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Do’s and Dont’s of Buying Diamonds Online

(ARA) – Holiday season is diamond-buying season, whether you’re looking to get engaged, upgrade your wedding set or just give a gift that will leave her gasping in delight.

More holiday shoppers than ever are eschewing long mall lines in favor of online shopping, and diamond buyers are no exception. Think few people buy diamonds online? Think again: Google “diamond shopping online” and you’ll get about 5 million results, many of them Web sites that specialize in the sale of diamonds. Online jewelry sales in the United States topped $2.45 billion in 2006, a 20 percent increase over the year before, according to data from IDEX Online Research.

“The online market is a natural evolution for diamond shopping,” says Isaac Gottesman, a diamond expert and owner of dimend SCAASI of Chicago, a leading national jeweler whose company entered the e-market in 1997 and now does more than 70 percent of its business online. “In the old days, you went to your local jewelry showroom to look at loose stones and settings. Then large jewelry chains evolved and became mall staples. Next came jewelry sales on television shopping channels. Now jewelry shopping, including diamond buying, has moved online.”

Shopping for diamonds online provides all the advantages of the Internet: huge inventory and selection, competitive prices and exceptional speed and convenience. The pitfalls, however, are just as many: disreputable sellers, questionable products and undereducated buyers. Before you log on to make your diamond purchase this holiday season, consider these do’s and don’ts of online diamond buying:

* Do seek out sites with exceptional customer service standards. “Online shopping can often mean less customer service than you might hope for,” Gottesman says. “But when you’re purchasing something as important as a diamond, you can’t afford to deal with a site that is lacking in customer service.”

Look for sites, like Gottesman’s, that allow you to speak directly to a customer service representative, either by phone or live chat, both during your diamond selection process and after you’ve made your purchase. Buying a diamond is more complex than many other online transactions and you’ll want expert advice and attentive service.

* Don’t overlook the importance of the site’s privacy and security measures. Be sure you fully understand the site’s policies before you buy.  The site should use encryption and security software. When you get to the payment page, be sure the web address includes https.

* Do look for sites that use technology innovations to give you the best overall picture of the diamond you are buying. “A site that offers you just one image and a brief description of a stone isn’t giving you enough information to make an educated purchase,” Gottesman says.

Gottesman’s dimend SCAASI invented a proprietary, patent-pending software system, dubbed “InnerView,” to allow potential buyers to view diamonds and gemstones online in real time. After choosing the diamond they are interested in at, buyers can request an InnerView appointment by phone, e-mail or directly online. Or, if they’re unsure what stone or setting they are looking for, they can request an appointment in which a gemologist helps them decide what they’re looking for in a stone and setting.  

During the InnerView session, a gemologist places a diamond or gemstone under powerful magnification of up to 300 times to show its unique characteristics, including the cut, any inclusions the stone may have and a close-up of the laser inscription correlating to the certification number. The buyer can view these features magnified and also see how they appear to the naked eye. InnerView also makes it possible for the customer to view the diamond or gemstone in different settings

* Don’t assume every Web site will take the diamond back if you’re dissatisfied with it. Be sure you know the site’s return policy before you do business with them. Look for sites with a clear and fair return policy, and find out what, if any, restocking fees are associated with returning an item.

* Do be sure the site takes every precaution to ship swiftly and securely. “The site should only ship through reputable carriers who offer a system for tracking your package,” Gottesman advises. “At dimendSCAASI, your package is insured for its full purchase value. That way, if it is lost, we can recover the value and remake the ring for you.”

* Do look for certification from reputable labs such as GIA and AGS. The certification should detail the characteristics of the diamond.

* Finally, do search the Web for consumer reviews of online jewelers, and visit sites like Citysearch or Yelp to find customer feedback.

Courtesy of ARAcontent