Did you know that there are at least 5,215 jewellers in Australia? Gone are the days when you had to travel around in person to lots of different stores trying to find timeless pieces and fashionable jewels to suit you and your budget. Now you can easily shop for jewellery online in Australia from the comfort of your home.
This is a good thing, right? However, when buying jewellery online you may find yourself overwhelmed due to the wide variety of pieces in different styles, prices and quality. You may feel unsure about spending your money without first seeing a particular jewellery design in person. Also how do you know that an online jewellery store is legitimate and trustworthy before you shop?
The truth is that some people think that shopping for jewellery online is a bit risky - and sometimes those concerns are justified. So, what precautions should you take to be confident about your online jewellery purchases and to generally shop safely online?
Here are our top ten tips for safely buying jewellery online, Australia:
1. Research before you shop
When shopping for jewellery online, it’s hard to know who you can trust and who not to trust. To discover reliable online stores, do some research before you shop.
Make use of your favourite search engine to find the best Australian jewellery stores which sell online. Need some help? Check out our 5 Tips to Find the Best Australian Jewellers and What to Look for When Shopping for Australian Jewellery for some handy advice.
Once you've found some stores whose jewellery you like, carry out a bit of background research to determine whether the store is legitimate and whether they're a fit for you before you proceed.
Some things to consider:
- How long has the online store been around for?
- Does the website provide an 'about us' background story that sounds legitimate?
- Where is the business based? Is it an Australian jewellery brand operating under Australian consumer laws?
- Is the jewellery store easy to contact and do they appear to offer good customer service?
- Do the products look consistent and likely to be created by the same business, or is there a wide variety in jewellery style and photography, indicating finished products are sourced from different places and are being re-sold?
- What is the price range? Is it justified and a fit for your budget? Are the payment methods trustworthy? Is it too cheap (always a red flag)?
- How detailed are the product listings? Do you have enough information to be confident about what you're buying?
- Do the values of the business align with your own? For instance, is it an ethical jewellery business which aims to be ecofriendly and sustainable?
- Does the website give the impression of being reputable, reliable and well established?
- Does the business have a social media presence and does it look legitimate rather than inundated by fake followers?
There are also a number of places online where you can dig deeper for information about an online store if you're at all concerned.
For instance, if you look up our website on Scam Advisor you'll see it gets a trust score of 100/100 (yay!). You can also look up our domain name on Who.Is to see how long ago it was registered (way back in 2000 - true story). The Way Back Machine is a great way to see how long a website has existed and how it has changed over the years (we've had a web presence since 2004 and it has always been related to our jewellery business).
All of these tools and more are invaluable to help you avoid scams. Make use of them before you shop with an online store that you aren't familiar with and you'll be less likely to fall for any scams or disreputable business practices.
2. Ask for referrals
When buying jewellery, don't forget that it's quite likely that your friends or family members have purchased jewellery online in the past. Ask them for advice and whether they would recommend any given store.
Sometimes a word of mouth recommendation can be all you need. Also ask if they've heard of a particular online jewellery store you've found to see what they might have heard about them, if anything.
Of course you can also recommend online businesses that you've had a good experience with. Independent online jewellery stores, such as Simone Walsh Jewellery, rely heavily on word of mouth recommendations from people just like you.
3. Look for online reviews
Selecting a good online jewellery retailer may seem a bit challenging. However, taking a look at what past customers have to say about a store makes the process easier. Customer reviews can be a good indicator of the reliability of the store.
Check whether past customers were happy or not. Always settle for an online jewellery store with positive reviews and high customer ratings.
Look both on the website of the online store, but also do a general search engine check to see if there are reviews elsewhere. Keep in mind that happy customers may not leave a review, but dissatisfied customers often do. If there are a number of dissatisfied customers who have written legitimate sounding reviews, then you should definitely take those into account.
4. Check materials used to make the jewellery
We sound like a broken record when it comes to this issue, but when buying jewellery online, you should always check each product to find out what it is actually made from and have some understanding of what that means.
For instance, if a piece of jewellery includes the word 'silver' or 'gold' in its title, that doesn't necessarily mean it's real gold jewellery or silver jewellery: it could just be a reference to the colour rather than the materials used. That's not to say you shouldn't buy costume jewellery, but you should be well aware of what you're actually paying for.
If you're not clear about what different materials are or what different jewellery terms mean, then a great place to go for information is our jewellery glossary.
If the online store doesn't provide clear and detailed information about the materials used to make each product they sell, then it pays to be very wary. Our advice is: steer clear.
5. Don’t fall for too high or too low prices
Jewellery prices that are too low are a definite warning sign, especially if you have the impression that the jewellery is made from precious metals and gemstones (a low price means it probably isn't).
Low prices could also be an indicator that the jewellery is made in unethical conditions using sweatshop labour. We don't want our own hard earned money going to support such practices and we hope you don't either.
While jewellery prices that are too low to be true are not a good sign, you should also be aware that a high price tag doesn't necessarily indicate quality or ethical practices. You may be simply be paying a big chunk of money for a big brand name with high overheads rather than good quality jewellery.
However, this doesn’t mean that very high prices are never justified. Pieces made in solid gold or platinum, or with high quality or rare mined gemstones will always be expensive. As will complex pieces handmade by a skilled or sought after artisan.
Also be aware that small Australian jewellery businesses like ours need to charge enough to cover their costs, pay themselves liveable wages and to create jewellery without resorting to unethical labour practices. To better understand what's involved, have a read of our article: What it means to truly support small shops, designers & artisans.
Essentially you should always be aware of the quality your budget can justify. Aim at getting what you pay for in terms of the uniqueness of the design, quality of materials and level of craftsmanship. Shelling out a lot of money just for a big brand name or big business with big overheads isn't our idea of fun.
Part of doing this goes back to tip 1 above: do your research to better understand who you're buying from, what the jewellery brand is all about and whether they feel like a fit for you.
6. Check the sizes of jewellery pieces
Make sure you have an understanding of the size of each piece of jewellery that you're interested in buying online. You may receive something which is different in size to what you imagined, so it's a good idea to consider this before you order.
Jewellery photography is very complex (trust us: we know!) and it can be difficult to give a clear idea of scale and size in general. Even photographs of jewellery on models can be misleading. You may receive something which is quite different in scale to what you imagined, so it's a good idea to consider this before you place your order.
We always outline the sizes of each piece of jewellery we sell and its key components, both in centimetres and inches (check the 'sizes and materials' section for each of our jewellery product pages). Ensure the jewellery store you're looking at does the same so you can feel confident about what you're getting.
Our suggestion is to keep a ruler or tape measure handy while you're shopping for jewellery online so you can refer to it to get a clear idea of scale.
Also be aware that sometimes size really matters in terms of fit rather than just aesthetics. In particular ring sizes are important to get right and we have some great tips to help you do this in our ring size measuring guide. Also you may find a necklace is too long or too short to suit you, so check the length being sold and if it's adjustable or can be changed to suit you better. We have plenty of helpful advice and style tips in our necklace length guide.
7. Look for a warranty or guarantee
Avoid buying online from Australian jewellery designers that don’t provide a fair warranty or guarantee for their products. This is something you should check before you buy jewellery.
Shopping from a store that doesn't back up its products with a warranty or guarantee is risky, especially when shopping online as you haven't seen the products in person.
Even if the jewellery you purchase arrives in perfect shape, you may later discover a manufacturing fault or design flaw after it has been worn for a while. You need to feel confident that the online jewellery store offers a long enough warranty and has good enough customer service to cover you.
Check out the Happiness Guarantee for Simone Walsh Jewellery.
8. Check the returns policy
Related to the warranty or guarantee above, when shopping online make sure you review the returns and exchanges policies for each store before you buy. This is a great way to narrow down your options as you can make sure you're comfortable with the policies before it's too late.
Some questions to ask:
- Can you return products for any reason, including if they're simply not right for you once you see them in person? Not every online jewellery store offers this option (we do).
- Is every product covered by the same policy? What about made to order items?
- Can you organise an exchange rather than a return?
- Who is responsible for paying for shipping of returns or exchanges in different situations?
- What steps would you need to take to organise a return?
- Is there a time limit on returning or exchanging products?
Make sure you check these policies before you shop or you might find yourself unable to return something that you're not happy with once you've seen it in person - and that's never a good thing.
9. Consider the shipping policies
Shipping policies vary from one store to another. Before you buy jewellery online make sure you check the store's jewellery shipping policies to make sure you're happy with them and that they'll work for your own situation.
Some things to look for:
- What's the cost of shipping?
- Is there a free shipping option available?
- What is the turnaround time before your order will be shipped?
- How much extra time do made to order jewellery pieces take?
- Where are items shipped from and how long is shipping expected to take to your location? Can you organise express delivery if needed?
- What shipping services are used by the online jewellery store? Are they reputable?
- Will you get tracking information for your order?
- What happens if something goes wrong with shipping or if your order goes missing? Are the policies clear?
- Is it safe to use a residential address for delivery?
In particular, if you're shopping for a special occasion or a gift needed by a specific date, you should have a clear idea as to whether your order will arrive on time and what you might be able to do to speed up delivery if needed, including any additional costs which might be incurred for express delivery.
At Simone Walsh Jewellery we have free shipping in Australia for orders $30+ and Express Post is available. We generally ship orders in 1-2 business days, but our made to order items (such as rings) may take up to 5 business days. If anything goes wrong with delivery of your order we'll work with you and Australia Post to resolve any issues.
10. Review store security & business credentials
These may seem like boring issues when you just want to go shopping, but it pays to do at least a cursory check that an online store is secure and that the business is legitimate before you part with your money.
As a starting point, look at the address bar of your browser to see if the site you are on has a secure connection. In Google Chrome you will see a padlock indicating that it is and clicking on it will give you additional information. Another clue is that the website address will start with 'https' rather than 'http'.
Also if you're shopping online you should know if the store is certified as PCI Compliant: "a security standard for organisations that handle credit and debit card information". Simone Walsh Jewellery uses Shopify to operate our online store and every Shopify store is PCI Compliant as standard.
In addition, look for any business registration information for the online store. For an Australian online store look for an ABN (Australian Business Number) clearly stated somewhere on the site. For instance, Simone Walsh Jewellery gives this number at the bottom of every page and on our contact page. You can use this number to check that the business is legitimately registered in Australia.
Finally, if you really want to get into the nitty gritty, look for terms of service and privacy policies, which all legitimate online stores should have available. You'll find these pages linked to in the menu on the bottom of every page in our online store.
Buying jewellery online Australia is safe when you know what to look for
Once upon a time it may have seemed safer to walk into a bricks and mortar store to shop for jewellery, but these days you'll find that buying jewellery online is also a perfectly safe and reliable option, provided you do a bit of research.
You'll also find a much wider array of design styles, quality, materials and other options than you could ever find when shopping offline, so you're sure to find just the thing rather than compromising. What's not to love about that?
All you need to do is follow our top 10 tips for buying jewellery online in Australia, do some searching for the best Australian jewellery stores and you'll be good to go.
Ready to go shopping? Check out our online jewellery shop.