Do People Buy $1 Million Jewels Online?



When shopping on the web, there are some limits to how high consumers will go

Once upon a time, the industry fervently debated whether consumers would buy a $5,000 ring online. And while e-tailers still struggle with the cyber version of threshold resistance, the overall question has long since been answered: Yes, they will. Blue Nile’s average engagement ring sale is around $7,000.

But will people go way above that? Looking at various sites, JCK found a smattering of extremely expensive items for sale. But it doesn’t appear that many people are buying them.

BlueNile.com, the leading jewelry seller in the United States, seems to have the widest variety of top-value gems for sale. The priciest item currently up for grabs is a 22.74 ct. F IF round, which goes for $2.82 million ($2.7 million with bank wire). Next is an 18.9 ct. D VVS2, which will set buyers back $2.73 million. 

The site’s largest single sale was a $1.5 million stone in 2007, says spokesperson Josh Holland. In the second quarter of the year, someone bought a $339,000 stone, and it sees sales up to $250,000 “on a relatively frequent basis,” he adds.

On Amazon.com, the priciest jewelry items offered come from colored diamond company Leibish and Co. Among them: a 0.79 ct. fancy vivid orange that retails for $276,000, and a 16.44 ct. spinel for $245,780. In addition, Jewelry.com—which is currently being “supported” by Richline—is selling a 28.5 ct. diamond cuff for $245,000 on Amazon.

Leibish marketing manager Benji Margolese says his company has never exceeded $15,000 with an Amazon sale. Still, it did recently sell a 0.43 ct. fancy red radiant (pictured) for around $200,000 on eBay. 

The priciest jewelry or watch item offered for sale on Jet.com—recently acquired by Wal-Mart—is a Breguet Classique Grande Complication Tourbillon Messidor Men’s Watch, which goes for a cool $147,301. If you opt out of returns, it is about $2,000 cheaper. (Please, no one opt out of returns for that item!)

Still, if you really want that timepiece, you can find what seems to be the same watch on Overstock.com for $141,865.99. That piece offers a “distributor warranty,” which likely means gray market.

Overstock, which sold a surprising $100 million of jewelry last year, also offers a yellow diamond halo ring for $499,000 (58 percent off, the site claims), as well as a platinum ring with an 8 ct. center stone for $127,343 (37 percent off).

Groupon rather famously listed a $1 million topaz for sale in 2014, though it is not clear if anyone ever snatched that up. (A spokesperson did not return a request for comment at press time.) For now, its listing was still there, but it was marked “not available.”

Still, it’s quite possible that the items aren’t just there to sell, but in part to help legitimize buying of high-value items online. If a site can offer $300,000 diamonds, buying a $30,000 stone seems a lot less daunting.

And, of course, those items are also fun for consumers to look at. Margolese says that expensive jewelry pieces are among the most-viewed items on Amazon.

“Even those that can’t afford the products sometimes write reviews,” he says, “allowing themselves to dream a little.”

(Image courtesy of Leibish & Co.)

JCK News Director