Murrays Diamond Stars Of eBay - The first official list

Published: 07th September 2006
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This is the second of a series of eight articles on the process of buying diamond jewelry online.



In this article two of the key questions posed in the first article will be addressed:



Should I buy online? And should I consider online auctions?




Let us begin with: should I buy online?



Pros:



Selection - By shopping online, you can find the best-cut (most beautiful) diamonds. This is because many online vendors list entire wholesaler inventories, whereas most stores that buy diamonds to have in stock can only buy so many and may not have the knowledge or desire to stock the best-cut diamonds.



Prices - The online prices are highly competitive because of lower operation cost for some and many dealers are competing to sell the very same diamonds. (There are some online or brick and click vendors who maintain their own inventory). In addition, you can save on taxes by getting the diamond shipped to you from another state. It is common for diamonds purchased online from reputable sources to be appraised independently at 1.5 to 2 or more times the purchase price.



Flexibility - One benefit of online shopping is the ability to have diamonds shipped to you where you can view them in the lighting conditions where they will be worn. You can also take a diamond shipped to you to a local jeweler to make comparisons, and to an independent appraiser to be valued. Just be aware of the return policy of the vendor from whom you buy.



Cons:



Uncertainty - How can I be sure that I will get what I am paying for?



Lack of trust - How do I know whether the vendor whom I have never met will provide what he promised?



Doubts - How can I be sure that I will be able to get my money back if I am not satisfied?



To take advantage of the pros and avoid the cons I suggest you to consider these simple rules of common sense:



* Educate yourself


* Compare prices


* Check vendors and get a diamond grading report


* Get independent appraising within the vendors returns period, so you can send it back if not satisfied.




We will be re-visiting this list during this series of articles, but for now let us see how these points can be applied to our second question:



Should I consider online auctions?



Most guidelines I have come across recommend avoiding auctions, and for good reason: the quality of merchant products selling over auction sites varies hugely, yet this certainly is not obvious when you read their listings, which are basically just advertisements afterall.



Still, this seems a somewhat head-in-the-sand approach: a huge amount of diamond jewelry is bought via auction, so how do you get good value and good quality via auction?



I have spent a week analyzing diamond jewelry merchants on the grandaddy of all auction sites: eBay.



Murrays Diamond Stars Of eBay - The first official list



eBay do not make it easy to compare merchants, or find all merchants for a particular product. This is because they know the feedback comments can be cooked up to look great by deceitful merchants. Still, any merchant doing that kind of thing is not likely to be around over the long term - or at least they will re-emerge in a different eBay category and find a new bunch of suckers.



I have manually tracked down and analyzed 467 eBay diamond jewelry merchants, and I suspect there's likely to be well over 500 who have a strong focus on diamond jewelry.



The First Cut:



In my first cut, I shrunk this down to a list of 45 merchants likely to be reliable and having a solid long-term record at eBay. This is less than 10% of the original list. How did I select them?



To get into the short list merchants had to be selling on eBay for at least three years, and have a feedback rating over 98%, and be recognized by eBay as a Power Seller.



Larger sellers also had to have over 10,000 eBay feedback points (meaning at least 10,000 more positive comments than negative ones).



Smaller, niche sellers, either needed zero negative feedback in the last twelve months, or a feedback rating over 99%. They still had to be Power Sellers, selling on eBay for over three years, and if they had zero negative feedback over the last twelve months, their overall feedback rating still needed to exceed 98%.



By combining the long timeframe with high feedback requirements and other eBay performance standards needed to meet Power Seller criteria, I hoped to eliminate the scoundrels.



Get That Certificate!



Still, I did not stop there. If you are buying premium diamond jewelry you want to know you are getting quality. And the only way to ensure that is to get a diamond grading report (usually referred to as a diamond certificate) from a reputable diamond grading laboratory. And you will need to know how to understand the report - more on that in a later section of this guide.



In my analysis, merchants who provide viewable, readable diamond certificates online, from reputable laboratories, rate highest. Laboratories like GIA, AGS, and EGL (in fact I have rated merchants displaying GIA certificates the highest, since these are the most respected within the industry).



Disgraceful Terms Of Trade:



And whatever you are buying, you want to know you can return it without any hassles (see some awful customer experiences at my Nightmare on eBay! page). If it is a valuable piece, you may want to get it independently appraised as soon as it arrives, both for insurance reasons and to know you have not been ripped off. To do this you will need a minimum returns period of seven days, and preferably ten or more days.



Virtually all web-based sellers of diamond jewelry outside of eBay offer 30 days for returns, because they respect the customers right to have their new jewelry appraised before committing to their purchase.



It is hard to fathom, then, why only 32% of my list of top 45 merchants offered more than 7 days return policies. And 23% of them offered an outrageous 3 days return policy. Avoid them! You do not need the hassles and pressure if you don't like what you receive. There are alternatives - even if you are looking for bargain jewelry.



Don't Kick 'em When They're Down!



To add insult to injury, some merchants even charge a restocking fee - anywhere from 3% to a whopping 25% of the value of the purchase. Come on, get real! Wait until your customer is at a real low point (having discovered the item is not really what they had imagined), then kick them in the guts??



Is that a good way to build confidence in purchasing product over the Internet? I think not. And you don not need this nonsense. As I have said, there are alternatives - even if you are looking for a bargain.



Fees, Fees, Fees - They Can Be Worse Than Banks!



But it gets worse. Some merchants with outrageous 3 day return periods, and who charge restocking fees, will also ping you for other fees: eBay listing fees, credit card fees, insurance fees, etc - whatever they can find to throw at you while you are at your weakest.



Here is my advice: Avoid all merchants who charge restocking fees, or other fees, when you return an unwanted item!



I Shrank My List.



During the process of analyzing the short-list of 45 merchants a few got removed from the list as not warranting further analysis. So the shrunk-down list is just 39 merchants long.



By the end of the detailed analysis phase I had an even shorter list of 23 merchants I believe you are extremely likely to have a good experience buying through. And a Top 10, who form the first official Murrays Diamond Stars Of eBay list.



What Was Rated:



Before announcing the top Diamond Stars list, let me just summarize what I have considered during this research. Hopefully what you have read so far explains why these areas are important:



* Diamond certificates from reputable diamond grading labs, and the ease of viewing these (preferably online, right next to the pictures of the jewelry item).



* eBay Customer satisfaction ratings of over 98% (over 99% for small niche players).



* Return days policy - those offering 10 days or more received more favorable ratings.



* Charging of restocking, and other fees, when an item is returned.



* Provision of delivery, satisfaction, and payment security for customers through services such as Escrow.com and BuySafe.com.



* The size of the merchant: covering both the volume of customer feedback, and the range of jewelry items available.



The resulting spreadsheet had 28 columns of data that was weighted so that the maximum possible score was 100% on the core measures. Adjustments for bonuses (buyer protection offered) and penalties (fees charged for returned items) resulted in the final score for each merchant.



And The Results Are ...



OK, now all that is out of the way, on with the meaty stuff. Drum roll starts here!



The final 39 candidates were rated on a percentage scale and their scores range between 8% and 98%, with an average of 68%.



Here is the official and original version of Murrays Diamond Stars Of eBay: (in order of rating)



Rank....Merchant.................................................Rating


1st.....New Orleans Diamonds................................98.0%


2nd.....Diamond Scene..........................................97.0%


3rd.....GemHunt Diamonds.....................................95.2%


4th.....Diamonds and Platinum at pride43.............92.3%


5th.....Norman Goodman and Company Jewelers..89.0%


6th.....Gems4less.co.uk Certified Diamonds...........86.0%


7th.....Oxford Diamond Co......................................82.6%


8th=....Canada Diamond House.............................82.5%


8th=....Diamond Delights.......................................82.5%


10th....Gem Stone King..........................................82.2%




You are extremely likely (in my view) to have a great experience buying through any of these diamond jewelry merchants.



Check out their customer feedback and satisfaction at:



Murrays Diamond Stars Of eBay





Then compare the comments to what can happen - at my Nightmare On eBay! page:



A Nightmare On eBay!





I will be reviewing Murrays Diamond Stars Of eBay list at least every six months.



Good luck in your search for gorgeous diamond jewelry! - I hope this article has helped you find that perfect diamond jewelry item.

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