Pearl Buying Tips
The tips in this useful resource will help you make more informed decisions about buying pearl jewellery online.
As always, there are exceptions to the rules, and life is not perfect... but when you are paying good money…you expect something good in return!
You get what you pay for
Buyer beware all those 'unbelievable offers', and 'wholesale priced' offers of top quality 'AAA' grade pearls for less than your weekly shopping!
Can you really buy a top-of-the-range BMW for the price of a basic Fiat Panda? Of course not!
Many websites, usually foreign-based, display inflated 'Recommended or Typical Retail Prices' which are then discounted by 75% or 80% to make the price you pay seem like a bargain. If only BMW & Porsche discounted their cars by 80%!!
Beware dodgy valuation certificates
Worse still is when the retailer gives you a 'valuation certificate' for an inflated price! If they are willing to do this, what else are they willing to do?
The devil is in the detail!
- Look for detailed, accurate and comprehensive product specifications so you can compare and make an informed choice. Be suspicious of vital missing information.
- Remember - the real value lies in the quality & weight of the pearls, and any precious metals or precious stones included.
Know your pearls!
A few other pointers
- Is VAT & postage included?
- Is everything shown in photos included in the price or clearly stated otherwise?
- Ensure what is described in text does not conflict with 'technical info chart'?
Overseas pearl shopping websites
The internet and air travel have made the world a lot smaller, and global shopping websites bring a great deal of choice. However, buying from other countries does raise other questions.
Many pearl websites on search engines such as Google or Yahoo even with .co.uk suffixes are often based in the USA or Asia, and this is where they ship customer orders from. Some even give a UK rented address or telephone number, to give the appearance of a fully UK-based retailer.
The main considerations are:
Import duty & VAT
- Can add 20-30% to the cost.
- You pay Royal Mail/Courier prior to delivery at your UK address or the foreign website adds to your order at checkout.
- Customs are well aware of foreign websites declaring lower values on customs declarations to reduce/avoid these taxes.
- In case of returns, claiming taxes back is a lot of paperwork...
- Often charged on top of product costs due to high international shipping costs.
- Usually not refunded if you make a return.
- Return shipping & insurance costs can be expensive.
Some overseas websites
- Are ultra generous with returns periods such as 90 or 100 days.
- Sometimes masks the fact there is no decent 6/12 month 'warranty or guarantee' period.
UK Consumer protection
- Is renowned amongst the world's best.
- Purchasing outside the UK offers little redress or legal basis if things go pear-shaped!
Repairs & other Issues:
- With expensive international shipping rates and lack warranty, can be time consuming and costly.
Hallmarking precious metals:
- Almost certain that any gold or silver content has not been officially hallmarked by a UK Assay Office (applys to minimum weights).
Our advice is to support the UK jewellery industry! But of course, we are biased in that respect!
Some basic internet shopping tips
- A customer friendly Returns Policy exceeding the legal minimum of 7 working days.
- Membership to a government backed accreditation organization and other types of regulated/professional associations.
- Contact details - Trusted address, landline telephone number as well as a business e-mail address, rather than Hotmail/Yahoo/Gmail etc.
- A certificate of authenticity for the goods.
- A guarantee or warranty for workmanship of the goods
- Clear display of the payment methods accepted.
- Compliance with the UK government's Distance Selling Regulations.
- Postage costs (if any) and VAT inclusive prices should be clearly displayed.