-Guest post from diamond industry expert -James Allen Schultz (President of James Allen)
Having been on the front lines of the diamond industry for over 15 years, I’ve heard first-hand the apprehension that often comes with buying an engagement ring online. I am happy to share with The Groom's List readers the hesitations I've heard most often, and why today's grooms-to-be can actually gain more from buying an engagement ring online.
“The idea of buying an engagement ring online makes me uncomfortable because. . .”
1. “. . . it seems like I didn’t put any effort into it – like I just sat on my couch and clicked a few buttons.”
This is one of the most common misunderstandings. Those who have actually gone through the process of purchasing an engagement ring online have seen that it is actually the exact opposite! Choosing the right ring from a website takes a ton of in-depth research. You need to learn all about the 4 Cs, browse through a myriad of diamonds and settings before deciding on the right choice, and research which company to buy from. This takes a lot of work, whereas when you choose to buy from a physical store, you’re basically being handed a few options by a salesperson. When you choose to buy online, you’re driving the process by taking personal responsibility for the research and selection process. Of course, you can have the help of a great customer service team who can walk you through the process. You also have access to a far wider selection, with better knowledge of what you are purchasing.
2. “. . . it seems cheap.”
While it’s true that one of the many advantages of purchasing your bride’s engagement ring online is that you can save up to 50% off prices at physical retail stores, since the online companies don’t have the overhead costs that physical stores do, this by no means signifies that by buying online you are being “cheap.” It probably means you are being smart. If you do your research right and find a good company, you can be savvy in finding the best quality for the best price. Online diamond retailers often make this possible for a wide variety of budgets.
3. “. . . I want to see the ring in person.”
This is perhaps the most common fear I hear, and it is easy to understand why. An engagement ring is one of the most important things you will ever purchase – it is of both symbolic and financial value, and it represents one of the biggest steps you will take in your life. You want to make absolute certain that what you see is what you get. What you don’t realize is that when you look through a jeweler’s loupe at a jewelry store, you aren’t able to see every inclusion, the industry term for a flaw on the facet of the stone. If you choose your online engagement ring retailer wisely, you will be able to see the actual diamond photographed on their website, zoomed in much closer than you would be able to see with a jeweler’s loupe. That way, you can closely examine the cut, color and clarity and know exactly what the diamond looks like. Also, be sure to check the company’s return policy – you should have plenty of time to return or exchange the ring in case your fiancée is not 100% pleased.
4. “. . . I’m not sure that the company is trustworthy.”
Some people are not comfortable buying from a company unless it is a well-known brand name, but this means they could actually be missing out on quality rings from a professional company that is still building a name for itself… with better deals to boot. When choosing to purchase an engagement ring, of course, it is of utmost importance that you feel confident in the company that you are buying from. Thankfully, people on the internet often speak their minds. Be sure to do your research and read customer reviews from a number of different websites. Check out the engagement ring companies’ social media pages to get a sense of customer posts and comments. Another great way is to chat or call their Customer Service and see how the representatives make you feel – Are they friendly? Knowledgeable? Does it seem like they just want to sell you something, or do they genuinely want to help you find the right ring? In addition, any trustworthy retailer will only sell laboratory graded diamonds. They should provide you with either a Gemological Institute of America (GIA), American Gem Society (AGS) or International Gemological Institute (IGI) diamond certificate, assuring the value and quality of your diamond. Make sure you can view a copy of the certificate online before you purchase the ring, and make certain that you will receive the original in the mail along with the ring.
5. “. . . my girlfriend might not perceive it as romantic.”
Another common misconception. There is no reason why choosing an engagement ring online would be less romantic than choosing an engagement ring from a store. In fact, isn't putting the time into self-education, research, and decision-making actually more manly and romantic? Find a company with beautiful packaging and a stylish ring box, and plan a proposal she will love. Trust me – it will make no difference whether the ring was purchased from a store or from the internet. Or maybe it will… if it means reallocating the dollars you’ll save for an even more romantic honeymoon destination. The romance factor is all really up to you.
Good luck – I hope she says yes!
About the Author: James Allen Schultz is the President and Co-Founder of R2Net, the company behind leading online diamond and bridal jewelry retailer James Allen (www.JamesAllen.com). He has been involved in e-commerce and diamonds for 15+ years. In 2006, he co-founded R2Net, where he currently runs James Allen’s 24/7 Customer Service center and collaborates with partners on business development.