If you are thinking about buying a diamond online, you are not alone, according to ComScore, consumer purchases of jewelry and watches online have increased approximately 14% over the past year, which is a pretty substantial increase when you stop to consider that when we first launched Nice Ice online back in 1996, everybody in the industry thought that we were crazy! Well everybody except for a few other diamond dealers who were right there blazing the trail for everybody else to follow… oh those were the days! Imagine a world where detailed diamond grading information was not readily available to the public and consumers bought whatever their local jeweler recommended without question and without expecting things like diamond grading reports, clarity photographs, images of the diamond as seen through reflector scopes like ASET scopes, Ideal Scopes, and Hearts & Arrows viewers… crazy.
Would you believe that our presence on the internet was so upsetting to the retail jewelry industry that fifty jewelers from a trade organization known as Polygon actually filed a lawsuit against us for “the disclosure of proprietary information to the public” and “disparagement of an entire industry” as in the ENTIRE industry? We were so proud! Imagine being able to disparage an entire industry… but apparently their opinion was unsubstantiated because they withdrew the lawsuit after receiving just one letter from the law firm which we hired which specialized in First Amendment Law… ah yes, that is an interesting concept!
But what does any of this have to do with your decision to purchase a diamond or jewelry item online today? Credibility and longevity for one thing… those of us who were around in the early “Wild West” days of slinging diamonds over the internet grew our online business by adhering to old fashioned values such as honesty, integrity, and value… we had to or we wouldn’t be in business today.
I’m talking about online vendors such as Brian Gavin Diamonds, High Performance Diamonds, James Allen, and even Blue Nile. While some of the names have changed to create a greater sense of brand recognition, the people behind these companies have been around since the inception of diamonds on the internet, and I’m proud to call the people who own and operate these companies my friends.
One of the most frequent questions that people ask me is whether it is safe to buy a diamond online, and my answer is that it depends on which company you are talking about because some online diamond vendors are definitely more reputable than others… needless to say I consider the companies mentioned previously to be top-notch and this is based upon years of experience dealing with them.
Dealers like Brian Gavin, High Performance Diamonds, and James Allen have established themselves as specialists in the realm of super ideal cut diamonds which have been cut to proportions which are optimized to exhibit the highest levels of light return and sparkle! While vendors such as Blue Nile and newcomer Ritani tend to focus on a broader range of proportions which appeals more to budget-conscious buyers.
All of these companies have proven track records of fulfilling customer orders in a prompt and efficient manner and offer generous inspection periods and hassle-free return policies which are clearly outlined on their web sites in writing. Although Ritani is a newcomer to direct sales online, they are an established jewelry designer which is backed by a well-known diamond cutter and has an excellent reputation throughout the industry.
While the safest way to purchase a diamond engagement ring online might seem like a credit card, the reality is that I would not hesitate to initiate a wire transfer to any one of these companies, and paying by cash/wire transfer provides you with a discount which can result in some pretty substantial savings!
One of the biggest challenges that online diamond buyers face is that they are unable to see the actual diamond in-person before placing their order… this was more of a challenge in the early days of the internet diamond business when we were still trying to figure out how to provide people with the data required to back up our claims that the diamonds we offered were cut to better proportions and a higher degree of optical symmetry than most retail jewelers even knew existed.
These days vendors like Brian Gavin and High Performance Diamonds provide extremely extensive diamond details pages, like the one pictured to the left for a 1.732 carat, G-color, SI-1 clarity, Brian Gavin Signature diamond, which provide you with high resolution copies of the Diamond Quality Documents (DQD) issued by the American Gem Society Laboratory for their ideal cut diamonds, but also high-resolution video of the diamonds, as well as photographs of the diamonds as seen through the various reflector scopes (ASET, Ideal Scope, Hearts and Arrows viewer) used to grade the optical symmetry of the diamond.
James Allen provides video for the diamonds in their inventory and images of the hearts and arrows patterns visible within their True Hearts brand diamonds, but does not provide ASET or Ideal Scope images on their diamond details pages…
Blue Nile pretty much only provides a copy of the diamond grading report and a secondary diamond grading report for their Signature Diamonds which makes it practically impossible to judge the optical symmetry of the diamonds being offered, but they offer one of the most extensive virtual inventories of GIA graded diamonds at price points which can be quite good.
Ritani provides a copy of the diamond grading report and a video of the diamond, however you need to look closely to determine whether the photograph being provided of the diamond is of the actual diamond or a stock photograph being used to represent what the diamond most likely looks like… one of the benefits of working with Ritani is that you can order the diamond and engagement ring online, and have it shipped to a local authorized Ritani jeweler where you can look at it in-person before deciding to complete your purchase. One of the downfalls of this business model is that with authorized Ritani dealers in practically every state, they have to collect sales tax for all online transactions regardless of where you live… as opposed to other online dealers who only have to collect sales tax from customers who live in the state where they operate out of.
If you’re considering buying a diamond online, feel free to take advantage of my free Personal Diamond Shopper service, I’ll be happy to assist you with evaluating the details of the diamond and assist you with your search.
Todd Gray is a professional diamond buyer with 30+ years of trade experience. He loves to teach people how to buy diamonds that exhibit incredible light performance! In addition to writing for Nice Ice, Todd "ghost writes" blogs and educational content for other diamond sites. When Todd isn't chained to a desk, or consulting for the trade, he enjoys Freediving! (that's like scuba diving, but without air tanks)
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