A few years ago I noticed a change in my shopping habits: I started browsing and buying mostly online, with brick and mortar shopping reserved for specific items (usually big ticket things like TV’s or expensive jewelry). However, I find lately that I even turn to online sources when looking for things I’d traditionally reserved for the in-store experience.
Among those things are wedding/engagement rings, diamonds, and other jewelry.
Today, as we enter Fall 2017, is safer than ever to purchase online. Shipping policies are customer-centric, and stores like Blue Nile and James Allen are taking increasingly-large bites out of a market that was once strictly reserved for brick and mortar stores. It’s entirely possible to browse, click the buy button, and get engaged a few days later.
Why Would Someone Purchase an Engagement Ring or a Diamond Online (vs. In-Store)?
Ahh- good question! Let’s compare the two mediums:
- The browsing experience is much more relaxed – You will never have a salesperson hanging over your head or attempting to introduce on your browsing. This helps the entire experience feel more relaxed, as you are free to enter, browse, and leave… without ever having to talk to anyone.
- You can view multiple styles at once – Right click, “open new tab”. It’s so easy to compare different styles against each other.
- You don’t ever have to feel price conscious – Many people feel that shopping in a jewelry store makes them apprehensive about price. Salespeople, especially “good” ones, tend to show you multiple options… and most will be above the price range you specify. The same is not true when shopping online, as most stores make it super simple to filter through options (including price).
- You can easily compare stores – Not finding the selection you want at one? No problem, simply move to the next search result. Checking the options available at various online stores is easy (and fast).
Brick & Mortar Stores
- When it Comes to a Diamond, Seeing Really is Believing – It’s one thing to compare specs and cuts, and it’s another thing entirely to see it first hand. Often the brilliance of a diamond isn’t apparent until you see it for yourself.
- You can see, touch, and get hands-on with your desired styles – If a picture is worth 1,000 words, being able to hold a ring in your hand is worth at least 10x that. For many people, being able to hold the ring in their hand helps them understand and appreciate it.
- You have a local connection – While rare, should something go wrong with your ring (such as a diamond falls out of its setting, it chips, etc.), it’s always nice to have a local company you can work with to get your issues resolved.
- Service is more personalized – When you find the right store, and the right sales associate, shopping can be quite easy (and even fun). Face to face sales can make it easy to find new options or try ideas you may not have considered before.
Which is Best?
Of course, there is no answer to this question aside from “it depends”. Ask yourself:
- What’s more important to me: having someone to help me, or being able to shop from home?
- Online stores are often less expensive, but sometimes by not as much as you’d think. How important is receiving the absolute best price?
- How particular are you with respect to style? Often, a local jewelry store is better able to customize a ring to your tastes.
- How important is convenience? If you prefer to do your shopping at 11pm in your underwear, well, online may be your best bet 😉
Comparing Three Online Diamond Stores
So, you’ve decided to shop online. Awesome! To make your life a little easier, I’ve gone and compared three of the most popular online diamond/engagement ring stores in America.
- One of the largest diamond/engagement ring stores in America and Canada.
- Incredible selection across nearly any style you can think of.
- Buy loose diamonds, or have them inserted into a setting.
- Diamonds are conflict free.
When people think of buying a diamond or engagement ring online, one of the first vendors that comes to mind (or appears in a Google search) is Blue Nile. One of the largest online stores around, Blue Nile is a great place to shop.
Perks include free shipping, free returns, and a diamond price guarantee.
- A major online store with a massive presence in Australia, Canada, the UK, and the United States.
- A gigantic selection of both loose diamonds and engagement rings.
- A very visual layout that makes finding new styles, and seeing those styles in high-res, incredibly easy.
- Offering many gemstones in additions to diamonds.
James Allen takes service seriously, offering their customers free shipping (domestic and international), 24/7 customer service, a lifetime warranty, and a 100% money back guarantee. It’s hard to find fault in a company that goes to such lengths to ensure a great transaction.
Their style offering is also excellent, with elegant and eloquent engagement rings (and other jewelry) in all price ranges. Thanks to their 360 HD Superzoom app, you can see the gemstones you’re considering in ultra-high resolution before you buy.
- Choose from tens of thousands of handmade engagement rings and loose diamonds.
- Many sellers are small businesses, so your purchase puts food on someone’s table!
- An incredible selection of styles.
- Looking for something truly bespoke? You can find it on Etsy.
Next to giants like Blue Nile and James Allen, Etsy may seem out of place. After all, isn’t Etsy that place you go when you’re looking for cutesy trinkets or inexpensive art? Well, yes… but Etsy also has a substantial selection of engagement rings that range from inexpensive and chic (like this piece) to extravagant and sublime (like this fantastic number). Yea, you could say that I’m a fan.
Things to remember about Etsy:
- Each seller offers different payment, shipping, and return policies. Make sure you are 100% informed and aware of what they are prior to buying.
- Many times these items are custom made to suit your order, so the lead time is often days or weeks after purchase before they are shipped.
- Read the feedback other buyers have left for the seller. They are verified purchases and will help you know whether or not a particular seller is a good fit for you.