Beware of a Retailer's Huge Jewelry Discounts

August 2013

Jewelry is usually not something people buy every day. As a result, many pieces in a jewelry store may sit in display cases for quite some time. All those beautiful, glittering rings, necklaces, earrings and bracelets are subject to huge price variations and extremely high markups.

Although there isn't a known average markup that the jewelry industry uses, it is generally assumed that most jewelry retailers inflate their prices anywhere from 100% to 1000%. The cold, hard truth is it's almost impossible to get a good deal on jewelry no matter where you purchase it. And to add to a customer's woes, jewelers thrive on uneducated buyers.

Anytime you make a significant purchase, it's always smart to do some research and comparison shop before you make your final decision. This is especially true when it comes to jewelry. Take the time to learn about different metals, gemstones and diamonds before settling on a specific jewelry piece and price. See if you can find the same or a similar item at another retailer and compare the price. The more you know about the piece you are interested in, the better you can negotiate.

It should come as no surprise that many jewelry stores, prior to having an advertised sale, will mark up diamond pieces and other quality items to over double or triple their normal price. Then they will mark them as "half-price" during the sale. Don't fall for this well-known tactic!

One Highly-Publicized Example

In a case that was closely watched by the jewelry industry, the State of North Carolina filed a suit against J.C. Penney claiming the retail giant used deceptive advertising when selling their jewelry. The prosecution argued that J.C. Penney knowingly inflated its regular jewelry prices so that they could run misleading advertisements suggesting that customers were getting big bargains on any jewelry which they purchased during the sale.

In its defense, J.C. Penney said it was unfairly being singled out because the practice of inflating jewelry prices was common and widespread throughout the jewelry industry. The company also contended that its regular prices were often less than those of their competitors.

In a somewhat surprising decision (and one that was quite disheartening for consumers), the judge ruled that J.C. Penney was not guilty of deceptive advertising. The reasoning behind the decision was that since the inflating of jewelry prices was so pervasive and used by nearly all jewelry retailers, it was impossible to hold J.C. Penney accountable for using a tactic employed by nearly all of its competitors.

The jewelry industry has publicly admitted that consumer trust can mean the difference between profit and bankruptcy for a jewelry retailer. So one has to ask "where are the consumer complaints?". Until shoppers demand more transparency in jewelry pricing and become more knowledgeable about the products they are buying, the likelihood of meaningful change by the jewelry industry is doubtful.