Professional Jeweler Archive: Surfing for Diamonds On-Line

March 2000


Surfing for Diamonds On-Line

Our reporter searches the keyword “diamonds.” Here’s what he finds

Martin Rapaport, publisher of the Rapaport Report, recently compared the Internet to an ocean wave. “There’s a wave coming,” he told a gathering of jewelers. “If you stand still, you’ll get thrown to the sand and get hit in the butt with your surfboard and you’ll drown. If the wave is coming, learn to surf. Ride it and you’ll 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 aren’t 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. You’ll be better able to explain the added value of shopping in a store vs. shopping on-line if you know what’s 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 what’s available, with prices. Another encourages customers to visit stores and “see what’s 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 C’s 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 C’s explanation is very technical; in some it’s 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 you’ll be better armed to differentiate your own store.

– by Jack Heeger

Search the Sites

Here’s a sampling of some Web sites inspected for this article. Check them for a cross-section of what consumers see on the Internet. – Shows a simulation of how a round brilliant diamond is cut. – Includes an interesting diamond tutorial. – Very basic; pick your specifications and see a list. – Features yellow diamonds. – Offers help in determining what’s important about diamonds. – Some information and a sample list of diamonds available. – Comprehensive description of four C’s. – Detailed explanations, including how to use a loupe.

– J.H.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications