Ebay can be a great place to buy jewelery at below retail price, but you have to be careful to avoid being burnt. Fortunately, taking a few simple precautions is all that is necessary to ensure a great shopping experience.
1. Know what you are buying
If you don’t know enough about what you are buying, you are more likely to fall victim to one of the misleading sales tactics described below or you may not understand enough of the description to choose exactly what you are after. You don’t need to become a jewellery expert, but some basic knowledge is essential. For example, if you are buying gemstone jewellery, you should know a bit about the gemstones you are looking for. If you are buying diamond items, you should understand what the various diamond colors and qualities mean. This information is easily accessible on the internet. Many jewelery retailers put guides or other information on their sites. It is also helpful to know the approximate retail prices of the sorts of items you are looking for so that you don’t overpay for your purchase.
2. The devil is in the details
This may sound trite, but be sure you read the description carefully. You cannot physically examine the jewelery if you are shopping on Ebay, so those written details become all the more important. Read the entire description, not just the title and if you don’t think you have enough information, email the seller. If the description is particularly woolly (for example a long, waffling boast about how great the seller’s jewelery is, with no details about the particular item), you may want to give it a miss altogether.
3. Beware of misleading sales tactics
Most sellers on eBay are honest people. However, just as in the off-line retail world, there is a minority who will use misleading tactics to peddle inferior products. One of the most common tactics utilized by sellers of “junk” jewelery (ie non-precious, fashion jewelery) is to use misleading titles and to list their offerings in categories for real gemstone and diamond jewelery.
If you take a quick browse through fine jewelery listed on Ebay, you will no doubt see many item titles screaming about platinum, diamond and fancy gemstone items at very, very low prices. A closer look at the descriptions will reveal that the “platinum” is really brass plated in rhodium, the “diamond” is nothing more than crystal or glass and the “gemstone” is colored CZ. Sometimes this information is carefully hidden in the fine text of the description, or even worse, is missing altogether.
It is disappointing that such misleading conduct has been allowed to flourish on Ebay, but there is no reason why anyone should fall for it. Remember, no one in their right mind will offer you a real precious metal, gemstone or diamond item for the buy-it-now price of $1. If you are after some cheap imitation jewelery, such items may be for you. Otherwise, it may be wise to give such sellers a wide berth.
Another common tactic is calling CZ “created gemstones” or “created diamonds”. A real created gemstone or created diamond is grown in a laboratory to make it chemically identical to a natural gemstone or diamond. It may be less expensive than the natural gemstone, but it is still a valuable stone. colored CZ, glass or crystal is not a created gemstone or diamond. It may have a similar color and look good, but it is not as valuable. There is of course nothing wrong with CZ or crystal stones if that is what you are looking for, but you should not be misled into buying something more expensive.
A rarer, but even more dishonest tactic is to use abbreviations or acronyms designed to mislead the buyer. Sellers of jewelery items often use abbreviations, not all of which may be readily comprehensible. Most of these abbreviations are entirely legitimate and necessary – for example the symbols for diamond clarity and color. But you should beware of abbreviations designed to mislead. For example, some less scrupulous sellers may talk about “real gold GP jewelery” – what they mean by GP is “gold plated,” but someone who is not familiar with the abbreviation may think it is solid gold (which is, of course, the point of using it). Generally, if you don’t understand an abbreviation, it is a good idea to ask the seller.
4. Take into account shipping costs
There is a number of sellers who list their items at very low prices, but with extremely high postage/shipping costs. Some of the worst offenders have been known to have shipping costs as high as $500 for jewelery items. This practice serves the dual purpose of attracting potential buyers with the low starting price and avoiding eBay fees. While such conduct is against eBay policies, many sellers continue to use this tactic. It is best to avoid such sellers altogether. However, even legitimate postage costs should be taken into account when buying. Overseas postage in particular can be expensive, so you should not forget it when calculating the total cost of the item.
5. It is all a matter of trust
Unless you have dealt with the seller before, buying on eBay is really a matter of trust. The best way to make sure you can really trust the seller is to go through their feedback. Don’t just look at the number – high volume sellers can have high feedback score even if their merchandise and service are of a low standard. In fact, a few sellers who engage in misleading tactics described above have feedback scores of more than a thousand. Check out the percentage of negatives and the comments. A few negatives or neutrals are OK, but if a seller has a high percentage of negative feedback or consistent comments about fake, low quality or non-delivered items, chances are you will be disappointed with your purchase.