Find your diamond
Find your jewelry
shape
carat
color
clarity

Buying Online - Smart or Foolish?

Status
Not open for further replies. Please create a new topic or request for this thread to be opened.

Grundig

Rough_Rock
Joined
Oct 28, 2005
Messages
3
Greetings everyone. I''ve been lurking for a while and trying to educate myself on diamonds. I''m amazed at the wealth of information and experience here and would like to solicit your opinions. I am buying an engagement ring and plan to have the mount custom-made locally, but I have been trying to find the right diamond for this ring.

My options, as I see them, are:

1) Buy online, without ever seeing the item, from a reputable dealer - get a diamond with GIA or AGS certification.

2) Buy locally from a reputable jeweller - get a diamond (possibly without independent certification), but one which I can sit down and examine under a microscope at 30x.

I am seeing simliar sized diamonds 10-30% cheaper online, often for stones of a slightly better rating. So, I''m asking myself why I wouldn''t get more stone for my money and buy online. I realize that most places have a return policy, so if I was unhappy with what I received, I could return it. It seems that many people here have been quite happy with their online purchases.

To give you an idea of what I''m looking at, my criteria was this:
Round Brilliant
Cut: Ideal/Excellent/Fine
Colour: E-H
Clarity: SI1-VS1
Carats: ~0.5

Today, my jeweller showed me a very good looking .47c SI1 H Excellent with a modest carbon inclusion at the bottom, which I could not detect with the unaided eye. I had a good look at it at 30x. It did not carry any independent certification. For this, he quoted me US$1630.

If you quickly look up the same thing on PriceScope or Blue Nile, that price gets about a .53 SI1 or VS2 F/G Ideal cut. Or, if you search for the specs, things graded identically to the diamond I saw today are priced around $1100.

I realize that not all SI1''s are equal and that grading reports are no substitute for seeing something in person... but that seems like a big gap to me.

Thoughts? Opinions? Suggestions? Your help is greatly appreciated!
 

Sponsored By:

Jr22

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Aug 19, 2005
Messages
126
Date: 10/28/2005 3:50:08 PM
Author:Grundig
Greetings everyone. I''ve been lurking for a while and trying to educate myself on diamonds. I''m amazed at the wealth of information and experience here and would like to solicit your opinions. I am buying an engagement ring and plan to have the mount custom-made locally, but I have been trying to find the right diamond for this ring.

My options, as I see them, are:

1) Buy online, without ever seeing the item, from a reputable dealer - get a diamond with GIA or AGS certification.

2) Buy locally from a reputable jeweller - get a diamond (possibly without independent certification), but one which I can sit down and examine under a microscope at 30x.

I am seeing simliar sized diamonds 10-30% cheaper online, often for stones of a slightly better rating. So, I''m asking myself why I wouldn''t get more stone for my money and buy online. I realize that most places have a return policy, so if I was unhappy with what I received, I could return it. It seems that many people here have been quite happy with their online purchases.

To give you an idea of what I''m looking at, my criteria was this:
Round Brilliant
Cut: Ideal/Excellent/Fine
Colour: E-H
Clarity: SI1-VS1
Carats: ~0.5

Today, my jeweller showed me a very good looking .47c SI1 H Excellent with a modest carbon inclusion at the bottom, which I could not detect with the unaided eye. I had a good look at it at 30x. It did not carry any independent certification. For this, he quoted me US$1630.

If you quickly look up the same thing on PriceScope or Blue Nile, that price gets about a .53 SI1 or VS2 F/G Ideal cut. Or, if you search for the specs, things graded identically to the diamond I saw today are priced around $1100.

I realize that not all SI1''s are equal and that grading reports are no substitute for seeing something in person... but that seems like a big gap to me.

Thoughts? Opinions? Suggestions? Your help is greatly appreciated!
You should do whatever is most comfortable to you. I have bought a few diamonds on line and have been more than happy with the purchase, customer service wise, and the quality of the diamond. Eventhough you don''t see the diamond on hand, some if not most can give you their expert opinion about the inclusions and wether they feel is the best diamond for your range. All that I have dealt with are great and take the time to help.
And yes, there is usually a 30 day return policy for most places, that way you have the opportunity to take it to an appraiser and have them check it out.

I went to B&M stores to see the kind of diamonds I liked and didn''t like and used that info to help me with my online purchase. I think you will see, that in most if not all cases you will find a better diamond at a better price online.

Good luck.
 

Slykat12

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Feb 25, 2005
Messages
391
Why are you bothering looking at a diamond through a 30x scope? Diamonds are not even graded that way. From personal experiance I would buy online and send it to an independant appraisor for their opinion as I could not tell a good diamond from a hole in the ground. I think you have a much larger inventory online and you can always return it.

I don''t like the b and m stores I have gone to as the salespeople are just that-salespeople who try to sell you what they have which is not much and mock the knowledge you have while they have no clue as to what a good cut is. I would never in a million years buy a stone without a grading report. I need that reassurance.
 

pearcrazy

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
May 16, 2004
Messages
1,438
The reason you''ll find that an almost identical stone costs more in a jewelry store is because a store has a much larger overhead and must add that cost of doing business into the price of their merchandise. It will have only a fraction to do with how the stones are graded. Look around at some of the other vendors featured here on Pricescope, you may find that you can do even better than Blue Nile for a similar stone as they tend to be at the higher end of the online vendors. Good luck with your hunt. I bought my diamond sight unseen from an online vendor and I was very happy with what I got. It was so much more diamond for my money.
 

Scintillating

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Aug 10, 2005
Messages
1,192
Buying online for us was the best way of making our money go further.
We paid VERY close to dealer cost. (Makes me kind feel bad they didn't make more off us. )
We got an EXTREMELY high quality stone (best cut available) which would have cost us literally $4700 more retail. (No joke.)
It feels good knowing we weren't paying for a glizty store, or big marketing campaigns, just the stone itself (and some good expertise and testing.)
We never felt confident about what sales people were telling us in BM's, or that they knew their stuff.
We got a lot more technical data on our stone than would have been available if we had gone retail.
Buying through the internet and having an independent appraisal assured us that we got EXACTLY what we paid for!
Buying at a BM these days is so much more blind, despite the fact you can see it with your own eyes - especially when the stone is uncertified. (Why should I pay for something YOU say is a G, which could really be an I. Consumers aren't experts - and often neither are jewelers. I want an unbiased professional opinion.)

Scintillating...
 

tawn

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 24, 2003
Messages
1,311
Way more diamond for your money from a reputable online dealer! And, I like it when the salesperson actually knows more about diamonds than I do!
 

jaz464

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 11, 2005
Messages
2,022
So many people assume that buying online means 'sight unseen.' This does not have to be the case. Pictures can be sent (plain old digiital, sarin, etc) via email and better yet, you can have the diamond sent to an independent appraiser so you can view it first. It's a personal choice, but when I consider what I would have paid at the majority of B&Ms for my diamond, it makes me sick. For me, the customer service was better online, the inventory was multiplied, and I felt like I actually got a fair price for my diamond. Consider this: my diamond was appraised at over 30% higher than what I paid!
 

Grundig

Rough_Rock
Joined
Oct 28, 2005
Messages
3
Great comments -- it sounds like many people are having good experiences online. Maybe we''re a bit of a biased sample since I''m asking this question online, but I do purchase a lot of other things online due to the significant cost savings. However, when you buy a book at Amazon, it is a pure commodity and you know what you''re getting. I guess I was worried about generalizing that to diamonds. Admittedly, I don''t know my asscher from a hole in the ground when it comes to looking at diamonds through a scope, but it was interesting (if, perhaps, not that useful) to be able to see something in person.

Do you have a comfort level that when something is:
- GIA/AGS certified,
- meets the specs for a great cut and,
- is sold by a reputable company,

that I could expect to be quite happy with my purchase?

For what it''s worth, I do have a great deal of comfort with my local jeweller, who is a plain-talking industry veteran. He actually said I could find a better price online (!) but also was willing to spend an inordinate amount of time telling me about diamonds and showing me things under the microscope. I suppose there''s a whole other discussion to be had about supporting local businesses, and it there was a neglible difference, I''d buy local in a heartbeat... but the savings and selection online seem irresistable.
 

Logan Sapphire

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Sep 5, 2003
Messages
2,353
You can certainly get an amazing diamond if you go through a reputable online vendor. I''ve bought several items online and have been VERY happy with them. However, after researching all that you can, if for whatever reason you have more peace of mind going with a B&M (such as comfort level or you want to support local businesses, etc), then I think it''s totally worth it to do that too. My now-husband didn''t feel comfortable buying online at the time of my ering, so to me, the advantages of buying online weren''t worth his peace of mind to me. I wouldn''t discount either option.
 

jadeleaves

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Apr 24, 2004
Messages
1,464
Date: 10/28/2005 5:42:35 PM
Author: Grundig
I suppose there's a whole other discussion to be had about supporting local businesses, and it there was a neglible difference, I'd buy local in a heartbeat... but the savings and selection online seem irresistable.
You've summed it up nicely in that quote above - if the cost savings were negligible, I will buy from a local B&M who knows their diamonds
, and in fact, there is one such store very very near me, but when the difference between buying from a trusted & reputable online vendor who knows his diamonds and a local 'luxury' B&M who specializes in ideal cut stones turned out to be a few or many thousand dollars, no question what I'd picked.

Best thing I ever done


On the other hand, if I have money to burn, I will opt for the convenience of buying locally.
 

MiniMouse

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Nov 30, 2004
Messages
1,013
There are some Pricescope vendors who are happy to send a diamond to a local appraiser, so you can go along there and check it out before you buy. This is what we did in July. We agreed that if we didn''t buy, then we would pay for the shipping, but if we did buy, then the vendor paid for all the shipping. We were over the moon with the quality of the diamond and hence, we bought it straight away. We definitely saved a lot of money compared to local stores. We are 100% happy with our purchase and the difference in quality really stands out when I notice how dull other diamond rings are. Our diamond buying experience was fantastic, I wouldn''t hesitate to buy another diamond on-line.
 

Lorelei

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
42,064
Everyone has given some great answers here! For me it is about getting the biggest and the best diamond I could for the money, like many of us and unfortunately my local B and M''s don''t have the choice or the prices. With my internet purchase I feel I had the best of both worlds, many diamonds to choose from with good old fashioned service and expertise. Also I really felt that it was important to my vendor that I was truly happy with my purchase. I wouldn''t consider not buying online now, it is unfortunate for the B and M''s, but they can''t offer me what I want, the quality I want, at the price I want to pay. Buying online is smart in my opinion to answer your question, especially if you are prepared to get educated and do your homework. Online vendors are very very good at their jobs and most of their sites provide a good knowledge section.
 

Wink

Ideal_Rock
Trade
Joined
May 3, 2001
Messages
7,339
Date: 10/28/2005 5:42:35 PM
Author: Grundig

For what it''s worth, I do have a great deal of comfort with my local jeweller, who is a plain-talking industry veteran. He actually said I could find a better price online (!) but also was willing to spend an inordinate amount of time telling me about diamonds and showing me things under the microscope. I suppose there''s a whole other discussion to be had about supporting local businesses, and it there was a neglible difference, I''d buy local in a heartbeat... but the savings and selection online seem irresistable.
As both a retail and an online vendor I would like to throw in a comment about dealing with your local jeweler.

When you have a good relationship with a local vendor you are getting something special. As you stated, he was willing to spend an inordinate amount of time with you and to completely share his knowledge with you. This has value, It is true that you can use that knowledge and then take it and buy on line, and many do this, but you must then sacrifice some of the comfort of a local value added vendor and the level of service that he can give you after the sale in cleaning, prong checking, design advice, updates on the appraisal etc etc.

Most importantly you sacrifice the ability to feel comfortable going in to discuss things with your local vendor. If you only use him for advice and knowledge but never purchase there will never be proper reciprocity to maintain any real comfortable relationship.

Since you have this trust and comfort now, you may want to realise that price is not everything in a buying relationship. You may also want to trust that relationship and talk with your local vendor and discuss with him that while you know he has higher overhead and respect that, you would like to be able to buy at least a little closer to the price you have found on the net for a comparable stone. If he can afford to do so he may well move more on price with an honest discussionary approach than if you just give him a take it or leave it confrontational approach.

I can not answer for your jeweler what he can or can not do pricewise, but I am willing to be you will be more comfortable dealing with him if he can move it closer than you will be buying on line even if it costs a little more. I do know that from what you said he sounds like a true professional who has knowledge that has value, even if you can get it here for free if you have the time to spend to get it. (What is your time worth?)

Leonid shared with us at the JC-K show in June that only a small percentage of the diamonds purchased in the United States were purchased on line even though a huge percentage of the populace did on line research prior to buying. That would indicate that to the majority of buyers at this time that the comfort of buying local has value. The fact that more and more people are buying on line would indicate that the comfort level of buying here is becoming higher, and that the professionalism of the vendors here on line is becoming more apparent also.

Part of that is the higher level of ability to share visually with you on line through quality images of the stones, the idealscopes, the ASET scopes, BrillianceScopes, etc. Someday we may have the ability to virtually sit in the same room with you and "pass" things back and forth to look at while we talk, not type. Then you may have the full level of comfort with us on line that you currently have with your local jeweler. I hope for his sake that by then he has joined us in the ability to do both, as it is becoming harder and harder to compete with the online presence.

For now, I suggest a conversation with him that might lead you to a better price while enjoying the comfort of that local jeweler. If the price gap remains just too large for your comfort, then perhaps you can overcome your discomfort with on line and join the ranks of those who have already done so. It really boils down to choices, and at this point the choice is yours.

Welcome to Pricescope, it is an interesting place, and a fun place to play, no matter where you buy.

Wink
 

Lorelei

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
42,064
Great post Wink!
I am confident in my ability to find what I want online, but Grundig maybe your guy will be a much better fit for you personally. My vendor is both online and a B and M, like I said previously I really feel I had the best of both worlds. If you like the way your guy operates then that is all that matters, like Wink said having the trust and relationship with him will be an asset to both vendor and consumer, plus he makes some very good points regarding the maintenance of your purchase, a B and M guy will be able to do this far more easily for you should the need arise.
 

Wink

Ideal_Rock
Trade
Joined
May 3, 2001
Messages
7,339
Mercy Buckets madam for the kind words.

Wink
 

strmrdr

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Nov 1, 2003
Messages
23,295
Wink,
Some day we have to sit down at that desk and look at some diamonds.
If you where in my area there would be no need to go online for diamonds.
Your a jewel among Jewelers.

Good jewelers online or local are worthy of support but consumers have to be smart about it.
Compare prices and see if you can get close localy, local is worth a few extra dollars.
 

Catmom

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 6, 2005
Messages
9,459
We purchased my ER diamond from a local B&M and my husband and I count our lucky stars every day that we didn''t get a total dud as we knew nothing about diamonds. So when it was time to buy my pendant diamond we learned as much about diamonds as we could on the net [thank you PS]. I found a new B&M that I wanted to establish a working relationship with so we decided that we would get the new stone from them. We looked at stones there several times and found one that looked good. Since it was an anniversary present my husband went in to make the purchase. He knew what comparable prices were from online vendors and he was fully prepared to pay more at the local B&M. He really wanted to make this work but came home without the diamond. The jeweler would not budge on his listed price and my husband could not justify paying almost $1000 more than what he could get online. We ended up with a larger, better, AGS0 diamond that we just love! We really tried to buy local but just couldn''t justify it. We took the "leap of faith" and the online vendor''s word as to the beauty and the AGS cert didn''t hurt. We also made sure there was a good return policy. I''m pretty sure that any future diamonds will now be bought online.
 

cheetahman

Rough_Rock
Joined
Oct 22, 2005
Messages
52
Excellent points Wink. I will say that when I told my friends that I bought my diamond online (just purchased earlier this week), they generally react as if I''m crazy and ask if it''s real. I don''t question that the local jeweler adds value in all the ways that Wink mentioned (I''m buying my setting there). I wonder how many would buy online if they''d have complete piece of mind in getting a real diamond.

I didn''t have that piece of mind until I found this specific site and message board.
 

Lorelei

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
42,064
Date: 10/29/2005 9:19:52 AM
Author: Wink
Mercy Buckets madam for the kind words.

Wink
Mercy Buckets to you too Monsieur!
 

Grundig

Rough_Rock
Joined
Oct 28, 2005
Messages
3
Thanks everyone for the comments. Wink -- thanks very much for the B&M perspective. I definitely prefer to support local and independent businesses when I can, but not at any cost. For a few bucks more, if I''m getting the advice and product knowledge I need, it''s worth it to me. But, it''s sounding like it''s not hard to find the same thing online for a lot less money. I make a lot of purchases online... often things like books, CDs and computer components. These are things where I find more information online than anyone could offer in person. I think that things like the Sarin viewer, photos, grading reports and other info make the web a pretty interesting place to shop for diamonds. Maybe that sort of stuff is too much information for most people who would rather see something in person, buy it and be done with it. But, I guess I''m a research junkie :)

I guess I had some reservations about whether looking at specs and reports was enough to make an informed decision. Diamonds aren''t the pure generic commodity that books or CDs are, but I guess what I''m hearing is that if I look for the right things and the right people, I can get what I want at a great price.

Anyway... an interesting discussion. Thanks again to everyone for your opinions and experiences.
 

Wink

Ideal_Rock
Trade
Joined
May 3, 2001
Messages
7,339
Then I hope your local jeweler is flexible, otherwise we shall welcome you to the world of online diamond buyers. This has been a great discussion, it is always good to hear both sides of the conversation.

Congrats Cheetahman! And Storm, thank you also for the kind words. I wish you were in my area, even if only for a few days, we could play with all the toys!

Wink
 

Slykat12

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Feb 25, 2005
Messages
391
"I don''t know my asscher from a hole in the ground"

Hey that''s funny I just saw that dude!
 

Mara

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Oct 30, 2002
Messages
31,003
I actually have purchased a few diamonds online and trust my vendor enough to where I feel more comfortable purchasing online from them and others because of the wealth of information they are able to give me to satisfy my every whim and paranoid question. I find that much of the online purchase is great for those who are detail-oriented and like to be involved. My offline jeweler is of the old-school variety where he feels like ''jeweler knows best'' and when we asked questions, we felt like we were imposing or questioning his intelligence or knowledge. I prefer someone who respects my knowledge and can add something of their own, making it more of a ''team effort'' to get from start to finish.

So that said for me, online is the only way to go unless I am buying something like an Eightstar that has known standards, I''d buy that offline depending on inventory, aka if my local guy had it and could give me the same price I could get online, why not give the local co some business. But for other diamonds, the inventory online far surpasses what I have seen (or had called in) offline and I know enough know to recognize good signs vs bad.

Whatever you purchase, get it independently appraised to give yourself that final peace of mind, esp if its a first purchase! Good luck.
 

windowshopper

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jul 10, 2004
Messages
2,023
Date: 10/31/2005 9:10:02 PM
Author: Mara
I actually have purchased a few diamonds online and trust my vendor enough to where I feel more comfortable purchasing online from them and others because of the wealth of information they are able to give me to satisfy my every whim and paranoid question. I find that much of the online purchase is great for those who are detail-oriented and like to be involved. My offline jeweler is of the old-school variety where he feels like ''jeweler knows best'' and when we asked questions, we felt like we were imposing or questioning his intelligence or knowledge. I prefer someone who respects my knowledge and can add something of their own, making it more of a ''team effort'' to get from start to finish.

So that said for me, online is the only way to go unless I am buying something like an Eightstar that has known standards, I''d buy that offline depending on inventory, aka if my local guy had it and could give me the same price I could get online, why not give the local co some business. But for other diamonds, the inventory online far surpasses what I have seen (or had called in) offline and I know enough know to recognize good signs vs bad.

Whatever you purchase, get it independently appraised to give yourself that final peace of mind, esp if its a first purchase! Good luck.
nicely stated: i had the same experience. the vendor i went to first (diamond district but not on the street..........big dealer resommended by friends) laughed when i would ask the crown height or any particulars. i was looking at cushions and EC''s that looked huge and as i had just found pricescope (thank god) i was more careful. i noticed from the side they seemed really flat (i soon discovered that what i wasnt seeing was much of a crown). he said oh no all are stones are well cut.............after three or four visits i could tell he was annoyed and i would say you arent giving me any information (i asked cant you at least get me crown height --feeling that at least crown height with the cert was a decent indicator)..........i finally decided i wasnt comfortable, armed as I was with the tiny amount of knowledge i had gleaned from PS. Most retail vendors still rely on peoples'' almost complete lack of useful knowledge. The same vendor sold our friends a three stone engagement 2 carat center flanked by 1carats and 1 carat each earrings. The husband informed me that excellent excellent on rounds is the best you can get and is an IDEAL cut stone.............I asked if he had an appraisal done or got anything else on the stone besides the cert and he said whats the point --they are excellent, excellent (he loves saying that)
 

Lorelei

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
42,064
I too have found that some - not all I stress, B&M either smirk as if I am trying to be clever when asking for crown and pav angles and other pertinent info, or they don''t know this info themselves. I haven''t ever found this to be the case with online vendors. I am not trying to take a pop at B&M''S - just relating my experiences, they would do well to realize there are some very well informed consumers out there and to make sure their staff are equally well informed to guide and assist their customers. I don''t appreciate it being implied I am a showoff or that the info I want is useless to me and don''t worry my little head about it
 

MissAva

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 6, 2005
Messages
8,230
Yup! Lorelei, I know how you feel, or being told to come back with a man to buy it for me.

I just ordered a simple necklace from WF I will post my review whn I have it. But I am shy person by nature so the internet is a blessing for me. I can send emails quickly and be concise, get a response and place my order with alot less hassle.
It depends on what you are looking for, my prefrence is to be presented with information, to review that information and make a decision. I feel more at ease through the internet, less pressure, less judgement over my age and gender.
It is all about comfort and what works for you.
 
Status
Not open for further replies. Please create a new topic or request for this thread to be opened.
Be a part of the community It's free, join today!

JEWELRY BLOG

Need Something Special?

Get a quote from multiple trusted and vetted jewelers.

Holloway Cut Advisor



Diamond Eye Candy

Click to view full-size image.

New posts

Top