The Oversimplification of Diamond Buying and What it Means For the Customer 

 

Between mobile food delivery services like DoorDash, grocery store delivery services like InstaCart and of course two-day Amazon Prime delivery services for anything under the sun, it seems today’s greatest commodity isn’t a commodity at all, but instead, convenience and time. With the immediate gratification that comes with services such as these, it’s no wonder each industry is trying its hand at similar models, including the online diamond industry. 

What was once considered to be a well thought out process, is now marketed using a similar instant gratification and cost reduction models. Hop online, pick out your diamond and bam, you have an engagement ring at a seemingly reduced price. What more could anyone looking to save time and money want? Well, let's start by debunking a few online buying myths.

Unlike a precious metal such as gold that’s set a certain price, diamonds and diamond jewelry aren't a commodity in the traditional sense of the word. The vast education it takes to understand diamond complexities makes it so. Even though it may seem like you’re getting a good quality GIA grade diamond online, 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. 

Diamond Education 2.0

But why the inaccuracy? 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. Check out the bottom of this post to run your own online experiment. 

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. 

As a company, we’ve always believed in the value of in-person shopping, especially as it relates to something as important and meaningful as an engagement ring. Twelve years ago, when La Bijouterie was formed, we made the purposeful decision to open a brick and mortar location, not an online store, because we value the importance of helping customers in person, especially when making one the biggest and most emotionally charged decisions of their lives. It seems as though today’s consumers value the same.

To sum it all up, here are our top five reasons to think twice before purchasing a diamond online.

  1. Lack of Trust- 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. Read more about how online retailers cannot offer a quality guarantee.

  2. Quality - 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. This brings us to our next point.

  3. The Customer Experience- Buying a diamond online means making one of the biggest financial purchases of your life completely blindsided. 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. Check out our Yelp reviews

  4. Cost- 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.

  5. It’s Confusing- Even searching by ideal cut, grade, clarity, carat and cost, will render you a vast amount of conflicting results. How can you then make an educated decision on which diamond is best?

At La Bijouterie, we take a personalized 1:1 in-person appointment approach. We adopted this way of conducting business  over 8 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 uninterrupted appointments. It’s a dedicated time to ask questions and express any concerns you may have.   

When it comes to customer experience, you can rest assured that your satisfaction is our utmost concern and that your happiness is our singular focus. Curious to learn more? Book an appointment today.

At Your Service,

Set F.

Founder, La Bijouterie

Despite A Third Covid Winter, US Retail Sales Are Jumping

 

 

It would have been impossible to predict the ripple effect the Covid-19 virus and global pandemic has had on the retail economy. What the world initially thought would be the demise of brick and mortar businesses, ended up being an opportunity for them to pivot and get to the core of what their consumers were looking for. 

For many consumers, it was a moment of realization-- that when it comes to buying something as personal and monumental as an engagement ring, in-person is always the best option. 

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), "US retail sales rose in September 2021 as consumer fears over the Covid-19 Delta variant redirected spending toward goods rather than services. However, it’s possible September spending could have grown even more if not for the shipping bottleneck at US ports. Overall, the September report is very promising for a strong finish for the year. In September alone, sales increased year on year in all nine of the categories the US Census Bureau monitors. The clothing and accessories segment — which includes jewelry — had the highest growth, up 23%.”

This data tells us that people are choosing to celebrate major life milestones now more than ever. If nothing else, being caught in a pandemic has forced each of us to realize the fragility of life, and why spending it and celebrating with those with love should never be taken for granted.

Even during the height of lockdown, when people were hesitant to see family, we found that our customers still opted to come in person in order to learn about the diamond buying and ring creation process. Our incredible customers still wanted to see and touch and purchase in person. They wanted to get to know our team and build a level of trust. These are the reasons why in-person diamond shopping can never be replaced by a website’s algorithms or AI bots. 

Logistically speaking, a diamond should be inspected top to bottom with a magnifying glass by both the jeweler and the buyer, 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 there is no official face to the brand. No one person's name or livelihood is on the line. A much different scenario for local retailers. 

Last March, Blue Nile, one of the largest online retailers of diamonds, announced  plans to grow its showroom presence from five to 55 locations within the next three years. Others are also dipping their toes back in the showroom waters, according to The International Council of Shopping Centers, as some things just don’t translate well to an online shopping experience.  

As a company, we’ve always believed in the value of in-person shopping, especially as it relates to something as important and meaningful as an engagement ring. Ten years ago, when La Bijouterie was formed, we made the purposeful decision to open a brick and mortar location, not an online store, because we value the importance of helping customers in person, especially when making one the biggest and most emotionally charged decisions of their lives. It seems as though today’s consumers value the same. 

Want to learn more about our thoughts on purchasing a diamond online? Check out our previous blog post, “5 Reasons to Think Twice Before Buying a Diamond Online”.

There is no denying the retail industry is alive and well. At La Bijouterie, our sole purpose is to help couples achieve a milestone moment in their lives any way we can. We believe in quality over quantity, and educating always. Before pulling the trigger on such an important decision, book a no stress 30 minute 1:1 appointment.

At Your Service,

Set F.

Founder, La Bijouterie

GIA: Fake Certificates Accompanied Lab-Grown, Treated Diamonds

 

 

Take our word for it, no one likes a dishonest jeweler more than an honest one. Recently, an article was published stating that a jeweler outside of the US who was known to sell lab-grown and treated diamonds had been charged with selling diamonds that had fake GIA inscriptions.

According to JCKonline, “The inscriptions were linked to GIA grading reports that indicated the accompanying diamonds had higher-quality characteristics than they actually did, '' the publication stated. The accused allegedly “targeted comparatively less-experienced businessmen,” a police inspector told the newspaper.”

But this wasn’t the only recent report of fraudulent certifications. Another Diamond With Fake GIA Inscription Surfaces, this time in Antwerp. According to the article, “During testing, lab graders discovered the diamond had indeed undergone high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) treatment even though the GIA grading report that corresponded with the inscription number made no mention of color treatment. Upon detailed microscopic investigation, graders noticed that even though the stone’s carat weight, cut and final clarity grade (VS1) matched the report, the clarity characteristics, while “quite similar,” did not match up exactly.”

If these findings weren’t unsettling enough, these fake certifications tend to happen mostly with lab-grown diamonds. But what does this mean for potential consumers?

These news articles bring to light some important topics relating to the circulation of fake stones, as well as the legitimacy of the jewler you decide to work with, and the overall integrity of lab grown diamonds.

As with most things nowadays, the internet is used in the beginning stages of the sales cycle, meaning, individuals start their research there. There are many online websites that promise you a great deal and premium quality, but it’s important to do your own research. 

At La Bijouterie, we encourage clients to do online research of their own, and then come to us with questions in order to talk through the pricing, certification process, and guarantees you found online. You may be surprised at what you learn, which brings us to our next point-- finding a jeweler you can trust. 

When it comes to avoiding fake stones, this is where going with a trusted jeweler is imperative. It’s more important than ever to know who you’re working with. But how to find one you ask? We suggest starting with their Yelp and Google reviews. 

Some questions to ask yourself as you’re browsing include are the reviews mostly positive, and does it seem like this company has a lot of repeat clients? Next, check out their social media pages… are they active, do they engage with those commenting? Do they promise a no stress appointment and are geared towards educating? If not, it’s probably best to keep looking. 

Remember, when it comes to online shopping, less expensive doesn’t always point to a good deal. Make sure you do your due diligence and understand your 4 C’s of diamond buying and come to the initial meeting with questions. 

Lastly, when it comes to lab-grown diamonds, here are some things to consider. 

Although their chemical structure is the same as a natural diamond, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) a lab-created diamond cannot be called “real” because it does not come from the Earth and it is not a gemstone. (Source)

In trying to differentiate natural diamonds from the lab grown alternative, the Natural Diamond Council quite truthfully underscores natural diamonds' rarity.

“Natural diamonds are finite and rare. Diamonds are becoming rarer every day because no new significant deposits have been discovered in about 30 years,” it states. However, lab-grown diamonds can be manufactured in potentially unlimited quantities similar to any manufactured product, thus they are not finite and cannot be considered rare.”

To which, the NDC adds, “Natural diamonds obtain their value from their scarcity as a natural, billion-year-old precious gem and have shown over decades to grow in value as they become more rare.”

It’s important to consider Price vs Value. When it comes to value, you can’t put a price on rarity. As basic economics states, once demand goes up, and inventory goes down, price goes up. So where does this leave us, as each claims they are better than the other for different reasons? More importantly, how does one ensure they are not getting taken advantage of? In our optionion, it all comes down to trust and transparency.

At La Bijouterie, our sole purpose is to help couples achieve a milestone moment in their lives any way we can. We believe in integrity, only working with distributions we have a personal relationship with, quality over quantity, and educating always. Before pulling the trigger on such an important decision, book a no stress 30 minute 1:1 appointment.

At Your Service,

Set F.

Founder, La Bijouterie

 

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