Today as more customers are looking at making purchases on-line and as this trend continues to grow we are seeing many customers who are pleased with their decision and some that are not. One of the larger on-line growth segments has been in the jewelry and gemstone market, with excellent opportunities to purchase items at heavy discounts when compared to regular retail stores.
I believe there is room for both and we are now seeing more traditional stores open their own web presence to promote the items in their stores, or from their on-line catalogs. This has resulted in a significant reduction in prices of items like diamonds where consumers have traditionally paid a full retail price.
The challenge for most consumers today is to make sure they are truly receiving what they paid for, as most consumers do not have the knowledge or equipment to be able test stones and gold, to make sure what is advertised is what is received.
Some of the on-line jewelry & gemstone websites have trained staff that are Graduate Gemologists and have reputations to protect, which in turn offers the consumer stronger protection. Suppliers also have a role to play in making sure that the sales channel is receiving their goods as advertised, sometimes reputable resellers purchase gemstones lots, and either do not have the time or take the time to check out what they are receiving is what they advertise . They in turn can inadvertently sell consumers Quartz for Topaz, or synthetic for natural gemstones etc.
So how do you as a consumer protect yourself when purchasing gemstones or jewelry on-line? Here are my Top 10 Tips
- If you are looking for jewelry or gemstone items of high value then try to make sure that they come with a Grading and Appraisal Certificate
- Check that the seller has knowledgeable staff on-site that are Graduate Gemologists
- Check to see if there are customer testimonials or Customer Feedback, something companies like eBay do very well
- Make sure they have a money back guarantee policy for returning items
- If you are purchasing Diamonds or Gemstones and want to know how to, then go to the Gemological Institute of American who are a non-profit organization that is recognized worldwide in diamond assessment and grading, but also developed most of the grading systems used today. They have two short web based courses which will give you the basics
- Make sure that they offer a secure payment system either on their site or preferably at sites like PayPal, etc. and use your credit card if possible, as you can always work with the credit card companies on getting their help for a refund if you can not get satisfaction from the seller
- Make sure that the item description and grading is clearly marked on the sales receipt.
- Ask about any treatments that the gemstone has had; also make sure you are purchasing solid gold and not gold plating.
- Word of mouth, Listen to your friends who had excellent experiences with an on-line jewelry or gemstone store.
- If you purchase jewelry or gemstones on line and do not think that you have received what you paid for, take it to an independent appraiser, many can be found in the Yellow-Pages or on-line. Do not take it to a local jeweler unless they have a resident Graduate Gemologist, as sellers will generally not take items back that have been appraised by a jeweler who is not a Gemologist.
The old saying of "if it's too good to be true it usually is not" still holds credence for Web purchases. Purchasing on-line is safe if you take a small amount of time to educate yourself on what you are buying, so that you know the questions to ask, and know who you are buying from. Reputable sellers will take time to answer your questions and e-mails and will not push you into a sale, plus they will offer you a full refund money back guarantee.