Diamond Shopping During a Pandemic

 

 

From groceries, to everyday supplies, there is no denying that online purchases have saved the day amid this pandemic, and rightfully so. This uptick in online purchasing has recently brought to light the question of whether buying a diamond online is a smart move, and if not, why? We’re here to answer that question and explain why you may want to think twice before adding that diamond to your online cart and book your in person appointment with a trusted retailer instead.

Did you know that diamonds with the same GIA grade can greatly differ in quality and in price? To understand how this is possible, it’s important to first remember that a GIA certificate is still an educated option. Basically these reports have a list of caveats protecting the grading authority from legal action resulting from inaccuracy. 

But why the inaccuracy? Well, we’re glad you asked. The general rule applied to grade intolerance in diamond reports, ie) GIA,  is one grade for both color and clarity. This means that a 1 carat diamond graded as a G SI1, may vary in color from F, (the top end of the grading scale), to an H, the bottom end. 

Similarly, the SI1 clarity rating may vary from VS2 at the top end, to SI2 at the bottom. As you might imagine, this range in a G SI1 diamond can create quite the quality and pricing difference, a 56% price difference to be exact. 

This example demonstrates that two different diamonds, with the same grading, can reflect two very different prices while still being graded with accepted international standards. Without the help of a professional diamond retailer, it’s almost impossible to determine accurate quality and cost. 

Color and clarity tolerance can account for very different levels in price when comparing diamonds in stores or on a website. Color and clarity grading is not exact science, the grading is subjective. The only part of diamond grading that is absolutely objective is diamond weight. 

Now, GIA cut grading is considering the industry standard, with the highest being a triple Excellent cut. This takes into consideration cut or proportion, polish, symmetry and fluorescence.  

Likewise, there is no universal sliding scale that can calculate a diamond's diminished value due to cut and polish differences. 

What about fancy cut diamonds? 

Clarity and color grading are treated the same with fancy shaped diamonds such as pear and heart shaped, as they are with brilliant. The difference is the cut of a fancy shape diamond is more subjective. GIA does not assign cut grades to fancy shaped diamonds because they’re are too many variables to consider. Instead they are inspected to see how pleasing they are to the naked eye. They lose value if they are misshapen, too long, too short, too deep or too shallow. All of which will result in a lack of brilliance. 

Diamonds have value in terms of cash money, and obviously a strictly graded diamond is more valuable than a poorly rated diamond. There is always a reason why one diamond is less expensive than another. More often than not, potential buyers believe the difference in price is due to retail margins, however the most common reason for price inequality is diamond inequality. Be sure you’re asking these important questions to any diamond retailer you work with.

The most important thing to consider is to buy the diamond and the dealer, not just the diamond report. Diamond reports do not assign dollar amounts, they only describe diamond characteristics. Remember, no two diamonds are alike, and strictly graded diamonds provide more value and are worth every extra penny. 

At La Bijouterie, we take a personalized 1:1 in-person appointment approach. We adopted this way of conducting business  over 6 years ago because it allows us to educate the potential buyer and it has proven to be most successful. Now more than ever, customers are seeing the value of dedicated and uninterrupted appointments. It’s a time to ask questions and express any concerns you may have.   

Interested in setting up a Phase I appointment? You can do so here. To learn more about the “Reasons To Think Twice Before Purchasing a Diamond Online,” click here. Want to learn about the 4 C’s of Diamond purchasing, click here. As always, reach out to us with any questions you may have. We love hearing from you! 

~ LB

 

The Rise of Local Connections

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Photo by Lili Popper on Unsplash

It’s an all too common misconception that purchasing a diamond online is cheaper than ordering one through a brick and mortar retailer. This misconception stemmed mostly from the lack of sales tax for online purchases. Did you know that as of December 1, 2018, online retailers began collecting and remitting sales tax for online orders placed by consumers, making the idea of a blind, online purchase, even less appealing. 

The once financial benefit of buying a diamond online has drastically changed. Today more than ever, consumers are looking to have a local connection with a jeweler and build a level of trust before making such a large financial decision. The bond you build during an educational in-person visit is unmatched.

Take Blue Nile for example, a diamond retail company that was born online and built to disrupt the whole diamond/jewelry business. They have now been forced to open five retail stores just to stay relevant.

The idea of wanting human to human interaction isn’t something new. Today, consumers want to be educated and feel like they’re not getting taken advantage of, regardless of the industry. 

When purchasing an engagement ring, they want to physically see the diamond they are purchasing and play an instrumental role in the process of designing it for their significant other. 

The truth is, when it comes to diamond shopping, there’s a lot more to consider than just the listed price on the website.  

For one, you want to ensure you’re being offered a quality guarantee. This means if something is in fact wrong with the diamond you purchased, (say an imperfection you weren’t expecting, or the color is off), you want to know that this can all be taken care of for you. With an online purchase, this type of quality guarantee just doesn’t exist. Buying a diamond with no guarantee could result in you overpaying for a diamond you thought was a great deal. 

A second thing to consider is the Customer Experience.  Buying a diamond online means making one of the biggest financial purchases of your life completely blind. As you might imagine, it takes years to understand and learn how to evaluate a diamond, which is why buying online can be so tricky and unforgiving. Sure you can try to pawn-off a faulty diamond, but you will end up losing hundreds, if not thousands in the process. Do yourself a favor and go with a jeweler that prides themselves on the customer service they offer, and has many repeat customers. 

Purchasing a diamond online means you’re not able to work with an experienced jeweler to come up with a diamond ring, (setting and all), that fits within your budget. It’s a common misconception that a shopping online will get you a better deal. An experienced jeweler can help you prioritize what is most important to you and your significant other, (say diamond size perhaps), and find you the best options given your criteria and budget.

At La Bijouterie, our goal is to find a diamond that makes sense for you by sharing our years of knowledge to help you make the best decision. The in-person shopping experience is here to stay, we are for it. As a matter of fact, we’re huge purveyors of it. 

Curious to learn more about what we offer? Book an appointment today and check out our reviews on Yelp. We’re here to help!

-LB

The Retail Apocalypse: Reality or Fake News?

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Ever since the catastrophic take-off of online e-commerce sites (ahem.. Amazon), brick and mortar stores have been shaking in their blue jeans. Macys, BCBG, and Tommy Hilfiger to name a few have each filed for bankruptcy since 2018, and that’s just the start of it. Even with what seems to be a doom and gloom mentality for most B&M retailers, a major question still remains... how does this shift in purchasing affect retailers where transactions are largely based on trust?

Take for example the jewelry industry, or more specifically, engagement ring jewelers. Often times buying an engagement ring is a one time purchases and more importantly, the first large purchase for a young couple. There is a lot to be educated on when it comes to a diamond purchase (read about the 4 C’s), and a blind purchase without physically touching or seeing the product often times doesn’t work for most couples. You’re not buying a robotic vacuum cleaner or a t-shirt after all. 

Of course you have online sites such as Blue Nile that claim to be a “A modern approach to celebrating life’s most cherished traditions”, but does this so called modern approach work when it comes to buying something so personal, and more so, is the jewelry industry as a whole really hurting due to the e-commerce boom? 

An article from National Jewelers does a great job comparing and contrasting certain statistics around if all brick and mortar stores should be worried. According to the article:

“Research group IHL said more stores had opened than closed this year, counting 8,428 closures and 11,393 openings. U.S. retail sales are on the rise. The retail landscape is changing, but sales are still growing. U.S. retail sales are up 3 percent year-over-year, totaling $82.7 billion through June 2019, according to IHL’s study. The closures are concentrated in the department store and specialty retail segments, said IHL. Within those two segments, the closures have been driven by a handful of companies.

The study found that e-commerce currently represents 19 percent of all retail sales with 10 percent of those sales coming from e-tailers. The remaining 9 percent stems from traditional retailers. Online sales are expected to account for 25 percent of retail by 2021, with physical stores involved in 81 percent of all retail fulfillment. In general, we see company-specific issues (too much debt, over- expansion, poor models) in the companies that are closing stores or are going bankrupt, not a systemic overall retail issue.

This article quickly debunks the myth that retail as a whole will struggle without an online presence and clarifies that it has more to do with a companies business model than actually being solely an e-comm brand.  

Great. But what about the jewelry industry as a whole? Is there an advantage to buying online? I mean, as we all know, shopping online is synonymous with finding the best deal around...right? Actually wrong. Check out the following stats around diamond sales as a while and why buying a diamond online may end up costing you more. 

According to the latest Bain & Company report:

“The global demand for rough diamonds is projected to grow at approximately one to four percent per year through 2030, while supply is projected to grow at a far slower pace, somewhere between zero and one percent. An improved economy and increases in disposable income are driving diamond consumption in America, and China’s long-term demand for diamonds is expected to increase as well. India’s growing middle class represents an additional area for consumer growth, with a rapidly growing demand for diamond bridal jewelry.”

More so, purchasing a diamond online means you’re not able to work with an experienced jeweler to come up with a diamond ring, (setting and all), that fits within your budget. It’s a common misconception that shopping online will get you a better deal. An experienced jeweler can help you prioritize what is most important to you and your significant other, (say diamond size perhaps), and find you the best options given your criteria and budget.

But how will you know that you’re getting a quality product? Well, a diamond should be inspected top to bottom with a magnifying glass so you have a clear understanding of what you’re actually purchasing. An online website has no pressure to offer you a top quality diamond at a reasonable price since you’re not meeting them face to face after all...which brings us to our next point.

Did you know that online diamond stores do not offer any quality guarantee? If something is in fact wrong with the diamond you purchased, (say an imperfection you weren’t expecting, or the color is off), it would result in you overpaying for a diamond you thought was a great deal. The truth is there is a lot to consider outside of the 4Cs that someone who isn’t in the diamond profession would have no way of knowing.

Lastly, buying a diamond online means making one of the biggest financial purchases of your life completely blind. As you might imagine, it takes years to understand and learn how to evaluate a diamond, which is why buying online can be so tricky and unforgiving. Sure you can try to pawn off a faulty diamond, but you will end up losing hundreds, if not thousands in the process. Do yourself a favor and go with a jeweler that prides themselves on the customer service they offer, and has many repeat customers. 

So to wrap this all up in a shiny box, the brick and mortar industry isn’t going anywhere so long as the store has a healthy business model. Second, the brick and mortar jewelry industry is thriving due to how most individuals like to make these big life purchases- educated and with a trustworthy jeweler. Lastly, buying a diamond online could end up costing you more money in the end. What are your thoughts on all of this? We’d love to hear them!  Leave us a comment below or book a no-stress appointment.

~ LB

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