Although buying “the” engagement ring or a gift for someone special is sometimes shrouded in mystery and suspense, trading in diamonds has never been more open and transparent.

Gone are the days when the local family or high street jeweller could charge whatever they wished for a diamond ring displayed in their window just because you seemed to take an interest. The age of austerity has brought along a special kind of consumer who wishes to make a luxury purchase, the one who spends twelve hours on averageover a period of time on due diligence and price comparison sites taking in information from various online resources from the comfort of his home before even contemplating hitting the shops. Men more than women it seems, but whether the local jeweller likes it or not, profits are shrinking, hence a move to silver jewellery like Pandora where there is no link between item value and price. It’s the “fashion” statement that counts and Pandora has emerged as a brand in its own right.

The information highway has brought with it power, knowledge and sometimes confusion. Too little or too much information can be detrimental to a purchase but the right amount of knowledge will make the shopping experience smarter, easier and more enjoyable.

The luxury jewellery market is currently segmented into three tiers. Tier one consists of brands like Graff, Cartier, Tiffany, Bulgari among other such names who charge a price for what there is on offer. A long history of manufacturing fine designer jewellery, impeccable high standards and established quality. These brands dictate a higher price especially because “the girl wants Tiffany”.Here, brand is king and not the diamond. Tier two consists of centralised diamond e-tailers or retailers like James Allen, Blue Nile and Marlow’s among others. This segment offers value for money and online branding, the relatively new kids on the block. In this segment, diamond quality and prices take priority over brand for the conscious consumer. A like for like GIA diamond comparison can be made and a fairly quick decision arrived on as to which is the better buy. In the UK, Blue Nile and James Allen currently do not have bricks and mortar stores so the purchase has to be made online without getting a feel of what you are buying. Alternatively companies like ours offer a “touch and feel” service of what you are buying, perhaps at a slight premium at times. This is backed by lifetime customer service and associated guarantees, so a bit of first Tier experience. The third tier consists of two opposite entities. The established family jewellerwho is unnecessarily expensive but seemingly sell good quality merchandise and on the other hand, online and TV e-tailers who will aim to sell a lower quality item at acheaper price. At times, they seem to give good value for money and at other times, they do not. It’s a luck by chance experience. One should buy from here if price is the main criteriaand generally expectations are relatively low if you are making a seemingly reasonable purchase, hence the strong growth of this segment as well.

There is room for all the above segments and the savvy consumer is spoiled for choice. Marlow’s are always here to help guide and advice you whether a deal, even from a competitor, is worth having. Come talk to us about fine diamonds and gemstone jewellery.