Jump to content

Opinions Wanted: Online Dealers


SirLouie
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hello,

 

I am looking to purchase a diamond by comparison shopping on the internet and in local stores. I'm looking to purchase several stones from online dealers, then take them in to the local dealer, compare them all and then return all but the one I wish to purchase.

 

Does anyone have favorable experiences - especially *refunding* experiences - with any of the following companies?

- Abazias http://www.abazias.com

- James Allen http://www.jamesallen.com

- McGivern Diamonds http://www.overnightdiamonds.com

- Union Diamond http://www.uniondiamond.com

 

I've heard favorable reviews about all but McGivern, but I'd especially like to hear about experiences where customers have returned items for a refund.

 

I've done as much searching as I could on this forum, but this post will hopefully concentrate the responses, especially where returns are concerned. Has anyone actually gone through this process?

 

Thanks in advance!

-SL

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So far, all have been silent.

 

I am waiting on my new American Express card to arrive. Once it does, I will order from all four of these dealers and will provide detailed reports of my purchase and return experiences. Hopefully I won't have any problems.

 

I expect this all to happen within the next week or two. Wish me luck!

 

-Shawn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I will order from all four of these dealers and will provide detailed reports of my purchase and return experiences.

 

I'm curious, why are you putting them and yourself through the inconvenience of ordering with the intent to return?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I feel that the only way to truly compare these diamonds is to see them in person in the same lighting conditions. I can look at statistical data all day, but when it comes down to it, I won't know what I'll really want without seeing it. One local jeweler has provided me with some comparable options, but most diamonds sold locally are much more expensive than similarly graded stones on the internet, on the order of hundreds (at times, even thousands) of dollars.

 

I know that this is takes a good bit of time to do. I also am aware that I will probably lose a bit of money by returning the unwanted stones. I just want to make sure that I'm comparison shopping on the internet as well as in the B&M stores.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just to let you know its going to cost you alot more then you know. I sent back one ring and lost about 100 dollars between the shipping. Also some have restocking fee so beware of that. Also the time involved and dealing with headache of getting your money back is big waste. Most important READ GIA report and TRUST who you dealing with.

Edited by dragonfire
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes, and if you use that Amex, it's going to be quite expensive for the jeweler. For example, if you buy $10,000, the jeweler must pay ~$350 to Amex as a fee. They do NOT get that fee back if you return. That gets added to their various costs of shipping and so on.

 

I mention this because if the jewelers find out what you're up to, they may very well refuse to deal with you. And to be perfectly honest, I think that would be a reasonable position for them to take.

 

If you've decided you must physically inspect the diamond yourself before making a purchase, I would recommend you just find a competitive local jeweler.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perhaps the other reason I'm going to put myself through all this hassle is to try to benefit the members of this community. I feel that a purchase experience like mine might be valuable to someone who wants to purchase from a particular dealer or not. I feel confident that I won't get ripped off, and if I do get hit with irregularities I'd like to let people know about it. Since I didn't see very many testimonials or opinions on the companies, I figure I can take it upon myself to do this little project.

 

Dragonfire, from whom did you order where you got hit with a restocking fee or excessive shipping fee? I'd like to know.

 

This is what I'm expecting to lose so far, assuming I return every stone:

- $35 plus cost of shipping back to Abazias.com (they have free shipping to me), no Restocking Fee As Far As I Know

- cost of shipping back to JamesAllen.com (they have free shipping to me), no RF AFAIK

- cost of shipping back to UnionDiamon.com (they have free shipping to me), no RF AFAIK

- $35 shipping from overnightdiamonds.com to me, plus whatever amount for shipping back to them, no RF AFAIK

 

All in all, I expect it to be approximately $200 or a little more. If anyone has any further information, please let me know. I figure it will be worth it if I can find a stone that I like better than all others. If I were purchasing from a B&M, I'd go into the store and compare a bunch of stones side by side, so this money that I "lose" seems valuable to me.

 

The reason I'm selecting multiple dealers is because I found diamonds on different sites that don't seem to exist on all the other sites (like those in Virtual Inventory). I've only found at max 2 stones per dealer that I've been interested in seeing based on GIA reports.

 

I'm comfortable with going through the return process and trying it out, especially since I'm using a credit card for protection. Hopefully, by the time I am done, I will have a lot of information that maybe someone else will find valuable.

 

Thanks for all the suggestions and caveats thus far!

-Shawn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hermann,

 

Just to let you know, I have told (or will tell) all the dealers I'm working with (or will be working with) of my plan. I am more than happy to not do business with someone if they feel threatened by this process. So far, Union and Abazias seem to be on board with my plan. I'm not trying to pull one over on anybody, honest - I want to be as transparent as possible.

 

Thank you for the perspective. I understand that there will be costs involved, but I figure if I tell them and they still want to go through with it, why not?

-Shawn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I didn’t get hit with a restocking fee because we agreed to waive the fee before he shipped it. However he did charge for shipping 35 dollars I believe and also had to pay wire transfer fee of 30 dollars (He wouldn’t waive restocking fee without cash). I then returned the diamond that cost me 50 dollars with the insurance required. Remember its $1.10 for every 100 dollars insured at USPS so it adds up very fast.

 

Almost all of the one I seen say free shipping but if you send it back they take out originally shipping anyways. So you are out 35 to 50 dollars.

 

The place I bought mine original diamond and sent it back was diamonds by Lauren and I wouldn’t recommend them. Not because way they handle the returns but diamond wasn’t what he described and I feel you put a lot trust in the seller to accuracy describe the item. I feel i was misleaded so made it hard to trust him second time around.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hermann,

 

The refundability of the credit card fees depends on the contract that the dealer has with the merchant bank. For dealers getting bit by this, here’s a tip. First National Merchant Solutions is a merchant bank that refunds all of the fees on returns for Visa and MC transactions. Frankly, I’m amazed that any of the dealers will accept Amex for this reason although perhaps they have got a better deal with them than I have. In my business (professional appraisals) returns aren’t really an issue and I've never been all that concerned about it but for Internet and mail order jewelers it’s a huge deal. Surely Amex knows this.

 

SirLouie,

 

I agree with you. You can’t pick the diamond that’s right for you without looking at it. I even agree that the fees that you will accumulate for this aren’t really all that high and that it's worth the expense. I’m curious why you haven’t included an appraiser in this loop. Aside from providing a standardized viewing environment and a second set of expert eyes, many have microscopes, optical scanners grading masters and other equipment necessary to make a sensible assessment. I’m involved in transactions like this fairly regularly and an hour in my lab almost always proves to be a worthwhile expense. As a side benefit, many of the dealers will ship directly to appraisers for inspection prior to you having to pay at all and this avoids the boundary represented by the credit limit on your card(s). You may have a sufficient credit limit to pay for the stone you want, but not to have 4 stones charged at the same time. Lastly, I and most high end appraisers that I know have 3rd party insurance for shipping and I can return the package cheaper than you can with the USPS offered insurance, even while I make a profit at it.

 

Don’t forget your liability component. Remember that you are responsible for all 4 stones the entire time that they are in your care. If a stone or it’s related paperwork is damaged, lost or stolen while in your possession, you will be held responsible. Stuff happens.

 

Neil

Edited by denverappraiser
Link to comment
Share on other sites

... I’m curious why you haven’t included an appraiser in this loop.

 

DenverAppraiser,

 

That's an excellent idea, and is another reason why I posted my plan to this newsgroup. Thank you for the suggestion. Can you recommend any appraisers in the Pittsburgh, PA area?

 

I am aware of the liability involved in checking out 4+ stones. I'm lucky to have enough of a limit to get all four diamonds. I checked with my insurance company (State Farm) last week, and they told me that they do not insure loose diamonds, and thus the risk would be on me while I had them in my possession, which you confirmed. I was planning on just being careful, but I like the idea of an appraiser middleman.

 

The only issue is that I don't know who a trustworthy local appraiser would be. :rolleyes: If anyone can help, please let me know!

 

-Shawn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pittsburgh is rather far from me so I'm not all that familiar with the appraisers there but this fellow is pretty well credentialed and seems worth considering (despite the crummy website). Tell him we sent you, it might get you a free cup of coffee.

 

Lewis Jewelry Appraisal Services.

 

other places to look are:

www.appraisers.org

www.najaappraisers.com

www.americangemsociety.org

 

Neil

Link to comment
Share on other sites

DenverAppraiser,

 

Thanks for the link, but the Lewis appraiser is in Philadelphia, not Pittsburgh - and that's a bit of a hike for me.

 

I searched the databases, and the only appraisers I found in my area also sell jewelry, and I'd rather have an independent appraiser. Looks like I'll just have to take my chances handling the stones myself.

 

Dragonfire,

 

Thanks for the tip on Excel. I called them this morning and spoke to Judah, explained my plan, and as long as I can narrow down my selection to one or two stones, he is on board. He's been very helpful thus far, with a very calm patience and targeted suggestions. I have been thoroughly impressed with their diamond selection, too - they returned more hits for my criteria than any other dealer thus far.

 

Thanks to all for your help - I'm hoping to order my diamonds this week! I'll be sure to let everyone know how it turns out.

-Shawn

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 months later...

I don't have much experience in buying diamonds, but I found Abazias site (http://www.Abazias.com) to be really easy and helpful when we were looking for engagement rings. We tried Blue Nile (http://ww.bluenile.com) and Diamonds.com as well as a few others, but after looking over prices and calling up each company with some questions, we decided on Abazias. We ordered two different diamonds so that we could have them appraised and choose under our conditions. We had no problem returning the one we liked less (although both were amazing!). It cost us $35 to return, but it was worth it to compare the two together. We had nothing but a good experience with Abazias. Hope that helps. :unsure:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

I know this is too late for SirLouie, but I thought it might help other shoppers.

 

Several years ago, I purchased a 3.00ct E VS1 ideal cut diamond from Union Diamond. I was scared about buying something online that was so expensive, particularly because of the transaction cost if you used a credit card. Obviously, I also needed to know I was getting what I bargained for.

 

I did some serious research on the size and other specifics of the stone I wanted and negotiated with three or four online dealers and two local dealers. The two most reputable local dealers priced a similar diamond between $8-15K higher than the online quotes and assured me they had given me their lowest price and advised against an online purchase (shock!).

 

Because of the huge price difference, I continued to work with the online dealers. My online negotiating experience is that you should negotiate off the posted prices. All of the dealers I worked with were willing to either reduce the published price or provide me with a "different" stone that was the same or better in quality than the one I was looking into. I settled on Union Diamond because their price and customer service were grear and I felt comfortable based on my Better Business Bureau check and other research on its business practices. I worked with one of the owners, Tony, and he is fantastic. He is very straightforward about which of the 4C's you should emphasize and what to worry less about given the use and size of the stone. Despite his professionalism, I was still queezy about paying with a wire transfer. Instead, I permitted him to charge the purchase price of the stone to my credit card and send me the stone for inspection. Please see below for my comments on credit card fees. Once I had the stone, I had a jeweler inspect it (not appraised).

 

I called my insurance agent for references to several top appraisers in the city. Both of the ones that I contacted were happy to appraise the stone, but they also were interested in bringing a few similar stones along that I might find more appealing. I was not interested in paying for a full blown appraisal only to be subjected to a strong arm sales pitch, so I called one of the local jewelers I had been working with. The dealer reviewed the stone stats against the stone and said that he was confident it was the stone Union Diamond described. He did, however, ask me for another chance to find a similar diamond. He offered me a similar stone that was $1000 more than Union's, but, most notably, more than $9000 below his previously quoted "lowest price." I bought from Union.

 

After I selected the stone, Tony worked with me on designing a setting to my specs and sent waxes back and forth until I was satisfied. The price on the setting was great too. When I received the stone in its setting, I had the other local dealer validate that it appeared to be the stone I thought I was purchasing. No problem. Since then, my entire family has continued to work with Tony and Union Diamond for great deals and service.

 

Purchasing something this expensive on the internet takes a leap of faith, so please do everything you can to protect yourself. I highly recommend using the credit card route and then switching to the wire transfer price when you are satisfied with the stone.

I did not try for several stones at one time, although I did require my local dealers to acquire several stones for me to review.

 

Happy shopping!

 

P.S. Here is my opinion on how credit card fees work. Whether a merchant can charge a surcharge to the customer for using a credit card is typically controlled by the agreement between the merchant and the credit card company. A handful of states have laws on this, but most do not. Visa and Mastercard do not permit a merchant to charge a surcharge for using a credit card. American Express indirectly imposes the same rule if a merchant also accdepts Visa or MasterCard. A merchant may, however, set a sales price and then give a discount off the sales price for a cash purchase. The merchant's fees for charging a sale to a credit card and reversing the charge should be zero. Restocking charges could come into play if you buy several stones at once. A single stone purchase should not have a repurchase fee until after you have unconditionally accepted the stone.

Edited by smtcincy
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
  • Create New...