In recent years, Etsy has grown to become a leading name in the jewelry world, with almost 40 million buyers and 2.5 million sellers using the platform. Buying on Etsy has its advantages, but Etsy isn’t a singular jewelry retailer with unified practices and policies. Instead, much like Amazon, Etsy is a platform where various jewelry vendors can sell their items.
This makes judging Etsy a bit trickier than other jewelry vendors which is why some customers may worry about whether it’s the right place for their purchases. Here’s a look at what you need to know so you can decide for yourself whether you’d like to purchase jewelry from Etsy or not.
What Is Etsy?
Etsy is a large online platform of mostly private vendors and craftsmen that offers a great deal of jewelry diversity. Etsy is not an exclusively jewelry platform – there are also clothes and shoes, furniture and décor items, toys, books, movies, electronics, and more. However, Etsy is most popular with its artisan and handmade jewelry vendors and that’s the main reason for many people to go there.
Most of Etsy’s jewelry vendors specialize in handmade jewelry items but there are also plenty of vintage and antique items sold there such as family heirlooms. Even new artisan jewelry pieces are often crafted in antique styles since those are very popular on Etsy.
The reason most Etsy vendors have gravitated toward those styles is that more modern or classic jewelry designs are already pretty well covered by other big and traditional jewelry retailers.
Is Etsy Safe To Order From?
The simplest answer is that Etsy is about as safe as other big online retailers such as Amazon and eBay. This means that while there are some bad actors on the platform the vast majority of them are reputable vendors with years-long practices and a lot of goodwill from their customers.
As with other big online vendors, how positive you’re experience is going to be, depends on how well you’ve conducted your research. Untrustworthy vendors are usually easy to spot as they don’t offer certification for expensive items, don’t share their customer policies, often used stock photos, their jewelry’s descriptions are grossly exaggerated, and so on.
Most jewelry vendors on Etsy, however, are very customer-friendly in their practice, they tend to offer competitive prices, and many of them also offer bulk shipping and nice discounts, as well as adequate return policies.
How To Buy On Etsy
So, how can you differentiate between reputable vendors and untrustworthy ones? The basic rules for shopping at Etsy are the same as with most other online retail platforms. We’ve picked a random store on Etsy, Love Montreal, as an example.
- Always read the customer reviews of the vendor you want to work with, their ratings, and their authenticity.
- Take a look at how long the vendor has been active on Etsy. If the vendor has been on the platform for years and continues to have positive reviews, this is a great indicator that they are someone you can safely work with. If they are new on the platform they might still be a perfectly trustworthy vendor but you should exercise more caution.
Check the products’ photos carefully to determine if they are genuine and if they adequately showcase the product’s appearance. One smart thing to do when you get in contact with the vendor about a particular jewelry piece is to ask for additional photos.
- Read the product’s description carefully and don’t hesitate to ask for additional information. If you’re buying something with a particularly precious gemstone or an expensive metal, make sure to ask for quality certificates. If the vendor is unwilling to provide anything that proves the quality of their products, moving on is a good idea.
- Inquire about the return and warranty policies of the vendor. As with any other jewelry retailer, it’s of the utmost importance that you are offered good and fair return policies for the jewelry you’re buying. Even when you’ve got almost exactly what you thought you were getting, you should still be able to return the product for a refund if even the smallest thing is out of order.
- To minimize the risk of being scammed with gemstone imitations, it’s best to shop for jewelry pieces with gemstones that don’t have cheaper imitations or to familiarize yourself with the popular imitations of the gemstones you’re buying and how you can spot them. Also, ask for certification, especially if buying a valuable antique or precious stones like diamonds.
- Never give your full credit card number, tax information, or passwords and other personal information to vendors – that’s just good internet safety rule that’s also vital on Etsy. However, purchasing on Etsy is secure and the payment processing gateway that Etsy uses is well protected.
- Don’t hesitate to contact Etsy’s customer support for anything – they have a pretty active and customer-centered support personnel.
- Some vendors and artisans can work with the customer’s materials if the customer wants them to. This is a cool service to use if you want a particular gemstone or material you want your jewelry piece to be crafted from, however, you should keep in mind that there are no safeguards on Etsy about this practice. This means that it will be 100% between you and the vendor whether they really use your materials and everything is in order. This makes working only with people you trust even more important.
- Don’t go outside of Etsy for payments or for any other part of a transaction with an Etsy vendor. If a vendor asks you to chat or transfer funds outside of Etsy even though you’re shopping through the platform, they are likely trying to circle around the platform’s rules.
All these rules can feel a bit much but they really are just basic internet-safety rules that apply to any online retail platform. The majority of jewelry vendors on Etsy are reputable and honest long-term vendors that you can safely work with. You should just make sure to do your research before you purchase anything as you would on any other retail platform.
Etsy Policies And Returns
One of the key factors we emphasized above is that there are no unified policies on Etsy – each vendor is allowed to set their own rules that are independent of Etsy. This means that Etsy can’t force any vendor to comply and return a product if the vendor hasn’t agreed to do so before the purchase was made.
However, Etsy can intervene if the vendor has stated that they accept returns in their policy description and is refusing to do so. In other words, if you make sure to only work with vendors that have properly detailed and adequate policies, you can expect Etsy to be of assistance if need be.
Pros and Cons Of Buying On Etsy
If you’re still uncertain as to whether you should shop for jewelry on Etsy or not, here’s a quick Pros and Cons list to help you decide.
- Etsy hosts a lot of vendors from all jewelry types and styles, making it a great place to browse for ideas even if you’re not necessarily going to buy anything from them.
- Etsy is a great place to buy unique and one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces that can be made both in the U.S. or elsewhere. While most classic jewelry retailers offer more or less the same jewelry collections but with different brands, Etsy hosts a lot of artisans of unique handmade jewelry you’ll never find elsewhere.
- Vendors on Etsy can set their own prices which allows you to try and negotiate if you want to. The platform isn’t customized for fluctuation prices but if you get in contact with the vendor you can negotiate with them however you want.
- You can get all types of customized jewelry pieces on Etsy that are even more unique and bizarre than what the vendors already offer.
- Not all vendors on Etsy follow the same good practices that most of them do. This means that you’ll have to do your due diligence and make sure you’re only working with a trustworthy vendor which can take time.
- Different vendors on Etsy have different policies so you should discuss that with each vendor separately.
- While Etsy’s customer service is generally quite good, it’s all online and they don’t offer phone assistance which some people find annoying.