Diamond shoppers today have more choices than ever on where to buy their diamond engagement ring, diamond earrings and other diamond jewelry items. However, with greater selections come bigger potential risks and rewards. You need to do your homework and understand how to select the best company for your diamond purchase.
The retail diamond market is comprised of three broad categories of diamond sources; jewelry stores, ecommerce diamond companies and diamond brokers.
Until recent years, jewelry stores were the only option for most diamond shoppers. This was especially true for smaller towns and rural areas. These stores had a monopoly, much like Ma Bell with the phone systems during most of the 20th century. Jewelry stores were the only game in town and could set their prices at whatever markup they wanted.
Jewelry stores depend on impulse buying so they focus on having a selection to pick from, name recognition through extensive advertising, and being convenient so shoppers can walk in and make a purchase with no education or knowledge of the product. If it looks nice to an impulse buyer, they will pull out the credit card and have it gift-wrapped. To attract the impulse buyer, jewelers built elaborate stores with polished marble floors, expensive display cases, and lighting that makes everything in the store sparkle.
To pay for the stores, the decorations and all the expensive advertising, jewelry stores must maintain high markups on the items they sell. The more expensive stores have bigger inventory, higher rent and more advertising, which dictates the higher markup necessary to pay for all that overhead.
E-Commerce Diamond Retailers
The online shopping cart of hundreds of jewelry retailers has been one of the big growth areas for e-commerce. Shoppers can shop from the convenience of their home or work computer, look at the pictures of thousands of jewelry items online and place their order without ever talking to a human. E-commerce diamond retailers provide a list of diamonds owned by groups of wholesalers and let the shopper pick the diamond they want based on the specifications in the list. The shopper pays for the diamond in advance and then the wholesaler or the retailer ships the diamond to the consumer.
The online jewelry retailers offer the advantage of much greater selection than you can find in a jewelry store and the ability to ship the items all over the country, which provides greater options for shoppers in small towns and rural areas. Due to low overhead costs, online jewelers can provide lower prices than most jewelry stores. The disadvantage of the online jeweler is that there are few safeguards in place to keep the consumer from making a mistake. Picking the least expensive diamond from a list of options often means there is something less desirable about the diamond. Without an expert adviser to help, the consumer is mostly on their own to make their selection.
There is a third type of diamond retailer, the diamond broker, that differs from the jewelry store or e-commerce retailer. Like most e-commerce retailers, brokers do not own inventory and have low overhead, but they differ in that they work as diamond consultants for the shopper to find the best diamonds meeting the consumer’s requirements.
To attract new clients, diamond brokers rely on word of mouth advertising. They typically have a website focused on online education and shopping advice instead of a list of inventory and the online shopping cart. Diamond brokers work with their client to find the best diamond on the wholesale market and present it to the client in the broker’s office or ship the diamond to the client to examine before they purchase. The result of the lower overhead and personal consultant service is that clients usually get a better diamond at a lower price than with jewelry stores or online retailers.
To determine which company is going to be the best supplier for your diamonds, know what retailer characteristics are most important to you then ask many questions. Be sure the company you select is going to be able to provide the personalized service, expert advice, high quality diamonds and low prices you deserve.