There is a question that often comes up when it comes to buying diamonds and diamond jewellery – should you buy it from an online diamond store or from a local brick and mortar shop nearby? There are merits in both – when buying offline, you get the human touch – you get to talk to a salesperson and step by step advice straight from a human, and when buying online, you get to skip all the hassles of travelling to a shop and get the product delivered to your doorstep.
In this article, we will be exploring the differences between the two options, and laying out the pros and cons so that you can best decide which is the best for you.
The Traditional Diamond Business Model
Before the advent of the internet, we only have the traditional business model of diamond jewellery retailing. Miners would sell rough diamonds to diamond polishers. These diamond polishers would buy these rough diamonds directly from the miners and polish the diamonds. Once the diamonds have been polished, they were bought off by wholesalers, which in turn would sell the polished diamonds to local jewellery stores. Traditionally, this business model has worked, but it comes with some major disadvantages to consumers.
There would be extremely expensive overhead with this business model. As miners would require cash up front, meaning diamond polishers would need to borrow money in order to stock a reasonable amount of diamonds for polishing. Similarly, wholesalers and retailers would often also need to open lines of credit in order to sustain the huge costs of stocking a decent amount of diamonds in order to do business. With lines of credit comes interest payments, and these costs are passed down to the consumer.
Not only is there a huge cost of stocking inventory, diamonds and diamond jewellery are often slow-moving products when it comes to a brick and mortar diamond retailer – after all, these products are more often than not a once-in-a-lifetime purchase for many people. As of such, the cost of stocking slow-moving products often accrue, and brick and mortar retailers are forced to increase their profit margin and pass the cost down to the consumer.
There is an advantage of being to look at the diamonds with your own eyes before you purchase it, but is it really worth the huge markup?
Enter the Internet Age
Everything changed when the internet came into play. With the ability to instantly connect and communicate with any computer in the world nearly instantly, a new business model has arisen for the diamond retailing industry. Pioneered by the forerunners of the industry, this new business model allows diamond retailers to overcome the many difficulties that exist in the traditional business model.
In most online diamond and diamond jewellery retailers today, there is no need to keep a huge amount of ready stock. Instead, the online retailer harnesses technology and automation to list the products of all their wholesalers all over the world – resulting in a massive inventory unparallelled by any offline brick and mortar diamond retailer.Wholesalers will provide the retailer with a list of their inventory, and the retailer will in turn list them on their online web store – this is all an automated process, so the customer can view any and all diamonds that are currently available.
At the same time, online diamond retailers take great care to include GIA (Gemological Institute of America) or AGS (American Gem Society) certificates on their website alongside each and every diamond in inventory, ensuring that consumers can instantly verify the grading of each diamond in regards to the all-important 4C’s for diamonds.
Since the diamond moves directly from the supplier to the consumer, with a short stop in between for any jewellery mounting, the listing costs virtually nothing, except for server costs, which are infinitesimally lower than having a real-life storage space. With these lower costs also comes less necessity for lines of credit, resulting in less interest charges. Furthermore, the lack of upfront costs and inventory costs also results in a lower profit margin being sustainable in an online business, which is impossible in a brick and mortar store. All of these savings can be passed on to the consumer, and it is exceedingly normal to find a diamond that is of same quality of that in a physical store but at a much lower price.
Furthermore, with leaps and bounds in imaging technology, good online diamond jewellery retailers nowadays will also include a high quality diamond viewer on their website. This allows the consumer to not only view diamonds and check them for eye cleanliness from 360°, the image quality is so good that you can magnify the image more than possible in a loupe when viewing it physically – entirely negating the advantage of being able to check the diamond in person.
Online diamond retailers are not only able to provide high quality diamonds and diamond jewellery at a much lower cost than their offline counterparts, they are able to hold a massive inventory – giving the consumer much more freedom of choice when searching for the perfect diamond. Coupled with advanced imaging technology, consumers can even have a diamond viewing experience far superior to viewing it in person. Technology has not only allowed online diamond retailers to compete, but to far surpass the offline brick and mortar store. There is virtually no reason to buy a diamond from a brick and mortar store in this day and age, when the smart consumer can benefit more from buying from a reputable online diamond jewellery retailer like James Allen and Blue Nile.