Why The Internet Hates Mall Jewelry Stores (But It’s OK If You Don’t)

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If you spend any time lurking around the engagement ring discussions on reddit, pricescope, or weddingbee, one thing becomes very clear:

The internet hates mall jewelry stores.

And it’s not just people on discussion forums. Go to any blog about diamonds, jewelry, or engagement ring shopping, and I’ll eat my ring if you can find one that actually suggests buying a from a mall store.

And yet, despite the hate from the internet, mall jewelry stores are where the majority of people buy their engagement rings!

Signet Jewelers, the world’s biggest seller of diamond jewelry, found that while 70% of their customers start their shopping journey online, but more than 80% of their customers show up to make their purchase at the actual store.

Today, we’re going to break down the 3 really good reasons (and 1 sort of selfish reason) the internet hates mall jewelry stores. Most of the time, the hate comes from a desire to help people get the best value for their money.

But considering how successful and popular mall jewelry stores are it can come across as unnecessarily judgmental and condescending. Which isn’t helpful for real world engagement ring shoppers.

The goal today is to turn you into smart savvy well-informed consumer. Once you are armed with the knowledge, you will be able to decide for yourself if a mall jewelry store is the right place to buy your engagement ring. The most important thing is that you end up with a ring you love, that fits your budget, and the shpping process doesn’t leave you feeling taken advantage of.

What Is A Mall Jewelry Store Anyway?

An unfocused blurry look at the bright lights and jewelry cases of mall jewelry stores

Before we jump into the reasons, I want to define what a mall jewelry store actually is. When people say “mall jewelry store” on the internet they usually mean large jewelry chains with physical locations often located in or around malls.

KAY JEWELERS

  • Started in 1916
  • Over 1,000 stores, usually in malls
  • Owned by Signet

This post will focus on Kay Jewelers because it’s the most accessible for people in the US and has the most brand recognition

(Admit it, the moment you saw Kay on the list the jingle played in your head!)

ZALES

  • Started in 1924
  • Around 700 stores, usually in malls
  • Owned by Signet since 2014

JARED THE GALLERIA OF JEWELRY

  • Around 270 locations, usually close to but outside of malls
  • Owned by Signet

Why The Internet Hates Mall Jewelry Stores

#3 High Pressure Sales Tactics

THE HATE

Sales Associates

You don’t need knowledge or experience in the jewelry industry to be hired as a sales associate at a mall jewelry store. Check out the job description on Kay Jewelers Website. No shame or shade intended, but it’s a basic entry-level retail job.

This drives jewelry internet crazy because engagement rings are such an important, sentimental, and often expensive purchase. The kind of purchase that deserves thoughtful research and should probably involve an expert. Like a gemologist or Goldsmith. As a shopper wouldn’t you trust the guidance of a jewelry expert over that of a sales associate?

Even browsing, trying on, or measuring your ring size, can be really uncomfortable in a mall jewelry store because the sales associate is under so much pressure to close the sale.

For example, Kay Jewelers pays their employees a small commission for sales. On top of that, employees can only earn their bonus if the store as a whole reaches their sales goal.

Upselling

Once you’ve decided to purchase your engagement ring at a mall store, the sales associate it going to start pushing the upsell. Upselling is offering you more products, services, or value in an effort to increase how much you spend.

Going back to Kay Jewelers, once you’ve chosen your engagement ring the sales associate will likely try to upsell the following to you:

  • The Bridal Set – this is where they will push you to buy a wedding band or ring enhancer on the spot. Maybe you don’t have the budget for that right now
  • Extended Warranty – this often includes services like resizing, cleaning, and rhodium plating but is only valid if you follow certain rules, like getting your ring inspected every 6 months. The internet would advise you to buy real jewelry insurance, keep your jewelry clean with frequent at home cleanings,
  • Financing – Almost 60% of the purchases made from Signet owned jewelry stores involve the in-house financing. In some years, financing has accounted for an entire quarter of Signet’s profits! It’s not just the jewelry corner of the internet that will tell you not to finance an engagement ring, personal finance internet hates it too.

BE PREPARED

You don’t have to let these methods dissuade you from buying an engagement ring from a mall jewelry store. Because, now that you are aware of these sales tactics you can do your own research first and walk into the store with a plan, ready to say, “no, not today, thank you”.

#2 Prey on Ignorance

THE HATE

Coasting on Brand Recognition & Taking Advantage of Your Trust

Mall jewelry stores put very little time and effort into educating the potential customers that walk through their door. They don’t need to earn your trust. Afterall, they’ve been in business for so long, you’ve seen them on tv, or in movies, and everyone knows the name. They’ve already built a reputation of trust with you, through advertising, word of mouth, and being in practically every mall ever.

When you buy from an independent jeweler they are usually super excited to share their expertise by teaching you all about diamonds, gemstones, and settings. It also helps build a relationship of trust. And when you shop online you can read, research, and soak up as much as you can about the topic.

Mall jewelry stores and their sales associates can take advantage of you by claiming things that aren’t true, injecting their own opinion, and dismissing your questions and concerns.

When I was shopping for my engagement ring, I went into a mall jewelry store and when I asked about the quality of the small pave diamonds on the setting. I was told that the cut quality and clarity didn’t matter at that size! Big yikes!

BECOME A SAVVY SHOPPER

The common trope is that mall jewelry store shoppers don’t know very much about jewelry or engagement rings at all. They may know the basics of the 4 C’s but that’s about the extent of it. But if you’ve managed to find my little baby jewelry blog, then you’ve probably also found some other really great educational resources as well.

The best thing you can do before heading into a mall jewelry store (or poking around their website) is arm youself with knowledge so you can recognize when you are being misled or if something you are told doesn’t quite feel right.

#1 It’s Not The Best Deal

THE HATE

prices and quality

This is the biggie. The #1 main reason mall jewelry stores get hated on so much by pretty much everyone on the internet.

Mall Jewelry stores have high prices for the quality of their diamonds and settings.

You can get a cheaper ring, or higher quality ring,(and sometimes both!) by shopping online.

This is a 14K white gold engagement ring from Kay Jewelers being sold for $5,299.99.

A screenshot of the quality and price of a 1 ct diamond solitaire from the Kay Jewelers Website.

Notice that it lists the clarity is listed as I1 and color as I but makes no mention of the cut quality at all. As for the carat weight, it gives a range instead of a precise weight. You could end up with anything between .8 and 1 ct!And while it says the diamond is independently certified there is no indication as to what lab certified it. Not all labs are equal. GIA and AGS are considered the best for mined diamonds. Now we’ll take a look at what James Allen, an online jewelry store also owned by Signet Jewelers, has to offer.

A screenshot of the quality and price of a 1 ct diamond solitaire from the James Allen Website.

The ring I quickly put together on James Allen costs $4,375, has an excellent cut 1.1 ct H color diamond with I1 clarity and comes with a GIA certification.

Mall Jewelry Store vs Online Jewelry Store

By choosing to shop online at James Allen instead of a mall jewelry store you can:

  • save $564.99
  • move up to a better color quality (James Allen: H Kay: I)
  • be certain the diamond is really 1.1 ct
  • know for certain that you are getting a GIA certified excellent cut
  • choose a better looking 14k white gold setting

It’s quite obvious which one is the better deal. And this is just one example, we could do the same thing for so many of the rings at mall jewelery stores.

The Slightly Selfish Reason Bloggers (and Website Owners) Hates Mall Jewelry Stores

Before we finish up, I feel like I should mention that there is also a slightly selfish reason so many people on the internet recommend shopping online.

And that’s because when you order an engagement ring online you probably clicked on an affiliate link at some point. On blogs and websites many of the links include a special identifying code that allows the poster to earn some money when a person makes a purchase after clicking on it.

If you buy an engagement ring in an actual store then the blogger or website owner has no way to make any money from your sale.

With that being said, there isn’t anything wrong with using affiliate links. It doesn’t change the price or experience for you as a customer. Eventually, even I plan on adding affiliate links here on Land of Chic.

There are really really good reasons to shop online or at independent jewelery stores and I think affiliate links are only a small sidenote. But it didn’t feel right not to mention it.

You Don’t Have To Hate Mall Jewelry Stores

I have seen so many posts on reddit where people ask if they paid too much for their mall jewelry store ring. Then all the comments are people giving the poster the bad news that they did not get a good deal.

I feel sad seeing that and hope to avoid that kind of situation by sharing this post. If you are looking for the best deal then a mall jewelry store is not where you want to shop.

But sometimes saving money or getting the best stats isn’t the most important thing.

Don’t let the haters get to you. If you love an engagement ring from Kay/Zales/Jared or another mall jewelry store, that’s what you should get!

Despite what the internet thinks you can be a smart well-informed engagement ring buyer and still choose to purchase from a mall chain jeweler.

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