So...you've been looking to purchase a quality tanzanite on the internet and you need some help determining what characteristics you should be looking for in a quality gem. This article is intended as a resource to help guide you through a successful tanzanite purchase by avoiding many of the common pitfalls that some consumers become entangled. These pitfalls can often leave a sour taste in your mouth and make you a little head-shy about purchasing tanzanite online.
I am aware that several of our happy tanzanite clients have had bad previous tanzanite purchasing experiences, and some, in my opinion, were downright awful. The common themes in their communications include:
Didn't really "know" the seller as good as I should have...
Color in hand was significantly different than the image shown online...
Didn't read the "fine print"...
Wanted to return the tanzanite and the seller charged a hefty re-stocking fee...
Didn't understand the importance of clarity, tone, hue and saturation before making my tanzanite purchase...
And the list goes on and on... If you have not been through an experience like this, either you're a really web-savvy consumer or you have just been plain lucky. Many tanzanite consumers have thrown a lot of their hard-earned dollars into gems that are of significantly less value than the money they have spent. This is unfortunate for them and quite disappointing to the "good guys" within the gemstone industry.
How many times have you wanted to know that you are making the correct assessment of a potential tanzanite that you intend to purchase online? I have been asked this question frequently and I am amazed that a large percentage of consumers simply do not do the necessary homework before making a buying decision. Certainly not due to the lack of credible resources that are available to the consumer, many people simply let the "want" of an immediate purchase get ahead of their good judgment.
Let's start with a generic list of things to consider in the process of making a tanzanite purchase. The "generic list" includes such items as the "5 W's," namely, Who, What, Where, Why, When. If your inquiry covers several or even all of these questions, you have made a good start in obtaining the necessary information you need in making a wise purchasing decision on your next tanzanite.
Who you are considering doing business with and where they are located can tell you much about a tanzanite retailer. Is the tanzanite retailer headquartered domestically or are they a foreign company with an online presence? This fact is generally known/disclosed at the time you make payment, but not always. The whole foreign vs. domestic issue is another discussion altogether, but you need to decide in your own mind what you're most comfortable with. Some foreign companies use a domestic mail drop to ship their tanzanites. On the surface, they appear to be a domestic company, which would willingly submit to FTC rules and regulations, many of which protect you as the consumer, but some foreign companies couldn't care less about these guidelines. So, it never hurts to ask the question. This will help you to avoid the smoke-and-mirrors game that many foreign sellers implement in their marketing strategy. I know of one company, in particular, marketing gemstones that has many concurrent reincarnations, as I like to call them, on the internet at the same time. They have many websites, all with different looks, and sell essentially from the same inventory. While this type of masked marketing is not in and of itself "bad" nor "dishonest," it sure makes it difficult to get the answer to these first couple of questions and creates confusion for many tanzanite buyers. Who am I considering doing business with and where are they located? You might want to cat around on google a bit to find available information and maybe even get some references. Testimonials and referrals represent a major portion of our business and we willingly share our customer references/experiences on our site to make our reputation "real" for would-be clients. Good stuff! So, understanding who you are about to do business with and where they are located provides you with a foundation of knowledge from which to proceed in the process of obtaining your first/next tanzanite.
The What question may be answered by simply taking a look at the overall quality range of tanzanites the retailer is offering on their site. Does the tanzanite retailer carry low-grade tanzanites, high-grade, or a broad range of quality? This should speak volumes to you. There are many retailers that simply carry the lower grades of tanzanite for a cheap price and show out the best of these grades as top-quality stones. When you view the pictures of these stones, you may think you are looking at "AAA" color, relative to other tanzanites listed, when in fact you may still looking at run-of-the-mill tanzanites that may be slotted a bit higher in the color range than the others. And yes, there are a LOT of these types of stones available for around $300/ct by a growing number of vendors. The statements regarding the quality of this material are often exaggerated and the pictures on these stones may not even be close to representing the actual item. Caveat Emptor, which is a Latin phrase meaning: "Buyer Beware!" Good advice for us all. Other considerations related to What include a thorough understanding of the retailer's "fine print."
The Why question is really self-explanatory.... because you want to own a quality tanzanite. Right? In addition, you probably want to try to understand why the company, whose tanzanite you are viewing, is in the tanzanite business. What I mean by this is...other than the obvious reason, to sell a product for a profit, do they appear to have a good business interest in tanzanite or does the seller just offer it as another line of gemstones on their site. Your interests would be best served by shopping with a retailer that has a good stake and large general emphasis in tanzanite. This will provide you with your best chance at viewing a nice collection of gems from which to choose and competitive pricing. Additionally, I recommend that you purchase from sellers that are more than happy to work with you on a custom order. If they are hesitant to do this, it may mean that they are getting their tanzanite from other retailers (vs. a tanzanite sightholder or supplier) and don't want to mess with an order like yours because they simply can't turn around a custom order quickly. It is then possible for you to find yourself purchasing a stone which is only close to what you really desire. Why settle for something "close" when you are getting ready to drop a chunk of hard-earned change on a tanzanite?
And finally, the When question deals with such inquiries as: When will my order ship and by what method (carrier)? Are there any extra fees when shipping gemstones? When do you restock your tanzanite inventory? When is the best time of year to purchase? You get the idea. By asking these types of questions, you get to know your retailer better and can pave the way for a long-term, successful relationship with your tanzanite dealer.
In summary, it is important that you have a good understanding of the company from which you wish to make a gemstone purchase AND their quality and price are in keeping with your overall expectations. In our company's experience, we have found it amazing how much repeat business we have done with our valued clients over the years by simply providing answers to these basic questions.
Hopefully, you will make many wise tanzanite purchases in the days, months and years to come. Tanzanite is a truly incredible gemstone, but you owe it to yourself to get the facts FIRST before adding a gorgeous tanzanite to your collection. I encourage you to put this "purchasing model" in place to avoid the common pitfalls and disappointments of making incorrect buying decisions on your next tanzanite purchase.