Is it safe to buy cremation jewelry online?
by Wendy Jacobson
The Internet has opened a whole new world for shoppers. Think of any item, and you can likely buy it online - from groceries to prescription drugs, shoes to high-end designer clothing, costume to vintage jewelry, fine jewelry, and cremation jewelry. But with these new opportunities come new risks. You might ask yourself, how safe is online shopping, especially when it comes to buying a piece of jewelry?
The answer is, it depends. Before you give your credit card number, read the five essential purchasing tips below.
In an article titled “Fine-jewelry shoppers flock online” by Lauren Sherman published in the Wall Street Journal in August 2014, Sherman notes that “the main appeal of buying fine jewelry online isn’t so different from that of shopping for shoes or a coat: efficiency and ease of access no matter where you are in the world.” Sherman continues, “today’s fine jewelry buyer is increasingly turning to a computer or mobile phone and clicking to buy four- and five-figure pieces with nary a worry.”
For those of us who might worry, here are a few helpful suggestions.
5 Tips to purchasing cremation jewelry online
Consumers often look to the Internet to purchase gold cremation jewelry and other memorial jewelry for ashes. Online cremation jewelry retailers offer a wide selection. And it’s unlikely you’ll find a necklace urn for ashes in the store around the corner. Not only does online shopping offer a wide range, it’s also easy.
Most importantly, you want to have a positive shopping experience resulting in the purchase of a quality product. When turning online to do your shopping, keep these five essential tips in mind.
- Trust – before completing an online transaction, establishing trust is critical.
- If you’ve purchased from the seller previously, a baseline of comfort has been established. Buying a piece of cremation jewelry will be less daunting.
- Does the site provide visual and factual information for each piece?
- Read online reviews.
- Ideally the online seller is well established. Read the “About Us” section to determine history, mission statement, and other items that contribute to credibility.
Because buying cremation jewelry online is not your “run-of-the-mill “purchase, it’s imperative that the buyer trusts the seller. The online retailer can help establish trust with a new customer by providing easy access to other buyers’ experiences, and have a well-established and easy way to communicate.
2. Return policy – there can be an element of risk when purchasing online. It’s crucial that the seller have a clear return policy.
- Does the seller’s return policy state they will take an item back, and if so, what are the conditions?
- Do they indicate necessary returns will be easy on the consumer?
- What is the exchange policy?
These are questions to consider when deciding whether you want to spend money with that seller.
- Images – since you can’t physically touch and hold the item you want to purchase, photos are essential. Ideally the site offers clear images that can be displayed larger for a more exact, close-up impression. Many online retailers display the product from multiple angles.
The images should clearly depict the item. It’s helpful to zoom-in-out to inspect the piece as best you can.
- Condition and authentication – the seller should provide a detailed written description about the item alongside the photos, including measurements and identification of metal and any gemstones.
- Can the metal purity be verified? If the item description claims it’s 14K gold, expect to see a metal purity stamp on the piece.
- Research – it is incumbent on the buyer to do as much research as possible. Browse multiple sites with similar products to compare pricing, terms and conditions. If you have the time, compare this information with traditional brick and mortar stores.
- Read customer reviews – hopefully these are easy to find. Check to see if the company responds to issues and feedback in reviews.
- Become knowledgeable on the various grades and types of gold.
Once you’ve done your research, you’ve likely established a fair market price for the item being considered. If your seller’s price agrees generally with that price, great. If not, you have the power (and the confidence) to ask why not.
Other ways to protect yourself when purchasing keepsake jewelry for ashes online
Along with the five essential tips, here are a few other ways to protect yourself when looking for cremation jewelry online:
- Is the seller a member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and if so, what is their rating? A BBB rating represents the BBB’s assessment of how a business will interact with a customer. BBB’s rating is based on information it has gathered, including complaints. An A+ rating is the optimal rating of a trusted retailer; an F rating is the lowest.
- Does the seller have a chat, phone, or email option that enables satisfactory communication? Is the information clearly displayed on their website? If you can’t find a way to contact them, they probably don’t want you to. Do business with a company that is available and responsive to your inquiries.
- Does the seller provide secure and safe shipping options for a valuable piece? Most sellers ship fine jewelry with a signature required for acceptance of delivery. This isn't a step to overlook - ask about shipping details from your vendor.
- Does the seller provide secure transactions to ensure your financial information is safe during and after the transaction? Look for the padlock icon on the website and in the URL address. Welivesecurity.com states:
And, here are some questions to think about specifically when purchasing cremation jewelry on the Internet.
- Does the company offer a filling kit with the cremation jewelry urn? If not, how are you going to transfer the ashes?
- Do the images correctly portray the item you are considering? If you want to purchase a necklace that holds ashes, for instance, you’ll want to understand where the ashes are held and how to access the chamber. In the Floral Heart cremation pendant, notice the photo that shows access to the ash chamber (via the twist top).
Despite a few risks, the Internet has enabled the consumer to arm him or herself with knowledge to be a savvy shopper. After all, knowledge provides confidence, especially when shopping online.
Wendy Jacobson is a freelance writer living in Minneapolis with her husband, two kids and dog. She helped market her mother’s book, “Hands Off My Hope: Life Lessons on my Journey with Breast Cancer” at the request of her mom, who died two weeks after publishing it in 2008. She also is the editor of Minneapolis Happening, a digital lifestyle magazine about what’s happening in Minneapolis and the surrounding area.