Buying jewelry can be intimidating. Jewelry is one of the most deeply personal ways we show the world who we are. When you buy jewelry to wear, you’re making a statement about yourself. And when you’re shopping for someone else, you’re saying something about the receiver, and your relationship. This can make it really hard to decide what to pick. And if you’re a guy, multiply the degree of difficulty in choosing by ten. Who came up with the genius idea of karats and carats anyway? You were never crazy about the orange kind, never mind the super-expensive ones that might incur your girlfriend’s wrath if you get it wrong.
When you buy jewelry, you want quality, and you definitely don’t want to get ripped off. It’s hard to even know where to begin. Gemstones come in every color of the rainbow, and then there are pearls. Are freshwater pearls the bumpy kind, or is that saltwater, and which one is better? Are ethical diamonds the way to go, or just cheap imitations of the real thing? Then there’s yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, and green gold, not to mention silver, platinum, and all their different karats (or is it carats?).
If you’ve got gaps in your jewelry education, don’t feel bad. Everyone has to start somewhere. But because the prospect of buying jewelry can be incredibly overwhelming, we’ve compiled our top 5 tips on how — and how NOT — to buy jewelry. If you don’t have time to read through it all, just remember this one fact: retail is dead. The best place to buy jewelry is online.
1. Shallow Waters Don’t Run Deep
Most of us have experienced this scenario. You go to a retail shop to buy jewelry, let’s say a pearl bracelet, and they have cases upon cases of bangles, cuffs, chains…and a whopping three choices for pearl bracelets. Retail stores have to guess at what customers might want, so they carry a little bit of everything. They are notorious for having a broad selection but a very shallow inventory.
When you’re in the market for pearls, you don’t care about diamonds or rubies or any other gem.
- Stop wasting your time at stores that barely have any selection of what you’re looking for.
- Go straight to the source of deep inventory: online.
These days, e-tail is where to buy jewelry.
2. Jack of All Trades, Master of None
Another problem with brick-and-mortar shops is the lack of knowledge by the sales staff. Let’s face it, no way is a sales clerk at a little local store going to be an expert at gemstones and pearls and precious metals and craftsmanship. How could they be? When you buy jewelry, you definitely want to deal with someone who knows what they’re talking about, someone whose passion is diamonds or pearls or platinum, not the dude with one eye the clock, waiting for his shift to end.
The solution is simple:
- Work with those who know. These days, the place to find professionals is on the internet.
- When you buy jewelry online, you have direct access to pros with deep knowledge about their area of expertise, be it diamonds, pearls or precious metals.
- Specialists always win, especially in the e-commerce market. It’s no surprise that a McKinsey study has found that online is the best place to buy jewelry.
3. The Great Markup Game
Glitzy retail shops mean overpriced real estate, and businesses are not charities: they’re going to pass the cost along to you. Brick-and-mortar store markups are, simply put, insane. Retail markups are easily five to ten times the base cost, and you wind up paying premium prices for an inferior product. The last thing you want to do when you buy jewelry is overpay for mediocrity.
So, where do you go to buy jewelry that’s fairly valued and priced correctly?
- The internet. When you buy jewelry online, you cut out the middlemen and all the other big overhead costs like rent, avoiding pointless markups and paying only for the quality of the product.
4. The Internet Is Your Oyster
Retail really limits your options. When you buy jewelry in a retail shop, Retail really limits your options. When you buy jewelry in a retail shop, you’re stuck with what’s in the case, you can’t compare prices and you have to shop during their opening hours. Convenience is a huge reason why, according to the Pew Research Center, 80% of Americans shop online.
- E-tailers never close.
- You don’t waste a minute searching for a parking space.
- Another great reason to buy jewelry online is the option to personalize. One interesting finding of both an MVI Marketing survey and a McKinsey study is that there is a significant uptick in people buying high-end items for themselves (rather than as a gift). And today’s consumers are all about showing off their unique personality. It’s much easier to find online businesses that are willing to customize, unlike most retail stores. In short, you want it, e-tail’s got it.
5. What’s in a Name?
A rose is always a rose, but a cheap knock-off is not going to impress your better half. The days when a famous name brand was all that mattered are over. Brands no longer define quality when you buy jewelry, or anything else.
These days, shoppers want what they want and they could care less about whose name is — or isn’t — on the label.
- The best way to find out who makes a quality product is through online reviews. Testimonials have tremendous power for good reason: they’re real responses from real people.
- Consumers have made it clear that when they’re looking to buy jewelry, they don’t care about brands, they just want to deal with someone they trust.
- When you buy jewelry online, be sure to check out ratings and reviews, and only deal with reputable sources.
In you’ve read this far, your jewelry-buying savvy has gone up several notches. In summary, don’t bother with retail. E-tail has what you want at a fair price. If you’re still not sure what exactly you’re looking for, the specialists online can help you figure things out. Happy hunting.
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