Buying a Diamond Online – Positives and Negatives [Exposé Series]

Book Cover 2D - Small In our book, Buying A Diamond Online is Easy (available on, we spend time discussing both the reasons for buying online and reasons for buying the old fashioned way.

Most people think there is only one reason to buy a diamond online – price. This is a natural mistake because buying a diamond online saves the buyer about 40%, on average, over a typical retail store such as Zales or Kay Jewelers – and even more over high-end brand stores such as Tiffany. While price is a major reason for buying a diamond online, it is not the only factor. In fact there are at least six reasons why buying a diamond online makes more sense than buying a diamond on foot. Not surprisingly, there are also almost as many reasons why one should consider buying from a brick and mortar store. To determine which is right for you, scan list and see what is relevant.

Good Reasons for Buying a Diamond Online

Price – Online diamond stores have very little overhead. No store rental costs, salaried sales people or “in store inventory” (multiplied by nearly a thousand stores at a retailer like Kay/Zales!).

Selection- The top online diamond stores (see our Online Diamond Store Review to see the “Group of Five”) have dozens of diamonds that return our test diamond criteria. This means that, as a consumer, you have choice.

No sales hype- Walk into the average retail jewelry store and you will be confronted with representatives who are trained well to sell diamonds. Sometimes they are helpful and sometimes they are high pressure. In either case if, three seconds after walking into the store you hear “how can I help you today,” you know the opening gambit has begun. We just want to shop by ourselves for a while!

Time to think- A good salesperson is trained to create urgency. “I know you like this one, do you want to take it home today?!?” “You arrived at the perfect time, someone else was looking at this magnificent piece a few minutes ago, they went out for coffee to think about it!!!” You get our point.

Jeweler is a known entity- There are three types of brick and mortar store diamond buyers in the world:

  • The first is a buyer who just “has a good feeling” about the jeweler,
  • The second is someone who “knows a guy,” and
  • The third is someone who does research and seeks independent reviews from the masses to ascertain the quality of the jeweler. A jeweler on our site that has multiple four and five star reviews from independent customers would fit this category.

Clearly the best choice is to go with the diamond store that has many independent four and five star reviews. Next is the referral a last is the “walk in.”

Interestingly, our research shows that most diamond buyers are walk-ins, and “trust their gut,” about service, price and quality. This is akin to walking into a used car dealership and announcing, “I know nothing about cars, but I have $5000, how much car can I buy?”

Buying a diamond online solves all three problems of price, quality and service. First, you can easily cost compare across all the different online diamond stores. Our test diamond showed dramatic differences in price amongst the online stores and even more so when compared with brick and mortar retail. Next, online stores have independent ratings both on our site and importantly from entities such as the Better Business Bureau. Lastly, service is standardized and return policies are published so you already know what you’re going to get.

You can read the diamond certificate before you buy – Three years ago I bought a diamond for my wife in the famous Diamond District of NYC. This is the one place that, in certain circumstances, gives online stores a run for their money in terms of price. But, and this is a big but, you need to know exactly what you’re doing. When I found the diamond of my wife’s dreams, I asked to see the diamond certificate. The jeweler looked at me kind of funny and said “sure, you’ll get it after the sale.”

That was an interesting technique – he was using the certificate as a sort of post sale receipt, while I wanted to read it to learn what I didn’t know. He grudgingly let me see it, but only after I had committed to buy once I confirmed that what he told me was true.

Online stores put it right there next to the diamond under consideration. A diamond certificate discloses the four C’s, plus additional information on proportions, clarity composition, luminescence, etc. Given that a diamond certificate is an important part of the overall diamond buying process, this swings the pendulum deep into online store territory.

Good Reasons for Buying a Diamond On Foot

Handholding – If you don’t have any idea what you’re doing, there will be many people who will be glad to help out. Many will be very good, and some not so much. If you have a rock solid referral and are less concerned about money and more concerned about ease, then this is the way to go. A good jeweler will hold your hand every step of the way.

Ambiance – Would you rather take your significant other online to Blue Nile or on foot into Tiffany to select her diamond ring? There is a significant amount of ambiance value that is part of the overall memory. If you are shopping together and you plunk down 10 grand on your credit card and say, honey, let’s do this right now! She will never forget it. Alternatively, plunking down 6k online and spending the other 4k has its benefits too, but if money is not a primary consideration, by all means go to Fifth Avenue in NYC.

Heavy Q and A – Let’s say you are they type of person who likes to ask a lot of questions, and those questions lead to more questions, etc. While this is theoretically possible using the online diamond site’s chat feature, in reality your fingers wll get tired and there are not enough hours in the day for you to sit and pepper the person on the other end with Q and A.

“The show” for your partner- There is a little showmanship in all of us and if you’re buying a diamond for someone else, you may want a jeweler to pay a little extra attention, or say a few kind words. “Hello Mr. Jones, it’s so nice to see you again. How does your mother like the broach you bought her for mothers day!?!”

Her: “known by his name by a fine jeweler, check; frequent shopper of fine jewelry, check; buys his mother nice jewelry, check!”

If you’re thinking about buying a diamond online, we recommend that you read our Online Diamond Store Reviews. We believe this is the finest work done to date comparing the attributes of the best online stores in the world. If you decide to go on foot, please go to our home page and review the diamond dealers on our list. We then ask that you kindly leave a review about your experience with the jeweler, good or bad.