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Why is buying jewellery online cheaper than in a store?

Frequently Asked Question – Why is buying jewellery online cheaper than in a store?

By Heather L. Morigeau

Online stores claim that because they are not paying for a storefront they can keep their prices low, this is only a fraction of the true story. 

Diamond “Deals”

Mined diamonds are sent in parcels to dealers who sort, grade and resell the diamonds to wholesale clients.  First in line for the top quality diamonds are auction houses, high quality jewellery stores (such as the store i work at) and brand name designers.  Next in line are retail chain stores, mass production manufacturing centers and independent designers.  Whatever is rejected by the first two levels goes to the internet dealers.   Diamonds are rejected because of the quality of clarity, color or cut, but also there may be structural flaws which make it prone to breaking or fluorescence causing the gem to glow under UV lights. 

The diamond you buy online may come with a certificate but it may not indicate all factors, further not all grading houses are the same.  There have been scandals regarding stones which were given a higher certification then they qualified for because of bribes given to the gemologist, most centers doing this get caught and shut down but the diamonds and their fraudulent certifications are still on the market. (The store i work at) trusts only the highly respected diamond grading houses, with long standing reputations.

Also there is no way for you to tell that what you’re receiving in the mail is in fact a real diamond; it may be synthetic, a piece of glass or a white sapphire.  By the time you get the stone and have it analyzed, the online store you bought it from may be gone in the digital wind, leaving you with no money, no diamond and no support because there is no BBB for internet sales, it is buyer beware.

Hollow, low karat, gold plated

Most online jewellery stores show images of the top and side of a ring, once it arrives in the mail and you look under the ring you will see that it is hollow; the gold is less than 1mm thick.  This affects the security of the stones, ability to size it, and a good knock will dent into a shape that isn’t repairable.  Lower karat, such as 9k or 10k, means less gold, more alloy and most likely to tarnish. 

Diamonds are most often set in white gold because it is a tougher metal, and the stone absorbs surrounding colors causing a diamond set in yellow gold look yellow.  A well-made ring comes in pieces; a white gold setting and a yellow band, which are then soldered together.  To cut corners internet suppliers will create a ring in yellow gold then use plating, called rhodium to tip the claws to make it look white, this plating comes off leaving you with a solid yellow gold ring.

Ongoing support

When you buy online there is no person to person contact; no goldsmith to do repairs, nowhere to take it to have it professionally checked and cleaned, no gemologist to update your appraisal when the market fluctuates and no one to hold accountable if you have been deceived.  When considering the money you may save buying online consider what you’re willing to lose as well.

Please also see Blog Post - When is it a good idea to buy jewellery online?

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