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  1. ONLINE JEWELRY SHOPPING: HOW TO TRUST BRANDS ONLINE Online Jewellery shopping can be a very daunting process, particularly when it comes to niche jewellery brands that are not immediately recognised by the general public. Often you may find a really nice jewellery design that you would like to purchase, but you are a bit hesitant about the experience and the reliability of the Brand, its return policy, its legitimacy, the security of the site, and so forth. These are completely legitimate concerns. With this easy guide we would like to dissipate these concerns, giving you piece of mind by offering you an easy list of actions that you should do before making an online jewelry purchase. 1. INITIAL GENERAL GOOGLE SEARCH OF THE BRAND. Sometimes it takes really a simple action to have a strong general idea of the brand we would like to purchase from, and it is amazing how much information we can collect from a simple Google search. We recommend making a few searches using the name of the Brand and a few other keywords associated with the intention to know more about it, including a personal search on the president of the company.

  2. 2. BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU REVIEWS AND COMPLAINTS. The BBB review of a business it is certainly a simple but surely effective way to have a very good idea of how a Brand conducts itself in relation to its clients. You can be sure that if there was ever a complaint about the Brand you are looking at, the BBB will have a note of it. The BBB is a resource for true information about any business in the United States, and it is so easy to use. We certainly recommend taking full advantage of it and leaving your constructive reviews, whatever they are: this way the Brand can have the opportunity to resolve any dispute in a satisfactory way for the client and to show its commitment to excellent service. 3. BRAND EXPERIENCE, QUALIFICATIONS AND VARIOUS AWARDS. Nowadays everyone has a “jewellery line”, but to understand the real degree of experience of a Brand, it is important to know how many years a Brand has been in the jewellery business, under the same name and what are its specialisations. In our case, we specialise in coloured gemstones with unusual colour combinations and also in 18kt high polished gold with bold, contemporary designs since 1994 in New York City. Furthermore, having a Graduate Gemologist on board is a fundamental necessity for a Brand that needs to properly present coloured gemstones to clients who might not be familiar with them. Particularly when dealing with important gemstones, one of the functions of the gemologist is to answer any question the client might have in a professional and clearly understandable manner.

  3. Recognitions are another way to establish the legitimacy of the brand displayed on the computer screen. Design awards are in fact at the core of a brand which makes of design itself the main focus. Check the industry awards by visiting the sites the Brand is referring to. 4. BRAND LOCATION How many times did we look at the contact page of a brand website only to find nothing more than a P.O. box? We find it very important to check the Brand’s physical location when establishing the trust factor.

  4. It is also very easy to double check the Brand location by just typing its name in Google maps. Maybe you do not know that in order for a Brand to have a location in a very prestigious address, it has to produce an immense amount of references from previous landlords, banks, credit reports, financial statements, including the three previous tax returns and financial statements of its owner as well, who in most cases has to guarantee personally for the well keeping of the premises. In other words, a good address is a very good indication of the legitimacy of the Brand you are considering purchasing online from. 5. BRAND RESPONSE TO AN ACTUAL CALL. How many times, while trying to reach the Brand on the phone, have you encountered a recorded message or an impersonal answering service which can only note our phone number? As we mentioned before, this is another easy way to establish the legitimacy and responsiveness of a Brand beyond the actual website. Make sure the Brand has a legitimate phone number which you can call and have all your questions answered in a clear, professional way, immediately at the time of your phone call. 6. BRAND DISTRIBUTION Another important factor that weighs to establish the legitimacy of a Brand is brand distribution.

  5. We should always look at where the Brand is distributed, but most importantly how prestigious and established are the retailers that present the Brand. Historical American retailers, certainly do not want to have their reputation tarnished by presenting poor quality designers, or designers who are not standing behind their products for any reason. Every single serious and legitimate jewellery Brand wants to be represented in these iconic retailers across the country and it can certainly be a good indicator of the reputation of the Brand. Most people do not know, but for a jewellery Brand it might take many years and many interviews to be featured at historical retailers of the calibre of Betteridge, Mitchell’s family of stores, Shreve and Co, who was the only store to survive the great San Francisco earthquake in 1906 or Bergdorf Goodman. We clearly remember that it took us five years of trying and four extensive interviews in order to be featured in the fine Jewelry Department of Bergdorf Goodman where we have a presence since April 24th, 2007. 7. BRAND AFFILIATIONS It is also important to check the Brand affiliations to understand how involved they are in the jewellery industry and how willing they are to adhere to its guidelines, which are more and more strict. For example, The Jewelers Vigilance Committee or JVC, is a leading institution that provides guidance to the members of the jewelry industry on how to implement an anti-money laundering program while supporting ethics and integrity; the American Gemological Trade Association is another leading institution that is promoting the long-term stability and integrity of the natural colored gemstones and pearls industry.

  6. You should always look for the icons usually located in the footer of a site to see if the Brand is affiliated to any of these foremost institutions, to which you can also refer in case of a dispute or to report a suspicious activity, an unethical behaviour or a fraudulent transaction. In other words, take advantage of these institutions which are also there to support the consumer, and to give you a very useful advice in case of a dispute. 8. BRAND RESALE VALUE WITH MAJOR AUCTION HOUSES. Another advisable thing to do when buying an expensive jewel from an unfamiliar Brand is to check if the Brand you are dealing with has any relevance with major auction houses like Christie’s or Sotheby’s. So that you know only a fraction of the designer jewellery in any market in the world would be accepted for resale at those very selective jewellery auction houses. Particularly after a certain price range you really want to make some research in this area, not just out of curiosity. 9. BRAND CLEAR RETURN POLICY A clear and generous return policy is one of the pilasters of a serious and reliable Brand. A consumer who in the first person is sharing his sensitive information, such as the credit card number and address, is giving the online Brand his most valuable act of faith and therefore should be rewarded with total peace of mind when making a purchase. A client should also be given the opportunity to return his or her purchase with no question asked for a full refund, should she or he decided to do so. That can also turn into a great opportunity for a Brand to improve the quality or the construction of that particular item and create a satisfied lifelong client.

  7. We also believe that a client should be put in the condition to return the item with a minimal effort and without spending any extra money to do so, by being given a prepaid FedEx or UPS label to ship the item back to the Brand, for a quick full refund. For us a generous return policy is a fundamental paradigm on which we base our business, our ethics and how we conduct ourselves with clients who are not immediately familiar with our brand. 10. CONFLICT FREE DIAMONDS Anyone who has seen the movie Blood Diamond has a reasonable idea of why diamonds should be sourced in an ethical way and with a system that should not contribute to creating violence in diamond producing countries located in Africa. Since the year 2000 this new system, called Kimberly process, tracks the diamond production from the mine to the market and regulates the manufacture, export and sales. According to G.I.A., 99% of the diamond production is currently conflict free. A Brand, therefore, has to guarantee that the diamonds used in its jewellery design are “conflict free”. 11. PLATFORM SECURITY To be secure, a Brand website has to be hosted on a platform that certifies the installation of a Security Socket Layer, which is a protocol that creates a secure connection between a client and the server over which to send information. Basically where all pages, content, credit card, and transaction information is protected by the same level of security used by banks. It is very easy to find out if the site is secure, in fact, all you need to do is to check if the site address starts with “https”as opposed to “HTTP”. In this case, the extra “S” proves that the certificate is successfully installed on the server. Do not forget to check this simple detail. A Brand should also take extra precautions in protecting their clients identities by installing an extra layer of security in the form of an antivirus like McAfee, which certifies that the site you are visiting and about to purchase from, is encrypted by industry standard protocols, has no malware or malicious Links, has no phishing detected, has valid SSL (Security Socket Layer) certificate, and has a complimentary identity theft coverage. CONCLUSION Jewellery shopping online is becoming an everyday pleasurable experience more and more accepted at higher price points than ever before. It offers the convenience never experienced shopping for high-quality products from your home and a quality of service that can reach the concierge level in many instances. It would be a pity not to enjoy these privileges just because you have some reservations on the trustworthiness of a Brand whose work you appreciate.

  8. Therefore, I believe it is the duty of the Brand to use any possible tool, provide any possible piece of information in order to prove its legitimacy and reputation to the client who is not familiar with it, making any possible effort to consolidate and perpetuate its trust factor. By the same token, it is very important for a client to perform hers or his due diligence to assess the credibility of a Brand not immediately familiar, double checking and triple checking all the information provided at least at the beginning of the online shopping experience.