July 25, 2000
It's amazing the number of stores that throw a little bit of information and some poor pictures of merchandise into a Web page and call it an online store. Too many retailers think of their Web site as an advertisement, a catalogue or a text version of their bricks-and-mortar store. Few take advantage of the interactive nature of the Internet and apply it to their online stores. Diamond.com is an exception.
Diamond.com uses a variety of Web technologies to make an interactive online store. First, it revamped the traditional gift guide. Most often, sites will offer a few pages of gift recommendations geared at men buying gifts for women. Diamond.com, instead, offers a choice. Users can choose who they are buying for (friend/family, romantic, business associate), the gender of the receiver and price range. It's not a huge selection, but it covers the most common gift inquiries. Importantly, it covers buying for men, which is a rarity in online jewelry sales.
Like some other sites, Diamond.com offers a design-your-own-ring feature. It's similar to most others, allowing the user to choose the exact stone and the setting style. However, Diamond.com shows the progress of the ring design. The user can see approximately what the stone will look like in each of the settings. As a bonus, the image quality is great. Customers don't want to see a blurry or tiny version of what their jewelry will look like; they want to see a well-defined close-up or realistic-sized image, and Diamond.com provides that.
Overall, the site is well designed, easy to navigate and loads quickly. Customers can browse or search through collections of loose diamonds, fine jewelry and watches. If customers can't find what they want, there is a special-order form online. Diamond.com offers to get a customer a product even if it isn't in its inventory.
The site is also notably customer-friendly. There is an extensive education section with information on diamonds, jewelry and watches, and it even includes historical information for each. The shipping and return policies are stated throughout the site, and there is an e-mail form and a toll-free number to call for help.
- by Julia M. Duncan