Here's what readers are saying so far.
In our latest Real Deal scenario, Laura of Forrest Jewelers went out of her way to match an online diamond price.
Unfortunately, she found that her client, Jeff, could buy the diamond he wanted for less from a major online retailer than she could from any of her vendors.
Determined to make sense of the whole situation (and to make the sale!), Laura began digging deeper into the diamonds that were available through the online seller. In addition to the ones her client had selected, she found another diamond in a different cut category on the site (interesting since both were GIA XXX), and noticed to her amazement that while it appeared virtually identical on paper, it was priced 68 percent higher than the one the customer was leaning toward. Raising the question about the discrepancy seemed to shake her client's confidence in the online shopping experience just enough.
In the end, she made the sale, with a $1,300 profit on the diamond.
But reflecting on the experience, she couldn’t help but feel sickened. Never before had she gone to such great lengths to take care of a client while making a sale for so little profit.
The situation raises some important questions:
- Was Laura right to go to extraordinary lengths to make the diamond sale, or should she have just settled for her profit on the setting?
- What is the impact on the industry when wholesalers make the same diamonds that are available to retailers (easily identified by report number) available to the consumer through a variety of online sellers as well?
- Looking at two virtually identical diamonds on the same website, what could make one 68 percent more expensive than the other?
- Is there any validity to the discussion of a fifth quality characteristic (transparency — a function of origin and crystal structure) that’s been mentioned in the industry recently?
We'd love to hear what you think. Check out the full scenario and send us your own response here.
Below is a selection of the responses we've received so far.
Make the sale — but wait — would you buy (and pay for) a diamond without seeing it? I would not and would suggest that the customer not do it either. But find something that works for you and the customer and MAKE THE SALE!
Let customer know you won't (can't) be responsible for setting someone else's diamond but will accept responsibility on yours, of course.
bowling green, Va
Not worth the time and anxiety to get it and then have the customer back out or not like the stone. Now you own a stone, you're out that cash and when you're a smaller store, it hurts.
Santa Fe, Nm
Suggest that Jeff get the diamond himself on the basis that he can return it. Then find a really nice couple of comparable diamonds; ask your diamond supplier to do this by looking at the diamonds he has, not by just viewing the cert. Use his expertise; he looks at a lot of stones! Put them side-by-side and ask Jeff to choose — he wants the best. When he chooses yours, tell him that the price is more because it is a better stone. Not all same cert stones will look the same.
El Dorado Hills, CA
Laura was ABSOLUTELY right to go to extraordinary lengths to make the diamond sale. That's what sets her apart from the average jeweler and jewelry store — her knowledge, contacts, integrity and willingness to provide the customer with the best service.
The impact on the industry when wholesalers make the same diamonds that are available to retailers (easily identified by report number) available to the consumer through a variety of online sellers continues to kill the traditional model of business in which many jewelry stores used to operate.
Regarding the 68 percent question, usually it falls with what dealer is the most desperate to sell fast. Bottom line — we all need to lower our margins on the retail side, and hope that someday wholesalers will choose bettween selling wholesale OR retail. Since most choose both, we as retailers need to keep figuring out who is doing this and stop giving business to these dealers.
I think the discrepancy in price had to do with the difference in the stones. My guess would be in the refractive index. Any one of us who has worked regularly with diamonds knows that you can have two identically rated stones and yet one of them will appear brighter. Without any verification, my theory is that the stone that is brighter has a denser crystal structure.
You have to sell your experience in choosing stones. The day of beating online prices is gone.
It is not right that jewlers pay for RapNet and Polygon or other exclusive member access and then have the same diamond suppliers offer the same diamonds online directly to the public.
This should be stopped immediately if anyone is to survive this type of competition.
I would have asked the customer "WHY" he required IF. I would have attempted to show the client a D FL and a D VVS1-2 that would have been dramatically lower in price without a visual difference. Often clients think they know what they want without any true knowledge of what they actually need. As for the $1,300 profit, I understand its not her typical, however, it's still $1,300. Only she can answer as to the value for her time (i.e., how long did she spend to complete the order?)
Retailers should make part of their buying decision, "Does my vendor list diamonds on prominent online sites and therefore sell against me?" If they do, they should think long about using that vendor.
When two diamonds are listed with similar makes with the same grading lab, but have dramatically different prices, there is always a reason. ALWAYS!
Bottom line, the industry needs to do a better job of letting clients know that buying a diamond online is a risk.
$1300 is better than nothing; she also has the profit on the mounting. I just lost two sales to the internet because I add 10 percent to the cost of a 1.5ct and a 2.0ct. I guess it doesn't pay to get greedy
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