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Is it safe to buy an engagement ring online?

Friday, October 7th

Is It Safe to Buy an Engagement Ring Online?

You may shop online for everything from clothes and furnishings to holiday gifts and even groceries. Online shopping is more than a convenience. It gives you the opportunity to shop around for the perfect items and to comparison shop for an amazing price without leaving the comfort and privacy of your house. You can also take your time comparing all of the possibilities without feeling pressured by a salesperson to make a decision before you are ready to do so. For these and other reasons, it makes sense that you would think about shopping for an engagement ring online as well, but should you?

Before you decide to shop online for this important item, questions about a diamond ring's condition and value may be combined with concerns about safely receiving such a valuable item in the mail. While these and other concerns may currently place you on the fence about shopping online for an engagement ring, be aware that this is an increasingly popular way to find the perfect ring. As is the case when you are buying anything else online, however, there are risks that you should be aware of. The good news is that you can bypass those concerns and enjoy the full benefits of online ring shopping when you follow a few important tips.

Choose a Reputable Vendor

Before you start looking at rings online, you should narrow down the scope of your search to a few top jewelers. By looking at reviews upfront, you can more freely explore and compare the lovely possibilities available from your preferred vendors. Specifically, look for the associations that a jeweler is affiliated with, such as Jewelers of America. Many jewelers only sell certified diamonds, so ensure that a vendor's diamonds are certified by an accredited lab, respected labs that you may look for are GIA, EGL, AGS and others.

Read Consumer Reviews

As part of your research on specific jewelers, spend some additional time learning more about them on third-party websites. Look for independent reviews, such as Google or Yelp. Be aware that almost all vendors may have a few negative reviews. Ensure that most of the reviews are positive. Read both the negative and positive reviews, and look for trends. If many reviewers say similar things, there is a good chance that you may have a similar experience as well. While you are conducting independent research, look for the vendor's social media accounts. Pay attention to reviews and comments on the accounts as well as how established those accounts are.

Look for Special Imaging

After you have selected a few top vendors to shop online with, your attention will turn to the available rings. Certified diamonds are rated in the 4 Cs, which are carats, cut, clarity and color. You can and should read the certification report for a diamond that you are interested in. Many reputable online jewelers also have special imaging available that enables you to visually inspect the magnified gemstone. In fact, some even have 3D imaging with zooming capabilities. Compare the lab report to the imaging to ensure that they correlate.

Verify the Ring's Quality

The unfortunate reality is that some ill-reputed jewelers sell their diamonds with fake certification documents. Because of this, it is not enough to simply look at the certification documents. You also need to take the next step to confirm that the documents are legitimate. For example, through the GIA, you can quickly conduct a search to confirm that a diamond's certification is valid. In addition to confirming the quality of the diamond, read the fine print to determine what metal the ring is made out of. Keep in mind that different alloys are far more durable than others.

Check the Return Policy

Whether you buy an engagement ring in person or online, there are several reasons why it may be necessary to return it. Perhaps your proposal does not go as planned or the engagement is broken off. The bride-to-be may not love the style that you selected, or there may be other concerns. When you shop online, there is also a chance that the ring may not look exactly as you anticipated it would. Some jewelers have a policy of accepting no returns or exchanges. Generally, it may be in your best interest to ensure that the vendor has a reasonable return policy before you finalize your purchase.

Look for a Warranty

When you go through the effort to find a reputable vendor and to verify a ring's authenticity, you may feel confident about its great condition. Even the most well-made appliances, vehicles and other pricey items can develop issues that require professional attention, and this holds true for engagement rings as well. Many vendors offer a lifetime warranty on engagement rings. Whether there is a lifetime or limited warranty, read the verbiage to learn about the warranty's terms.

Select a Secure Shipping Method

Reputable, established jewelers may have shipping down to a science, but you should not make assumptions. Ideally, the item will be shipped using secure, insured shipping. For the highest level of security, opt to require a signature upon delivery. You should be provided with a tracking number soon after you finalize the order. Look for details about how the item will be packaged as well. While the item should be well-protected, it may not be advisable to advertise that the package is from a jewelry store.

Get the Ring Appraised

Once the engagement ring arrives at your doorstep, you may assume that the only task in front of you is the proposal. However, there are a few additional steps that you need to take to protect the ring. One of these steps is to get the ring appraised by an independent jeweler. The jeweler can verify that the diamond in the certification papers is the diamond that you actually received. He or she can also provide you with a valuation. Based on these factors, you can confirm that you wish to keep the ring rather than return it. The appraiser will provide you with a document that you can use for insurance purposes, so file it away safely.

Insure the Ring

After the engagement ring is safely delivered, you understandably want to ensure that it continues to be treasured for years to come. Theft, loss, missing stones and other issues can and do occur. Many top insurance companies have jewelry coverage available for an affordable price. Often, however, this coverage is only available in conjunction with other policies, such as auto or home insurance. With this in mind, it is best to contact the insurance provider that you are established with to inquire about jewelry insurance. Included coverages and deductibles for jewelry insurance vary considerably. Take time to understand the coverage you are selecting and to learn about how well-covered your ring will be before you finalize your purchase.

Start Searching for Your Engagement Ring

While buying an engagement ring online may be a new experience for you, rest assured that many people have confidently and successfully navigated through the process online. By choosing to shop for an engagement ring online, you have access to far more variety than you would have if you shop in a local store. You can also conveniently shop around your busy schedule, send links to the bride-to-be's friends and family for approval and more. With all of the advantages of shopping online for an engagement ring, it makes sense to start applying these tips for a safe, secure shopping experience.

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Engagement Ring FAQ

...because you want the world's best selection and pricing, not just the limited options at your local brick-and-mortar jewelry store! Whether you buy a ring that's ready-to-ship or you design the ring of your (or your fiancee's) dreams, you won't find more possibilities than what's offered online.
That varies widely by retailer and by ring. If you choose an engagement ring that's in stock and pay for expedited shipping, some online jewelers can have it to you the next day! On the other hand, if your perfect proposal involves a one-of-a-kind, customized ring that costs tens of thousands of dollars, it could take a month or more before it's ready. The best jewelers provide an estimated shipping timeframe right on each ring's description page.
Most jewelers ship engagement rings with ample insurance, making it risk-free even for the most high-end items. However, if you're concerned about "porch pirates" taking your ring from your doorstep or mailbox, you've got options: either opt for "signature required" delivery during checkout, or choose a jeweler that also has a retail location near you and have your order shipped to the store for in-person pickup.
Fear not. Engagement ring retailers usually include at least one free resizing, plus exchanges are almost always accepted within 30-60 days of purchase.
If you're considering a custom-designed engagement ring, you'll want to read the retailer's return policy very carefully before making your purchase. Some may allow for returns and exchanges while others may not. On the other hand, in-stock rings usually have a return policy ranging from 30-60 days from the date of purchase, and some online jewelers extend that timeframe during the winter holiday season.
More often than not, yes. Many jewelers automatically cover the diamond(s)or other gemstones, but you may need to add on a protection plan if you want coverage for loose prongs, resizing, or damage due to wear and tear (as opposed to manufacturer defects).
Usually, the financing options will be displayed near the price in the engagement ring's description or through a link at the bottom of the site. You may be offered a store credit card, an installment loan, or financing through a third-party partner.
That's a wise question to ask, because when it comes to engagement rings and online jewelers, "not all that glitters is gold" . Customer feedback is essential to determining where to buy this piece of jewelry that could very well become a family heirloom: look for a retailer with plenty of positive reviews, where shoppers say that the engagement rings were exactly as advertised (or better!) and that the customer service team handled any issues with professionalism and prompt attention. This is - hopefully! - a once-in-a-lifetime purchase, so choose a jeweler that will give you an unparalleled shopping experience.

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