Are Diamond Photos Helpful in an Online Purchase?

Thu, 07/11/2013 - 12:06

Purchasing a loose diamond or diamond jewelry online often leads to anxiety for the customer. The combination of high value, lack of product knowledge, and infrequency of this type of purchase can lead a purchaser to fear a less than satisfactory result. Recently, diamond photos have become a popular method of reducing that anxiety. But do they actually benefit the purchaser?

When buying a diamond online, the primary concerns are centered around security and value. Security issues encompass concerns regarding the integrity of the seller, fraudulent charges, return policies with very fine print, and safety of the order. Lumera has attempted to address all of these concerns in the approach we take to the diamond purchase process.

Value concerns are usually centered around the purchaser's desire to make sure the diamond's cut, color, and clarity match their expectations, and are in line with the price paid for the diamond. A photo is often considered a simple and reliable method for confirming various diamond characteristics, and is often relied upon more than the GIA certificate itself.

However, what many customers are often unaware of, is that a diamond photo actually does a fairly poor job of conveying any important characteristics, other than shape. This is why diamond brokers, dealers, and retailers never use them for their own purchases. For instance, the color of a diamond in a photo has been translated through a camera, photo editing equipment, and the final viewer's monitor (which is rarely color calibrated). Because the grading of diamond color relies on very subtle differences in color, sometimes impossible to see even when the diamonds are in front of you, relying on a photo to accurately convey those differences is unwise.

By the same token, cut is often distorted in diamond photography. The photo itself often distorts cut quality, and any editing process will artificially enhance brilliance, brightness, or other artifacts of cut. Even clarity is distorted by the photography process, which often obscures the visibility of certain clarity characteristics.

For these reasons, Lumera does not use photography on the diamonds it purchases or offers for sale. Instead, we use diamond consultants, who are available to every customer, and can answer any questions regarding a diamond. Consultants can also offer alternative suggestions, or even challenge the assumptions a purchaser is making. In our experience, this approach leads to a more satisfied customer and a better purchase decision. We believe this is the primary reason Lumera has the lowest return rate of any major jeweler.