Like cars and real estate, fine jewelry is a considerable investment. Major purchases require a significant amount of research and asking the right questions, and fine jewelry is no exception. From luxury designer boutiques to online stores and even big box stores like Costco, there are many places to buy jewelry. Private jewellers are another (often overlooked) option.
High quality diamonds and fine jewelry can be bought at retail stores or from private jewellers, but which is better? While both can be good options, shopping with a private jeweller has several advantages. Here are five:
1. Personalized experience
Some people enjoy the experience of shopping in a plush boutique, where they can sip a cappuccino while consulting with a polished sales associate. This can be nice, but keep in mind that your appointment may be interrupted by other shoppers and distractions.
Consulting with private jewellers is a much more intimate experience. They’ll give you as much time as you need to answer all your questions, and are often less rushed compared to sales clerks. A jeweller might see five or ten customers in a day, whereas a busy retail worker might speak to fifty. Jewellers also seek to develop lifelong relationships with their clients, which is essential when purchasing fine jewelry. They will typically go above and beyond to make sure their customers are happy, and keep in touch long after the jewelry has been purchased.
Remember, retail workers are looking for commissions, whereas jewellers want to spur positive word of mouth by providing exceptional service.
It’s worth noting that most sales associates at retail stores aren’t certified jewelry professionals or even gemologists. They’re typically trained to understand the basics of jewelry and their brand, but can’t usually explain the science behind design, craftsmanship, or stone setting, let alone stone treatments, stone origin, and other important facts.
Private jewellers, on the other hand, have many years of hands on experience, training, and even certifications. They’ve spent years mastering every aspect of jewelry making as most begin their carriers as bench jewellers. They can provide an expert opinion and tailor the product to your needs. He or she can also advise you on how best to maximize the value of a piece while remaining within your budget. For example, a jeweller might help you choose a large center stone with a simple setting instead of investing in a fancier setting, knowing you can always upgrade it in the future.
In the same way you would trust a dermatologist over a cosmetologist, consider placing your trust in a jeweller over a retail worker.
When it comes to expensive jewels, quality is key. Many retailers carry high-quality items, but private jewellers tend to be a little more transparent about the specifics of each stone because of the time and energy they’ve spent sourcing materials. Private jewellers spend a lot more time hand-picking stones and researching sources, whereas retail chains buy in bulk and mass-produce their goods. Educating consumers about the specifics of each piece and ensuring high quality materials is a key aspect in high-end jewelry sales, and private jewellers typically bring a lot more to the table in this department.
The monetary value of any piece of jewelry must be assessed on a case-by-case basis, which is why it’s nearly impossible to broadly compare private jeweller prices to retail prices. Quality, sourcing, and craftsmanship all affect the cost of a piece, but it’s worthwhile to consider the following:
Retail stores must factor in salaries, commissions, overhead, and marketing when marking up their prices, whereas private jewellers typically work out of small studios with low overhead. With designer label jewelry, you’re paying a lot for the name. Ask yourself if owning something with a certain logo is as important to you as the quality of materials and the value of the piece before spending thousands of dollars on, say, a ring.
Some retailers offer engraving and other customization services, but for a truly customized piece, a private jeweller is the only way to go.
When giving a gift, the thought and personal touch is often more appreciated than the gift itself. By working with a jeweller to design a special piece, you’re incorporating your own style, imagination, and love. What better way to add value than to leave your mark on something that can be passed down from generation to generation?
Despite high prices, buying a diamond ring or any other piece of fine jewelry should be a fun process. No matter where you choose to shop, ensure that you’re getting quality advice,
consultation time, and most importantly (yet overlooked), as much after-purchase care as possible