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The Rise of Online Jewelry

When it comes to buying jewelry, consumers are stepping out of retail stores and into their computer chairs to shop online. Online jewelry sales have gone from nonexistent in 1996 to an estimated $2.7 billion dollars in 2009; quite a meteoric rise. Yet currently, online sales represent only 6.5% of the total U.S. jewelry market, leaving plenty of room for future growth.

But how did this exponential growth occur in an industry where online success was considered unlikely?  Brick and mortar stores long believed that jewelry sales require an expert salesperson and a strong emotional attachment that can only come from seeing the jewelry in person and trying it on. This theory makes logical sense, but growing online sales indicate otherwise. Consumers’ willingness to spend big bucks on jewelry online demonstrates increased confidence in the online retail environment, and studies show that they are also enjoying the experience (source: Comscore & JCOC).

The increase in consumer confidence is not the only factor contributing to rising online jewelry sales – research shows that purchases increased dramatically as online retailers improved site security, lowered prices, offered quicker shipping, and added detailed product descriptions and pictures that can be enlarged to show maximum detail. Often online pictures can be enlarged many times the size of the piece of jewelry, allowing consumers to get a better look at the item than they can in person.

Interestingly, the biggest growth in online jewelry sales is for the most sentimental, meaningful purchase of all – diamond engagement rings and wedding bands.  Online buyers are gravitating towards purchasing certified diamonds, as the certification gives consumers the reassurance they need to feel comfortable spending their hard-earned money online. Online jewelry shopping might take much of the emotional reaction out of the buying equation, but it has certainly helped objectivity and the search for a good deal. In this economy, it is clear that consumers will be searching harder than ever for good deals and increased savings, especially when purchasing luxury goods like jewelry.

One thing is for certain: people who purchase jewelry online are enjoying the experience. According to a study by the Jewelry Consumer Opinion Council, 84% of people who bought jewelry online were satisfied or extremely satisfied with the quality of their purchase. Perhaps it’s the inherent convenience of online shopping – with all of the options you need at your fingertips, no salesperson pressure and every detail you need listed on the site, shopping for jewelry is an easy experience. It certainly was for 80% of those surveyed in the same study, who agreed that shopping online is more convenient than going to a brick and mortar store.

So enjoy the virtues of online jewelry shopping this holiday season, but first make sure you are buying from a reputable jewelry e-tailer. If you’re unsure, check out our article featuring must-read tips for buying jewelry online. It covers easy, surefire ways to guarantee you’re buying from a reputable jeweler.

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