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Virtual Diamond Inventories


f0rbidden
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I've done a search on the find online vendor for my EC diamond and find at times as many as 7 vendors with the same diamond available at different prices - clearly these are virtual inventory..so my question is, how do I find a vendor either b&m or online - who has inventory in house?

 

I moved to CT from Atlanta about 6 months ago, and i'm actually shocked at the lack of jewelers in the area - after all, CT supposed to be so 'rich' you would think there would be more stores selling what is generally considered to be luxury items!

 

I want to be able to go into stores and look at EC's and get a feel for what I 'm looking for so I can shop smart, but that seems to be really difficult. This weekend, I am heading to NYC to a store to see a few stones, but I don't know that any of them have depth/table % numbers that will be flattering to the cut, we'll see!

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Hi Forbidden,

I am a vocal critic of "virtual" diamonds.

For one thing, as you've realized, you got 18 guys all trying to sell a diamond, none of them has seen.

 

In fact, the best looking diamonds are NOT listed- simply becasue the best stones are sold to people who sell them directly- NOT allowing 18guys to try and sell them blind.

SO- the "virual" diamonds are, in many cases, the ones no one else wants. There's no photos and the sellers have not seen them, so it would be easier to sell undesirable or unnattactive stones.

Of course the "virual" stoines are not all unnattractive, but it's a possibility.

 

 

If you do a little searching around the web you'll find sellers that carry inventory, and have it photographed so you can get an idea of how it looks.

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Good points David.

 

It is a little known fact that indeed these virtual lists are largely made up of the diamonds rejected by knowledgeable diamond buying experts in the industry.

 

And yet, diamond novices (consumers) think they can buy diamonds sight unseen based on a couple numbers or measurements and somehow find a choice diamond that was 'mistakenly' missed by the experts that actually looked at the diamonds previously and rejected them.

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I do know some. I've been looking on their websites and seeing who has what I'm looking for - and emailing some with questions - It's important to me (as with most people) that the communication level is there and that I feel comfortable talking/emailing whatever with them.

 

Thanks for all of your help! It's appreciated!

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The diamond I purchased came from a virtual inventory. But the online dealer I purchased from was top rate. He called the person who owned the diamond and had them physically describe the diamond. Then he had it shipped to him. After he personally verified that the diamond was as stated, then he mounted it and charged me for it. After I received the engagement ring, I went to the B & M store that my family buys from and he checked out the diamond (still under 30 day money back policy). The B & M store said that he believed they sold it for 8 % over cost and there was no way that he could have sold it for that amount with his overhead. So my opinion is that virtual inventories are OK as long as your online dealer does what he did for me. Physically inspects the stone before mounting it and charging you for it.

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Purple, it's great you got a stone you love- but the problems of buying sight unseen remain.

"Virtual" sellers have to go thru the rigamarole of "having a stone sent in". In many cases, this puts undue pressure on the buyer- they feel obligated.

This situation can be avoided if the seller already posses the diamond.

 

Since there is no hard "cost" which is established for any particualr diamond, speculating on the profit margin us quite arbitrary ( not based in fact, rather based on opinions)

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I disagree with much of what the other vendors have noted here for a couple of reasons.

 

First, stones listed on virtual lists are not all rejects from other vendors. In fact, there are many excellent cut stones that can be found on virtual lists. They are often intermixed with stones of varying cut quality, but if enough details are provided and you have a decent sense of good proportions vs. bad proportions it really isn't too difficult to weed out poorly cut stones from potentially well cut stones. As a general sense, you often do get what you pay for. Poorly cut or deep stones are often priced less per carat than better cut stones of the same size, color and clarity.

 

We prefer to call them 'sourced' diamonds as we source them directly from manufactures and inspect them in-house.

 

Below is the IdealScope image of a gorgeous, well cut 0.90 G VS1 that we called in from a virtual list a few days ago. This diamond has excellent light return and offers an excellent value.

 

Some vendors will gladly call in stones for review, analysis and images. All you have to do is ask to see who will and who will not provide additional information. As we are in NY and have immediate access to all the stones we list, we can generally do this the same day and often within a few hours for no additional cost. So, to say or imply that all virtual list stones are drop shipped is simply FALSE. Some of these statements may be true when applied to vendors who are outside of major trading areas and are forced to incur substantial shipping and insurance charges.

 

Furthermore, if a customer, who knows nothing about diamonds, asks me about a stone and that stone is a round brilliant with 66% depth I not only take the time to explain to them that it is not a stone I would recommend, I also take the time to explain why and then I offer alternative options that are within the same price range. My ultimate goal is to get them a better looking stone with a similar spread for the same value. This is often very simple since poorly cut 1.1 to 1.2 stones often have the same diameter as better cut 1 ct stones. Higher carat weight really means very little if it doesn't translate to a noticeable difference in size and totally lacks in sparkle.

 

The advantage of shopping on virtual lists is that you get a much larger selection of stones to choose from, you can price compare and you can select the vendor that you are most comfortable with. Keep in mind though that there is some added value in information. You might be willing to pay just a little more from a vendor who is willing to take the time to call in a stone and provide you images and additional information to help you make an informed and confident decision.

post-2-1141157781.jpg

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I have to side with Megan on this one.. It's simply not possible to stock all the stones your customers could possibly want.. We have a large vault with a large assortment of loose stones, but we still work with a lot of vendors that we trust to give us fair evaluations on diamonds..

 

There is nothing wrong with a virtual list, it still comes down to the service you receive like anything else..

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I agree with those stating that virtual lists are fine, provided you trust the virtual dealer. Many virtual dealers offer the actual certification for a diamond online so you can review it. Needless to say, this is no guaranty that the diamond you receive will match the certificate, but most well-known virtual dealers would be out of business if they engaged in such shennanigans. Not worth risking a multi-million dollar business to rip someone off. Additionally, and although it might cost a bit more, some virtual dealers allow credit card purchases. That way, if there's any dispute regarding what you receive, you can get the credit card company (and its army of lawyers) involved in the fight.

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Jay- the problem with that is that buying off a GIA report is buying blind- even if the diamond matches the report......

 

BTW- what about trade up policies?

 

 

If there were NO sellers offering acutal inventory, accepting credit cards, offering trade ups, and mantianing inventory, then the virtual sellers would be far more attractive- but that fact is, people have a choice.......

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We get several requests a day from consumers who have found a diamond off A VD list, give us the measurements and other data listed on the lab report, and ask us to comment on whether the diamond is a good one and should they buy it.

 

We can't answer the question without a lot more information, how then can consumers who have no experience make this buying decision? This is especially true when dealing with fancy shapes, where "numbers" tell you absolutely nothing about the diamond's quality and light performance.

 

Unless the vendor can call in the diamond, test and analyze it, the consumer is buying blind and may very well face the hassle of paying shipping/insurance costs to send it back.

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The expectation of customers who see stones listed in the various databases is that the advertisement contains all of the necessary information for them to make a wise shopping decision. There’s an army of dealers promoting this notion despite its well known shortcomings. This is the source of a good half of the questions on this forum and, like Barry, I get a constant stream of these questions every day. We all know that there’s big money to be made in the diamond business by pushing the limits of cut quality, by sending stones to labs that use peculiar grading scales, by selling 'certified' goods, by pushing fictitious appraisals and other activity that’s designed to cloud the deal. This leaves the consumers with a difficult set of choices:

 

1) They can try to pick a stone based on incomplete information knowing full well that there are dealers who are trying to hide something and then pay an expert to assist them in sorting out the crap. I’m all for this, since I’m in the business of offering this sort of consultation service, but not everyone is thrilled about this plan since it's not a free service. It draws out the whole process and it’s often counter to the fabulous bargain that they think they are getting.

 

2) They can buy from a dealer who is an expert and who has the opportunity to apply their expertise. This requires the dealer to have access to the stone. They don’t have to own it but they, or someone working on their behalf, needs to be able to inspect it. Unfortunately, this doesn’t result in the lowest prices. Partially this is because the dealers rightfully expect to be paid for their efforts and partially it’s because the dealers who have something to hide will always be able to offer a deal for less than the ones that are strictly on the up and up if they choose to do so. Customers who think that price is the only difference between dealers believe this at their own peril.

 

3) They can convert themselves into experts. This turns out to be decidedly more difficult and expensive than people generally expect and most find that they don’t want to invest the time or the money to develop the skills and acquire the tools. The easiest people in the world to feed a line of bull to are fools who think they know everything so this plan should be approached with caution. It can backfire.

 

4) They can just take their chances. Sometimes they luck out.

 

Who’s surprised that this is the source of stress for buyers?

 

Neil

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A very astute assesment Neil!

 

You bring up a valuable point about price.

If consumers used to buying....new cars ( for example) apply the same tactics they are likely to get a pee poor diamond.

 

When you're buying a Vette, the dealer knows that any other Chevy dealer can offer an identical car.

The promise of VD diamonds would allow buyers to do the same.

 

Except diamonds are far more like.....used cars.

Two cars with 5000 miles. one is a creampuff, the other a salvage job. Both can have identical specs. Like 2 diamonds with similar specs.

 

Try and lowball the seller of the real creampuff and they won't return your calls.

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A very astute assesment Neil!

 

You bring up a valuable point about price.

If consumers used to buying....new cars ( for example) apply the same tactics they are likely to get a pee poor diamond.

 

When you're buying a Vette, the dealer knows that any other Chevy dealer can offer an identical car.

The promise of VD diamonds would allow buyers to do the same.

 

Except diamonds are far more like.....used cars.

Two cars with 5000 miles. one is a creampuff, the other a salvage job. Both can have identical specs. Like 2 diamonds with similar specs.

 

Try and lowball the seller of the real creampuff and they won't return your calls.

You make it sound like the diamond dealer is in complete control of a proposed transaction.

 

While diamonds may be smaller than cars, there's even more competition among diamond dealers because there aren't car manufacturers who can create franchises with built-in geographic monopolies. This is one of the reasons why brick-and-mortar stores don't like virtual dealers very much (specifically, the well-respected virtual dealers who honor their return policies, etc...)

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Jay,

 

I don't understand your position.

 

Do you disagree with the statement that there is more to buying a diamond than what appears on a lab grading report?

 

Are you disagreeing that there are labs that produce reports that deliberately omit information that customers would find useful? (Including GIA)

 

Are you disagreeing that there are labs that deliberately report grades that are inaccurate or misleading?

 

Are you disagreeing that there are dealers who use those reports as sales tools to promote stones that otherwise would be difficult to sell?

 

Are you disagreeing that stones that have problems beyond the description on the report are less desirable than otherwise similar stones that have no such issues?

 

Surely not, but how do you suggest that consumers navigate around these topics or do you count them as minor enough issues that they shouldn't be of concern?

 

Neil

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With all due respect- that's what we do.......

You've never had a customer ask for a diamond that you didn't have?? Ever??

 

We have a significant investment in loose goods, but still find ourselves sourcing diamonds all the time to fit a specific need that isn't in our vault..

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Jay,

 

I don't understand your position.

 

Do you disagree with the statement that there is more to buying a diamond than what appears on a lab grading report?

 

Are you disagreeing that there are labs that produce reports that deliberately omit information that customers would find useful? (Including GIA)

 

Are you disagreeing that there are labs that deliberately report grades that are inaccurate or misleading?

 

Are you disagreeing that there are dealers who use those reports as sales tools to promote stones that otherwise would be difficult to sell?

 

Are you disagreeing that stones that have problems beyond the description on the report are less desirable than otherwise similar stones that have no such issues?

 

Surely not, but how do you suggest that consumers navigate around these topics or do you count them as minor enough issues that they shouldn't be of concern?

 

Neil

Boy, lots of questions.

 

There's lots of information, misinformation and shady characters in every business. An educated consumer is a smart consumer. Couple an educated consumer with a merchant that has a solid no-questions-asked return policy, and you have the makings of a satisfied customer.

 

By your questions, are you implying that people shouldn't purchase diamonds from the vendors listed under the "find online jewelry" button at the top of the page? If so, then it sounds like you're questioning the whole idea of Internet commerce. People buy lots of products online sight-unseen. If they don't like what they purchased, they return it.

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By your questions, are you implying that people shouldn't purchase diamonds from the vendors listed under the "find online jewelry" button at the top of the page?  If so, then it sounds like you're questioning the whole idea of Internet commerce.  People buy lots of products online sight-unseen.  If they don't like what they purchased, they return it.

Jay,

 

I don't have a great problem with e-commerce or even with the system of virtual inventory but I do consider the character and policies of the dealer to be an important issue in a diamond purchase. I think the contribution of the dealer to the deal is considerable and that choosing the correct dealer goes a long way to insuring that it will end up a happy experience and that the best deals are not necessarily the ones with the lowest prices. This is true both online and on the street. I think the most satisfied customers choose their dealer first and then the diamond, not the other way around. This is far less true with most other items that people are accustomed to buying online like new books, ink cartridges, branded computer parts or airline tickets and even these can lead to difficulty without due diligence. I’m a very picky customer when I shop and yes, there are vendors listed in ‘find online jeweler’ that I would be very unlikely to do business with.

 

I think customers are wise to include expert advice about the specific stone they are considering and that a lab grading report is not sufficient for this purpose, not even if it was issued by GIA and not even if it’s 100% accurate. This expert can be a 3rd party advisor working directly for the client, it can be the dealer or it can be both but in all cases it is mandatory that the expert be able to personally inspect the stone.

 

You didn’t answer my questions. Are you disagreeing?

 

Neil

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Alright, I'll answer your questions

 

1. It depends on what you consider to be part of the buying experience. Grading reports and certifications provide a degree of consisistency. For some, the grading report and certification are enough, while others would want to look at the diamond through a jeweler's loop and/or every diamond-testing scope known to mankind. Thus, I don't know whether the average consumer would consider there to be "more" to buying a diamond.

 

2. See answer to #1. I don't know what allegedly omitted information the average consumer would consider to be useful. One would think that a certificate from GIA provides some degree of assurance that you're getting a quality product. Would a tenth of a degree in one of the angles make much of a difference to the average consumer? Probably not.

 

3. It depends on what you consider to be misleading. As has been pointed out on this board, labs grade differently. One certifying body (GIA) appears to rise above the rest in terms of accuracy. Someone buying a stone with a certificate from another entity should be aware of grading differences. Furthermore, I don't know that labs deliberately report specifications inaccurately or intentionally mislead customers. Were this the case, I'd like to think that the market would make its displeasure known and the appropriate governmental enforcement authorities would become involved.

 

4. Diamond dealers are no different than any other merchants that deal in commoditized merchandise. Some are more honest than others. This is why a no-questions-asked return policy is important.

 

5. It depends on what you consider to be "desirable" in the mind of the average consumer. What you consider to be undesirable in a stone might make that stone more affordable (and therefore more "desirable") to a particular consumer. Would the stone be less valuable than another? It depends. For example, some people actually like diamonds that have a slight amount of color, while others consider color to be a sign of impurity.

 

6. The average consumer may or may not consider any or all of the questions you've raised to be important. Some focus on price, others are fixated on the most perfect diamond they can find regardless of whether they could actually see any difference.

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The first diamond I bought from an online dealer who got it from a virtual Inventory assured me that it was eye clean. When we got the stone, we saw a crystal in the middle of the stone. We sent it back under the 30-day guarantee at a cost of $25.00. I then shopped at another online dealer. He got the stone; he assured me that it was "eye clean". Fortunately, it was, and we where very happy. I think I shaved $1000 over my local jeweler, and only at a cost of a little time and trouble. I can see everyone's point of view here; I think it just depends on priorities. For me, $1000 extra in the bank was worth the trouble. For others, it isn't. If the 2nd stone came in bad, I would have returned it under the 30-day guarantee and tried again with another dealer.

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purple;

 

You were lucky. You could have been on the post office carousel returning stones to the tune of mucho money.

 

Botom line is that drop-shipping is risky for the consumer and the majority of consumers do not want the hassle of running to the post office with returns.

 

OTH, if you have a vendor that can call in a diamond for physical inspection, provide

data and photos and serve as the "eyes" for the consumer, then it turns into a win-win situation for both the consumer and our Industry.

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