With more variety, affordability and extended customer service hours, buying jewelry online is a convenient and attractive option for an increasing number of couples. With all of the online jewelry stores out there, how do you decide which ones have the best prices, reputation and quality?
What Can You Expect to Find with Online Jewelry Stores?
These days, you can buy anything you want online in the convenience of your own home or on your smart phone. People are turning towards the Internet for their shopping needs for a number of reasons, including:
- Lower prices due to little or no overhead costs (store rental, inventory, paid employees, utilities, insurance, maintenance, etc.). Internet companies bypass much of these expenses, which in turn lower consumer prices.
- Another reason people are opting to buy their jewelry online is the selection is generally greater. Local “bricks and mortar” jewelry stores carry the styles that sell best in their town or city—but it might not be always the designs that every woman really wants. Because these stores have to have diamonds and rings on hand, it gets expensive fast.
- Online jewelry stores can order “on demand” and not have to carry every piece of jewelry at any given time. This means they can have a huge catalog of every style of ring, earring, necklace or bracelet without having to put out money to purchase it all. This can get extremely expensive for any “bricks and mortar” store, making them unable to compete with price and selection.
Different Kinds of Online Jewelry Stores
There are basically three versions of online jewelry stores:
- Existing Chain Stores with an Online Store. Stores like Kaye Jewelers, Zales, Helzberg Jewelers, Tiffany & Co., Jared’s, and many more have both physical stores and online stores. These types of online stores are similar to their bricks and mortar counterparts but may have more selection, Internet-only specials and clearance sections (sale items as well as returned unused merchandise).
- Strictly Online Stores. These types of companies don’t have a showroom but have corporate offices to run the operations and sales. Store examples include Blue Nile or James Allen, and their websites offer customer service (often in forms of instant chat, extended phone or email availability). They offer an interactive experience in such a way to try to best duplicate the in-store experience.
- Bricks and mortar stores with an online presence. Even the small local jewelry stores in your neighborhood see the value of having a website to attract nearby customers. They may be able to offer more custom design work, unique or antique pieces to a local audience—but are often more expensive than the other two types of online jewelry stores.
Choosing Online Jewelry Stores
As with any online purchase, you need to know what to look for when visiting jewelry stores online. They need to have a professional website that is well designed and looks the part. Chances are, if a company has spent a great deal of money on a professional website, they are legitimate and are in the business of selling quality jewelry. When looking at the website, check the terms and conditions, warranty, returns, shipping options and resizing or repair details. Ask friends, family or co-workers about their recommendations and while online reviews can be good when doing research, far too many are paid for and phony these days.
Watch Out for These Types of Online Jewelry Stores
There may be some red flags you can look for on a store’s website that may indicate they are not reputable. However, please note that these things are not always a red flag but generalities to be concerned about:
- Unprofessional website design and usability.
- Blurred photos, spelling errors, poorly worded product descriptions (or no product descriptions)
- No warranty or terms of condition information
- No phone numbers or customer service