If you are out in the market for some loose gems, or a full jewelry set featuring precious stones, you need to make sure that your purchase will be legal and legit. After all, you are making an investment! Imagine getting scammed out of a diamond box’s worth of money! Ouch.
The safest places to buy your jewels would be actual physical stores, preferably those that specialize in gemstones and precious minerals, and preferably in or near your home town. Nothing beats handling the stone in question before you buy it. You can check out all of its characteristics under various lighting conditions and against different back-drops. To learn more about how to assess those things, check out this informative guide.
Stay Safe while Shopping Gems Online
Why is buying gemstones online dangerous?
Simply put, it presents a risk mostly because you are not in direct contact with the seller, and often will have no way to physically locate them at all. In other words, you have no way of figuring out what kind of person exactly is behind the screen, whether they are gemstone experts or even just honest amateurs, and things such as refunds become a veritable nightmare.
Moreover, online trading, especially in relatively valuable commodities such as gemstones, is not really subject to any of the standard legal regulation. Entities like the police department or the FBI have basically no maneuvering space. Of course, you can always raise your concerns with the Better Business Bureau, and you can even do that directly online.
However, it has little effect. The most that you can hope for is that other people will see your feedback and smarten up, but the BBB itself will not be taking any proactive steps against the problematic business entity. If something goes belly up the only thing you can do is post an angry review online and hope nobody else will do business with the offending vendor. By the way, if you need some pointers on how to write a good one, check out this article
What precautions can you take?
So with that big of a pitfall lurking at all times, how can you stay safe on your internet-based gemstone shopping trip? Well for starters, never skimp on your research. Amass all the knowledge you can about anything you want to buy, as well as on any websites that carry that kind of merchandise.
To begin with, invest some time to find reliable literature on gemstones and precious minerals. You will not need an entire encyclopedia on the stuff, but a book or two by reputable experts can go a really long way in helping you avoid the sad fate of being made into a complete fool. You can also utilize credible blogs and geological websites, and even YouTube content, if plain old reading is not really your groove.
Next, take a good long look at the web presence of the seller you might be considering. Try and dig up how long they have been in the business, what their overall reputation is, what their returns policy is like, and whether the gemstone images they post on their pages actually depict the real thing.
Also, do not disregard the stuff that jewelers say about each other! People in the business will typically post scathing criticism full of warning for scammers, and informative, detailed reviews of legitimate enterprises. A good example of this is the full review of bluenile.com that we read the other day.
A website of shady vendors who sell false or low-quality gems typically only lasts a few years. Terrible reviews pile up quickly, they are exposed relatively quickly, and either shut down on their own or are simply abandoned by customers. So, always check out their business history.
The return policy is another major hint. Legitimate and honest businesses will be accurate right down to a gnat’s eyebrow. They will always allow a return of goods, and will properly inform you of refunds, restocking fees, etc.
Finally, do a reverse-search of all their images. Watermarks and reworked stocks are warning signs. The best online stores will post pictures of their actual wares, in an actual in-store setting.