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Buyer Beware: Purchasing a Diamond Online

Buying a diamond online can be a hit or a miss – and in most cases, in which we’ve had the problem brought to us to fix, it’s a miss. It’s sage advice to avoid purchasing a diamond online. No matter how well-known or well-reviewed an online jeweler is, you never really know what you’re buying. An engagement ring primarily consists of two things: the diamond and the mounting. The quality of these two components ensures the longevity and value of the piece. Before you choose a ring online, keep these notes in mind: 

The Mounting: 

  1. When looking at rings online, pay close attention to the material of the mounting. Most engagement rings will be in 10k gold, 14k gold, 18k gold, or platinum. The gold options can be white gold, yellow gold, or rose gold. These options are all great and are strong enough to protect the center diamond, but be aware of online retailers selling gold-plated or gold vermeil mountings. Gold-plated jewelry isn’t solid gold – it's a base metal piece coated with a thin layer of gold. Oftentimes the gold coating can wear off and since the piece isn’t gold, it can rarely be repaired and has almost no monetary value (only sentimental value!)

  2. Be aware of your accent stones. Some companies use synthetic diamonds, cubic zirconia (CZs), or diamond simulants in place of natural diamonds for the accent stones. This dramatically reduces the cost of the overall piece and while it might look pretty, those side stones will chip, scratch, and eventually fall out if the piece isn’t worn very carefully. In some cases, an online retailer will use natural diamonds, but they are of very poor quality. Watch for accent diamonds graded as an I clarity or below as they could have noticeable dark spots and inclusions that would interfere with their sparkle. 

  3. Be conscious of the size and setting of accent stones. A lot of mountings come pre-set with rows upon rows of machine-set pave diamonds. These pave, or often micro-pave, diamonds are extremely tiny and almost impossible to replace if one comes loose. These diamond chips add almost no value to the piece, but yes, we agree they are very sparkly! 

When you shop for an engagement ring online, you miss out on the most important parts of the jewelry shopping experience! You don’t get to feel the piece in your hand and you don’t get to see the piece in person. A photo on a screen, or even a 360-degree video, are never going to convey how heavy or light a ring mounting will be. It’s also never going to properly convey the true sparkle of a diamond. 

The Diamond: 

  1. Don’t be swayed by the diamond certificates. Some online jewelry retailers like to push that their diamonds come with a GIA, IGI, or EGL report. This is great and proves that the diamonds they sell are registered and ethically sourced! But having a certificate shouldn’t be the deciding factor for purchasing a diamond online. A diamond’s beauty comes from its sparkle and that’s impossible to judge just from looking at the certificate. Can you use a certificate to help narrow down your diamond options? Sure! But in order to get the whole story from the diamond certificate, you need the help of an expert to deduce which parts influence value. 

  2. Not all deals are great when it comes to shopping online for a diamond. Not seeing a stone in person before purchasing can be a guessing game – despite the diamond having a grading certificate! A diamond found online for 20% less than anywhere else might seem like a great deal, but compare the certificate to the diamond itself. Maybe the cut is “fair” instead of excellent, that means the diamond won’t sparkle as much as it should. Maybe the girdle is “very thick”, meaning most of the diamond’s weight is around the middle of the stone, not the top. A stone like this example might weigh over 1.50cts, but due to the “fair” cut and the thick girdle, the stone looks smaller than it actually should. The weight is dispersed down instead of out, making the 1.50ct+ look closer to a 1.00ct. That 20% savings goes out the door, because in reality, you paid a 1.50ct price for a 1.00ct stone!

  3. Try not to buy off of the numbers alone. We’ve had dozens of customers start their engagement shopping by looking through hundreds of articles about what to look for in a diamond. These articles go over the numbers and specific percentages of diamond cutting in order to produce an “excellent” cut stone. These shoppers come ready to shop armed with the idea of finding a diamond with those extremely specific numbers. In reality, these numbers mean very little to the consumer. In many cases, the overconfidence in this research causes them to pay more for things that don’t matter in a diamond. No matter how a diamond’s cut is graded, it’s going to be difficult to see once the diamond is set in a ring! We focus on the diamond’s color and clarity, not the cut.  Why not focus the time and energy on choosing a great combination of color and clarity instead?

We can’t tell you not to buy a diamond engagement ring online, but before you do, take a moment to consider other possibilities. When you shop at a local small business, you’re supporting the livelihood of a dozen of your neighbors and trusting decades of proven experience. We’ve been family owned in the same location for 71 years – we know a thing or two about diamonds! Our jewelry maintains the standard we’ve established since day one. All of our work is done in house so we can ensure quality and safety. If something happens to your ring, we stand behind it. Even if you’re not ready to shop but have a few questions about the process, we’ll be here to help! Stop in and give us a try, we know you won’t be disappointed!

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