Surfing for Diamonds On-Line
Our reporter searches the keyword diamonds. Heres what he finds
Martin Rapaport, publisher of the Rapaport Report, recently compared the Internet to an ocean wave. Theres a wave coming, he told a gathering of jewelers. If you stand still, youll get thrown to the sand and get hit in the butt with your surfboard and youll drown. If the wave is coming, learn to surf. Ride it and youll be a millionaire.
Nowhere is this more true than diamond selling on-line. The very nature of the way diamonds are presented and sold is changing daily as the Internet grows. Even if you arent ready yet to open a store in cyberspace, you should frequently check what others are doing to keep up with your competition.
A common complaint among jewelers today is that customers shopping for diamonds check the Internet, come to them with a specific description of the diamond they want and ask the price. Youll be better able to explain the added value of shopping in a store vs. shopping on-line if you know whats out there.
Professional Jeweler conducted an informal search on the Internet. Using the word diamonds on search engine Alta Vista, we found 683,790 Web sites, an estimated two-thirds of which involve the jewelry definition of diamonds. (Sport teams with diamonds in their name, dancing organizations and restaurants appeared also.) A random search of about five dozen jewelry sites produced varying results, with one thing in common: all promise the best selection at the best prices. Nothing new there.
Some diamond dealers expect Web surfers to know exactly what they want so they offer only an order form to fill in size, color and clarity desired; submit it and the site will let you know what it has at what price. Some list whats available, with prices. Another encourages customers to visit stores and see whats important to you. Then tell me.
Many offer complete explanations of all aspects of diamond buying so the customer can be armed with a wealth of information. The four Cs are covered in great detail by many, barely by others. In a couple of cases, a fifth C was added: confidence. On some sites, the four Cs explanation is very technical; in some its offered through illustrations. A few emphasize the difference between cut and shape, and some compare proportions of an Ideal-cut diamond with those of a poor cut. Nearly every site mentions certificates, and several explain what certificates mean, urging customers to insist on one. Some offer a glossary of terms, and one site even explains how to examine a diamond under a loupe or microscope.
Because of the Internet, customers are better educated about diamonds than ever, so it behooves you to be fully aware of how much they know. Check out different diamond sites yourself. Then youll be better armed to differentiate your own store.
by Jack Heeger
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