WYZIWYG: Buying gemstones online or “live”?

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Some time ago I wrote a blog about making copies of custom made jewelry stating that it was mission impossible. One of the reasons was color deviation in stones ordered later online. See and judge for yourself: on the left hand side is the stone color as advertised in the online shop, on the right hand side – the real stones as delivered by the same shop, a small round and a large square one: both sold under the same label ‘red garnet’. You can easily see that the square stone is much darker in real life and that both stones differ in color, with the smaller one being closest to its online image.

In this particular case it was no big problem. Actually the ‘real life’ stone had even better color  – more noble deep wine red color  – than its picture online. The color difference between the smaller and the larger stones was no big deal either. But in some cases, for instance when you order a stone to replace a lost or a damaged stone belonging to a group of the same color stones, you can really be disappointed by what you get from the online shop. Besides the color deviation even calibrated stones in one lot differ in size. Some of them do fit in a prefab bezel, some not.

Just one remark: I don’t want to say that buying gemstones online is a risky business. Not at all. The shop supplying those stones guarantees the quality of their stones. If they claim the stones are 900 degrees heat resistant, they really are. I guess you can even send them back if they don’t withstand the temperature. But the same shop probably makes  – somewhere in very small letters – a disclaimer about a possible color deviation. So no offense meant, no offense taken.
However I prefer buying gemstones in real shops to buying gemstones online. This week I visited my favorite gemstone shop in Moscow, called Gemma located at the VDNKh. As usual it was a lot of fun. The stones sold there are neither cheap, nor guaranteed heat resistant. But you can mix and match and be sure that what you see is what you get – for instance, these four synthetic garnet stones, seen on the picture on the left. It took me a quarter of an hour to find the matching pairs, because even these stones have slightly different color.

Buying stones in a real shop is more about emotion

Besides the technical advantages buying stones in ‘real life’ has something emotional. You can see them, feel them, get enchanted by them. You always spent more than planned: I was really happy I had my metro ticket back home, because my wallet was empty. But it didn’t really matter. It’s true what the marketing specialists say: buying online is more about reason, buying ‘real’ is more about emotion.

I wonder, would the same apply to jewelry? Is selling jewelry online really a matter of pure price and reason? I wouldn’t like to think so…

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