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August 20, 2019 5 min read

Shopping for fine jewelry, especially an engagement ring, can be intimidating. Why? Because it’s a highly specialized, infrequent, expensive, and technical purchase. Today, you have more choices than ever before. As a modern shopper today, you are empowered with access to information to make an informed decision on your schedule and to your liking. In some ways, this means that you’ve already begun to rely on no one but yourself when it comes to shopping. You may have your own process and preference in terms of how you like to shop. Maybe you’re a self-researcher and trust online reviews or blog posts like these in order to make an informed decision. Maybe you genuinely dislike interacting with salespeople, because you question their motivation to assist you. The exact reason that makes shopping local so great can also be the exact reason some have little to no patience for it. Jewelry stores are typically in either two places, a shopping mall or a stand-alone storefront. Many find entering, interacting, and browsing a jewelry store intimidating, because you lose your sense of anonymity, which we’ve all come to value when shopping online. This is why we’re going to compare the in-store experience vs. the online experience.

In a perfect world, many purchases would be made through a reliable, trusted, and knowledgeable personnel. Thus, forwarding the relationship with the overarching brand or retailer. Like most things in life, experiences can be what you make of them. Some industries have poor reputations in terms of shopping experiences. For example, think about the last time you shopped for a car. Where did your research start? Where did it lead you? Most importantly, were you happy with your purchase decision?

Transactional vs. relationship shopping is something that doesn’t get discussed often as modern day shoppers as we have a plethora of options at our fingertips. We pick and choose how we conduct our purchases based on wants, needs, urgency, and significance. When you’re ready to start your search for an engagement ring, there’s no doubt that it’s a significant time pressing need.

If you’re shopping for an engagement ring, then you’ve already noticed how vast options are in terms of local and online jewelry retailers. Shopping for an engagement ring is quite literally “a once in a lifetime experience.” I don’t deny that shopping for diamonds and choosing between precious metal types can be technical. Beyond these components of an engagement ring, there’s interplay between design and aesthetic preferences. With that being said, you can see that deciding where to take your business is important, not only for the actual engagement ring, but also for the overall shopping experience. 

Shopping in-store

In-Store Experience: 

If you are a hands-on shopper, who values the relationship aspect of shopping and having direct contact with experts and knowledgeable staff, then maybe in-store is the route for you. This is the traditional way to shop. You can expect to be able to walk-in, browse, and experience the various collections and styles of fine jewelry. This tangible aspect is hard to replicate online. Many who shop locally were referred by someone with first hand experience with the “brick-and-mortar” jeweler. Or, depending on where you live, maybe you’ve simply become aware of this retailer based on their local ads, billboards, or radio jingle. Of course, it’s important to do your due diligence when shopping, even when it’s local. Reading online reviews and gaining a sense of their general web presence, especially on social media will give you a snapshot of what you can expect. Finally, trust is something that can only be built over time, communication, and first hand interaction with the store and staff. 

Online Experience: 

If you are a shopper who wants an “Amazon” type of shopping experience which accommodates your lifestyle by being fast, easy, and convenient, then online may be the route for you. This is the new “norm” when it comes to shopping and it’s easy to see why. The best online retailers give you access to information in the form of thorough descriptions which include photos and videos. Within a few clicks, you can learn the retailers online reputation by reading first hand experiences via reviews. These reviews can give you an accurate depiction of the type of experience you can come to expect. 

Today, there’s no doubt that barriers of entry into ecommerce are lower than they’ve ever been. This undoubtedly makes for a moral hazard of potentially opportunistic brands catering to unsuspecting online shoppers. Take caution when choosing an online jeweler. Ensure that the operation has experience, accreditations, and expertise in the jewelry industry. 

Couple shopping online

Clearly, an online jeweler who also has a physical presence lends itself to further credibility. Modern day retailers are extending their online experience through opening stores, pop-up shops, and even “click-and-mortar” locations (like Soha Diamond Co.). All of the above, lend credibility and trust to an online retailer which lacks the “human touch.” It helps bridge the gap between a traditional “brick-and-mortar” jeweler and a modern day online jeweler. But, let’s be honest, it’s easy to be wow’d in person, but online, it’s a different animal. Similar to the in-store experience, when you shop and interact with brands online, the first impression of customer support and speed of communication can make or break the potential for a relationship. Which is why today, online jewelers are quickly implementing industry best practices in order to provide a more personal customer experience. 

In the jewelry industry, trust is everything. When searching for a jeweler, regardless of whether or not they’re a brick-and-mortar, online only, or a hybrid of the two, make sure you pursue the type of experience you want, both for today and tomorrow’s needs. A jeweler who values you, your story, and your goals, will treat you like family as opposed to a transaction. 

At Soha Diamond Co., we’ve catered our business model on being a modern day jeweler who’s a hybrid of the two types of shopping experiences. We’ve pulled industry best practices and presented them both online and offline. How? Our online store not only educates shoppers on diamonds, but also simplifies the diamond selection process. Our ecommerce clientele benefit from the same level of access as do local clients. We tailor our communication method based on our client's communication preference (email, phone, video chat, text) in order to best serve them and what they’re looking for. It is not uncommon for us to start relationships with clients of whom we’ve never met simply based on our in-depth email correspondence and phone conversations, whether technical or design oriented. Based on these interactions with our online clients, we’re able to provide service above and beyond the simplicity on our website. With that being said, we also have a “click-and-mortar” design studio located in Madison, Wisconsin that serves as an extension of our online experience. It’s a safe space for individuals and couples to browse, ask questions, choose their diamond or gemstone, and design their dream engagement ring or fine jewelry without the inconveniences commonly associated with traditional retail jewelers. Remember, the engagement ring shopping experience is what you make of it.