When shopping for diamonds, many today are still undecided about if it's best to buy their diamond online or physically in a retail store. I have decided to make this comparison to help determine if shopping online is best for you or not. There are several factors that influence if it's the best choice or not, with some advantages and disadvantages for each. In this post, I will explain as best as I can the benefits and downsides of the two.
Most online retailers only sell certified diamonds, either by the GIA, HRD or IGI. In many physical retail stores, a majority of the diamonds will not be certified. This is normal, as jewelers themselves are almost always certified graders, but it does not inspire confidence for some consumers. In all cases of a trusted jeweler, there should be no doubt about the quality of the diamond. However, certification costs money, and an advantage of buying certified diamonds vs non-certified diamonds is that you will often find them at a cheaper price. However, in general it is highly recommended to buy certified diamonds, because although all jewelers may be able to tell the clarity and color of a diamond, some may not as easily distinguish bad cuts of grades of fluorescence.
You will have to visit many shops before you encounter the large selection you will find inside the average experienced online diamond vendor's store. The average jeweler usually only carries a fraction of the diamonds in a physical location in comparison. I would estimate the average jewelry shop would have around a handful of dozen (usually less) loose diamonds of noteworthy size (noteworthy, I use a relatively strict definition of about 0.50 carats). The selection of less than a hundred compared to the thousands you would find online is where the online selection shows the largest advantage. The larger selection allows for the potential buyers to have a much easier time finding exactly the diamond that they might want, whereas if the client is inclined to buy in a retail store, the situation will often end with the buyer settling for a diamond slightly different than he might have wanted.
In the case of all online vendors, they are connected with a direct line to the cutters, which buy directly from the miners. There are no unneeded middle men this way. Most jewelers depend on people buying from the cutters and selling them onwards, which is why they don't have direct access to such large lists, which only increases prices, but more on that later.
However, a downside of this large selection is that the average online retailer needs about two weeks to deliver, while when visiting the store you can pay on the spot and leave with the item instantly. For the person who does not wish to wait, this might be a big factor. A lot of people don't have the patience to wait so long for what they purchased, which I find very understandable.
The Ability To See In 3D
A new niche has recently emerged in online diamond buying. This is the ability to look inside your diamond in 3D. For me personally, this is a game changer. I believe with this new technology people are able to look inside the diamond even better than they can hold them with a loop. Most diamonds have significant imperfections, and they can be part of its beauty. When you buy a diamond online in 3D, you know perfectly well what you buy. The perfectly angled macro shots under the perfect lightning lets even the most experienced diamond grader rate inclusions better than with the methods used in previous years.
Whereas a client might be happy early on after buying it thinking he might get an exceptional price, he might regret it later, as he learns to fully know the diamond with the years. When you are able to see what you are considering to buy in such detail, you know for sure what your purchase will be like, and are bound never to have any regrets. Also people who are new to shopping for precious gemstones will have a much easier time learning what the physically viewable differences are in the comfort of home rather than going from shop to shop.
Online return rates for diamonds bought in 3D are extremely low.
Although competition between gemstone and fine jewelry retailers is fierce, competition between online vendors is even fiercer. You will be able to find much better prices online than in jewelry shops. Not only do the profits required for one or two more middle men not get added to the total expense (saving the eventual final buyer extra costs) but since they order directly from the main suppliers, they also don't aim to make as much profit for their sale. When a shop has invested in a diamond years ago, and only now finds a buyer, they will attempt to make it worth the long wait, while an online vendor usually has his fixed rates. On top of that, online diamond sellers don't require as much human resources to keep the operation running, since it manages huge stock very efficiently. This again allows them to save the costs onto you, giving you a very honest price for your diamond.
However, if you are flexible with your choice, you might find some amazing prices in shops. You might encounter a diamond that a jeweler has bought for a very low price. Most people don't mention a budget, but if you mention a budget, the people working within the shop you have visited will surely do their best to give you the best possible deal they can. In achieving this, you might have to visit many shops, but the odds are big it will pay off.
Conflict Free Diamonds
When buying diamonds online, you are buying from select companies the largest retailers in the world have decided to deal with. The diamonds owned by these companies consist entirely of of diamonds they mined themselves, and cut themselves. As they oversee all their operations themselves as well, there is no room for conflict diamonds to find their way into these companies. Although you should not worry in my opinion, as odds of conflict diamonds are extremely low when buying them in shops, the only way to be sure what you're buying is absolutely conflict-free is to buy from one of the retailers connected directly to these companies and nothing but these companies.