From The Bench

Jewelry Buyers Guide to Internet Purchases

Six Clues You Are Being Overcharged for Your Jewelry Items

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” ­

Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Online shopping has become very similar to the conversation between Alice and the Queen.

When I shop on some of these platforms with people proclaiming the most terrific values, I often wonder where the people in charge of administering the truth are.

Are the people who are in charge of administering the truth in advertising laws asleep? Or perhaps they don’t take their responsibilities seriously? With that said, let’s consider some of the fiction that has turned the internet into what I think is a rabbit hole. which has prompted the writing of this Jewelry Buyers Guide.

Tall Tales of Free Shipping

As an online seller, I have looked high and low for a company that would handle the shipping I do for FREE. Unfortunately, the search has yielded not one company that will take my packages from Graton, CA., to the various locations I ship to. 

Either those people offering free shipping know something I cannot find, or they are simply adding the cost of shipping to the product’s final price.

Many eCommerce platforms almost demand that online sellers provide free shipping options at the risk of being delisted or removed from search results.

Some platforms even offer to raise the price of your products by providing an option to adjust your prices so that you can cover your shipping costs.

As an online seller, I have looked high and low for a company that would handle the shipping I do for FREE. Unfortunately, the search has yielded not one company that will take my packages from Graton, CA., to the various locations I ship to. 

Either those people offering free shipping know something I cannot find, or they are simply adding the cost of shipping to the product’s final price.

Many eCommerce platforms almost demand that online sellers provide free shipping options at the risk of being delisted or removed from search results.

Some platforms even offer to raise the price of your products by providing an option to adjust your prices so that you can cover your shipping costs.

Here is an example of an offer.

In addition to merely adding the shipping cost to the product’s price, many sellers choose to add additional cost to their free shipping offers. 

Consider using our smart pricing tool to recover your shipping costs.

You’re making shoppers happy with free shipping. Way to go!

You can now quickly bulk edit listings to adjust your item prices to recover shipping costs.

Now start repricing.

How do I cover shipping costs on my lower-priced items?

Here is an example of what a tool I have will tell you about those wonderful free shipping offers.

ARE SELLERS COVERING SHIPPING PRICES? On average, listings with free shipping are priced $10 higher. This is more than the average shipping cost of 4.74 so sellers are covering the cost of shipping in their prices for this keyword market.

When shipping small packages, and I am talking about packages that weigh less than a pound, the majority of these packages go to first-class mail.  The cost to send a packet using this method should be about $4.00

If you are looking at an outrageously priced item with free shipping and free returns, the seller is likely adding at least $8 to the final price.

I have never agreed with this and to be a violation of the truth in advertising laws.

If a store represents an offer in this manner, you should be wondering how honestly the product is being represented, too.

In the example above, I would speculate that both free shipping and free returns are offered.

Is this truly a fair deal or plain fraud?

Like it or not, you should be willing to pay a reasonable shipping fee for online purchases.

Misrepresenting Metals in Jewelry

One obvious thing to someone who has been in the industry for some time is the large number of people who regularly misrepresent the precious metal items they sell.

I see endless offers of ridiculously priced sterling silver, gold-filled, and other metals below the cost of making them.

While there are ways to check the authenticity of precious metals and fine jewelry, the best way is to look at the price.

The rule of thumb is if someone offers you sterling silver items for $3.50-4.00 per gram plus shipping, it is probable the real McCoy.

Sellers offering items as sterling silver below this cost should have all kinds of question marks attached to their offers. 

If they sell the items for around $1.00/gram or less, you just discovered a silver mine and should be buying everything you can and sending your loot to the smelters for recycling.

You will generate a king’s ransom in no time!

The same goes for gold-filled items.

Below are the meanings of the numbers in the description of gold-filled jewelry:

  • The first number is the karat weight of the gold. So that’s the 14, 12, or 10 that you see – whatever the first number on the description is the karat weight of the gold.
  • Assuming that you have a 14k metal, that means you have 14 parts of pure gold and 10 parts of other metals used to alloy the gold.
  • The second value refers to the percentage of gold by weight in the item. In the 14/20 example, the gold by weight is 1/20 of an item, or 5% of the item is gold. 

In addition, high-quality gold-filled jewelry has a look and feel of real gold, and if properly cared for, these jewelry items will last for 20 to 25 years.

Once again, if you find someone selling gold-filled items at meager prices, you have discovered a gold mine and should be recycling these items.

Free Returns

I have already covered this in the free shipping.  Just a reminder – if you see free returns on the tag, that means you are paying for the potential return of the product if something goes wrong. And yes, everything is presented under the guise of “free shipping and free returns.”

Wholesale Prices

Want to be on the first page of Google Search SERPs?

It appears to me that one way to do that is to claim you are selling items at wholesale prices.

I have always had the opinion that prices that manufacturers use are wholesale prices.

The next level of distribution is distributor prices. 

A quick review of the sites claiming they offer wholesale prices reveals that their prices are more of distributor, retail, or high retail prices – and not “wholesale.”

A good way of knowing you are dealing with a manufacturer is if they are asking for resale and company credit information before they sell you products

Vintage Charms and Jewelry

I am using Etsy’s guidelines for vintage items. On that platform, sellers can only tag something as vintage if the item in question is at least 20 years old. If the item’s age is below 20 years old, it simply won’t qualify for vintage status.

While I am not familiar with other site requirements for vintage, I think Etsy’s take on vintage is reasonable, so that I will go with this definition.

Many of the items that I see represented as “vintage” are at best misrepresented.

I have a massive inventory of retired, Far Fetched Imports jewelry designs. In addition, as a former neighbor of mine, Far Fetched had a tremendous inventory of sales samples and discontinued items that I purchased.

As a result of this relationship, I have a collection of their catalogs and an expert understanding of when these jewelry designs were crafted and the timeframe when they were made.

It is amazing how many of their recent creations are being listed as vintage.

You can be sure that this goes for other jewelry designs, too.

Lots and lots of silver charms are sold as vintage. These have likely been cast recently, too.

No place keeps a detailed record of charms and jewelry and when they were made.

Most of these items come from pawn shops, estates, and yard sales that don’t have the first idea of how old they are.

Time for Breakfast

I am quite sure there are more than six impossible things, but breakfast is being served, so let me end this for now.

Please contact us if you have any questions or comments. Thanks for reading!

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