High-End Hub on EBay Spotlights Luxury Jewels

With a million jewelry or watch items for sale at any time on eBay, its newly launched “Engagement and Wedding Jewelry Bridal Hub”—a premium online environment for high-end fine jewelry—is a welcome addition for purveyors of luxury jewelry.

The hub, which deals primarily in diamond jewelry, is the result of buyers and sellers asking eBay to provide a forum where fine merchandise could be properly represented and more easily found.

Prior to the hub, luxury jewels were hard to find, despite existing on-site categorization. Buyers had to sift through pages of merchandise that were sometimes improperly—and purposely—listed in inappropriate categories. Frustrated buyers weren’t sticking around to shop, according to eBay’s director of jewelry and watches, Ann Poletti.

“Now sellers have to spell out the word ‘simulant’ or ‘imitation’ for diamond simulant or CZs if the product isn’t real diamond,” Poletti says. That rule is in line with the Federal Trade Commission’s Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries. EBay studied the Guides closely to create its jewelry policy, which launched in January. Otherwise, sellers risk being suspended from the site. “And we have suspended people,” Poletti adds.

So far, eBay’s efforts to fine-tune the site are working. At press time, for example, a search for “diamond platinum ring” in the jewelry and watches category turned up a pair of platinum wedding bands set with 0.50 cts. t.w. princess-cut F color, VS clarity diamonds for $1,500, as well as another listing for a “platinum” ring—that’s actually platinum vermeil and sterling silver—set with lab-created diamond pavé. But a visit to the Bridal Hub (searching this area isn’t possible yet, but find it at www.ebay.com/bridal) reveals only natural diamonds or pearls and karat gold or platinum.

FIGHTING THE FRAUDS

In a practice called “keyword spamming,” some eBay sellers plant phrases like “designer inspired” or “platinum finish” in headlines to attract more attention to their generally low-priced listings. This is forbidden, according to eBay, whose 2,000 security personnel help combat the problem.

Another problem is knockoffs. That’s why many jewelry designers, including Tiffany, have access to special eBay tools through the Verified Rights Owner (VeRO) Program, which lets them take down jewelry auctions of items that knock off trademarked designs. “We can’t possibly know the catalog of everything made in the world,” explains Poletti about fraudulent merchandise.

Buyers also need to use common sense. Poletti’s own sister was tempted to buy a Ferrari listed by someone in Greece for $20,000; other similar models sold elsewhere for 10 times that amount. When comparison shopping, Poletti advises, “Don’t leave your brain at the door.”