Jared the Galleria of Jewelry is probably one of the most recognizable jewelry brands in the US. Having spent huge amounts of marketing dollars on TV commercials and printed ads, I’m pretty sure you heard of the following tagline in some form of mass media: “That’s why he went to Jared”.
Together with Kay Jewelers, Jared operates as part of a division under Sterling Jewelers Inc. (the largest specialty jewelry store in US). Collectively, Zales and Sterling Jewelers are owned by a parent company based in the UK: Signet Jewelers.
Interestingly, the 3 companies (Zales, Kay and Jared) all sell jewelry products which are targeted at middle-income consumers. And out of the 3 companies, Jared stands out by being the off-mall retailer which targets a clientele with slightly higher spending power.
Jared currently has more than 200 off-mall stores located in almost 40 states in the US. Their product specialization is advertised as being fine jewelry and diamond jewelry. Needless to say, this piqued my interest and I decided to take a closer look at their offerings.
Jared’s brick and mortar stores sells a wide range of jewelry products from watches, charms and engagement rings. They claim to offer “five times the selection of ordinary jewelry stores” and to price their goods well.
As a physical retailer with an established identity, they are uniquely positioned in the market to target affluent consumers through their selected merchandise and designer jewelry brands.
In recent years, Jared had also revamped their online store to offer consumers a better shopping experience and to extend their reach to tech-savvy shoppers.
The return and exchange policy offered at Jared is 30 days. This is on par with what many other jewelers are offering. For after-sales services, Jared provides free cleaning and inspection services at any of their stores.
Jared has a trade in policy (at any Jared store location) where you can upgrade your diamond/diamond jewelry item for another diamond/diamond jewelry item that is at least double the trade-in value.
Interestingly, Jared also offers a “Lifetime Diamond & Gemstone Guarantee” where they will replace any diamonds or gemstones that are damaged or lost from the setting as a result of “normal wear”.
This may sound like a big deal but it really isn’t.
In order for the “guarantee” to be valid, you need to get your jewelry checked every 6 months at any of their stores. By bringing your jewelry regularly back to the store, it gives them the opportunity to sell you more stuff (smart marketing move)! In the event that you forget to bring your ring for a checkup 2-3 years down the road, the guarantee may be voided.
Also, the caveat here lies in the definition of “normal wear”. You see, the main reasons why diamonds get damaged or fall out of their settings are usually due to hard knocks and unforeseen circumstances. Should you really lose or damage your diamond jewelry, the onus is on you to convince Jared that the damage was due to “normal wear”.
Regardless of where you shop, do not leave anything open to assumptions. If you see jewelers offering these types of “guarantees”, make sure you triple check details like what constitutes “normal wear” and always get everything down in writing.
One of the features that caught my attention were the designer brands that are available at Jared. You can find engagement rings designed by Neil Lane, Le Vian (they trademarked the term: chocolate diamonds), Scott Kay, Kirk Kara, The Leo Diamond as well as other designer brands under one-roof.
When it comes to diamond selections, the amount of choices available in any single outlet at a one time is pretty limited. Based on my experience, you would be extremely lucky to even find a couple of choices within a set of given specification (e.g. 0.70 carats, VS2 clarity, F color).
To be fair, this is a problem in the majority of brick and mortar jewelry stores due to high costs of keeping inventory on hand. Imagine a business which keeps a stock of 20 diamonds worth $10,000 each. This would tie up a massive $200,000 of business’s capital just to keep stock in-store!
Faced with limited choices of products in-store, the logical approach to overcoming this problem is to go online. Jared understands this philosophy and their e-commerce portal offers a full range of jewelry designs and products which you may not find in-store.
And today, I’m going to review the 2 approaches that you can undertake to buy a diamond ring at Jared.com.
As the name suggest, a pre-set ring would mean that you would place an order for a ring that has been built beforehand or be crafted based on a set of specifications laid out by the jeweler.
All you need to do is to select a setting design, make payment and you will receive the completed ring. On paper, this sounds really straightforward and convenient (especially for shoppers who are too lazy or busy to do research).
The disadvantages of buying a diamond ring in this manner is that you have little say in the ring’s quality. Basically, you will be leaving details like cut, clarity, color, carat completely to the jeweler.
As a risk-adverse person, I don’t recommend taking this route because there are too many unknowns involved and you are taking unnecessary risks on how the ring would ultimately turn out to be.
At Jared.com, the pre-set diamond rings often utilize I1/I2 clarity diamonds. These are diamonds with inclusions that will impact the face-up appearance and/or durability. Given the amount of money involved in a purchase, I don’t recommend buying them without eyeballing the ring.
Here are some examples where you can see details of Jared’s preset rings for yourself:
Note that their preset designer settings are also set with low grade center stones. To me, that’s like putting a Toyota engine into the chassis of a Ferrari car. I personally feel it’s a waste to buy an expensive setting only to match it with a poor quality diamond.
Make sure the diamonds you buy at Jared’s have an accompanying GIA or AGS report. These 2 labs are known for their reliable grading standards and offer assurance of the diamond’s stated quality. Some of Jared’s diamond jewelry may only have an IGI report or appraisal document (GSI Report of Authenticity). Those documents are not an equivalent of a proper grading report. Don’t get misled even if the salesperson says otherwise.
If you are dead set about buying your diamond ring from Jared Jewelers, the Design a Ring approach is what I would recommend using. Being able to customize your own ring gives you total control and enables you to cherry pick the best diamond in their inventory.
Although this process requires extra legwork in doing research, the upside is that you can build the ring to exact specifications. At the time of writing this review, Jared offers more than 15,000 loose diamonds of different shapes and sizes for consumers to choose from.
I know what you are probably thinking now; finding the perfect diamond from such a massive inventory may seem like a herculean task. However, I assure you that it isn’t as difficult as it sounds.
In fact, I created a step by step guide that had helped thousands of other people in a similar situation. All you need to do is to follow the guide from start to finish and I guarantee you will end up with a beautiful diamond!
If you had performed some price comparisons, you will realize that the loose diamonds sold at Jared Jewelers have high mark ups. This is due to the huge overheads in their business model and the branding premium imposed onto you.
If there is one thing that Jared does extremely well, it is their marketing and advertising. Speaking from a marketer’s point of view, I think Jared Jewelers does an amazing job in convincing their customers to pay a significantly higher price for similar products which can be bought elsewhere!
That’s the power of branding and the perceived value it gives to shoppers (except in this case, you are paying Tiffany-like prices for a diamond ring bought at Jared’s).
Overall, Jared is an OK venue to shop for smaller items like gemstone jewelry and accessories (like their Pandora charms). When it comes to plunking down cash for big ticket items like diamond rings, you can expect to pay hundreds to thousands of dollars more to shop at brick and mortar stores like Jared.
If you are a shopper who wants to get a bigger bang for your buck, I recommend that you invest a little time and effort into to buy a diamond. You can start by reading through the different sections of Beyond4cs.com. With better knowledge, you will be able to cherry pick the best diamonds and potentially save yourself thousands of dollars that can be put into other purchases.