Trust is stumbling block to buying jewels online

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 November, 2011, 12:00am


While you may have valid reasons for buying precious jewellery online, most jewellers don't recommend it for a number of reasons.

Number one is trust. In this age of easy photo editing, the buyer cannot tell if the colour and radiance of the gemstone they see online has been digitally-enhanced.

'Do you want to risk this for an expensive buy?' asks Laura Chow, regional director and vice president - Southeast Asia, Lazare Kaplan International. 'Sure, you can buy online, but I would not advise this with fine jewellery and I don't think people who are in the know do so.'

Since understanding the 4C's of diamonds (colour, cut, clarity and carat) can be complex, you will likely need the help of a knowledgeable salesperson. In addition, a bricks and mortar jewellery boutique can best offer after-service and guarantees.

Only a respected brand like Tiffany & Co, which does sell precious gemstone jewellery online in the United States, is sure to offer these guarantees.

'[The buyers] need to understand [a diamond's] natural inclusions, colour dimensions and variations in cut grade, all of which can impact upon its lustre and sparkle; you cannot really appreciate this without the physical feel and visual examination,' says Chow.

Buying fine, and often expensive jewellery, is not like buying a pair of slippers. 'It is an emotional experience where you need to feel, touch and hold the product in order to truly appreciate the lasting value,' Chow says.

While there certainly are safe sites to buy diamonds online, jewellery industry professionals don't see this as the way of the future. 'If you're still interested in buying online, and I would imagine this is not going to be the case for high-value diamond jewellery, then buy it for fashion; for spontaneous purchase with no regrets, look for the certification, but at your own risk, and understand there is virtually no after-sales service,' Chow says.

Answering this call for affordable, fashionable jewellery you can buy online is the accessories-obsessed team at Glamourpods. Soon-to-be launched, this website vets local jewellery artisans and brings the most unusual under one website to sell their wearable art online.

Recognising the issue of trust, Glamourpods doesn't expect the average consumer to buy precious gemstone jewellery right away. So they have asked the artists who would normally use precious stones to instead make similar jewellery with semi-precious stones. They also offer guarantees, after sales-service and transparency but understand that buying high ticket items online can make people nervous.

Generally the retailers we spoke with thought US$50 to US$200 was a sort of breaking point for buying jewellery online. Above that and the belief is that people will want to see the item, touch it and talk with the retailer before purchasing.

Despite the reticence to buy precious jewellery online, jewellers understand that an online presence is essential to educating consumers.

Forevermark is upping the ante with their diamond try-on site. Now, customers with a webcam can go to Forevermark's website and see what the jewellery from their Millemoi line will look like on them, share images and send them to their friends. Even if you can't afford to own the diamonds, you can imagine what they would look like.

Nancy Liu, president of Forevermark Greater China, explains why the virtual try-on is the way forward for how jewellers present creations on the web.

'Diamonds are a significant purchase and this application makes them more accessible to consumers. Through the virtual try-on not only can they select the pieces that they like, but also spend time familiarising themselves with how diamonds will look on them.