When Michael Dell set up shop to sell custom computers to the masses, his tech friends said it couldn’t be done. With the myriad of options around hardware and software, there were literally millions of combinations that a customer could select. How could one man (literally!) deliver custom computers to the masses with that many combinations? Dell was not put off, because he knew something very few stock analysts and even fewer of his old school competitors (if there was such a thing as “old school” in the high tech boom of 1990s) knew. While the potential combinations were endless, in actuality there were only a few options that 99% of the buyers wanted, and these options were super-easy to swap in and out as long as he used modular components.
Dell took what appeared to be a complex process and broke it down to “mass customization.” While he was at it, he took out a tremendous amount of overhead and sold these ‘highly customized” machines for less than the standard units sold in stores such as Service Merchandise, Circuit City, and others that carried big inventory and even bigger staff and rent costs! Even today, Dell computers are known throughout the world, not for their lower price, but for the quality that comes with the name Dell.
Dell did not have expensive stores, an army of sales people or months of inventory that he had to pay for. He could (and did) put his assembly shop in the least expensive location he could find (Texas) and shipped from there (mail is mail). Unless a customer was putting in a very esoteric system, they found Dell’s level of customization perfect for their needs and far better than they could ever get off the shelves of an electronics store.
Online diamond dealers share a lot of similarities with Dell. First, they provide mass customization. You pick the shape, color, cut clarity, carat weight, and setting and you’re done. Next, online diamond dealers don’t have nearly the overhead of a brick and mortar chain such as Kay Jewelers or Zales. No prime real estate to rent, no army of expensive salespeople to pay, and no expensive inventory that needs to be stocked across all those stores worldwide. Finally, with tens of thousands of customers a year, online stores often provide a better product than smaller stores with limited diamonds and even more limited settings.
The answer is that it is often far safer to buy a diamond online than in a brick and mortar store, if you follow the Quality In/Quality Out principal described in the last chapter. Here’s why:
“Joe Friday” from the TV Series Dragnet (1949) used to have a saying when interviewing witnesses. The witnesses were often caught up in the drama of the moment and they might get something in their head that lead to biased responses and false conclusions, fueled by a “a feeling,” rather than cold hard facts. When they would start down that path, Joe would stop them and say “ Just the facts ma’am, just the facts…”
We can learn a lot from Joe Friday. According to Psychology Today, just about everything we buy is based on emotion rather than logic. Your car looks cool; your suit looks powerful, even your Nike running shoes look, well fast! The problem is that emotion is absolutely wonderful in matters of love, but absolutely horrible in matters of business. Unfortunately a diamond is at the crossroads of both, and, as a buyer, that is a very vulnerable place to be.
Let’s say you’re a savvy shopper with little knowledge of diamonds, but you’re smart enough to pick up, Buying a Diamond Online is Easy. In 35 minutes you learn more about diamonds that most buyers walking into a diamond store, waiting to be told what to buy, will ever know. As an educated consumer, you can now easily choose everything from the 4Cs of your diamond to the diamond lab grading that diamond, online; all online with no pressure or spin. At the same time, you also know what makes a diamond pretty (Chapter 5) so you’re confident that the final product is what you want. Importantly, if it turns out not to be what you want, you’ve read our latest Online Diamond Store Review (jewelers.nyc/online-diamond-store-review) and fully understand what the online store’s return policy is. In short, you’ve taken a process that is very emotional and turned it into one that is “just about the facts.”
Let’s say you’re the other guy. You don’t want to commit 35 minutes to research; instead you want to be guided. Many jewelers will do a fine job with this, but some will poo poo the fundamentals, because the jeweler is “somehow smarter” (bashing diamond grading labs is the most common complaint we hear). They then use nonsense terms to highlight ordinary attributes to guide you to a buying decision. In the end you’ll have a diamond, you’ll be emotionally invested in it so it’s unlikely you will return it, but it is the diamond the slick jeweler wanted to sell you rather than the one you should have bought using “just the facts…”
Of course not . . .
Online diamonds are not the “leftovers that brick and mortar store jewelers didn’t want.” Every year over $100 billion worth of diamonds are sold in the US alone! Among the $100 billion there are nearly perfect diamonds and there are very bad diamonds, with most falling somewhere in between. There is no distinction between online and brick and mortar diamonds.
The same can be said of both a jewelry store and of an online diamond dealer. Aside from the price, a diamond that is say VS2 clarity, Very Good cut, G color and 1 carat weight, graded by GIA will be about the same quality whether you buy it “online or on foot.”
GIA, the world’s most reputable diamond grading lab, does not have a special “online only” grade that is somehow inferior to a brick and mortar store rating.
We’ve just spent this entire chapter explaining why you should buy (or at least consider buying) a diamond online, but there is one exception; however, it does not apply to most mere mortals. If you’re buying what we call Dynasty Diamonds, then by all means seek out a true expert.
Dynasty Diamonds get their name from the TV show, Dynasty, from 1981. The show featured Billionaire Blake Carrington and the love of his life Crystal Carrington. Blake showered his wife with rare gifts from around the world (and she in turn said “oh Blake, you shouldn’t have!”) including necklaces, bracelets and rings worth tens of millions of dollars.
Dynasty Diamonds are those that you would see around the neck of Donald Trump’s wife, on Kim Kardashian’s finger or on display at the Smithsonian. Dynasty Diamonds can’t be insured through an ordinary insurance company, nor can they be acquired at jewelry stores – they are auction only. These diamonds are truly one of a kind works of art that the owner can’t wear in public for fear of being robbed. If you want a Dynasty Diamond, let us know. We know experts in Jewelers Row in NYC that can help. For the other 99.9999% of us, keep reading, we’ll cover off the rest of what you need to know in the chapters head.