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With so many brick and mortar jewelers, why buy online?

Area57

Rough_Rock
Joined
Aug 2, 2015
Messages
73
It would seem to my inexperienced mind that there are a lot of brick and mortar jewelry stores left. More so than many other kinds of businesses. So why order from an online seller? It seems that it can be a particularly shady business, because you are dealing with high priced, small items that are easy to fake.

What got me thinking about it was a thread written by someone who ordered from etsy and five months later hadn't even gotten a reply. I don't know the cost involved, but I think it was substantial. It is probably so easy to open an etsy store, have friends leave you good feedback, maybe make a couple of screen names on here talking about how great your pieces are, get some orders and disappear.

Not just etsy, but a website, a seller from Thailand, whatever, they know people love jewelry, and how hard it is to pass up a good deal. I don't think I could do it from any but the absolute biggest, most trusted names that have been around the longest. James Allen comes to mind as a name I hear a lot. They are probably ok, I could probably order there. I can also see the fun of looking through page after page on limitless gems and jewelry and that does sound like a lot of fun, but isn't it more fun to go into a store in person and look through, and be able to touch and see with your eyes? There can't be a substitute for that.
 

chrono

Super_Ideal_Rock
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38,364
The online world is vast so it is more competitive, giving the buyer more options, better quality, and better pricing. Like everything else, due diligence by the customer is the customer's responsibility. There are also many brick and mortar stores that sell overpriced jewellery, sell items with undisclosed treatment, and some are equally shady. This is why a list of vendors that Pricescopers trust and use often was created and put up as a sticky.

I love my local store and trust them but their pricing is 4x higher, the inventory is limited, and the quality just isn't there. When I purchase online, I make sure I fully understand the return and refund policy so I can see the gem in question to decide whether it is the one for me, or back it goes. Like everything else, whether buying online or from a B&M store, I have to learn to judge quality and can't do it if the inventory is limited. This is where trade and jewellery shows come into play, teaching me not only to recognize quality but to learn what my preferences are, which might be different from trade ideal.
 

arkieb1

Ideal_Rock
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9,786
Lots of bricks and mortar stores sell rubbish they have high mark ups so on the one hand you can save by buying online. On the flip side you cannot see the items in person, so I agree make sure they have good return policies and are a reliable trusted vendor so that you get decent items, there are billions of bad, cheap, and flat out bad vendors misleading customers on the web as well.
 

dk168

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
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Jul 7, 2013
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12,506
Concur with the others.

In addition, B&M stores seldom have goods that suit me, in terms of stone colour, cut and size; and setting styles.

I have very strong personal tastes, hence I prefer to go down the custom route, getting the stone first, then ask a jeweller to make a setting for it (reads low profile, plain shank, main stone(s) to be bezel set, white gold, wide shank).

And don't get me started about pearls in B&M stores! :rolleyes:

DK :))
 

Area57

Rough_Rock
Joined
Aug 2, 2015
Messages
73
Ooo, true. There is some serious rubbish at some of the local shops. Cringe worthy, but at least you get to feel it and see?
 

marymm

Ideal_Rock
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Joined
Apr 21, 2010
Messages
5,535
I always do my homework, whether it is online or bricks-and-mortar purchases - and when it comes to diamonds, colored gemstones, and settings, online for me is 1000% better in terms of quality, price, and inventory. Periodically I do visit B&M stores just to check out their wares, but excepting one local store which carries high-quality artisan pieces and another store which carries antique/estate pieces, the quality is just not there. I will also say, in 95% of the B&M stores I go into, I know far more than the salespeople on the floor, and Icannot abide receiving incorrect and/or misleading info by a vendor.
 

katharath

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 5, 2013
Messages
2,850
Well, several reasons really.

I have never found any of these items in well cut, polished gems, in any local store I've visited:

- the rarer gems that I like (have gone from a range of collecting blue/color change garnets; tsavorite and merelani mint garnets; Burmese and mahenge spinels, plus lavender blue violet spinels; good quality UNTREATED emeralds that were affordable and truly as stated; good quality UNHEATED blue sapphires, harder to find natural lavender sapphires; opals that are natural and not fake or doublets;- not to mention gems like chrysoberyl, sphene, andalusite, etc etc etc).

I've never see precision cut gems, cut to the quality I'm looking for, and in the gem type I'm looking for, offered in typical jewelry stores.

I'm able to find people doing the kind of setting work that I just can't find locally. People creating unique things, and people who can safely set softer CS that many locals setters haven't even heard of...

I've bought online really quite a lot. From many many etsy vendors and many of the preferred vendors here on PS. I've still never had a transaction end badly, although I've certainly had many that were better than others. I know that it can happen, but most vendors are out there trying to make a living and want repeat customers. And of course I do thorough homework on any vendor before buying from them. I can't imagine going back to the old way!!
 

texaskj

Brilliant_Rock
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Aug 31, 2010
Messages
1,197
Not everyone lives in an area with lots of brick-and-mortar stores, no matter what they're selling.
 

katharath

Ideal_Rock
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Mar 5, 2013
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marymm|1444495290|3936968 said:
I always do my homework, whether it is online or bricks-and-mortar purchases - and when it comes to diamonds, colored gemstones, and settings, online for me is 1000% better in terms of quality, price, and inventory. Periodically I do visit B&M stores just to check out their wares, but excepting one local store which carries high-quality artisan pieces and another store which carries antique/estate pieces, the quality is just not there. I will also say, in 95% of the B&M stores I go into, I know far more than the salespeople on the floor, and Icannot abide receiving incorrect and/or misleading info by a vendor.


Also completely agree with Mary about the lack of knowledge being very disturbing, I feel the same way.
 

distracts

Ideal_Rock
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6,143
Area57|1444473451|3936909 said:
Ooo, true. There is some serious rubbish at some of the local shops. Cringe worthy, but at least you get to feel it and see?

Feeling and seeing it isn't any indicator of quality - only an indicator of whether you like it. If you're buying gemstones that have a risk of treatment that affects value, you need lab reports, and in my experience the vast majority of brick and mortar stores don't provide those. I have found two stores local to me that do (and that are not Harry Winston $$$$$), but the gemstones they have and can call in often don't have very good cuts, and are priced significantly higher than what I can get from reputable online sellers (we're talking 50% or more higher - on something like sapphires, it could easily be three times the price). As well, even those stores don't get anything "exotic." Neither has spinel, though they might be able to obtain it for me. They have tsavorite garnets, but no spessartite garnets. I'd never get anything like hauyne or benitonite there. Like, they're nice places, they KNOW about colored stones, but they only stock what sells to the masses, you know?
 

QuantumStuff

Rough_Rock
Joined
Sep 6, 2015
Messages
28
"online" is simply a means for a dealer to reach the market. There are many, many dealers out there from 1 or 2 previous generations that are computer illiterate and still only sell on the gem show circuit.

I forgot where I was going with this...
 

ElleK

Shiny_Rock
Trade
Joined
Feb 5, 2015
Messages
239
I enjoy going into stores and asking about spinel. :naughty: :wall:
 

Area57

Rough_Rock
Joined
Aug 2, 2015
Messages
73
I think I must have gotten lucky by going into some good stores! Not mall stores, those are funny, you could pass a lazy Sunday just going to the mall and into all the jewelry stores there and telling them you want to get your girlfriend an engagement ring but know nothing about diamonds and hear all the responses you get!

But pick and choose, there are some good ones out there, with some friendly people that don't mind spending the slow hours helping you learn about gems.

Or really, maybe I just got lucky.

It's not like buying from a vendor online you don't need to know your stuff, right? What is the name of the best online site? I'll take a look.
 

kb1gra

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jul 6, 2012
Messages
1,118
I have some good jewelers local to me but it's more the mental idea of knowing I am probably getting ripped off if only by having to pay sales tax, that gets me every time. I do have one dealer that has phenomenal sapphires and prices to match, and I weigh whether being able to see that specific stone, set, is worth it to me. Sometimes it is!
 
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