I’m sure most of you here are familiar with online auction giant, eBay. From story books, stuffed toys to electronic gadgets, you can get anything imaginable there. Diamonds and jewelry included. Word to the wise, there are many eBay sellers who cheat or mislead the uneducated buyer and it’s a shark tank out there.
But what if you still choose to make your purchase there despite all the warnings given? And that’s the purpose behind writing this article – to help you understand how these scams work and identify good sellers before you start making any hefty purchases.
While there are hooligans and scammers aplenty, there do exist sellers who make an honest living on eBay. Knowing how to avoid getting scammed on EBay diamond purchases will help ensure you are getting exactly what is stated in the auction.
One of the first things to check on EBay when purchasing ANY item is the reputation of the seller. How long have they been selling on EBay? Do they have any negative feedback and how had they handled complaints? How long have they been selling jewels or is this the first deal they made?
Unknown to many eBay shoppers, a seller’s reputation can be easily “faked” and improved with the correct tricks. One good questions to ask yourself when doing research on a seller is what did they built their reputation on? Could it be that they primarily sell other low priced items in an attempt to build up a good feedback score?
In either case, it is helpful to get a full scope on the seller about who they are and what they are about.
Preference should be given to sellers who are either gemologists or jewelers themselves but there are also honest individuals selling their Great Grandmother’s diamond ring. In such scenarios, always ask for a lab report of the diamond (and obviously, verify it with the lab) as they may not know enough to provide you with what you need.
Vendor’s Listing vs. Photograph of Stone Received
Because of this educational website, I purchase diamonds all the time to collect samples for material to write about. In this particular example of a transaction I made, the diamond was irradiated for color enhancement and it was stated clearly in the listing. That’s fine, because I wanted to purchase some treated diamonds (laser enhanced, hpht, radiation) as part of an on-going study I perform. In this particular example, the stone wasn’t certified due to its small carat size.
The pictures above showed the vendor’s listing of the diamond and the one on the right showed a picture which I captured with my 10X loupe. Do you see how obvious the inclusions are in my picture and how “clean” it looks on the vendor’s listing? Needless to say, I got a rude shock when I discovered the diamond was severely included and can be seen with the naked eye.
Since you can’t see the stone itself, you will need to closely examine what is said about the stone. Be sure you have a guarantee to return the stone if you receive it and it is not what you thought it was in the first place.
You want to ensure the stone is natural and not a lab created diamond or a stimulant. Enhanced diamonds are worth a lot less than untreated, natural stones and the price should be reflective of that. The point I’m trying to make here is that you shouldn’t be overpaying for a synthetic stone at the price of a natural one.
You also want to ensure there is a reputable certificate attached to your diamond. For example, a GIA (Gemological Institute of America) certification will have the specifics of the carat, clarity, cut and color as well as other details about the diamond you are purchasing. Make sure you see the photograph of the certificate and examine its authenticity.
GIA Diamond Dossier Report
Most certifications are laminated; so look closely to see whether this has been tampered with and the certification is not forged. With the serial number of the lab report, you can compare the serial number with the lab to ensure it was indeed certified by them. Click here for a list of useful links that will help you out on this.
Learning to protect yourself against potential fraud with EBay purchases involves a history of the diamond itself. Ask the seller the origins of the stone and verify this history. Many sellers will mention their diamonds are “Kimberly Process confirmed”. This is an organization which was founded in 2003 to formally certify international diamonds and the origins of each diamond specifically.
As you research all there is to know about the 4 C’s, namely the cut, carat, clarity and color, you will be able to spot the scammers more accurately. When something just doesn’t seem to match up with what the seller is offering, you should follow your instincts and avoid the deal.
My advice to new shoppers is to avoid eBay all together. It is a shark tank out there for inexperienced shoppers. Instead, work with REAL reputable online vendors to purchase your diamonds. This way, you can always be sure that you get the correct stone that you paid for. Nothing more, nothing less.