Shopping practices differ from region to region and country to country. If you are currently shopping for an engagement ring and based in the United Kingdom, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, you are going to find out how to buy high quality diamond rings and save a lot of money at the same time. You will also get answers to commonly asked questions and misconceptions that UK shoppers have when buying an engagement ring.
Let’s dive right in…
Well, the biggest problem for UK shoppers is that the majority of local jewellers are insanely overpriced and only sell diamonds with mediocre cut quality. From experience, this phenomenon is seen everywhere; from local family-owned businesses to high street jewellers at Hatton Garden.
To be fair, the problem of having mediocre diamond quality is the same as physical retailers in other parts of the world. But this problem is exacerbated in the UK jewellery industry due to the expensive overheads and staffing costs.
If you want to be a smart shopper and make educated purchasing decisions based on facts and tangible data, I recommend reading up the following sections of Beyond4Cs:
Once you had done so, I guarantee that you will have more knowledge about choosing a diamond than the jewellers who claim to have years or decades of experience.
In fact, if you don’t believe what I said above, all you need to do is to pay a visit to your local jewelry store after reading up and you will know who’s bullshitting you and who isn’t.
A stunning 1 carat diamond engagement ring purchased at BlueNile.com
If you want to avoid high prices, lousy services and poor 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 the UK.
The rationale to go online is simple. That’s because you get complete transparency of what you are buying, access to better cut diamonds and even enjoy significantly lower prices.
You get to see full details of the diamond away from a pressured sales environment.
Unlike a traditional retailer where there is a limited selection of diamonds to choose from, online retailers enable you to cherry pick the best diamond out of a massive inventory for any given budget. This is in sharp contrast to the limited options you have available in physical stores.
The best part is, your purchase is 100% risk free and you are protected with a 30-day no questions asked refund policy. The fact is, in every single aspect of the shopping process, the online retailers offer far better benefits for UK shoppers than any other traditional store!
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 United Kingdom if you buy at a physical store? Let’s find out by taking a look at the largest UK jewelry chain store, Ernest Jones.
A simple solitaire ring with a 1 carat centre diamond was selected for this comparison and a screenshot of the listing can be seen below.
This is the kind of prices you can expect to pay in store.
I want you to take a good look on the Ernest Jones website and pay extra attention to the vague details they provide in their listing. Assuming that you get a 1 carat H colour VS2 centre stone, the cost of the diamond ring is a whopping £16999!
Could you guess how much a diamond ring with top of the line cut quality and similar colour and clarity ratings would cost at Blue Nile? If you guessed £10,000, you are nowhere near correct.
In fact, the total cost of getting a similar looking ring with a more valuable platinum setting and a diamond selected from their signature Astor line would only cost you a total of £7,572 (£247.20 + £7324.80 inclusive of VAT).
That’s less than HALF the price a physical retailer like Ernest Jones charges!
It’s not just a bit cheaper, it’s a lot cheaper when you go online!!!
The phenomenon of overpriced diamonds is not isolated to large chain stores like Ernest Jones. In fact, it is prevalent across almost every UK based retailer! Prices are typically 20-50% more expensive than online vendors like Blue Nile and James Allen!
And when it comes to a big-ticket item like a diamond ring, the absolute differences is MASSIVE. A like-for-like diamond ring that is sold in a retail store for £5,000 would only cost you less than £3,500. And that difference is a huge sum of money.
VAT is an ever-present expense that UK consumers have to deal with and the United Kingdom charges a standard rate of 20% on the cost of goods purchased. For jewelry related products that are imported into the UK, an import duty of roughly 2.5% will also be levied.
The above information is correct at the time of writing and if you want to check out the latest details, head over to this link here: https://www.gov.uk/tax-on-shopping/vat-duties
Right off the bat, I want you to get this fact straight. The UK government assesses VAT and customs taxes on ALL items that are imported regardless of whether you are a commercial entity or an individual consumer.
One of the biggest misconceptions that UK shoppers have is that they don’t pay VAT or customs tax bills when buying locally and in contrast, they only get hit with tax bills when buying engagement rings online.
And if you think that you can magically save money and avoid taxes by shopping locally, you are being delusional. Get this, you PAY the same percentage of taxes regardless of where you shop.
Why? That’s because diamonds are traded in US dollars and more than 90% of the world’s polished diamonds will be exported from the United States. What do you think happens when a UK jewelry store imports and sells their inventory?
Well, they are required by law to pay the customs duty and VAT just like you and me.
In turn, these costs will be charged to the consumers. Instead of breaking down the components of VAT/Customs duty, the stores usually hide and conveniently lump everything together in their listed price tag to provide you with a “nice looking” rounded-up figure. FYI, the rounded up prices is a sneaky marketing tactic that many jewellers in the UK use to charge consumers more.
As stated in the earlier part of the article, there are many benefits of buying a diamond ring from online vendors like Blue Nile, White Flash and James Allen. Besides significantly lower prices and better transparency, the more important advantage is their huge selection of high quality diamonds over traditional brick and mortar stores.
For engagement ring shoppers in UK, the most convenient vendor to work with is Blue Nile as they have business operations in UK and Europe. This means that everything from taxes and shipping has been simplified for you.
As a UK shopper, the prices that you see on BlueNile is the FINAL price you pay since they have already included all necessary taxes in the order. It’s that straightforward and there are no hidden charges.
After you checkout, all you need to do is to wait a couple of days for your purchase to be delivered securely to your doorstep.
For US based vendors like James Allen and White Flash, delivery is made securely via a courier like Fedex. Once the parcel reaches UK, the customs charges and 20% VAT are calculated and you will receive an invoice from the courier.
Upon payment, the parcel will then be released for secure delivery to your doorstep.
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 that this article has shed some light on buying and shopping for rings in the UK. In actuality, it is the same process as buying anywhere else in the world, but with a few exceptions.
Having seen the exorbitant prices and consistently mediocre diamond quality offered by UK jewelry retailers, it’s simply not worth it to shop in a physical brick and mortar store when there are plenty of better alternatives.
Online vendors like Blue Nile and James Allen can give you the freedom to check out multiple items away from a pressurized sales environment, and not just what is available in a particular store.
Plus, it is much cheaper to go online and it makes shopping in the UK easier and more fun.
On a final note, shopping for a high quality diamond ring in the UK can be a bit more expensive and complicated but it can still be an amazing experience. You just need to plan accordingly and work towards what you want.
Good luck with your search! If you need help or have any questions, feel free to drop a comment below!