All of that has changed.
In 2000, a mere 22 percent of Americans shopped online for anything at all. Now, that number is above 80 percent, and rising. Lower prices, more selection, and convenience has made ecommerce lucrative, even for some of the most important purchases of people’s’ lives.
Buying an engagement ring online can come with many benefits. Custom ordering, quick comparison, and other features make the shopping experience more appealing. But there are also potential risks, including:
- Fake or lower quality diamonds
- Questionable certification
- The inability to see before you purchase
- Out right scams
The good news? The best online retailers offer quality diamonds, and even allow you the option to preview, either in person or virtually, before you make your online purchase. But figuring out if an online retailer is good or a scam, or somewhere in between, can sometimes prove tricky.
How to tell if an online retailer like B2C Jewels is legitimate
Luckily, some common sense and practical rules apply when you’re looking at a jewelry retailer online. From red flags to non negotiables, we have you covered on what to look for, not only for B2C specifically, but for any online jewelry retailer.
Red Flags include:
- Very steep discounts. It’s always good to shop around for comparison shopping to make sure you’re getting the best deal, but another reason to check other online retailer offerings is to make sure what you’re seeing isn’t too good to be true. For instance, if you see a certain carat diamond of comparable origin and quality at half the price somewhere else, it’s a bad sign. While prices can vary greatly on individual pieces of jewelry, values of diamonds and precious metals should not differ too greatly.
- Bad Grammar: A single mistake isn’t a cause for concern (humans do design websites, after all), but many online store errors, especially on a main page is a bad sign, and also a sign the company may not originate from where it claims.
- Domain Name mismatch: Suspicious domain names are important to note. Most commercial companies should have a “.com” without any add ons or alterations to the end of the hyperlink. Click here for a primer on recognizing domain names.
- No Reviews or Ratings: If there are no reviews or ratings, either the company is very new or there is something very wrong. But that’s not the only red flag. Another sign? Only five star reviews, with little feedback, or feedback that sounds exactly the same. You also want to make sure there are external reviews. It’s not a good idea to rely on reviews and ratings only on the site, as there could be a conflict of interest. A bonus? Accreditation with a reputable organization like Better Business Bureau. While it’s true a number of e commerce business are not registered with BBB, a poor rating or many complaints on BBB is a bad sign as well.
If you can tell if an online retailer like B2C Jewels is not a scam, how exactly can you tell if it’s a good retailer? The fact of the matter is that what is a “good” retailer is somewhat subjective. However, there are certain standards you want to look for from an online retailer if you’re shopping for an engagement ring, including:
- Customization: You should have the ability to select from not only preset design, but also custom rings, where you can match your choice or diamond and gemstone, cut (ideal cut, other cut diamonds, etc..), style, and metal. Some may also look for additional options, like engraving or special packaging options.
- Insurance and Warranties: It’s not uncommon for online jewelry retailers to not offer their own insurance. In fact, it’s exactly a bad sign if they claim to have their own insurance that isn’t verified. Most retailers will link you to, or suggest you to work with a major jewelry insurance, such as Jewelers Mutual. What they should offer is warranties. Basic warranties should cover manufacturing defects and general care. Some may even often extended warranties, though normally at an additional cost.
- Sourcing Information: Sourcing information is actually fairly important when it comes to diamonds and precious gemstones. Not only does knowing where it is sourced increase the likelihood you’re getting genuine diamonds or gemstones, but it also speaks to the company’s values and ethics. Good online retailers will mention where they source their diamonds and gemstones from, and also mention that they follow The Kimberley Process, the standard for diamonds that are not used to finance civil wars. The best retailers will go a step further, also adhering to products that support environmental stewardship, fair labor practices, and other initiatives.
- Selection: The very first principle most consumers think of is the selection. A rich variety of styles and options, as well as price ranges, is a must for any good online jewelry retailer.
So, what about B2C Jewels?
Now that you know some red flags, and gold standards of online jewelers, it isn’t as difficult to figure out if a retailer like B2C Jewels is a good one.
Following our own criteria that we’ve just established, we’ll take an in depth look into where, and if the company excels–to help you decide if this is somewhere you see yourself purchasing a ring.
1. Company History and Reviews: While B2C Jewels does a good deal to lay out their general principles on the “About Us” page, but upon review on the Better Business Bureau, B2C Jewels has at least been operating since 2008. The company also is BBB accredited, with an A+ rating, the highest rating possible. Since we cannot gleam much in terms of company history, what we can do is look into reviews and the company’s stated objectives.
- Ratings and Reviews: Customer ratings on BBB were mixed, with an average of 3 out of 5 stars (though it should be noted that reviews on BBB tend be a bit lower than outside review sites, and there are very few reviews). The company earned an average of 5 stars on Trustpilot, and 4.7 stars on WeddingWire, signs that the retailer has a decent reputation and somewhat satisfied customers. Minus one outlier in customer service, the lowest reviews complained about some small issues with customer service, with communication and offered perks.
- Company Mission: The stated goal is “Utmost Customer Satisfaction’, with a focus on value and customer service. They also highlight cost benefits, claiming that their products are 25 to 50 percent the cost of traditional retailers–a claim that certainly needs to be fact checked, but admirable if true. They also state that each product is crafted under strict supervision, though it is unclear what that entails. The general sense is that they have a reasonable commercial approach, but details missing make it hard to parse out specifics. A little more transparency in this section would be ideal.
2. Customer Policies: As we mentioned before, customer policies, while far from exciting, are critical in determining just how good of an online retailer B2C Jewels is. You can have excellent selection, stunning quality, and still not get as good of an experience, or a downright bad one, if customer policies are not reasonable.
- Returns and Exchanges: They offer a standard, but reasonable 30 day return policy. Unworn items only may be exchanged or refunded within 30 days upon delivery date. A perk that marks this retailer as a good one as opposed to average ones? You get a label for free domestic shipping. The process is also relatively simple. You submit a return order. After you receive your packaging label, you’ll need to slip in a return invoice. Other details are also reasonable: refunds are refunded in the original form of payment. It is stressed that items must be unworn, whereas some companies simply phrase it as items must not be damaged or altered. The exception is loose diamonds, which have to be returned within 10 days.
- Shipping: Shipping policies are generous for B2C. Any domestic orders $1,000 and under receive free UPS 2 day shipping; orders over $1,000 get free UPS priority overnight shipping. You can also track your order online.
- Warranties and Insurance: All items come with a 1 year warranty for both defective parts and ‘normal wear’. However, if you buy a stone or diamond not from them (but for instance, buy the setting and ring) they cannot service it. Free ring sizing is available, but only for one time. A really good benefit? Within the first 6 months, stones replacement is free. It is up to you to find your own insurance if you wish, and there is not extended warranties offered. While the initial warranties are reasonable, it’s nice to have the option to have a more extended warranty. They do suggest Jewelers Mutual for insurance.
- Lifetime Upgrade: B2C Jewels offers a lifetime upgrade policy to all GIA and AGS certified purchases. How it works is simple: you can swap for jewelry store credit, up to the value of your diamond, minus a restocking fee. The credit can then be applied towards a new purchase.
- No Sales Tax on Purchases, except if you live in New York
- Price Match Guarantee: B2C Jewels price matching applies only to loose diamonds, and allows you to find an identical in sock diamond by a competitor. If it is identical, B2C Jewels will match the price, assuming it can be verified.
3. Product Selection: Product selection of course is one the most important factors when it comes to determining whether an online jeweler or retailer is a good one. In the case of B2C, there are ample options for loose diamonds, engagement rings and more. We’ll be focusing on loose diamonds and engagement rings, but also know that B2C Jewels sells earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and pendants, with focus on diamond jewelry. The create your own option also allows for an excellent degree of customization.
- Sourcing Standards: A brief note tells us that their diamonds and gemstones do follow The Kimberley Process, which is good, and the minimum buyers should settle for.
- Quality: An on staff gemologist verifies the authenticity and quality of all diamonds and gemstones. However, the only products that come with official GIA certification are loose diamonds, so this is important to note. If you do buy a different product from them, you would be advised to obtain official certification from a GIA or AGS specialist.
- Loose Diamonds: Search by quality, cut (up to “perfection” as the high quality grade), clarity, carat and color. Shaped diamonds include round, princess, heart, asscher, cushion, radiant, emerald, marquise, oval, and pear. There’s a great feature of a “fancy diamond search”, which allows you to shop yellow, pink, and even green diamonds. This is something you cannot find with all competitors, and the ability to purchase diamonds of so many different colors is definitely a plus.
- Engagement Rings: For engagement rings, you can either create your own or start with a preset, which is fairly standard for good online retailers. With design-your-own, you start with either a diamond or a setting. You’ll be given a sample stock image of your selection, then be able to preview your completed ring. Completed rings do still use stock images, but it’s a more robust 3D view that rotates so you can get a sense of what it will look like. In terms of viewing your engagement ring, this is also fairly standard for good online retailers, though better than worse retailers and not as good as some that allow for other viewing options. Preset Engagement Rings are organized into a few collections, including solitaire, side stone, and classic. The collection is most classic and elegant options, with rose, yellow and white gold selections for the setting. There’s a nice variety of styles and prices without being overwhelming, but there is not much in the way of rings with gemstones or other styles, like ultra modern or vintage.
- Prices: Without a doubt, this is where B2C Jewels stand out. Prices are truly good, and better than many competitors. Preset engagement rings range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, with most hovering around or below the average cost of an engagement ring. What’s nice is that, with an intimate collection, you won’t be tempted to go way over budget, and if you like classic diamond rings, this is definitely an online retailer to check out.
Verdict: Is B2C Jewels a good online retailer?
Everything considered, B2C Jewels is a reasonably good pick and one we can recommend for online shopping.
Shipping and exchange policies are reasonable, and customer ratings are encouraging. If you’re in search of colored diamonds, it’s an especially good retailer to take a look at, for it sheer variety of options.
It’s also a great place to shop if you’re looking for a custom or classic diamond engagement ring. The especially reasonable prices, with a small but large enough selection, allows you to stay focused and on budget without becoming overwhelmed.
If you are looking for standards above and beyond The Kimberley Process, you want a vintage or ultra modern ring, or you’re wanting a preset ring that’s more luxurious, it may not be the best retailer for you.
A Better Option? Personally I much prefer an online retailer that follows ethical jewelry practices (avoiding “blood” diamonds). My preferred choices for vendors are either James Allen here or Whiteflash here.
But if you’re indecisive, at least give them a look. An unique personal shopper option, free to use, can help guide you to the best ring.
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