds graded according to strict international standards.
The most popular and successful online sellers have been in business for many years. It’s in their best interest to enforce the strictest standards in all 4Cs – ensuring their customers are delighted – or else they won’t stay in business for long. The changes since 2020 have only made the online space more competitive, with sellers working very hard for positive reviews and recommendations. They tend to have access to a wide selection of diamonds and settings, with organized lists and supporting information and imaging. Blatant promotion: The world’s top online sellers list their products in PriceScope’s search engine, which allows you to perform one search to return like-kind options available from different sellers. For this reason, no matter where you ultimately buy, it’s wise to see what online sellers appeal to you and compare their products, service, support, and long-term benefits to your favorite walk-in places.
Ask: In-House vs Virtual?
When interacting with online sellers it’s good to know whether diamonds you’re considering are in their possession or not. A diamond is considered “In-House” when the seller has personally held and examined it, and can do so again at your request. The advantage to “In-House” diamonds is that reputable sellers will already have vetted them for undisclosed issues such as undertone, haze or milkiness. Most online sellers also list “Virtual” diamonds. These are stones which exist at another location (with a supplier) but should be quickly available for them to bring In-House. It’s good to know, when starting your interactions, which diamonds that interest you – or are being suggested – are In-House, and which are Virtual. It’s also very important to ensure that the diamond seller is not a drop-shipper, meaning they would have a stone sent to you without examining it themselves. While rare, those companies do exist.
Ask: What is the Support Package?
The support package involves fixed short and long-term expenses incurred by the seller. Short-term support is provided to help you with ease of decision making. Long-term support involves decisions you might make after purchase. Online Short-Term Support: How confident does the seller make you feel in the product? Some online sellers create a full suite of photos and videos for every loose diamond. Some online sellers provide tools like tweezers, loupes, and scopes when they send a diamond to you. Some sellers underwrite two-way shipping so you may inspect the diamond prior to returning it for mounting. If you’re seeking this kind of support, it may be worth paying a few more dollars over sellers who don’t provide those things. In-Person Short-Term Support: When shopping in-person there’s not a lot needed in this area, since you can see, feel and hold the diamond. Just be sure you’re seeing it critically/analytically through a range of different lighting conditions. And be sure you’re provided with the same information – grading report, cut-quality specifics, etc. – that you would find for diamonds online. Long-Term Support: Post 2020, an inspection period and full return policy for a practical period (14-30 days) should be something every seller provides. Signs declaring “no refunds” or “all purchases final” at point of sale should be a thing of the past, unless there is a unique, defensible reason for such a policy. In the years after purchase some sellers provide upgrade policies. This is a nice value-add, since consumers typically cannot move a diamond for what it was sold to them for. It essentially allows you to return an item and use the money you paid toward a more expensive item. There are two types of upgrade policies – restricted and unrestricted. In a restricted upgrade policy, you receive credit in the amount of your original purchase when upgrading to a diamond that costs 2X as much or weighs 2X the carat weight. Other sellers provide unrestricted upgrades where you receive full credit when upgrading to any more expensive combination of Cs. There are other upgrade models, but those two are the most frequent. Check out every seller’s “why us?” proposition and compare them, head to head. Short-term and long-term.
Buying a Diamond Step 3: Trust but Verify
Whether you use PriceScope for any other reason, bookmark this post right now. Prior to your diamond purchase, or within the return period, do this simple test.
- Click here and create a user name. (Example: “HelpaBruh123”).
- Go to Diamond Discussion (if natural diamond) or Lab Grown Diamonds (if lab grown diamond).
- Click the bright blue “Post thread” button.
- Give the thread a title (Example: “Let me know how I did”).
- Describe your purchase and ask for opinions, along with any other questions you may have.
You will receive honest feedback, based on product quality, value and customer service standards developed by over 100,000 PriceScope members over the past 20 years. Be advised that newly engaged/wedded brides frequently find PriceScope and follow the steps above on their own.
Trust, but verify.
If you’ve done your due diligence and the seller has earned your trust that’s awesome. There are plenty of great sellers out there. Nevertheless, whether you’re buying from a PriceScope supporter, a luxury boutique, your local jeweler or a chain store, crowdsourcing free verification of your good purchase from a community of consumer enthusiasts and experts is a unique, valuable option. For sure, you have nothing to lose. And great sellers have nothing to fear. Written by John Pollard
Have you heard of PriceScope before? Did you know the PriceScope community has helped thousands of diamond buyers over the last 20 years? Did you know that the consumers posting advice on the forums do it simply because they like helping people? Why do you think they do that? Why don’t you register and check it out? Did you know you can discuss topics other than diamonds in the “Hangout” forum? Do you like making friends online? Do you like intelligent debate? Do you like an enlightening discussion on a variety of topics? Do you like ice cream? Did you know PriceScope provides all the above, except ice cream?
Learn how to define brightness, leakage, contrast, and scintillation on our page Diamond Performance Explained.
Take your diamonds on a brightness, fire, and sparkle test drive: Make Comparisons Like an Expert.
Get fast answers to any question: Ask our community of unbiased independent helpers.
Ready to find your diamond?
|Join PriceScope’s Education Advisor, John Pollard on Thursday, 27th January 2022 at 1 PM CT for our first live webinar of the year. Pollard will be focusing on How to Buy a Diamond Online in 2022. Register here.