We live in an online world. Everything that a guy or girl could ever want is just a click away-from new shoes to electronics, nothing is out of reach. But making the transition from in-person retail to over the screen can be overwhelming, especially when buying big-ticket items like jewelry when you can't see the product with your own eyes. Here are some tips for buying great jewelry pieces online to ensure that you get the biggest bang for your buck.
- Find a reputable retailer - when looking at big-ticket items online, it's important to look for these red flags before you make any purchases. First, is the website secure? You'll be paying by credit card, so you want to look for a website that protects you from credit-card fraud and identity theft. Second, how secure is shipping? Do they require a signature upon delivery? If not, do you have the option to request a signature? Finally, is your satisfaction guaranteed? Can you send back your item to be re-designed at no additional cost if you are unhappy with it? Is there a warranty on your item?
- Check the return policy - this should be your first step after determining if the retailer you found is reputable. If the return policy isn't reasonable or requires you to shell out any percentages or only get a partial refund, skip it. A reputable online jewelry retailer should walk you through the return policy on their website, make it easy, and it's a definite plus if they'll include the return shipping labels in your package!
- Look for customer service - buying jewelry is a very personal experience, and if you walked into a jewelry store, you would expect assistance from a salesperson in the store; buying jewelry online shouldn't be that different. Many websites have a "live chat" function that allows you to get the one-on-one attention that online shopping doesn't usually provide.
- Read reviews — If the site you're looking at has a lot of online reviews and testimonials, including before-and-after pics of redesigned pieces, you should be more comfortable doing business with them. Reading through pages of customer testimonials will give you a good idea of what kind of quality you can expect on the products on their site. If you're wary of a site that only has good reviews, you should be - but only if there are only a handful of them. Keep in mind every jewelry site picks the content for their own sites, but if there are more than a dozen good reviews, including repeat customers, you are on the right track.
- Ask for references - On par with customer service, any jewelry retailer should be able to provide references in addition to their online testimonials and reviews, especially when you're talking about designing a custom piece. Speaking to someone who has done business with a site is key to determining your comfort level and how much cash you should expect to shell out for custom jewelry, restringing pearls, or any other retail item.
- Look for coupon codes and specials - check out the site's sales and specials or if there are any coupon codes for the items you are looking for. If there aren't any coupon codes, see if you can sign up for sales and specials alerts via email from your favorite site.
- Don't be afraid to mix it up! - Once you’ve ascertained that your online jeweler is legitimate, don’t be afraid to purchase the piece you really want. Think about buying not just a plain strand of pearls, but one with a funky necklace clasp to brighten up your new necklace. Upgrade your jewelry from silver to gold, so that it’ll retain its look (and value) without getting tarnished. Many jewelry retailers also provide certain services at no extra cost, such as jewelry cleaning, clasp tightening, or stone polishing. See if those can be bundled into your already existing purchases so that you can save money on the services you’ve been pushing off. When you’re confident that you’ve selected the right online jeweler, you might as well go for the gold!