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1990: Online Diamond Jewelers Can Destroy Customers’ Trust by Bad Transactions

October 1999

At the recent JA show panel on the Internet, it was pretty clear that many in the industry — particularly the retail side — fear the Internet. Many are particularly worried about the diminished margins web sites seem to sell at.

At DRB, we feel that the retail jeweler should not be afraid of the Internet. It’s just another form of competition, and outwitting your competition is one of the basics of business. However, there are things to avoid and there are things you should be afraid of.

The number one danger to any ethical jeweler is misinformation from dishonest sites. Why? Because some sites will undersell the retail jeweler by offering an inferior product — or one that is fracture-filled, treated or even synthetic — without any kind of disclosure. And when trouble arises, many Internet sites hide the identity of the principals — leaving the consumer with no one to blame. The purchasing public’s trust can be destroyed by just one bad transaction with a jeweler on the Internet.

When the Federal Trade Commission did a “surf” of Internet sites earlier this year, it found rampant misrepresentation and violations of the FTC Guides —for both colored stones and diamonds.

At a recent panel on the Internet, the head of the JVC said the same rules apply to Internet jewelers as do to real-life ones. We hope those rules are strictly enforced. However, in the “Wild West” atmosphere of the Internet, where web sites can be set up and abandoned in seconds, it may be harder to police some of these sites.

The other problem is consumers with just enough information to get themselves into trouble — someone asking, for instance, for a 57 table on a Princess cut, leaving the poor jeweler to explain just why this is a bad idea.

The most important thing to remember about the Internet – or any other new technology – is this: anything that sells diamonds is a good idea, but anything that sells diamonds honestly is an even better idea!

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