Does “every kiss begins with Kay”?
Kay Jewelers was founded in 1916 when the first store was opened by two brothers; Sol and Edmund Kaufmann. The company’s philosophy is to “provide customers with top quality jewelry, outstanding value and service”.
Currently, they are one of America’s largest jewelry chains and have retail presences in many large sized shopping malls across the country.
Although Kay Jewelers is well known as a traditional brick and mortar jewelry store, they had been expanding their e-commerce operations (since 2005) to tap into the thriving online consumer market.
In recent years, their e-commerce store has seen a growing range of engagement ring products and diamond based jewelry. And that’s what I would cover in this review of Kay.com.
In a world where online jewelry stores have become ubiquitous, there are a number of features that have become critical if a business wants to survive in this competitive landscape. Such basic services in today’s market include free shipping, easy financing and money-back guarantee (Kay offers 60 days) to remove risk from the consumer during a purchase.
With regards to the products offered, any online jewelry store that wants to stay competitive has to offer easy customization and a selection range so wide that it far exceeds what you can find in a single physical storefront.
These are the basic features and advantages of going online – and Kay.com has all of these.
However, when it comes to providing differentiating features that make a particular service stand out from the crowd, it can be unimaginably hard. Like most credible e-commerce stores, Kay has decent sales policies but they don’t go above and beyond to offer features that really wow customers.
Kay’s online store sells a variety of jewelry engagement rings with different materials like diamonds, pearls and gemstones. For the purpose of this review, I will only focus on their diamond based jewelry (well, I’m not an expert with other gemstones and I don’t pretend to be one).
At Kays, you have the option of purchasing a pre-set engagement ring or building a diamond ring from scratch using their Design-a-Ring feature. While there are pros and cons to both methods, I would recommend taking the route of building your own ring.
Pre-set rings are for people who do not have the time to learn and research about diamonds. Everything is done for you without having to undergo the hassle of choosing your own diamond.
And if you browse through Kay’s website, you can easily find hundreds of pre-set rings of any imaginable designs. From generic designs to designer brands like Vera Wang and Angel Sanchez, you will be spoilt for choice.
However, the problem with online pre-set diamond rings (even those offered by other vendors) is that the devil is in the details. Besides buying blind, you have little say in the diamond’s quality as this is usually dictated by the jeweler.
Regardless of buying a pre-set ring that costs $1000 or $10000, the majority of listings I found at Kay.com utilize I1 clarity diamonds as the primary stone. (I had confirmed this with their support staff as well and they don’t entertain any customizations to pre-sets).
Here are some examples you can view:
As I always tell my readers, buying I1 diamonds sight unseen means taking a substantial risk with the diamond’s eye cleanliness. In fact, I personally avoid any diamond clarity below SI2 because of quality issues. If you are wondering how a typical I1 stone looks like and why inclusions may be a problem, read this write up here.
My advice is, if you insist on buying an I1 diamond from Kays, you need to eyeball it and see it in person. With more than 900 physical stores across the country, this shouldn’t pose a problem for most people.
If you are like me, you probably have a tight budget to work with when shopping for an engagement ring. Like most branded brick and mortar stores (think Tiffany, Cartier), you would expect to pay a significantly higher price at Kay Jewelers (upwards of 30%-100% more). This is due to branding premiums and the higher cost of operating brick and mortar businesses.
Being in control and choosing your own diamond for your engagement ring is the shopping process I advocate at Beyond4cs.com.
Kay’s loose diamond inventory system is massive and you’ll find no shortage of diamonds for any specifications you are looking at. In fact, during a search I did at Kay.com recently, I found an inventory listing of more than 6,000 loose diamonds in different shapes and sizes.
To the uninitiated, sieving through such a massive selection of diamonds to find the perfect stone may be an overwhelming process. However, I assure you that it is worth the effort to do so when shopping online.
To help you through the process, you can utilize the step by step guide I had written to cherry pick the best diamonds a vendor has to offer. Note: This guide is not only applicable to online shopping, but you can also apply the same steps if you choose to shop at a physical retail store.
And to complete the ring, all you need to do is to choose a setting to mount the diamond. Kay Jewelers has a huge assortment of more than 111 ring designs to make selections from. And the good news is, choosing a setting doesn’t require much technical knowledge and is largely a matter of taste and personal preference.
This will complete the entire process of “designing your own ring”. It’s not that hard, isn’t it? The caveat here is that you need to get the diamond selection process correct and base your decisions on tangible data.
Kay Jewelers seems to be catching up with new trends of e-commerce quite slowly, but on the whole, the company is okay. There are minor glitches in their marketing philosophy. For example, you probably do not care about a ten dollar coupon if you are looking for engagement rings that cost thousands of dollars.
Overall, Kay Jewelers is great for buying smaller items like personalized jewelry and charms. In these aspects, their selection choices are second to none.