/Buying Diamonds Online vs. In Store

Buying Diamonds Online vs. In Store

This is Part 1 of a three part series. Make sure you read:

Part 2: Buying Diamonds at Chain Stores vs. Independents


Part 3: Buying an Engagement Ring Online vs. In-Store (For Real this Time)

I really enjoyed this post on Money Under 30. It’s older, so the online diamond dealing arena has some new players, but most of the information is still relevant. He also does a great job covering the basics of the 4 C’s (except for when he says carat = size, but a commenter corrected him and on his dedicated “Diamond Buying School” mini-site he correctly describes it as weight, so I’ll let it slide.)

Cushion cut double halo

The post – and its accompanying mini-site is a little heavy handed on the preferred jewelers being the best option, so its hard to tell if preferred is a euphemism for sponsor. But, this is the nature of the blogosphere now and at least this sponsored content (if it is) is very useful, if not the most clearly disclosed. And I’ll never hate on someone for playing favorites with a jeweler.

He also correctly identifies the MOST IMPORTANT QUALITIES any online jeweler should have – a strong reputation, insured shipping, and a no questions asked return policy – though those would be my requirement for any jeweler.

The tidbit about online diamonds costing 50% less only links to an external retail site I’m not familiar with, so I’m not sure what that price differential is based on. But you already know to be careful when playing that game (and for the love of all that is good check for fluorescence and clarity enhancement on the listings.)

But I do like his general how-to tips, they’re the same I won’t stop jabbering about. And I especially liked that he ended his guide with the “buying” step because it seems that grooms have a growing issue with that nowadays.

The only thing that stands out to me is that his recommendation to buy online is based on his experience purchasing in-store. But not just any store – a chain store. A mall jeweler. A big box.



You can’t conflate mass markup mass retailers with shopping at every brick and mortar jeweler. You super can’t do that and then try to compare it to online engagement ring retailers. It’s not even apples and oranges. It’s apples and chicken fingers.

Buying online from somewhere with no inventory is going to save you a ton over shopping at a store that holds approximately 30,000 (rough estimate) 60 point diamonds that look like dirty glass. Shopping “custom” (or even highly customizable) online is going to save you big bucks over paying for a licensed name from whoever the moonlighting jewelry designer du jour is. And, as the author of the post found out, just because you saw it before you bought it, you shouldn’t take that as peace of mind. And just because you think the “jeweler” would stand by “their” product doesn’t mean they will.

This poor guy got the classic treatment you can expect from a big box store. Once they’ve closed your sale, it’s not their problem anymore, unless a warranty explicitly states it. His wife lost a diamond on her ring, and when they went back to have it fixed, the store’s response was “oh yeah, that happens with that setting.” No offer to repair it, let alone free of charge, and straight up told him they wouldn’t perform an e-a-s-y as pie modification on the setting so his fiance would love her ring even more.

Are you kidding? We’ve had brides come in to RLJ years after they’ve been wearing their micropave rings for years with missing diamonds, and their dedicated salesperson will bend over backwards to get it fixed on the spot. For free. Our founder/president/the big guy in charge has personally helped brides who come in crying that their ring is ruined. And we wouldn’t dream of rubbing it in by telling them “yeah, that does happen.” Even though it does and micropave is notorious for coming loose over the years.

But that’s something we tell our grooms when they first lay eyes on those gorgeous, glittering settings. And it’s something that we reassure them won’t be a big deal because we offer complimentary diamond checks and cleaning whenever his wife wants to stop by. It’s why we offer our own warranty on top of our designers’. It’s why we want our customers to come back and ask for our help at the first sign of a tiny flaw in their ring. We want them waving it around, proudly (and freshly cleaned) and announcing “He went to RLJ”…never that other store.

Helpfully, many of the commenters on the post were quick to voice their shared opinion – that you can’t compare in-store shopping at an independent (or local) with a big box store, and declare online shopping to beat both. But I’m cutting myself off and will be back with more tomorrow before I hit 1000 words.

I'm the marketing director for Raymond Lee Jewelers, the voice behind Designers & Diamonds, and the crazy woman obsessively live Tweeting the lack of jewelry coverage at red carpet events.