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This is the second of a series of eight articles on the process of buying diamond jewelry online. Should I buy online? And should I consider online auctions? Let us begin with: should I buy online? Selection - By shopping online, you can find the best-cut (most beautiful) diamonds. This is because many online 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. Prices - The online prices are highly competitive because of lower operation cost for some and many dealers are competing to sell the very same diamonds. In addition, you can save on taxes by getting the diamond shipped to you from another state. It is common for diamonds purchased online from reputable sources to be appraised independently at 1.5 to 2 or more times the purchase price.
Flexibility - One benefit of online shopping is the ability to have diamonds shipped to you where you can view them in the lighting conditions where they will be worn. You can also take a diamond shipped to you to a local jeweler to make comparisons, and to an independent appraiser to be valued. Just be aware of the return policy of the vendor from whom you buy. Uncertainty - How can I be sure that I will get what I am paying for? Lack of trust - How do I know whether the vendor whom I have never met will provide what he promised? Doubts - How can I be sure that I will be able to get my money back if I am not satisfied? Get independent appraising within the vendors returns period, so you can send it back if not satisfied. Should I consider online auctions? Still, this seems a somewhat head-in-the-sand approach: a huge amount of diamond jewelry is bought via auction, so how do you get good value and good quality via auction? I have spent a week analyzing diamond jewelry merchants on the grandaddy of all auction sites: eBay.
Bay do not make it easy to compare merchants, or find all merchants for a particular product. This is because they know the feedback comments can be cooked up to look great by deceitful merchants. Still, any merchant doing that kind of thing is not likely to be around over the long term - or at least they will re-emerge in a different eBay category and find a new bunch of suckers. I have manually tracked down and analyzed 467 eBay diamond jewelry merchants, and I suspect there is likely to be well over 500 who have a strong focus on diamond jewelry. In my first cut, I shrunk this down to a list of 45 merchants likely to be reliable and having a solid long-term record at eBay. This is less than 10% of the original list. How did I select them? To get into the short list merchants had to be selling on eBay for at least three years, and have a feedback rating over 98%, and be recognized by eBay as a Power Seller. Larger sellers also had to have over 10,000 eBay feedback points (meaning at least 10,000 more positive comments than negative ones).
By combining the long timeframe with high feedback requirements and other eBay performance standards needed to meet Power Seller criteria, I hoped to eliminate the scoundrels. Still, I did not stop there. If you are buying premium diamond jewelry you want to know you are getting quality. And the only way to ensure that is to get a diamond grading report (usually referred to as a diamond certificate) from a reputable diamond grading laboratory. And you will need to know how to understand the report - more on that in a later section of this guide. In my analysis, merchants who provide viewable, readable diamond certificates online, from reputable laboratories, rate highest. Laboratories like GIA, AGS, and EGL (in fact I have rated merchants displaying GIA certificates the highest, since these are the most respected within the industry). And whatever you are buying, you want to know you can return it without any hassles (see some awful customer experiences at my Nightmare on eBay! page).
If it is a valuable piece, you may want to get it independently appraised as soon as it arrives, both for insurance reasons and to know you have not been ripped off. To do this you will need a minimum returns period of seven days, and preferably ten or more days. Virtually all web-based sellers of diamond jewelry outside of eBay offer 30 days for returns, because they respect the customers right to have their new jewelry appraised before committing to their purchase. It is hard to fathom, then, why only 32% of my list of top 45 merchants offered more than 7 days return policies. And 23% of them offered an outrageous 3 days return policy. You do not need the hassles and pressure if you dislike what you receive. There are alternatives - even if you are looking for bargain jewelry. Dont Kick Them When They Are Down! To add insult to injury, some merchants even charge a restocking fee - anywhere from 3% to a whopping 25% of the value of the purchase. Come on, get real!