Jeweler’s Bait and Switch – This Billboard Says it All!

Jewelers Bait and Switch – this billboard says it all…

Recently I was on vacation in the Midwest and I almost got into a car accident trying to slow down and take a picture of the billboard that you see here (as it turned out I had to turnaround, but the photograph was oh so worth it!).

You’ll notice that we took out the name of the jeweler, and the city and contact information of the store. We basically did that so that we don’t get sued. Not that we would lose of course, and something like that would be front page news for Jewelers.NYC – ruining the reputation of the jeweler in question. Still we are here to help, not hurt the jewelry trade so we just wanted to use the billboard as an example of a typical bait and switch tactic that is used by some jewelers in order to entice unsuspecting customers into their shop.

This billboard takes advantage of the naïveté of the buyer. You’ll notice the “offer” is for a 1 carat diamond solitaire for $99 a month. We have four questions for this jeweler:

  • What is the color, cut and clarity of the one carat diamond solitaire?
  • What shape is the diamond solitaire?
  • How long does the buyer pay $99 a month?
  • The picture shows the diamond in a setting. What setting comes with the diamond?

Now, one can imagine all sorts of things with these four unanswered questions, each of which could be worth a lot of money to the jeweler. Most interesting of all, that the average person who knows little about diamonds looks at that billboard and think that there going to go to the jewelry store to get a great deal. Here’s how this could play out:

  • The color could be pale yellow (i.e. M color). The cut could be just “fair” and the clarity could be I1  – each about as low as you can go to stay jewelry grade;
  • The shape could be a princess cut – which is about 20-30% less in cost because it maximizes the yield on each rough stone (that is a “low waste” cut);
  • $99 a month could go on for 72 months (or more!) which means the buyer is probably paying an exhorbitant rate or the jeweler is way over charging (or both);
  • The setting would be extra.

Now, assuming that the buyer does not want a bottom of the barrel diamond, and actually wants a setting for the diamond, then that $99 a month number could double, or even triple, quite quickly.

The bottom line is this: when buying a diamond it’s far more than just the size of the stone and the monthly payment that matters. Buying right is far more important than receiving a cheap monthly payment the goes on forever. Particularly if the buyer is paying top of the line prices for a bottom of the line diamond…