Shopping practices differ from region to region and country to country. If you are based in the EU and want to find out how to buy a high quality diamond engagement ring without getting ripped off, you’ve come to the right place.
In this write up, you are going to learn how to be a smart shopper and find out where are the best places to buy a diamond at significantly lower prices. I will also address the frequently asked questions and misconceptions that European consumers have when buying an engagement ring.
You ready? Let’s get started…
In most European countries, the diamond retail industry is far less developed than in countries like the US. In fact, calling it “less developed” is an understatement. Not only do you get limited selections of engagement rings and mediocre diamond quality, the prices are also grossly overpriced.
As a consumer, your problems don’t end there.
From experience, the huge majority of European jewelers don’t even have knowledge about cut quality and often sell diamonds with unreliable lab reports to rip off consumers.
If you are shopping for an engagement ring in EU and want to be a smart shopper, I strongly encourage you to read up on the following sections of Beyond4Cs.com:
Once you had read up the sections above, you will be more knowledgable than 95% of the jewelers who ply their trade in the EU.
Don’t believe what I say? All you need to do is to walk into your local jewelry store and see if you can engage in any indepth conversation with a jeweler about diamond cut quality.
In fact, once you spend 1-2 hours of your time reading and understanding the content here, you will be able to see through the shady tactics employed by jewelers to overcharge you for a purchase.
1 carat halo diamond ring purchased from BlueNile.com
If you want to avoid exorbitant prices, lousy services and low quality diamonds, you need to go online. Vendors like Blue Nile, James Allen and White Flash are some of the best places to buy a diamond ring in Europe.
The reasoning behind shopping online is simple. That’s because you get complete transparency and full details of the diamond you are buying. On top of that, you also have access to better cut diamonds with reliable grading reports and MUCH lower prices!
You get to see full details of the diamond away from a pressurized sales environment.
One of the biggest problem faced by shoppers is that traditional retailers only have a limited selection of diamonds in store. This is due to the massive costs of stocking up inventory. As a result, you will likely have to make compromises based on what the retailer has and NOT what’s available in the market.
In sharp contrast, the online retailers enable you to cherry pick the best diamond out of a massive inventory for any given budget. As a consumer, this is really important because the majority of polished diamonds have mediocre cut standards.
In order to find a well cut diamond that suits your specifications, you will need the volume and depth of inventory.
Besides better selections, you also get better consumer protection and risk-free purchases with online vendors (30-day no questions asked refund policy). This is something you will never get with a typical European retailer.
As the facts show in every single aspect of the shopping process, the online retailers offer far more advantages than any other traditional store in the EU! If you ask me, it’s really a no brainer where you should be buying from.
And if you are curious about the kind of quality you can expect, check out these 2 videos of diamond rings that were purchased from Blue Nile and James Allen.
So, just how much more expensive are diamond engagement ring prices in the European Union if you buy at a physical store?
From experience, the price differences for a like-for-like diamond ring in a physical store would cost at least 30% – 50% more compared to one that is purchased online. Mind you, this is a comparison that is done after VAT and all other charges are factored in.
The phenomenon of overpriced diamonds is not isolated to large chain stores. In fact, it is prevalent across almost every European retailer! So, why is there such a big difference in prices? Well, that’s largely due to the expensive overheads in staffing costs and rental which is passed down to the consumers.
Now, when we are talking about big ticket purchases like diamond rings, a 30-50% price difference could mean hundreds to thousands of dollars. For example, a like-for-like diamond ring sold in a retail store for €10,000 would likely cost you less than €7,000 in a vendor like Blue Nile!
One other disturbing factor that I frequently come across in physical retail stores is that the jewelers will offer to help you bring in diamonds for viewing if you commit to a purchase or place a hefty non-refundable deposit.
Remember what I told you earlier about having limited options available? What is really happening here is that the jewelers are shopping blind on your behalf and putting all the risk on you!
What is really happening here is that you are leaving the diamond buying decision in the hands of someone who doesn’t know better and may not have your interests at heart. Instead, you would be far better off shopping online yourself and getting protected by risk free policies!
The European Union has set the minimum standard VAT rate at 15% and the 28 member countries are free to set their own VAT rates. Interestingly, ALL of the European countries have VAT higher than the minimum rate.
Depending on the country you are located or residing in, the VAT rate may differ. For your convenience, I had tabulated the most recent tax rates for the different countries in the EU below.
The information above is correct at the time of writing but may be subject to change depending on the individual governments. For the latest rates, go to this link here: https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/national-tax-websites_en
As an example, if you are buying a diamond ring in France at the retail cost of €10,000, you would have to pay a total of €12,000 after the 20% VAT is added. So, make sure you factor the VAT payable into your budget.
Right off the bat, I want you to get this point straight across to you. Whether you are a commercial business or a private individual, your country’s government will assess VAT and customs duty on ALL items you buy or import.
One of the biggest misconceptions that EU consumers have is that they only get hit with VAT when buying an engagement ring online and they wrongly assume that they don’t pay VAT or customs taxes when buying in a physical store.
If you are one of these people who think you get cheaper prices because you avoid paying value-added taxes in a retail store, you are completely delusional. The truth of the matter is, you PAY the same percentage of tax regardless of where you shop.
You see, the huge majority of polished diamonds are imported from the USA into international markets. What do you think happens when a local jeweler import their goods to do business? Do you think they are magically exempted from the rule of law?
The fact is, they are required to pay customs duty and VAT just like you and me. When you shop in a store, the price tag that you see usually encompasses the costs of VAT/customs duty in it.
Instead of breaking down the individual costs of VAT or customs duty in a transparent manner, there is an incentive to lump everything together so that these jewelers can charge you more with a rounded-up figure.
When it comes to buying a diamond ring, the online vendors like Blue Nile, White Flash and James Allen have tremendous advantages over the traditional retail stores. Besides having a big selection of diamonds to cherry pick from and lower prices, you also get complete transparency in what you are buying.
In my opinion, the most convenient vendor for a EU based shopper is Blue Nile.
As an EU shopper, the prices that you see on Blue Nile will be the FINAL price you pay. The VAT for the items you buy is already calculated and included into your purchase price. Additionally, no duty will be charged when shipping within the EU.
Once you checkout, your purchase will be securely shipped to your doorstep in a couple of days.
After an order is placed, the parcel is sent and arrives at your country’s customs. At this point, the VAT and customs fees will be calculated and the courier in charge (e.g. FedEx) will send an invoice detailing the taxes payable.
Once payment is settled, the parcel will be cleared for release and it will arrive securely at your doorstep in a couple of days.
Regardless of who you buy from, VAT is collected and payable on your diamond ring purchase. For US based vendors, the difference lies in the additional step of paying VAT to the courier before you receive the goods.
I hope this article has offered guidance and revealed insights into shopping for diamond rings in the EU. In fact, this is the same method that is used by international readers who had successfully purchased their rings around the world.
I’ve personally seen the ridiculous prices and mediocre diamond quality offered by EU jewelry retailers. On top of that, the use of unreliable grading reports is prevalent in the jewelry industry. It just isn’t worth it to risk shopping in a physical retail store when there are much better alternatives available.
Online vendors like Blue Nile and James Allen are the best places to buy an engagement ring in Europe. Not only do they offer a non-pressurized sales environment, you also get to cherry pick the best diamond for your budget easily.
Plus, you get to save a lot of money when you go online and the shopping experience is risk-free and fun!
On a final note, shopping for a high quality diamond ring in the EU may be a little more complicated and expensive because of the VAT. However, it can still be an amazing experience if you shop the right way. You just need to plan accordingly and work towards what you want.
All the best in your search! If you need help or have any questions, feel free to drop a comment below!