In my 25 years as a jewelry designer and master-goldsmith, I have always been asked the same question – “Can you make it a little different... A little more ME?” Through the years, I have spoken with many couples "to-be-engaged" and there was an amazing Love Story to be told with every engagement ring I have ever made. And even though, the love stories were all, so very different, the personalities involved have always expressed the same desire - "the personification of the ring I wear".
At the American Gem Society's educational and networking conference in 2012 it was reported that the largest segment of engagement ring buyers (about 42%), purchased their jewelry pieces from independent jewelers. Only 9% bought jewelry online, statistics that has remained unchanged since 2010. But stepping into 2013 and 2014 the jewelry market has evolved and statistics, even though slowly, had changed in favor of online purchases. Even giants like DeBeers acknowledge losses in 2014 in their profit, due to booming development of the e-commerce jewelry business. The retail industry is undergoing a dramatic shift: E-commerce is capturing a larger share of sales than ever before, for few reasons – competitive pricing, availability, flexibility and variety, convenience, privacy, personalization.
The convenience of browsing the worlds' gallery of jewels from your personal computer, tablet or smart phone, and gather all the information you will need to make an informed purchase, has become major marketing tool. Customers are better than ever informed on Global Diamond pricing, design and diamond trends. In the era of global information mash, where you are over-exposed to images and information on platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram, finding "The Perfect" ring has become a mouse and keypad treasure hunt. With smart gadgets as "drop a hint", offered throughout different online jewelry boutiques, you can even politely guide your significant other to what your dreams really are. Help your better half - choose better ! Here is a little demo how our "Drop a Hint" works - you do not even have to do it yourself - have your best friend, mother or sister hint your partner and guide them around the "world wide jewelry box".
Here comes Global Accessibility - Online Jewelry Stores around the world are one click away, and can offer infinite variety of designs and ideas. The Diamond Inventory of the World is one click away! You can now browse the GIA graded stones side by side with EGL Israel stones and draw your own conclusions. You can choose to purchase your stone from the other end of the world, if that makes more financial sense to you, and have it set in a design of your choice. Think about the possibilities! You are no longer bound to your geographical location! With NO PRESSURE from the local jeweler, who is trying to “move his goods”, it is really between you and the stone. Now you can literally fall in love with a "stone of your choice" in a world-wide inventory of loose stones, rather than settling for “what’s available” in one store. Allowing the customer to be an active participant in the diamonds market, puts the diamond dealers at a position where competitive pricing is a MUST. Today markets have been completely and forever changed. Rather that overpaying for your Diamond because it was the choice of “X Big Brand” you can now find and purchase the most suitable stone for your budget ! In many cases stores will try and will succeed to "up-sell" you on the spot. With online competitive pricing and transparency – you are the one in charge of your purchase and often can get better price than what's available at the local jewelers.
Practicality and Piece of Mind - Many online jewelry boutiques offer complimentary shipping with all their purchases, so really it makes no difference in the price ticket for you if your dream engagement ring comes to you from Paris or you walk into the store next door. Next big plus, that wins customers over to the online jewelry experience is the return policies they have adopted. Policies that are designed to put the customer at ease when purchasing "long distance". Usually the return policies will provide for times that will vary from 30 to a 100 days, which gives you plenty of time to decide, if this indeed is the ring of your/hers dreams.
" - What happens IF?” - She says “NO”? – Can I return the ring for a full refund? – No, you can’t! Unless you purchased it at an online jewelry store, that has in place friendly return policy. Any other store, from small independent jewelers to big brand names, won’t except returns for full refund. They will offer you to buy the ring back. And guess what, the price you paid, won’t match the price they will offer, even if you had the ring for less than 24 hours. Got to love those 30 day returns from online jewelry stores, hm …
" - What happens IF?” - SURPRISE! - You wanted to surprise her and the ring was purchased solely by you?! ( Seriously, what were you thinking?! ) The design was not coordinated with her !? Or her mother ?! Or her best friend !? Which we recommend you absolutely do! Haven't you seen Sex and The City?! Before looking into the diamond, you sit with her closest friend or family member and you ask questions! You "stalk" her Facebook and Pinterest accounts. Follow her on Instagram and ask your trusted adviser to tag you to designs she most talks about. Check if she has Wanelo account and take your time to research those. Then get together with her best friend, sister, even her mother :) and try to understand what would make her heart flutter. If she is into step cuts and have always dreamed of one, no matter how pretty the round diamond you purchased is - she still will love step cuts better! So, let me get back to the IF's in life. Any jewelry store, again independent or big brand name, will charge you additional hefty price to re-do the ring. That’s if, you are lucky and they have policy in place for that. If they don’t, and most won’t – you are stuck with that ring and most likely will have to go to scenario 1 (read above). The one where you sell the ring back to the store for less money you paid for it, and proceed to buy a new one. You don’t have to take my word for granted – just go to a few stores and ask them about those “IF” situations. They will explain, what they can and can’t do. Many times we neglect to ask about those little life happenings... However, with online purchases you have the ability to return the ring for full refund, no questions asked, as long as it is in its original condition. So you are covered for any unforeseen complications.
Have you thought of Fiscal Responsibility – In 2012, the average engagement ring cost $4,000, but a study from The Knot showed something more like $5,400 in 2014 and $5,600 in 2015. So, let’s say that on average, tax costs on a purchase like this will come to be between 6 and 13 percent, depending on where you live. Yes! Tax is one major advantage you have with online jewelry purchases. TAXES? I know, it sounds a little strange to think about that when ordering engagement ring for the LOVE of your life. Nevertheless, if you do your research, you will figure, how much you will pay in taxes in your particular county. In Illinois’ Cook County, on a purchase of $10,000, you will pay around 1,000 dollars in taxes. However, if you work with an online jewelry store that is NOT part of nationwide chain, and has no representation in your state – the sales tax do not apply. How great is that! Many overseas companies will even accumulate the tax and customs for you. So, instead of spending your budget to fly to Paris, to hunt for her dream ring, you can put that budget into booking a honeymoon in Paris.
Personalization - Last, but not least - Long live Individuality! Finding your unique ring in the world of cookie-cutters and pre-designed trends, can be a real nightmare. I have dedicated many years predicting BRIDAL market trends; I have created bridal lines for "the year after" and then the next; I have worked in a big designer factories with a big designer names and brands where everything is predetermined and manufactured based on dry data. I did not like it, because I was missing the link where you engage with the customer and design and craft a ring around their unique Love Story. I truly believe this is the way our craft was meant to be! I have also worked in small, design oriented jewelry studio, where you sit across your customer and get to hear his Love Story. Now I am the proud owner my own jewelry line, and I can assure you, that I have rarely met a bride-to-be, or a couple, that walks in the store and buys engagement ring "off-the-shelf". They always, ALWAYS would like to input their personal touch into the design. It’s a seldom event, where you can pull her exact "dream ring" out of your showcase. That being said, at Bashert Jewelry all pieces is made to order and crafted around specific stones, upon specific requests. This is how our online jewelry studio can afford to maintain competitive prices, while keeping current with the newest trends and demands. Our online jewelry boutique will work with you to personalize, customize, and alter every design you have in mind. At Bashert Jewelry our website is just the “playground” - if you will. A place to get inspired! Every design you see at www.BashertJewelry.com is customizable to the point where, it will make you happy, and still meet the quality standards of our brand. In today’s times of instant communications, and modern technology, we at Bashert Jewelry, can allow you to see the virtual models of the ring, been designed for you, long before you hold it in your hand. Not to mention – you will be able to make changes, at any stage, as we go! I can’t think of better situation, where you are in charge of even the smallest details, and the ring made for you is really something one-of-a-kind, rather that choice between A,B and C from the models circulating the big department stores and jewelry chain houses.
One thing is clear – Customers want and deserve to receive "the royal treatment"! However, that does not necessarily mean - one has to walk into a local store, and endure the pushy attempts of the sales person to settle for a ring that is “NOT REALLY YOU”. Not Anymore!