In today’s blog post, we answer a reader’s question on why the same diamond (with the same exact GIA certificate) can sometimes be found listed on the websites of different vendors. Is there something shady going on?
Read on to find out…
Question from reader: When doing a search for my engagement ring, I realized that the same diamond appears on multiple sites with slightly different pricings. I came to the conclusion after reviewing both listings that show the same exact GIA certification with diamond dimensions/proportions being identical.
By the way, here are the links to the above mentioned stones:
I’m pretty sure both these websites are selling the same diamond and it looks fishy to me.
How can a diamond exists concurrently in 2 locations or be owned by the different vendors at the same time? Imagine if I were to purchased it, how can I be assured that I will receive the actual diamond being listed? Could you shed some light on this?
Paul’s answer: Rest assured that both vendors are legit and what you have come across is nothing out of the norm. You see, most online vendors list a virtual inventory in which they do not own.
In fact, many physical brick and mortar stores also use the same process of using virtual inventories to sell diamonds they don’t physically have in store.
Instead, the actual diamonds are owned by a wholesaler who could allow several vendors to market the stone on their behalf. Different vendors (in your case, Blue Nile and Enchanted Diamonds) could work with the same wholesale suppliers and because of that, some stones in their inventories could sometimes overlap.
One word: Cost.
With a virtual inventory, businesses do not have to worry about keeping stock or additional costs (e.g. security, insurance and shipping fees) incurred with keeping physical diamonds on hand.
For an online retailer, this reduces their operation costs and overheads significantly. In turn, the savings are passed onto the consumers as they get to enjoy much lower prices compared to buying in a brick and mortar store.
Using virtual inventories is a common practice in the online diamond industry and it actually benefits everyone along the pipeline.
Consumers get to cherry pick from a larger variety of stones and enjoy better prices. Vendors can offer better selections to meet specific needs of their clients and the wholesalers have more distribution points to move their inventory.
Sometimes, listings can get outdated if vendors are slow to update their latest status. As a result, inventory that had already been sold might still show up as being available.
So, if there’s a stone that you like or had short-listed, you might want to check in with the vendor on the diamond’s availability just to be sure.
Since different vendors may have different markups and costs, they may be selling the same diamond for different prices. Based on my experience, this price variance can range from 1-10% and here’s where “small-minded” consumers often make mistakes.
Going for the cheapest listing to save a couple of hundred dollars doesn’t always mean it is going to be the best deal for you. More often than not, the dealers that offer the lowest prices end up costing consumers the most.
It is important to consider the products and policies that different companies offer. For example, is there an upgrade policy for your ring? Do they have a setting design that you like? Do they offer free value added services like future ring sizing? Do they offer routine maintenance for your jewelry? Do they have buy back policies?
The better vendors often go further by providing you with the ability to access their virtual inventory and offering value added services like magnified images, detailed videos and light performance data. Depending on their outfit, some may even be able to call in the stone for an in-house gemologist review on your behalf.
* This post has last been updated on 14th Sept 2018