Buying Diamonds Safely Over The Internet
Below are some general safety checks for Australian consumers buying diamonds, jewellery and precious gemstones on the internet.
- Speak to the vendor and ask for the phone numbers of a few clients that can speak for the vendor. Usually you will get a general idea of the credibility of the vendor. A search on diamond forums is also a good way of finding more about the vendor.
- If the vendor is a business you may ask for its Australian Business Number (ABN) together with its business number or Australian Company Number (ACN). By using these names and numbers the business vendor can be checked at ASIC's National Names Index or your local business name office. All good businesses display this number on their site and all the documents.
- Read the return policy of the seller carefully and verify this in writing if necessary.
- A grading certificate from an Australian laboratory is subject to consumer laws in Australia. Therefore, Australian consumers are a lot better protected with a certificate from a local laboratory.
- Where possible, ask for a laser inscription of a diamond. This ensures that the diamond you are buying matches the certificate.
- Where possible obtain a Sarin/Ogi Report on the diamond so that the gemmologist can be aided with the cut grade. This is not 100% essential as the cut grade can be assessed manually. Remember the cut of a diamond consists of the proportion on it as well as the finish.
- For added protection, payment to Australian businesses can be done by using a credit card like American Express, BankCard, Diners, MasterCard or Visa. These companies have special agreement with merchants selling by mail order, online or telephone. The publication Setting the Record Straight About Online Credit Card Fraud for Consumers by the National Office for the Information Economy, states that in most cases, buying online with a credit card is safer than brick-and-mortar stores. This is due to the fact that if the goods are not received, or are not as described, your bank can very easily do a "chargeback", which will give you a full refund of your purchase price. This document is available in PDF format from here.
- An independent third party escrow may also be used. If a lawyer's trust account is used, then ensure that the fees are reasonable and that the lawyer is able to use it for that disbursement. Fees and the payment of the fees for all escrow services ought to be clarified in writing. DCLA also offer a specialised diamond escrow service.