Whether you’re seeking wearable accessories to enhance a wardrobe, looking to add new pieces to an established collection, or searching for beautiful treasures to give as gifts, you’ll find that antique and contemporary jewelry is plentiful online.
Once regarded as items that required in-person inspection prior to purchase, contemporary, vintage and antique jewelry items are all part of a growing segment within the e-commerce realm. Global jewelry sales are expected to achieve $250 billion by the end of the year, with online purchases accounting for 4-5%, according to Forbes. While that may not seem like an overly impressive statistic, just wait. Within the next three years, it’s anticipated that purchases of jewelry via online platforms will account for 15% of total sales.
A significant factor behind the anticipated spike is increased consumer confidence. “If you’re buying from a trusted seller, it should make no difference how the transaction is accomplished. Buying online is just a more convenient way to acquire the same merchandise that ordinarily would be purchased from a traditional venue,” said LiveAuctioneers Senior VP Product and Marketing Phil Michaelson.
As the jewelry market continues to evolve, the opportunity to obtain jewelry from sellers around the world, regardless of one’s locale, is greater than ever. With that being the case, to paraphrase a quote from Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man, “With great opportunity comes great responsibility.” Research and ask questions before you make any online jewelry purchase, not afterward.
Buying Tip: Look for diamonds that have been graded by the GIA (Gemological Institute of America). This world-renowned nonprofit institute issues laboratory reports with their opinion of a gemstone’s color and clarity.
Robert Kadet, a member of the jewelry industry for more than four decades and a graduate gemologist, says the credibility of the company offering jewelry should be a foremost consideration. “Find out how long the company selling the piece has been in business and make sure they have an upstanding reputation,” he advises.
The Better Business Bureau and sites like Yelp are among the sources where consumers can obtain information on a business, but when it comes to online auctions, it is important to bid through a platform where quality jewelry sellers conduct their sales. Check how many auctions they have run in the past, what sort of merchandise they carry, how long they’ve been in business, and most certainly, what their Terms and Conditions are.
Buying Tip: Pay close attention to the auction-catalog details for any item of jewelry you’re considering to bid on. When buying a piece of jewelry, you want to know what karat gold it is, the carat weight or total weight of diamonds or colored stones, and whether it contains precious or semi-precious stones.
Nothing does more to inspire buyers to add a new sparkler to their jewelry chest than a high-profile sale of a dazzling gemstone, especially if it has a good story behind it. There was quite a buzz in jewelry circles recently when Sotheby’s held its Fine Jewelry auction. Leading the lots in their sale was a recently discovered diamond ring referred to as the “Tenner” diamond. The ring features a cushion-shape diamond weighing 26.29 carats in a claw-set mount reportedly dating to the 19th century. It was originally purchased by the consignor in the 1980s for just 10 British pounds sterling (US $13), hence the name “Tenner” – British slang for a 10-pound note. The ring had been misidentified as costume jewelry and was sold at a car boot sale, a market where individuals gather to sell household and flea market goods from the “boot,” or trunk, of their cars.
Buying Tip: Pay attention to the presence of photos, or lack thereof, within online jewelry listings. Photos of jewelry should be clear and represent all angles. Take the time to inspect each photo. If you aren’t satisfied with the photographic representations provided in an auction listing, contact the seller or auctioneer and ask for additional images of a specific angle. — Gemological Institute of America
Discovering a wonderful piece of jewelry online, bidding on it, and winning it, is an exciting way to add to a collection. When the package containing your purchase arrives at your door and you discover that the piece is even nicer than you had initially thought, you’ll be glad you took the time to do your research before buying.