It is interesting how we are lulled into a false sense of security by a name or a brand or a product.
Invariably it comes down to marketing and credibility.
When you are looking to buy a running shoe, Nike immediately comes to mind. Not because they have the best running shoe, but because they use aggressive marketing that tells you they have the best running shoe. If you do the research, you will find other shoes that are in fact better suited for running and more specifically, designed to suit long or short distances, cross terra or road running etc. But you are an entry level runner and Nike has established itself as a credible brand, so why bother with research.
Private vs Mainstream
The moment the thought crosses your mind, whether a watch for yourself or a tennis bracelet for your significant other, immediately the google bar is filled with “where to buy?” and “best price for” enquiries. When the names of “reputable “jewellery stores appear, your research extends only as far as price.
While scrolling through google options, however, you find a pawn shop offering you the same item, but for a lot cheaper. Interest in the item compels you to research the pawn broker. You look up his web page, you read his reviews, and you run his name through Google to see if anything dodgy comes up.
Pawn shops and pawn brokers themselves have had a shady past, and your research is only exercising good judgement. If you are dealing with large sums of money or with valuable product, it would be foolish not to research the prospective broker.
My question is, why does it stop there?
If you buy a Rolex watch, you should know it comes with a traceable serial number, box and papers. If you want to buy a particular stone, you should know that it comes with a confirmation gemmology certificate.
But what about gold?
Do we really only settle for the stamp on the back telling us whether it is 9ct, 18ct, etc.?
Why do we only do half the research?
Because we believe that mainstream jewellery stores are run on love and romance and only want us to be happy. We believe mainstream jewellery stores have credibility because of aggressive marketing telling us so.
Have we forgotten that gold and diamonds are a lucrative business, the emphasis being on business?
Like any other business, there are costs to bear and corners to cut.
If you do your research because you are buying from a private dealer, and feel that there is a certain risk, or at least lack of recourse, then I urge you to apply the same diligence when buying from a mainstream jewellery store. Not on the store itself, they spend a fortune in marketing, ensuring favourable reviews. I mean, take the 18ct gold chain that you bought, and get it tested.
Nothing to lose and a whole lot to be gained.
A significant number of times, more times than you would think, people arrive at their local pawn shop, desperate for cash, ready to sell there 18ct gold chain, only to find that it is in fact, only 14ct, or their fancy engagement ring has a moissanite stone and not a diamond.
Private dealers know that they are viewed under a microscope, and people don’t part with their money until all the t’s are crossed and all the I’s dotted. They don’t have the marketing budget to engage the smoke and mirrors. Credibility is built through one on one interaction with clients that don’t return if they are not happy. There is no mass marketing to fall back on and one bad deal or one unhappy review can seriously hurt the bottom line in a very competitive industry.
At the end of the day, if you leave with a piece of paper saying you purchased an 18ct gold chain, and you haven’t seen it tested in front of you with your own eyes, not even Judge Judy can help you. Once you leave the store, you have no recourse, because of course, you yourself could have tampered with the item. Once you leave the store, there is no way to prove that they did in fact under carat you and that they have instead added more alloys than gold. Check your gold from mainstream jewellers as you would from a private dealer and avoid the inevitable disappointment.
Judge Judy, and I would have to concur, would say, that the onus is on you to be completely secure with the product before you hand the money over. Don’t believe for one second that mainstream stores share your hopes and dreams when you purchase that engagement ring, as the advertising would have you believe. Even the advertisers need to get paid and the bottom line is, your hopes and dreams are their business.