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Why are people so scared to buy online?

Discussion in 'RockyTalky' started by liaerfbv, Aug 29, 2013.

  1. liaerfbv
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    by liaerfbv » Aug 29, 2013
    Maybe it's just me, but I do not understand the hesitation of purchasing something online. I've been a member here since 2007, lurking since about 2004 (although I don't post much), and the number of posts I've read about being concerned about getting ripped off when buying something online is just shocking to me in this day and age of online purchasing.

    I personally feel SO much more comfortable buying stuff online - and not just diamonds. When I go to a B&M store, I don't like to be bothered by sales people (who typically know less about what I'm buying than I do), I want to be able to take my time and look at stuff carefully and not be bothered or potentially rushed, etc. etc. I buy everything online - furniture, books, groceries, computers, and yes, diamonds and jewelry.

    I guess I'm just commenting on what seems to be such a weird disconnect (to me, anyway). I see pictures of something online, I say, hey I want to see this in person, I think it may be just what I'm looking for! If I don't like it, I return it. How is getting "ripped off" online any different than getting ripped off in person at a B&M store? Either way, you have to dispute the transaction with your bank.

    Am I missing something? Or am I just in a small percentage of people who sees less risk buying online than I do to buy in person?
     
    


    


  2. Acinom
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    by Acinom » Aug 29, 2013
    Fun question! I have never bought a diamond online... yet.
    The reason being that I fall in love with a diamond by seeing and feeling it.

    Now that I discovered Pricescope I would without a doubt buy a diamond online from a trusted PS vendor with a good reputation. There are so many photo's, experiences written on PS that I would know which vendor to contact.

    Victor Canera is currently finalizing my french cut setting. I have never met him, I have never been in LA (I live in Europe), nor have I ever seen french cuts in my life. But working with him is exactly like I envisioned it as many PSers described there experiences with him and shared many photo's.

    So slowly... Online jewelry buying is growing on me. I think many people don't go this route as a lot of money is involved. And being 'surprised' because a new pair of shoes is different than you expected is well... a bit different then a diamond that looks dull in person. Sure, you can send it back but the shipping costs might be high :read:

    :wavey:
     
  3. bcavitt
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    by bcavitt » Aug 29, 2013
    Am I missing something? Or am I just in a small percentage of people who sees less risk buying online than I do to buy in person?

    You bring up some interesting points. The first thing I want to address, however, is your quote above. I think that your statement may be true, but only after you have established relationships with whatever vendors you choose to do business with. Until then, there has to be more risk in dealing with an unknown (to you) entity buying product you cannot physically inspect and specifically choose. It's purely a matter of trust and I know very few people who can blindly trust an unknown with their money, regardless of what product or service they are interested in.

    That being said, more and more people are doing exactly what you do. The internet has become for this time period what mail order was in another time period. It has opened up a world of commerce to people around the world that was unimaginabler 20 years ago when the internet was an infant. As a jeweler, I can find products to sell from all around the world without having to spend money on travel, tradeshows, meals, etc.

    Does this mean the end of the brick and mortar retailer? No! There are people who are either Luddites who don't use the internet, cell phones, etc. who will always go to the store to buy what they want, or who want that person to person interaction to help them make a decision in purchasing, or who want to physically pick out what they want or don't want.

    Personally I can't see doing it your way. I get too much enjoyment picking my groceries, my furniture, my jewelry, and the rest. I have to have the human interaction. Maybe you don't need that, I don't know.
     
  4. lambskin
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    by lambskin » Aug 29, 2013
    For me, buying jewelry online takes the fun out of shopping for it and finding that special piece or deal. As they say, now two diamonds are alike and likewise for other gems and jewelry. The education one gets here is amazing and arms one with knowledge that a D-flawless is not the only pretty diamond. Also I always worry about return policies and credit card fraud too.
     
    


    


  5. liaerfbv
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    by liaerfbv » Aug 29, 2013
    The nuance I'm trying to highlight is that people seem SO nervous to spend money with an online retailer, question their integrity, ability to deliver the promised goods and/or services.. but at least from what I see posted in this forum, the same care and question re: B&M stores is not applied. More often, the mentality I see is - well, they have a store, so it's safer than buying online. That's what I don't understand. I obviously want to vet ANY establishment I'm buying from; I don't make any purchase "blindly."

    I also enjoy the choosing of my things, but I don't need human interaction to decide what sofa I want in my house. I get human interaction all day at my job, I love chatting with people, and I'm not trying to say that I prefer to be a loner sitting in front of my computer avoiding people purposely when buying stuff. I might buy a couch from Haverty's, but if I found a sofa I liked better online at Ikea, I'd buy it. The in-person aspect doesn't factor in for me because in the end, I get the same enjoyment out of a couch that I wanted in my house.
     
  6. ChristineRose
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    by ChristineRose » Aug 29, 2013
    Well...every stone is unique and really has to be seen.

    E-bay and the like are filled with crooks. Count yourself lucky (or savvy) if you get an actual diamond out of the transaction.

    Even many of the respectable looking sites are deceptive. Think of CE, think of "warped girdles," think of all the wholesalers out there who sell to individuals.

    Many of the brick and mortar stores stretch the truth more than a bit. All those mall stores advertise their prices and what they're really doing is selling low-end stones at huge markups. But at least you know the mall isn't going anywhere and you can march in there and demand a refund.

    And last, but far from least, the whole industry is more than a bit sneaky. It's built on the premise that if you don't drop two months salary on a highly-marked up, monopoly controlled little stone you can't get married. There are many people doing their best to play the diamond game when it's clear they'd be better off dropping out. This stuff builds stress.
     
  7. AprilBaby
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    by AprilBaby » Aug 29, 2013
    It's a lot of money to spend with an unknown vendor. I am like you, I like to look at the images alone and not have a sales person bothering me. I went to Nordstrom on Sunday to return a watch. The saleswoman would not return it until she showed me every possible replacement. I just wanted to leave. I think new people need to take the time and vet the online vendors to see the reviews. Many don't take the time to do that. I now have four BIG purchases from WF that I am fully satisfied with. No one around here has the quality or prices I am looking for.
    Edited to reply to the above: yes every stone needs to be seen but the vendors have photos, asets, ideals copes and in one case 360 degree views. They also offer to send you the stone before it is set. That's better than I can get in B and M.
     
  8. denverappraiser
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    by denverappraiser » Aug 29, 2013
    People have long developed a radar about stores and how to separate the good ones from the bums. They've been around a long time, you have friends who have shopped there successfully, they have attractive displays, they have appealing advertising, etc. Some folks are better at this than others and it doesn't always work but it's actually fairly difficult for dealers to fake it. Online is different. Slick web pages are relatively cheap and a company can build a remarkably good facade operating out of Nigeria or Croatia with frightening ease. A good researcher can work there way through it but a casual glance can look pretty darned good. For people who don't know the merchandise, don't know the merchant and aren't diligent researchers, this can be a serious trap. It's not just diamonds by the way. Online scams are common, the risks are often far less than obvious and the rules for how to navigate them keep changing. There are sharks out there. Pricescopers recommend on the order of a dozen dealers, most of whom advertise here, and routinely have some fairly mean things to say about the others. Google 'discount certified diamonds' and you get over 42,000 hits! Most look pretty good to the casual observer. How do you choose? The ones with the best graphics? The ones that claim to have the cheapest prices? The ones with names you recognize? Narrowing it down if fairly easy for people who understand diamonds well but it's a real chore for people who don't, and it's a serious risk for people who THINK they understand but don't.
     
  9. Modified Brilliant
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    by Modified Brilliant » Aug 29, 2013
    Consumers who didn't live in the age of the internet growing up may still be reluctant to buy a diamond on-line.
    Some baby boomers I know say they aren't comfortable making a major purchase on-line.
    It's a comfort level thing. Not everyone is computer savy even in this day and age (believe it or not).
    So it's a combination of being scared and not knowing who to trust on-line.
    Forums like pricescope help ease the apprehension.
     
  10. msop04
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    by msop04 » Aug 30, 2013
    Great thread, liaerfbv! I have often wondered why people are so hesitant about online purchasing in this day and age of cyber... well... EVERYTHING! :lol:

    Maybe people feel like they are less likely to be lied to or "ripped off" if they are physically looking at the person who sells it to them and can shake their hand or whatever?? Well... it's always been my thought that a person who is dishonest will scam you regardless. These types of people couldn't care less.

    I'm becoming the opposite of this -- I feel more comfortable buying big ticket items online for some reason. Maybe it's the documentation and paper trail that computer transactions provide so easily, maybe it's the fact that I'm not bothered while doing my own research, or maybe it's that it makes me crazy when I take the time to physically go to a showroom to "shop" and it's painfully clear I know more than any of the SA's? <---- what a waste of my time... and beauty products! ;)) :lol:

    I found this thread ironic, because this sort of happened to me today! I went to the jeweler to have my ring rhodium plated, cleaned, prongs checked, etc... I knew that my beloved SA (who sold me my stone and setting) had left Diamonds Direct and gone back to work for a locally owned jeweler he'd been with for many years prior to DD. But, since I was there anyway, I decided to inquire about the cost of an upgrade to a larger diamond.

    I thought it was pretty clear that I wasn't in the dark when it came to diamonds -- I merely wanted to see what a ballpark price was at this time. Long story short (if it's not too late for that ;)) ), she ended up ticking me off big time by constantly asking me how I knew certain things (nothing crazy, just not the typical 4 C's type things). She even started to argue with me about HCA when I asked if any of their spec sheets included the HCA score. She told me that "you can't put a score on HCA... it's an instrument..." and "that doesn't matter since the diamonds are AGS O and GIA X stones - they all have premium optics" followed by "...well, I'm AGS certified, so... you'd have to send a diamond off to have the HCA done" (Ummm... WHAT??!!) I answered (grinning and in my sweetest southern voice), "Well... I bought my stone here and it's a XXX, but it scored greater than 2 on the HCA, so I know it doesn't have premium optics... Since you're AGS certified, I'm sure you know that all excellent cuts aren't created equal anyway. But that's okaaay, I love my stone! ...I've got a calculator if you can just let me look at the specs." This got me the deer in the headlights face, followed by the look from HELL! :lol: Aside from maintenance, I don't think I'll be back -- at least not to her. :???:

    Needless to say, I called my old SA immediately after leaving, and we had a good laugh... I mean, I could've looked at upgrades online, stayed in my pjs, and not gotten so worked up! :lol: Anyway, this little story was just to show a perfect example of how you can still fed a bunch of crap in person as you can online. As for me, I'll just stay at home, keep studying/researching, and decide for myself (with lots of help from PS, of course!) :bigsmile:
     
    


    


  11. Sidius
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    by Sidius » Aug 30, 2013
    Excellent topic!

    My 0.02 cents.... I've discussed this with a few people since mentioning that I'm likely going to buy the e-ring for my gf online (and likely from WF). Some agree that you would get a much better quality stone for the same price as a lesser stone from a local B&M store. Others think you're crazy to spend $20,000 for something you can't see and inspect in person. I see their point but I'm with you, I would rather get a better quality stone from a very reputable source at a lower price, than get a stone without a GIA cert and much lower quality for the same price. Especially since I live in Canada and everything here is more expensive than in the US. In the defense of people who think I'm crazy, most of them would purchase clothes, electronics, etc. online but they're not spending $20,000. That's a massive chunk of change to spend through a website, even if you think you trust the source you're buying it from. The internet is filled with mis-information, fake reviews, companies that won't stand behind their product and scams.... however B&M stores are just as capable of doing that with something like a diamond purchase. The majority of people out there would not know if they got a diamond or a piece of glass, until they got it appraised. But the same people wouldn't know the difference between a diamond or a piece of glass in person either. They just have a false sense of security because they can physically walk into the store to complain, after the purchase. In the end, the only real advantage to buying locally (and paying more), is that you can have it serviced, sized or fixed from the place you bought it, much easier. Considering that a large percentage of jewelers out there will void the warranty if any other place works on it, you'd have to ship it across the country (or in my case the continent) just to get a ring sized or serviced.
     
  12. Sky56
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    by Sky56 » Aug 30, 2013
    Most of the jewelry I buy for myself is pre-owned and I buy after seeing it in a few of my bricks & mortar favorite places. So, I've never bought any on-line except for a few sterling bracelets with turquoise long ago.

    That said, I think it is a great way to buy diamonds and diamond jewelry when you use trusted vendors with an excellent track record.

    It is obvious from reading this forum for years that there are great ones recommended here. From the stories I've read here, I think consumers buying this way are being smart. I have no pony in this race and this is what I've noticed. :wink2:
     
  13. bonne403
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    by bonne403 » Aug 30, 2013
    This! The internet offers the wide array of products for which I'm looking. For me, an excellent return policy trumps everything (reputation, etc.). I am far more likely to make a large purchase online if I know that I'm guaranteed a no-hassle return.
     
  14. GreenBling
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    by GreenBling » Aug 30, 2013
    For me, it's not only because it's buying a diamond sight unseen, it's also buying cross country. Who knows what could happen during shippment? It also take days in opposed to paying and receiving it on spot. Returning is a hassle. Most of all, wiring a big sum of money to a company that I've never visited. You have to have complete trust on a vendor unless the $ involved is small. There are just a lot of uncertainties, what ifs in the process. I did eventually buy online. Was a great experience and I'd do it again. But if you asked why people are scared of buying online, I think there are a lot of valid reasons that I can understand.
     
  15. karsa
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    by karsa » Aug 31, 2013
    It is good to be scared. Fear is a healthy thing especially when thousands of dollars are on the line.
    Picking a reputable, long history of being in business, BBB rating A+ online vendor would be better.
    Also vendors that deal with AGS or GIA lab reports on their diamonds as well as additional info.
     
    


    


  16. cm366
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    by cm366 » Aug 31, 2013
    I think "trusted history" is a big thing here - as denverappraiser said, it's relatively easy to ensure that your local store actually exists, you can walk their products down the street to a competitor and get them appraised, and you have the product in hand when you're laying out your money. It's true that PSers routinely purchase 'big ticket' items online, but if you search for threads with "fraud" or "ripoff" in the titles, or read some vendors feedback on Toolhaus, it's easy to see that there are many more scam artists than trustworthy sellers out there. It's also ruinously hard to get anything back from vendors who may be overseas or working under a series of pseudonyms.
     
  17. distracts
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    by distracts » Aug 31, 2013
    I think part of it is that most people aren't ever going to check their item with an appraiser to make sure it is what it is. I've bought things both online and in person and honestly I go through a ton of checks with each. I like to talk to the seller and make sure they are more informed than I am about the product I am buying (this nixes most brick and mortar stores right from the get-go... sorry but if your sales associate is jewelry-dumb, I'm not buying from you EVER), I like to make sure the seller isn't sexist (BIG problem with the jewelry business it always seems like), I like to find reviews and testimonials, look at many things under the loupe (or magnified pics if online), take my sweet time and not get pressured, and then once I buy it take it to my local jeweler to get checked out and then to an appraiser when I do my periodic appraisal runs.

    Also, with ebay I find that what is most trustworthy in terms of not being a scam is kind of counterintuitive, because you're less likely to get scammed from a seller who sells either entirely estate jewelry or is just some random person selling something they have no use for, both of which often have shoddy pictures and extremely vague descriptions. The things with a lot of detail are invariably the ones where in fine print somewhere it says "cubic zirconia diamond!" or "clarity enhanced!" or "replica!" Like... if it looks like a slick operation, I ALWAYS look for those phrases. And almost always find them.

    I think ANY kind of shopping requires a certain amount of savviness. I see just as many people being ripped off at brick and mortar jewelers as online... yeah, it's usually "vastly overpaid for lower quality" rather than "received CZ instead of diamond!" but if the goal is not to get ripped off, both of those are failures.
     
  18. Wink
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    by Wink » Sep 1, 2013
    Interesting topic.

    As a vendor it is very interesting to see the comments and understand better the fears that some have, and also the comforts that others have.

    Also as a vendor I think that purchasing on the Internet from an established vendor gives you incredible power over that vendor. If you know that a vendor has thousands and thousands of positive comments and happy clients and less than a handful of negatives, how hard do you think that vendor is going to work to make sure you are not in that negative feed back column? (I am not talking about the 100% ebay vendors who will not refund your money until you file a good feedback, but established vendors with no coercion used to get the feedback that they have.)

    At every convention and trade show that I go to I hear horror stories of jobs gone wrong and the lengths to which vendors had to go to avoid negative feedback.

    I also hear many of those same stories change to good stories as some of the most disastrous jobs were salvaged and long term clients were made by going the extra mile to turn potentially unhappy clients into happy ones. The truth is, however painful it is to admit, that everyone will make mistakes. It is what is done with mistakes that will eventually be out there telling the tale of the vendors that you choose.

    I think that this ability to tell the world how well or how poorly you were treated gives you as consumers tremendous power over the internet vendors that you may not have with bricks and mortar vendors. Yes, you can still complain about the bricks and mortars vendors, but you may be complaining on the internet when the people who go to those stores do not use the internet as a shopping place and thus are not seeing your complaints.

    One thing for sure. While it is possible to be cheated in both places, if you do your homework I think you are less likely to be cheated in any location that has both good feedback and reviews, whether it is internet or B&M. Only YOU can prevent YOU from being cheated and it requires some vigilance on YOUR part. While there are laws to protect you and many fraudulent practices are illegal, you are best served if you rely on some in depth research of your vendor and letting others worry about seeking redress in the courts. Your vigilance will reap rewards and you will end up buying where YOU are comfortable from people and businesses that YOU like.

    Wink
     
  19. Allisonfaye
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    by Allisonfaye » Sep 1, 2013
    Boy, I am with you this one. I have been on PS for about 10 years now more or less and since I learned quite a good bit about buying diamonds, it never fails to amaze me either a) how ignorant the sales associates are about diamonds in 9 out of 10 B&M stores or B) how ignorant they think you are about them. I find it insulting that they even try to sell me anything. I also wonder how ANYONE ever got a decent stone BEFORE the internet seeing the crap they try to pass of at $x amount of money. I went to Bloomingdales yesterday just to see what diamond studs they had. The specs were AWFUL. Mostly I clarity and low colors, cuts were average at best. I was seeing HUGE numbers through the glass. They have this game they play where everything is almost always 'on sale' for 50% off.

    Also, if I had a nickel for every time I asked about the cut and someone replied 'round brilliant', I would be wealthy enough to buy that 5 carat rock I have my eye on. :)
     
  20. msop04
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    by msop04 » Sep 1, 2013
    OMG, Allisonfaye, this is so true! I certainly don't claim to be an expert by any means, but I do feel like I have educated myself a lot more than the average consumer regarding diamonds...

    I am amazed at the responses I received on a recent trip to a jewelry store (and we're not talking a Kay or Jared store either...) when I asked about cut/angles/ect... as well. The whole "we only sell ideal and XXX diamonds... these are the best cuts... period." is a real turn off. It took everything in my being to not look right at them and say, "Well, ya see that entire tray over there?? They aren't that great. At all." :roll: :lol: :lol:
     
  21. distracts
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    by distracts » Sep 1, 2013
    My junior year of college I worked at the mall and the store I worked at was right by two jewelry stores, and from March through October they big 60% off everything signs in the window. From November through February they just had occasional 30% off sales. I always thought anyone who bought at any price over 60% off was probably getting horribly ripped off...

    I really think that's why people have greatly unrealistic expectations of how much they can bargain down with vendors. If they are shopping at mall stores and regularly getting 50% or more off sticker price, they're being trained to think all jewelry has huge margins and the vendor can afford to drop a huge percent off the price to make the sale. It seems like a bad business practice to me. Also I just don't like bargaining... I like to shop somewhere where the price on the sticker is the price the item will sell for. Period. It's a whole lot easier for me. I don't want to go through complicated negotiations in order to buy something, that makes it too troublesome and unpleasant, and if I get a good deal I wonder if I left the seller with the raw end of the bargain and then I feel guilty and it taints my enjoyment of whatever I bought.
     
  22. luvmysparklies
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    by luvmysparklies » Sep 1, 2013
    I meant to ask you earlier about the bolded Distracts. What have you experienced? And how did you handle?
     
  23. TC1987
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    by TC1987 » Sep 2, 2013
    I'm not afraid to buy online, In fact, I am more afraid of overpaying and getting ripped off by buying locally. Perhaps the people in major cities like LA or NYC or Chicago have some decent vendors of superbly cut H&A RBs at fair prices. But out here in the rural flyovers, we have only Hearts On Fire, and the mall junk. And both are vastly overpriced in comparison to PS online vendors. The local Craigslist is full of overpriced used mall junk, and there are no upscale pawn shops or used jewelry dealers who sell stellar estate diamonds and used jewelry. So, the selection is definitely garbage in = garbage out.
     
  24. DSilverberg
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    by DSilverberg » Sep 3, 2013
    What a great conversation to start! The best thing about shopping online is price comparing whether it's furniture, electronics, or luxury goods.
    Personally, since free shipping and free returns are so prevalent, I find that I won't buy from sites that don't offer that. Of course, I'll make the exception if the price is still better with shipping taken into account.
    People often feel hesitant about buying jewelry in general, not just online, and they need a push from a salesperson to go and do it. For those who are confident buyers, buying online is definitely the way to go!
     
  25. msop04
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    by msop04 » Sep 3, 2013
    I agree with you 100%, DSilverberg! I'm grateful there are so many knowledgeable people here on PS to help boost our confidence in getting the best deal!
     
  26. arkieb1
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    by arkieb1 » Sep 3, 2013
    I think people should sometimes be scared to buy online. Vendors that are respected that have great policies totally fine. But many vendors, bread and butter stores, and ebay sellers out there don't have great return policies. They can be clueless or worse intentionally misleading. Its very common to have diamonds over estimated in colour and under estimated in clarity and colour stones mislabelled.
     
  27. liaerfbv
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    by liaerfbv » Sep 4, 2013
    I've also had this experience, unfortunately. Mostly just being condescended to by male SAs in mall stores. One time recently a jeweler made a comment that I could have my OEC recut to an "ideal" stone, and when I said I intentionally bought a wonky OEC, he said that "I should ask my husband what he thought" -- I asked why he thought my husband would know the difference when the stone was on MY hand 24/7, and he kinda stammered a non-response. Maybe I took his comment the wrong way, but it just seemed very "ask your husband for his permission" in his delivery.

    I agree that everyone should be concerned about where/who they purchase goods from, especially expensive items (such as diamonds and jewelry). Today in particular I'm baffled after reading thread after thread of men buying engagement rings in Rocky Talk, and the patient experts recommending JA, WF, BGD, etc. for the best bang for their buck. It seems like the most common response is arguing they are worried about buying online and they would rather use their friend's second cousin's wholesale jeweler friend's brother. I obviously understand why someone would be concerned dropping $$$ with an unknown vendor, and I agree that there are pros for having an in-town jeweler to deal with for routine issues. But personally, if I decide one day that I want to buy the best pair of binoculars (knowing nothing about binoculars), and I find a great, well-respected forum on binoculars, I'd probably take their advice on where to purchase. Maybe it's a place I've never heard of - well, why would I have? I don't know anything about binoculars! I'd start googling, I'd vet the recommendations I was given, I'd read reviews, I would probably call the vendor myself and talk about what I wanted to buy, etc. Why bother coming here and posting if you don't plan on taking the advice given?

    If you are genuine about wanting to get "the best deal," then why wouldn't you explore buying online if the forum that you've sought out for sound diamond-buying advice is telling you that you will get the best diamond for your money buying online?
     
  28. slksapphire
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    by slksapphire » Sep 5, 2013
    to answer the original question: i do NOT believe there is necessarily more risk buying jewelry online from a reputable vendor than in a B&M store. i would seriously consider purchasing diamonds online, especially if it were a modern round brilliant because i think it is possible to buy them (in a very well informed way) based on reports, idealscope images, asets, etc.

    however, there are certain things (i think) that are still better bought in person (though this does not necessarily mean in a B&M store). for example, i recently purchased a gem-quality sapphire. i shopped for it for a long time in various B&M stores as well as online. in the end, i purchased it through a "dealer" who sourced about 10 sapphires for me to view at an international gem fair. trust me (and most of the other "experts" in the colored stones forum), it is REALLY hard to evaluate sapphires, particularly color, online. and it is tremendously helpful to be able to look at 10 gemstones side-by-side. it was not realistic for me to buy all 10 of them (even with great return policies) due to the cost per stone.

    the only other things i generally don't buy online: some types of furniture (due to the expense of return or the inability of vendors to send swatches in advance). i've bought cars (new) online through internet buying services, cars, food, and most other things!

    hope this provides some perspective on why don't necessarily prefer to buy gems online.
     

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