How to Buy Gemstones and Jewelry Online

Almost everything is now accessible by simply clicking “add to cart” during one’s next online purchase. Diamonds are no exception, as more online sellers expand their customer base beyond what their brick and mortar stores can reach.

If you are one of those asking how to buy jewelry online, here is a quick but comprehensive guide to prepare you for that first purchase. Remember, the only difference between buying gems from a physical and an online store is the logistics. Everything else, from planning down to proper research, needs to be done in the same way. After all, gems, particularly diamonds, are not only valuable. They can be great and rather rare investments in this day and age.

Know the 4 Cs in Buying Jewelry

Of the many important tips for buying jewelry online, everything always boils down to knowing the kind of product you are looking for. Budget may be a main predictor, but as with any investment, the best diamonds will always have a hefty price tag attached to them.

Nevertheless, there are quality gemstones that are of standard value but can still fit your budget. The key is knowing if the gemstone passes the fundamental determinants, which are good carat, cut, and clarity. Consider these more like the kind of standards you are willing to abide by, rather than thinking that a lower carat or a different cut would be of a lower standard than the rest.

Go for the Appropriate Carat

A gemstone’s carat determines its weight by using a system of points. The easiest way to translate it into actual weight from a layman’s perspective is that one carat is the equivalent of 200 milligrams.

For those who are new to jewelry jargon, there is another term that is often interchanged with carat. Karat is also used as a measurement, but one that is meant for the purity of gold. Think of karat as the qualification for how pure the gold of the band of the ring you want, with 24-karat being the gold standard. On the other hand, the bigger the diamond gemstone is, the bigger its carat weight will be.

Since carats translate to the weight, this means that heavier diamonds will be pricier. But make no mistake→a bigger carat does not always mean a better buy because the two other Cs will still have to be factored in.

Choosing the Cut

When one talks about the shape of the stone, some people assume that this already refers to the cut of the gemstone. While this is true to an extent, the more accurate definition of a cut involves the degree to which a stone can reflect light.

Technically, shape is the term used when describing the appearance of the diamond. The more common ones are round, pear-shaped, princess, emerald, or heart. However, the cut entails more minute details, such as the symmetry and facets. Certain shapes like the heart can be cut deep or shallow. While this does not change the overall shape, it can affect the reflectiveness of the diamond. The degree varies in that finer cuts will mean greater brilliance, regardless of shape.

Determining the Clarity and Color

Depending on the type of gemstone, clarity, and color grades may become dependent on each other. Colored gemstones highlight color, especially if they are valuable ones like sapphire, emerald, and ruby. In diamonds, however, many would prefer colorless, which would mean it carries the highest price tag. This may be where your budget can have the best flexibility.

Grades of diamonds can range from D being colorless up to Z, which gives a faint yellow color. For those who want a brilliantly cut diamond of a relatively rare shape like a heart, one thing that you may want to dial down on would be the color. To the less discerning eye, the difference between colorless and near-colorless would be almost indistinguishable. Going down the spectrum to the very light yellow, you may find a range that is more suited to your budget without sacrificing the design.

Note that even faint yellow diamonds can still be brilliant, without burning an unnecessary hole in your budget. It can also depend upon your or your partner’s sensitivity to color. Remember, buying diamonds is a matter of taste. Some people have a sensitivity to the color of a diamond; hence, they prefer the highest grade in color. Yet, some are more conscious of the shape and setting, which means that near colorless grades are just as premium to their eyes. In some way, it can also boil down to the taste of the diamond owner.

Clarity follows a different grading, and even colored gemstones can adhere to this particular system. Clarity refers to the inclusions that are seen by the naked eye. VVS means “very, very slightly included,” and it is known to have very minor inclusions that are not visible to the naked eye. This goes down to SI1, which is slightly included, with some inclusions already seen by the naked eye. Finally, there is the range of Included ratings, wherein inclusions can range from very obvious to severely negative, which can all affect the gemstone’s overall lifespan when used over time. Colored gemstones adhere to one of the three different types of Clarity ratings.

Gemstone Enhancements: An Additional for Colored Gemstones

Diamonds are very straightforward in terms of the 4Cs to look for. There are a few additional issues to deal with when it comes to colored gemstones. For starters, the colors of certain gemstones may vary. Rubies have a wide range of colors, from deep bloody red ones to light, with almost pinkish hues. In some practices, rubies are treated using heat so they can achieve a particular red tone.

On the other hand, there are gemstones that already have a brilliant and vivid color even before any treatments are done. These are considered rare and valuable, and may, therefore, be another factor to consider when you are buying a gemstone.

One other factor is the use of synthetic processes to create gemstones. While they are technically naturally-occurring, technology in jewelry-making has evolved to allow for the creation of synthetic gems. Despite the synthetic nature of the stones, some have the same weight and properties. Again, it boils down to a matter of taste and principles in jewelry owning and wearing. It’s best to consult with the jewelry shop of your choice, but make sure that they are also open to which gemstones were manufactured and which were mined.

Where Can I Buy Jewelry Online?

Once you know the basics of looking for the best diamond, the next big question that needs to be answered is the trustworthiness of specific online stores. Unlike physical stores, where one can examine a diamond up close, online stores usually need to demonstrate and prove their trustworthiness and credibility as a gemstone vendor.

This is where comprehensive research will come in. While the design and setting of the ring may be a significant factor in choosing, a lot of diamond hunters realize that a good ring design is a dime a dozen. What you need to focus on is to find a legitimate store that will see your purchase from payment to aftercare.

When asking what is the best online jewelry store, there are a few key aspects to consider. First is the store’s reputation. Often, there are gemstone sellers that already have established name from their brick and mortar days. Usually, the decision to migrate to an online store is to expand their customer base, especially the growing market that prefers to shop online than go to a physical store. If this is the case, try to look for the address and contact details of the online store. This contributes to the legitimacy factor of the brand.

Aftercare and Complaints–Listening to Customers’ Tips

If the store you had in mind does not have a physical presence in your country or city, another way to know if it is safe to buy earrings online would be to see the aftercare service. Many jewelry brands offer aftercare services because diamonds are known to be a lifetime investment.

Some stores will offer comprehensive aftercare, which can involve examining the jewelry to determine the aftercare services to be done. From there, actual cleaning commences, where stores will have their specific ways of caring for the diamonds. Aftercare services are a tell-tale sign of how an online jewelry store is doing, in terms of reputation. If they take care of jewelry from their stores or if they are knowledgeable on how to care for diamonds regardless of origin, that is a store that can be trusted.

In the same way, one should also check out complaints forums, and how many times a store’s name keeps appearing in them. When buying jewelry online vs. in-store, one missing factor is the personal touch of going and examining for yourself the kind of services they may be able to offer. Being online also removes the ability to chat face-to-face with jewelry experts. This makes it harder to truly tell how good they may be in terms of service.

This means that the closest that one can be to having word-of-mouth and personal knowledge is hearing others’ experiences about a store. Some complaints need to outweigh others. For instance, the kind of service that one receives may vary, depending on the attending store assistant or even the mood of the day. However, services and products are the two main factors that you should look into.

Substandard products and unsatisfactory services are red flags when finding yourself a good store. There are ways to file an official complaint, such as involving the Federal Trade Commission, an attorney general, and the Jewelers Vigilance Committee. Yet it’s always better to avoid getting into these situations by being watchful of those red flags and going instead to an online jewelry store with a good background and reputation.

What to Expect When Buying Jewelry Online?

So, is it OK to buy jewelry online? Technically, the experience should be the same, except actually seeing the product before the purchase and the lack of inconvenience in going from store to store to look for the perfect bling. More buyers prefer the online experience, if only for the convenience of it.

Where Do We Buy What?

Online versus in-store purchasing preferences (in %)*

Source: Statista

* based on a survey of 24,471 respondents from 29 countries, 2017

Source: PwC

Online shopping made up 32% of jewelry purchases in 2017

If you follow the tips on how to choose a good online jewelry shop, you will likely have a better experience in buying jewelry online. The key is to devote time to researching. In the same way that there will be an effort in going from store to store to find the perfect ring, you will also have to do some door-to-door actions–though in this case, it will be more like browsing through different stores to see their reputation as sellers.

It also pays to know more about diamonds, so you know what to choose when presented with a lot of options. In some cases, some jewelry stores may present you with options that will be different from what you anticipated. For instance, if you were going for lower clarity for a bigger carat, you may be presented with a lower carat, but a rare shape or better cut. Knowing what is more important to you as the owner of the ring will help, especially if you cannot see the ring upfront.

Is there a Difference When You Buy Jewelry Online?

Yes, if only to save on some fine print fees. In physical stores, the shop owner will need to pay fees for the general upkeep, as well as the labor of manning the store online. There are also a number of insurance premiums they will need to pull up to function on regular operations.

Online shops, while also adhering to certain fine print details, will have a more cost-effective way of setting this up. An online store is not as hard to manage, with more of the issues and threats manageable online. Once you know how to buy jewelry online, the biggest hurdle would be ensuring that the jewelry shop you choose is one that has a good reputation altogether.

In some cases, the benefits even outweigh the cons because the prices of online jewelry may be less expensive. Without the necessary campaign and overhead of a physical store, online jewelry stores can operate by providing more affordable prices without sacrificing their offerings.

The next time you think of getting a grand reward for yourself or your loved one, you can now focus on the convenience of being able to do so from the comforts of your own home. Shopping even for something as valuable as diamonds and gemstones has never been this easy.