Buying Diamonds Online vs. In-Store: What You Need to Know

"Will you marry me?" is one of the most important questions you will ever ask. You want the perfect ring to go with the proposal, and finding perfection takes time. About 35% of couples spend three months or less looking for the right engagement ring, while 24% of couples spend four to six months picking out just the right bling, according to The Engagement Ring Bible.

Most people will turn to the Internet, talk to their friends and family and ask their fiancée-to-be some questions to help steer them toward the right decision, but what do you do when it actually comes to making the purchase? Should you buy your engagement ring online — after all, you can buy just about anything online these days — or, should you buy an engagement ring in-store?

Benefits of Buying Diamond Jewelry in-Store

When you're ready to pop the question, you may ask yourself, "Should I buy an engagement ring online?" While you may think buying diamond jewelry online would be quicker, more convenient and potentially less expensive, going to a brick-and-mortar store will give you countless advantages, including:

  • Assured quality
  • Help from a professional
  • A look and feel for the ring in person 
  • A better understanding of what you're buying
  • Minimized potential for mistakes with the ring
  • Simple resizing, returns and repairs

Even if you know how to buy diamonds online, you won't get the same advantages. Buying diamonds online versus in a retail store cannot provide you and your fiancée-to-be with all the benefits an in-person experience does. Read on to see how buying diamonds in-store versus online will give you a better experience.

Choose the Right Quality

An engagement ring is an investment, and it's one you want your fiancée to wear with pride. Determining quality is the first step you would take with any investment. Diamond quality can be broken down into four core characteristics, or the 4Cs. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) created these four grading methods, which are now in widespread use:

  • Color: The color grading scale begins with the letter "D," which indicates a colorless diamond, and it continues to "Z," which indicates the highest level of color.
  • Clarity: The clarity scale indicates the presence of inclusions or blemishes in the stone. The scale begins with "flawless" and descends to "included."
  • Cut: Diamonds come in all different kinds of cuts, one more desirable than another based only on taste, but the quality of the cut can be determined. The GIA's scale for cut starts with "excellent" and drops to "poor."
  • Carat weight: The final, and perhaps most easily recognized characteristic to the shopper, is carat weight — or size. The more carats a diamond is, the higher the price tag. A single carat is equivalent to 200 milligrams.

GIA, the American Gem Society (AGS) and the European Gemological Laboratory (EGL) all grade diamonds using the 4Cs, though their assessments can vary. GIA is generally the most popular diamond certification organization in the industry. It is important to look at these certificates when you are selecting a diamond.

So can you buy diamonds online? Yes, but it does come with risks. The lure of shopping online for an engagement ring is the same as shopping for anything else. You have thousands upon thousands of options all at your fingertips, and you don't even have to venture outside. You can also narrow your search to look for engagement rings with diamonds only certified by GIA or one of the other gem organizations.

But should you buy a diamond online? You can have all the quality assurance in the world, but you could receive something very different than expected. You are at the mercy of the website's description of the engagement ring and its honesty. Some websites are certainly reputable, but exercise caution when choosing an online merchant and exploring how to buy diamond jewelry online.

On the other hand, when you are shopping in a brick-and-mortar store, you can see and hold the ring before you hand over your credit card. You may not be able to determine the 4Cs by yourself, but a jewelry store has experts who can. Associates at a store can also help you work with your price point and steer you toward the right type of engagement ring to stun your spouse-to-be.

Select the Features and Appearance

Most people are novices when it comes to shopping for an engagement ring, and it is easy to become lost in the sea of different styles. Princess or pear cut? White gold or platinum? The decision is tough, and it definitely matters.

According to The Engagement Ring Bible, 86.2% of brides ranked the overall design as the most important feature when it comes to their engagement rings, and it makes sense. The design of an engagement ring consists of the diamond, the setting and the band, and the overall look should suit your partner's style and look stunning on her finger.

While photos online may show details of the cut, the setting style and the band, it's difficult to get an idea of the complete design with photos alone. Buying diamonds in-store versus online will let you work in person with an expert on ring design.

A professional can guide your decisions as you select an engagement ring style. You'll want the help of a professional because there are so many options when it comes to a ring's overall design. The diamond is the centerpiece of the engagement ring, so pick the cut you want first. Some of the top cuts include:

  • Asscher
  • Cushion
  • Emerald
  • Heart
  • Princess
  • Oval
  • Marquise
  • Pear
  • Radiant
  • Round

With such a long list of potential cuts, you should work with someone who knows about each design and can help you choose one. Buying an engagement ring online may be overwhelming if you do not know the difference between the various diamond shapes.

The next important feature of any engagement ring is its setting, which secures that brilliant diamond. Popular settings include:

  • Bar: Small diamonds, each spaced out by a metal bar, surround the entire engagement ring.
  • Bezel:A thin piece of precious metal surrounds the large center diamond of the engagement ring.
  • Channel:This setting holds a row of smaller diamonds around the entire band.
  • Cluster:The central gemstone is nestled among smaller diamonds in the cluster setting.
  • Gypsy: Unlike most other settings, the gypsy setting has the gemstone sunken into the band so the diamond is even with the rest of the engagement ring.
  • Micro pave:Tiny gemstones run around the entire large diamond in this setting.
  • Pave:In the pave setting, smaller gemstones surround the entire center diamond.
  • Prong: Four to six prongs raise the diamond above its band.
  • Shared prong:A common prong supports neighboring diamonds in this setting.

Finally, you have to decide on the metal for the engagement ring's band. While the look of the precious metal is important, you also have to consider durability. Yellow, white and rose gold are three of the top options. Each of these metals is combined with a different alloy to strengthen it since gold is a soft metal. For instance, white gold, which is yellow gold coated with rhodium, is a beautiful metal, but it can lose its coating.

If your fiancée doesn't like the buttery or rosy luster of gold, consider platinum. This metal has a silver color and the added benefit of being hypoallergenic.

Now that you know more about the different cuts, settings and bands, how do you pick the right one? Online, you're on your own. You could be a savvy shopper who knows your fiancée's tastes like the back of your hand, but most people get a little nervous about the guesswork involved. It gets more challenging when you think about how unlimited your options are online. While it may sometimes be beneficial to have countless choices, that makes choosing a ring online difficult.

Even if you are the rare person to know just what style of engagement ring to pick, your online purchase may not line up with your expectations once you see it in person.

Online pictures often don't accurately capture their subjects. You may think you're getting a rose gold engagement ring when really it could come in a darker, more copper color. A photo of a diamond online may look clear and beautiful, but in person, it could end up less-than dazzling. For the best sense of how a diamond engagement ring will look, you need to see it in person.

Once again, in-store experts will come to your rescue as you decide on different features. Sneak a couple of pieces of jewelry your intended already owns to the store, and the sales associates can take a look to get an idea of her style. Alternatively, you can talk about your partner's personality. Does she love a touch of glamour and flash, or does she lean toward the understated and classic look? With just a couple of tidbits, an in-store associate can narrow down your choices and help you find just the right style.

Get Long-Term Benefits

Online shopping certainly has several immediate benefits. You have the chance for savings and a quicker, more convenient shopping process. However, an engagement ring is a lifetime purchase. Your spouse will love and wear that engagement ring every day. If you think about the future, spending a little more in-store can be more than worth it.

Online retailers may be great for a one-time transaction, and they likely have some type of return policy, but aside from that, your interaction with the seller is finished after the sale. With a trusted jewelry store, you can build a lasting relationship. A jewelry store with a quality showroom will offer benefits that come along with the committed purchase of an engagement ring. These benefits may include:

  • A lifetime of cleaning and inspection: Your spouse will be wearing her engagement ring long after the magic of the wedding is over, and day-to-day life means wear and tear. An engagement ring from a jeweler can come with lifetime cleaning and inspection, while you would need to find somewhere yourself to clean and maintain an engagement ring bought online. If the engagement ring becomes scratched or dirty, you want to have a place that can bring it back to its original shine.
  • A lifetime warranty: The sentimental value of an engagement ring is priceless. You want to have a plan in place if something were to happen to it. A lifetime warranty will guarantee you can repair the engagement ring.
  • Returns or trade-ins: Sometimes, the right engagement ring isn't in your price range, but you can't wait to pop the question. Is it cheaper to buy a diamond online? While you could buy a filler engagement ring online and save up for the right one, some jewelry stores offer you a better option. A trade-in option allows you to apply 100% of your original diamond purchase price toward the purchase of a more valuable diamond from the store.
  • Custom fittings: In the whirlwind moment of the proposal, the perfect fit will hardly seem to matter. Once wearing the engagement ring becomes part of the daily routine, your fiancĂ©e could realize it is a little loose or a bit too tight. You don't want to lose the ring or have it be uncomfortable to wear. With an online purchase, you will have to find a jeweler to fit the ring and pay a fee. If you've decided to buy an engagement ring from a jeweler, you can likely bring it back to the store for a free professional fitting.

If you still wonder, "Should I buy a diamond in-store or online?" let these long-term benefits encourage you to head to a brick-and-mortar location.

Have a Better Experience

An engagement ring is one of the most personal and memorable gifts you will ever give. Shouldn't the shopping experience match?

Online shopping is an impersonal experience. You do not have the chance to speak with anyone else, ask for advice or hear other proposal stories. The stories you have to tell are part of the magic of promising to be with someone forever. Buying an engagement ring the same place you buy the latest book you want to read or order your groceries is not a story.

When you walk into the jewelry store where you will find the engagement ring you want to buy, you are about to begin an extraordinary experience you will want to tell everyone about. You can laugh with your fiancée about trying out different rings and proposal speeches on the sales associates, just so you can try to imagine what it will actually be like on that special day. You can tell her how you saw ring after ring until you started to get nervous that you'd never find the one, and then the showroom associate held up the diamond that now rests on her ring finger. You can tell your kids how tightly you held the box in your hand after you left the store, scared you would drop the engagement ring that already meant so much.

When you buy a ring online, you don't get those special little moments. The ring arrives at your door, which is certainly convenient, but you don't get advice or meaningful interactions. The most you may experience is waiting anxiously for your package to arrive, hoping it does not get lost or damaged in the mail.

Overall, the smartest and safest option between buying diamonds online versus in-store is going to a brick-and-mortar location. When you choose between buying an engagement ring in-store versus online, we hope you will visit us at Mountz for all of the benefits above.

Trust Mountz for the Jewelry That Matters Most

An engagement ring is so much more than a diamond set in a precious metal. It is the first step you will take as a couple committed to a lifetime together. From the 4Cs and the engagement ring's design to the assurance it will stand the test of time and the stories you will tell for years to come, you want everything to go just right. The moment she sees it, you will know all the effort you spent in that jewelry showroom was worth it.

Let Mountz help you find the diamond engagement ring worthy of a lifetime. Visit one of our convenient locations in Central Pennsylvania to begin your diamond search. A member of our knowledgeable sales staff will be happy to work with you to find the perfect ring. Get the beautiful engagement ring your fiancée-to-be deserves, and trust your special moments to Mountz!

Tags: Jewelry

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