Site Review | Professional Jeweler

September 20, 1999 has been the talk of the industry since its inception in August. Why all the fuss? Not only did the e-commerce company, a brainchild of the Mouawad family, secure significant financial backing and hire industry big-wigs, it spent the money to build a technically flawless site geared toward customer service unprecedented in the on-line jewelry world.

Here's an example: If you're a consumer who has picked out a diamond but has a last-minute question, you don't have to call a toll-free number and wait on hold or send your message to a generic e-mail address and wait for an answer. Instead, you can log in to a chat room, where a customer service representative is immediately assigned to you and will discuss your question or problem. The service is available 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. for late-night shoppers. Once you place an order, you can track it or cancel it through the Web site.

Diamonds and jewelry are searchable by style and characteristics or price; a gift section suggests jewelry for chosen occasions. The diamond section includes a search engine for first-time diamond buyers, which allows consumers to click buttons below life-sized pictures of diamonds if they don't know what "carat weight" and "color" mean. Shoppers can also search best-sellers and get gift recommendations from "Terry" (though there's no indication who she actually is).

Finally, the Learning Center and an e-mail newsletter with jewelry buying tips keeps customers informed. The Learning Center includes articles on diamond mining, diamond facts, jewelry care tips and information on metals and colored gemstones.

Technically speaking: Once you connect to each page, the graphics load quickly and search engines and Javascript menus are easy to use. Occasionally draggy connection time can slow you down when moving from page to page, however.

- by Stacey King