In-stock Vs. Virtual Diamonds: What Are The Differences?

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In-stock Vs. Virtual Diamonds: What Are The Differences?

In Stock Diamonds

Like any retail goods, when searching for diamonds you have two options—to peruse retailers online, or visit a diamond showroom in person. There are immediate benefits to both. With online searching, you can quickly navigate through many sellers and countless diamonds. With in-stock diamonds, ones you can see in person, there is the advantage of knowing beyond a doubt that the diamond in question is of high quality.

However, not everyone is able to make it to a showroom or other physical location, so they’re left with no recourse but to opt for buying diamonds online. This results in a significant problem—the vast majority of diamonds on sale online have never been properly or legitimately evaluated. Much of the time, that online retailer doesn’t even have the diamonds in question in-stock at their premises, with the diamonds on sale on their site most likely being housed overseas. 

So in the question of in-stock vs. virtual diamonds, which should you go for? What are the benefits? The drawbacks? Read on to find out. 

Diamond buyers have had fantastic experiences buying quality diamonds from both in-stock and virtual inventories. However, when buying, remember to keep a level head about purchases, clarify all information possible, and never buy before you’ve done your research. If you would like to explore what a high-quality online retailer with in-stock diamonds looks like, head to the Whiteflash website to browse their loose diamond offerings as they are one of the only retailers that have the majority of their diamonds in stock and ready to ship, including the world class A CUT ABOVE® diamonds (which I’ve reviewed in more detail here.)

Virtual Diamond Inventories vs. In-stock Diamond Inventories

Online diamond retailers who do not have their diamonds stocked on-site run what are known as ‘virtual inventories’. This means that, while they list the diamond online (usually accompanied by images and documentation), those diamonds are actually in the hands of other parties, such as private sellers. These diamonds are sometimes in a completely different country to the party selling them. 

Today, the actual number of online retailers who have their diamonds in-stock is relatively low. They work using either consignment and/or trade networks to access and move diamonds on demand. Because of this, it’s actually relatively easy to become a diamond dealer today, which has led to a saturation of the market and left many diamond buyers confused about who to purchase diamonds from. Listings, prices, details, availability—many online retailers will be unreliable at best when providing these key requirements. 

Diamond listings are cloned and displayed on these kinds of sites, allowing for an incredibly broad selection of offerings, which has also influenced a reduction in diamond price universally. This is mainly due to the easily available data that can be found on diamonds, leading to more transparency within the industry, a definite advantage of the system. 

Additionally, modern tools such as forums, trust analysis sites, online recommendations, and reviews have allowed the general public to identify which sellers are reputable and which are not. To the keen and learned eye, the amount of data available becomes vital when determining whether a deal is worth their time and money. 

Ultimately, there are downsides, which is where the advantageous position of in-stock diamonds comes in. 

In-Stock Diamond Inventories

In contrast to virtual inventories, in-stock and in-house inventories will be found on-site of the retailer. A good example of this is the premium diamond retailer Whiteflash, who conduct much of their selling online, yet the vast majority of their stock can be found in-house. You can find our review of Whiteflash here.

So what should diamond buyers be aware of regarding these two systems?

Virtual Inventories: What’s the reality?

Like with any online buying, the key question arises; Who do you trust?

In some occasions, on less reputable sites, effective diamond buying where you can achieve value for money is limited by:

  • Diamonds listed with old certificates
  • A lack of imagery
  • Mismatched data
  • Minimal return options
  • Questionable reputations
  • Evidently poor reviews

There is also the issue that arises from buying a diamond, it arriving, and you realizing it is either the wrong one, or has a flaw that was not displayed in the listing. The costs of return, especially overseas, can be expensive. The seller has an incentive to fulfill the order even upon the discovery of a problem. 

Additionally, because of their copied and multiple online listings, it’s difficult to guarantee actual availability, meaning you will end up waiting on a refund for a purchased diamond after discovering it’s not available for purchase. 

In my opinion, the biggest disadvantage of virtual inventories is that diamonds and other gems are not pre-vetted by the retailer, meaning that they too are acting on faith that the diamond has been accurately represented. 

Retailers are unable to pull diamonds and properly evaluate those diamonds under the required conditions. Diagnostics can be inaccurate, mismatched, or deliberately altered to make a diamond appear of a higher quality than it actually is. Only with the ability for a retailer to check the diamond in question will the buyer be able to rest easy. 

The Benefits of In-stock Diamonds

While many retailers turn towards virtual inventory models, the value of in-stock diamond inventories is relatively undiscovered for buyers. However, it’s hugely worthwhile to realize the benefits of this system. 

In-stock diamonds offer the opportunity to buyers to view the diagnostics that prove a diamond’s quality is as described. Retailers can pull the diamond from their stock to view if the buyer has a question regarding the diamond’s cut, clarity, color, or carat weight. 

Many retailers utilising this model will have in-house gemologists and diamond experts that are on hand to confirm the quality of a diamond. They can talk about a diamond’s cost, whether it contains any inclusions, the clarity grading, and can provide additional data such as images, videos, and expert insight. 

In-stock diamonds also provide the prospective buyer with the opportunity to visit the retailer premises in order to see the diamond firsthand. Again, trusted diamond retailers such as Whiteflash offer this. Retailers such as this can also offer consultations and diamond comparison, helping a buyer achieve that all-important value for money. 

Ultimately, the main benefit of in-stock diamonds is the ability for those diamonds to be verified by an expert. 

Diamond buyers have had fantastic experiences buying quality diamonds from both in-stock and virtual inventories. However, when buying, remember to keep a level head about purchases, clarify all information possible, and never buy before you’ve done your research. If you would like to explore what a high-quality online retailer with in-stock diamonds looks like, head to the Whiteflash website to browse their loose diamond offerings as they are one of the only retailers that have the majority of their diamonds in stock and ready to ship, including the world class A CUT ABOVE® diamonds (which I’ve reviewed in more detail here.)

In-stock Diamonds or Virtual Diamonds?

To conclude, we must state that there is nothing necessarily wrong with retailers that have virtual inventories. Many of them will be reputable, but it’s always worthwhile trying to glean as much information about a diamond and confirming that information before purchasing. 

However, we would have to recommend purchasing from a retailer who operates an in-stock diamond inventory, for the ultimate peace of mind that this can bring. The quality of a diamond is easily verified and experts are on hand to answer questions and provide advice. 

When looking for diamonds online, choose a retailer who can:

Whiteflash Blue Nile James Allen Brilliant Earth Ritani
HD Video Imaging

(Brilliance and Sparkle Video)

(Sparkle Video Only)

(Sparkle Video Only)

(only on request)

Diamond Image

(only on request)

Ideal Scope

Hearts & Arrows

(only on some diamonds)

Sarine Report

ASET Map

  • Provide the proper documentation (such as light performance and clarity certificates).
  • Offer benefits, such as lifetime trade-up.
  • Ensure a realistic delivery time.