As the broader retail industry continues to experience an uptick in e-commerce sales, the jewelry segment is no exception. In fact, by 2020, online fine jewelry and fashion jewelry sales will capture 10% and 15% of the market, respectively.
While buying jewelry online can be extremely convenient, the process is not immune from issues plaguing the broader e-commerce market. Whether it is sourcing concerns or damage during shipment, there are a number of questions you should ask before clicking “purchase” on a new piece.
Seeing is Believing
The GIA also recommends requesting detailed pictures to ensure quality. For example, if the site claims the piece is signed or if the metal is of a certain quality, request a picture of the signature and metal purity stamp. This is where doing your homework around a seller’s return policies can also be important. Without knowing whether the seller offers refunds or exchanges only, if the piece you receive isn’t what was featured online, you might have no available recourse.
Handle with Care
Once you’ve made your jewelry purchase, you’re not out of the risk woods. Scratches are a common cause of jewelry damage, and when boxes can easily be tossed around in transit, the risk is heightened. To prevent damage, ensure that the seller packs individual items in a soft cloth pouch that can be sealed or tied shut so that the piece can’t come loose during shipping. Ensure the cloth bag fits snugly within its shipping box—packing with extra bubble wrap or tissue paper can help with this—so that the piece doesn’t bounce around during transit.
Additionally, twisting and bending semi-rigid chains and pieces can cause permanent damage. Rather than running the risk that the seller will stuff your purchase into a smaller (and cheaper) package, consider paying extra to ship your item in a larger box.
Especially when purchasing expensive diamonds, gemstones and jewelry with precious metals, there is no guarantee that your existing homeowners policy will provide sufficient protection if the piece is lost, damaged or stolen.
Before buying a piece online, call your agent or broker to see what coverage you have in place. Asking them about a valuable articles policy that provides all-risk protection and automatic coverage for newly acquired pieces will ensure your purchase is protected from the moment you click “buy.” Waiting until you have the piece in hand could be too late!
Janece White, A.J.P. (GIA), is Senior Vice President, North American Underwriting & Jewelry Specialist, Chubb Personal Risk Services.