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Diamond Shopping from a Distance: A Contactless Guide to Finding the Best Rock for Your Dollar

Brandon Cook is the director of marketing for direct-to-consumer jewelry retailer, Clean Origin. For the past two years, he’s worked tirelessly to establish a foothold in the ripe-for-disruption jewelry category, focused specifically on lab-created diamonds. In past positions, he has spent time managing marketing efforts for leading telecom affiliates, reviving direct sales jewelry brands, and even removing millions of illicit search engine listings as the cofounder of an anti-piracy company.

How has the engagement ring shopping experience changed over the last decade?

While some things are ingrained into the ring shopping experience, others have shifted dramatically. Blue Nile was one of the first jewelry retailers to launch with a web-only experience back in 1999. As sales have shifted to online over the last 20 years, the last 10 have enabled a more seamless shopping experience. With 360-degree views of rings and diamonds available at your fingertips, it’s much easier to see the intricate details of a ring or diamond and feel comfortable knowing exactly what you’re getting. Although the technology has dramatically improved, it’s also notable that consumer confidence for online shopping has shifted as a whole over the past decade. 

What is the online diamond buying experience like? How would you compare it to the experience in-store?

You’re never going to experience the allure of a diamond the same way as seeing it in person. I think this is actually a net benefit to the diamond-buying experience. One of the ways that some in-store salespeople will sell you is by showing you an incredible quality stone next to a diamond at a more modest price. While it can be tempting to want to spend an extra few thousand dollars on that extra sparkle, we usually push our customers to stay within their set budget. Having this entire purchase experience happen online means that you’ll be able to bounce from one diamond to another quickly, and stay pragmatic about your decision-making process. This is something that’s not always possible in a store. 

In your professional opinion, why are some people so opposed to buying a lab-grown diamond? And what would you say to them if you could?

The number-one place we see friction in the jump from a traditionally mined diamond to a lab-created diamond is the education gap. In relative terms, lab-grown diamonds are new. The thing about diamond purchases is that they are infrequent and the purchase process is nuanced. It can be overwhelming for customers to latch on to the four C’s and understand where they can find the best value. Now, if you layer on the decision between a lab-grown diamond and a mined diamond, it’s just another decision in an already difficult purchase decision.

From my experience, seeing is believing. Many customers have a hard time understanding that lab-grown diamonds and mined diamonds are optically, physically, and chemically the exact same thing. I have personally been able to stump diamond jewelers of 20 years with a loop in their hand.

Learn more about lab-grown diamonds and find the engagement ring or diamond jewelry of your dreams at Clean Origin.