Buying diamonds online – The Why and How
There are certain risks you are taking by buying diamonds online - some are obvious and some not. In order to fully understand the risks involved and how you can easily overcome them, we need to first understand the reasons that brought us to buying diamonds online to begin with:
Why Buy Diamonds Online?
HUGE Diamonds Selection -
When coming to a store in order to examine a diamond for an engagement ring, you are usually limited to the supply that there is in the store. As big as the store may be, it will not have thousands of options to show you as some of the websites have. The advantage is obvious - there is a diamond for every craving and every budget. Some people want to buy a half a carat diamond but budget enables them to buy 0.45ct and some have their mind set on exactly G color and SI1 clarity because it is what their friend recommended. Whatever the reason is, usually, only online stores have the selection to support it.
This matter is even more obvious when it comes to colored diamonds!
Colored diamonds are rare. The selected few dealers and stores that have them on display will have only few diamonds and usually only yellows.
I have yet to encounter a store that has 50 colored diamonds on display not to mention 500. Add the fact that colored diamonds are very unique, no two alike, and it is almost a must to buy them online.
Endless Jewelry Designs -
When you buy a loose diamond you can mount it wherever you want however you want. Maybe one jeweler has beautiful designs but poor selection of diamonds… Maybe one has the diamond but not the design… and maybe, you want a design you made on your own? By detaching the need to buy the diamond and the ring at the same place you are expanding your options.
Sit on the couch in your home and quietly select a diamond out of 10 different stores using a click of a mouse. No annoying salesman and no time pressure - just you and the diamonds.
Yes safe. Even though this article speaks about the risks involved in buying diamonds online, the fact is that if you go by the guidelines mentioned here below then buying a diamond online might just be a lot safer than buying in a physical store.
More information and better view -
This might surprise a lot of you – how can it be? How can I have a better view of the diamond without physically seeing it? Well… it is simple.
When seeing the diamond in the store you most likely see it already mounted in a diamond ring (or any other piece of jewelry). It is impossible to get a clear view of a diamond when mounted.
Also, when looking and examining the diamond in the store the best case will be a microscope or a loupe (usually neither). Now don't get me wrong, even GIA gemologist’s grade diamonds using x10 loupe. However, with today's technology, it is possible to see amazing photos of diamonds magnified hundred times over enabling you to see any minor flaw. Also, if you take for example us in NaturallyColored.com, we offer 360 degrees Full HD videos of the diamonds.
Last but not Least…
Best Diamond Prices -
You won't believe the amount of brokers and mediators that diamonds go from the stage they leave the earth to the point they reach the beautiful diamond ring you see in the store. By buying online, it is not just that the store is "saving" money on sellers and rental space, it is even better – you can buy directly from a diamond manufacturer. Buy from where the stores get their diamonds. In fact, you can even buy them two/three steps before the store.
Safety tips when buying diamonds online
Now that we've established all of the reasons on why you should buy diamonds online let's discuss the cons or more accurate the con… Is it safe to buy a diamond online?
The answer is very simple - Yes and No.
If you take the basic safety measures then you should be safe (just like in the stores). Otherwise, your shopping experience will be subjected to luck.
Learn the Basics -
Buying a diamond is far from being simple. For most, it is a delicate subject which involves lots of emotions and a great deal of money. While most people think that the diamond industry is very simple and all you need to know are the four C's, the fact is that it is a very complex one with hundreds of sub niches. Since minor changes in these small gems mean significant changes in pricing, we highly recommend learning the basics, the diamond language. The best place to start is the above mentioned diamond 4 C's but from there we recommend using our other diamond buying guides (especially if you are looking for a colored diamond).
Once you get through those you will be able to understand what the sellers are talking about (whether online or offline) and more importantly you'll know what to watch out from.
Only buy certificated diamonds! -
This statement cannot be repeated too many times. Only buy diamonds with a gemological certificate. This is so important that certificate should be included in the 5th C (Carat, Color, Clarity, Cut and… Certificate).
For those of you who are not familiar with gemological certificates, it is a certificate that is issued by an objective gemological institute and states all of the attributes of the diamond including: carat, color, clarity, cut and many more. Buying a diamond without a certificate is like buying a cat in a bag. And if you followed our recommendation above and educated yourself, you'd also be able to understand the meaning of each attribute that is mentioned in the certificate. Hint - they are all important. Please note that the certificate belongs to the diamond. Meaning that when buying the diamond you should make sure you get the original certificate with it.
We at Naturally Colored rather take it one step further - buy diamonds only with GIA certificates. The GIA (Gemological Institute of America) is the most respected institute in the world. They are very strict and consistent and therefore a GIA certified diamond will always cost more than an equivalent EGL certified diamond (for more info read our article about the GIA VS EGL certificates). The importance is by far higher when it comes to natural colored diamonds in which a slight change in color description means A LOT of money.
If you need assistance in understanding the certificate, I highly recommend going through our online guide – understanding the GIA certificate.
Make sure you see the picture of the actual diamond -
Most companies that show their stock online use sample photos when displaying the diamond. This is well understood especially when displaying thousands of diamonds. However, even if you buy a diamond with a certificate that states all of its attributes, I must highly recommend asking for the picture of the actual diamond.
Buy from registered diamond dealers and manufacturers -
Buying online you can't really know who operates the website. Even the best looking website can be a honey trap and be operated by credit card thieves (known as phishing) or even simply a low quality dealer that has poor service and goods. This might seem to a hard thing to check but the fact is that it is one of the simplest! Today all of the information you need is at the tips of your hands.
Google the company. Ask them for certifications – Are they members of the diamond exchange, if they are dealing in colored diamonds then are they registered in the NCDIA (Natural Colored Diamonds Association). The diamond industry is highly regulated therefore this information is easy to be verified.
There is an additional advantage to buying diamonds from registered dealers and it is avoiding from conflict diamonds (blood diamonds). As diamond manufacturers we sign and guarantee that we avoid in all ways from conflict diamonds and that we only buy the diamonds from legit sources. As I mentioned on top, we are under extremely strict supervision and every polished diamond or rough that is imported is checked and verified with customs.
Check for secured payment options -
Make sure that your data, your credit information, is well secured. Is the company clears the credit cards on their own website then note on top that during the payment process you are in HTTPS URL (secured and encrypted unlike regular http).
Also look for safety seals like VeriSign or Symantec SSL and check on their site that the merchant is truly registered.
We for example use PayPal's credit card clearing terminal which is highly secured and at no stage are the credit details in our hands.
Pay with PayPal if possible -
PayPal is not only the easy way to pay but from our experience also quite secure. Besides the fact that for PayPal to qualify you as a merchant you must go through a verification process. As a customer, if there is a problem with the diamond you bought – whether you didn't receive it or got a defected or wrong product, PayPal allows you to file a claim. When you do so, PayPal immediately extract s the amount in dispute for the product from the merchant and puts it aside. Basically, they act as trustees and mediators. But as insurance goes, this service costs money. It is true that PayPal does not charge customers money for using their service but they do charge an average of three percent from the merchant – 3% you probably would have gotten if paid via money transfer.
A note of advice when making PayPal payments – In most cases, PayPal payments are supported up to $10,000. If you want to use PayPal to buy a diamond online for more than 10k, do not split the payments. If you buy a $12,000 diamond and want to pay the merchant via PayPal by making two payments – one of 10k and another of 2k then you will be insured by PayPal only on the latter.
Watch for hidden costs -
Make sure that the price includes everything. No additional handling fee, no additional fee for the certificate, no shipping fee (which is costly when it comes to diamonds). Also make sure that the shipping fee (if exists) is for a FULLY INSURED shipping. It is not something to play with – don't ship diamonds without insurance.
Check the Return policy -
Most companies provide 14 days money back guarantee no questions asked. As far as I know, it is even the law when it comes to online purchases. However… there is a catch! You bought a diamond online and you now want to return it… How do you do that? Does FedEx ship diamonds? Does UPS? Are they willing to insure it? How much does it cost to send it back (or maybe it is included)?
So, Where is the best place to buy diamonds online?
At this point it is very easy!
Start with Google. Then, after going through our check list on top, every company that passes the test will be a great place to start. All you have to do now is to choose your diamond!