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My eBay experiment

Was: Gemstones: Drawing the line

Why do so many people go after the Ebay transaction? It seems to
take a lot of time and (from what people have said here) is pretty

I recently dipped a toe into the Ebay waters, and had it bitten, so
to speak. I needed a number of small round blue topazes and couldn’t
find them locally, so I logged on to eBay to see what I could find.

I decided to bid on several interesting packets of stones, mostly as
an experiment. I won bids on the desired blue topazes and also some
other stones. In no case did I pay much, so I wouldn’t be out too
much money if things went sour. I bought from three dealers, all with
positive feedback records.

The blue topazes arrived promptly, and I was delighted with them. The
other two transactions did not go so well. The second dealer’s stones
arrived; well, two out of three did. I was short one packet, and the
other stones were not great, even for what I paid for them (never
knew garnets could be that dark.) Repeated e-mails about the
situation proved fruitless, and this dealer is no longer registered
with eBay.

After two months I still have not received the stones from the third
dealer, although he swears they were sent in late November. They’re
located in Thailand, but it can’t take that long to ship something
from there, can it?

My son asserts that eBay is the purest form of capitalism, since you
can apparently ruin an unsatisfactory vendor through negative
feedback, but that doesn’t appear to be helpful with the “hit and
run” vendor that dropped out of eBay.

My conclusion about my eBay experiment? Although I successfully got
the blue topazes I was originally after, I really don’t think I will
be bidding on eBay again.

Janet Kofoed

I recently was bitten by “auction fever” in the loose gem stones
catagory. I bid on & rec’d some very nice stones for not a lot &
reasonable s & h. Then, I bid on what was described as “carved amber
cicada” and two other pieces of interesting amber & jade. The
feedback was 100% and s & h was reasonable, coming from
China…until the order was processed and I rec’d the
receipt…over $120.00 s & h !!! even though I agreed to under
$25.00…When I rec’d the articles, they were very cleverly made
resin - no amber! There was no recourse at this point - emails,
complaints & obviously a really negative & nasty feedback.

Then, more feedbacks were available - the positive ones were from
China - appropriate since this vendor had only been listing in
China. Since ebaying in the U.S.A., only negative feedback.

My fault as I jumped the gun and didn’t look into the vendor

I purchased other gems, silver, etc. from another vendor in Hong
Kong and was happy with everything. But, I no longer purchase from
Asian sources…maybe my loss - maybe not.

Other than that, I’ve had only positive experiences in my ebay

Again, let the buyer beware and research your vendor.

Good luck,
Sue Johnson

I have to say I love Ebay. But only for things I can be sure of. I
never bid on stones that can vary by color, clarity, etc. But for
tools, supplies, concrete things, it is a wonderful venue. One
standard practice for sellers is to light the goods they are selling.
When you put a bright light on a stone, it looks beautiful. But it is
really very dark. I wouldn’t even risk a minimal amount on something
so critical to the eye. But as far as finding deals and goods online,
it’s the best. I have been burned a couple of times by real thieves,
but that just made me more careful. Just be sure to read everything
and understand that nothing is as it seems, even a photograph on a
computer screen. It carries a certain amount of risk, but there are
reputable reliable sellers. It’s definitely worth the effort.


Hello Janet and other Orchidians,

The e-Bay feedback system is supposed to help sellers and buyers
alike in deciding which sellers or buyers are the most credible.

In reality though the only way it could do that is if e-Bay had the
ethics needed to mandate that Sellers post feedback concerning their
experience with the Buyer first. It is e-Bay’s number one flaw (my

So don’t put too much stock in the “positive” feedback records of
those selling on e-Bay. Because sellers insist that buyers post
positive feedback about their shopping experience first, before the
sellers will post any feedback concerning the buyer, most buyers who
want to have a positive feedback rating go ahead and post positive
feedback about the seller even if the transaction was horrible.

In this manner e-Bay allows sellers to hold buyers “hostage.” Who
knows why? Perhaps e-Bay’s marketing department just wants all e-Bay
transactions to appear fine and dandy. Idle speculation however as
this is the reality of doing gem business on e-Bay.

And if buyers do post negative feedback for sellers who they had poor
experiences with, you can be sure that those sellers will post
equally poor feedback regarding the buyers.

It simply does not matter if buyers are 100% honest and
straightforward with their purchasing including prompt electronic
payment to the sellers. Sellers will not acknowledge that with a
positive feedback for the buyer until and unless the buyer first
posts positive feedback regarding their experience with the seller.

Sellers often offer excuses such a “Our policy is to post feedback
only after the buyer has done so as we have been burned by
unscrupulous buyers.” Well that sounds interesting but when one
considers these types of statements they just don’t hold up. Sure,
sellers in any type of business occasionally encounter buyers who
are difficult or “unscrupulous” but when sellers are honest in their
dealings then these instances are quite rare. When was the last time
you had a positive buying experience where you then turned around
and badmouthed the seller? Probably never. In fact the opposite is
more likely to be true. You very likely shared your good experience
with others.

Anyway the only way that a buyer can “somewhat” get around this
Catch 22 situation when buying through e-Bay is if they post no
feedback at all regarding the seller. Then the seller just responds
in kind and posts no feedback about the buyer. It doesn’t get the
buyer a positive feedback, but they don’t have to misrepresent the

If e-Bay would make it mandatory that sellers post feedback about
their experience with the buyers first, which makes sense as that is
the natural order of business transactions, then buyers would be
free to provide accurate feedback comments about the sellers. It
wouldn’t be a perfect system but it would be much more reliable than
the e-Bay feedback system is now. More importantly though it would go
a long way towards making certain that many of the gemstone sellers
present their goods and services with greater integrity.

As it stands now, for the buyer, it is simply hit and miss… with
perhaps a great many more misses than hits!

Those who decide to stay away from e-Bay gem purchases are probably
wise. Besides buying in Tucson is much more fun!

All of the above comments reflect only my own perspective regarding
the e-Bay experience, and are founded in data collected while doing
a survey of 30 gemstone dealers on the e-Bay network.

All the best,

Joseph Bloyd
JNB Studio

I am sorry to hear about your negative e-bay experience. You now
join the legion of consumers who can’t trust what is going on. The
"feedback" ratings are a farce as you found out. They are "rigged"
by sellers acting in groups, as you now know after being defrauded.

Thank You for passing on your experience with this playground for

Hi Folks…

I’ll start by saying…I’ve been on Ebay since 2000, as a buyer
only, and have a total of 648 transactions, with positive feedback of
100%…though my feedback rank that shows is 85…Repeat
transactions with the same seller do not augment the positive
feedback “shown” number for a buyer…

Before I ever bought any stone on Ebay, I did a bunch of buying of
35mm cameras and accessories…(think Heavy Metal Minolta)…some
books and gifts, too… Only got stuck once, and it was a low $$
auction…I had popped postive feedback upon receipt, only to find
out later when I got around to it the $5 flash was non-functional…

When I picked up on stones…I found that yes, there were sellers
selling true garbage… And that’s how one learns to really pay
attention to what an auction says…or doesn’t say…

Again…only ripped once…fake carnelian (glass) cabs, if you can
believe it… And…the price was truly too good…but prior
transactions had been straightforward with this seller…I gave
positive feedback to them before I really looked at the “stones”…

So…one has to always remember…Caveat Emptor…

One thing I look at, in addition to feedback and its type, is how
long the seller has been around…

There’s a stone seller on the Bay that’s been there since 1998, and
has 99.9% positive feedback, and this is for a shown number of
11,800…they actually have a total of over 75,000 positive
transactions…again…repeat buyer positives, in this case, do
not augment the shown number…

This outfit obviously knows what it’s doing…lotsa repeat buyers,

Another thing that happened, is that I made several interesting
seller connections

These folks offered money back guarantees…impeccable
feedback…were gemologically astute…reasonable shipping… In
all cases they were willing to answer questions…

Any seller that doesn’t answer a sensable question…it’s time to
back out…or never even go in…

Developed a working relationship with these sellers…

Example…some let me “run a tab” with their auctions…Accumulate
to defray shipping’s costs by combining…sometimes over a period of
a month or more…

Two became friends and mentors…

Led to non Ebay purchases from them…some of which were quite
astounding…right place, right time, kind of thing…

So…a trip into the maelstorm of Ebay can have very good

These days…there’s maybe 5 or 6 sellers that I check on once in a
while… I don’t bother much with Ebay’s search
functions…there’s way too much drivel and fooling around with
keywords that make the search function lame and crippled…

In all fairness…Ebay has tried to clean up it’s act, in terms of
misrepresentation, etc…

But to even try to enforce their own rules, it’s a sheer numbers
kind of thing that limits a proactive approach…

Have only done a bit with Asia…and that not recently… Whatever
kind of deal you might get, the ship cost can be a major un-deal…

Gary W. Bourbonais
A.J.P. (GIA)

You know, it’s really sad and although most of us can tell when face
to face if a stone is genuine or not (and my experience is so much
less than those of this list!) it still happens a lot in this world,
not just on ebay.

I adore my mother-in-law, and she supports what I do. For Christmas
she gave me two pieces of “amber” in a beautiful dealer type box and
told me she wanted me to make something for myself with them. I will,
even though it is just amber colored glass (I can even see the
cooling swirls on the bottom). She was trying to do something
wonderful for me, and I feel horrible because she was taken. I
sincerely hope she didn’t pay much for these!


Has anyone made a serious effort to sell jewelry on Ebay? I keep
being tempted to try, and when I look at the quantity of jewelry, and
the quantity of junk I back off.

Elegant Insects Jewelry

I’m a big fan of eBay and have bought a couple of cars, a motorcycle,
golf clubs, computers, high end audio gear, and lots of jewelry tools
from bench tools to a kiln, diamond scale and a magnetic tumbler. I’m
very familiar with doing deals on eBay and am fully aware of when I
take a risk on an item and I bid accordingly. I think I’ve only
bought stones one time. I was looking to see what diamonds sold for
and how they were listed, mainly because of customers saying they had
bought diamonds on eBay. I ended up buying several lots of melee from
one seller at a great deal. I bought about 50ct rounds and 20ct of
baguettes for a total of about $350-400. The stones were listed as
being VS, F color, but ended up being SI to I-2, G to K color. I do a
lot of repairs so I was very happy with the deal even if the stones
were not represented correctly. I’ve never been ripped-off on eBay.
When I’ve gotten marginal items (such as the diamonds) it’s usually
just what I’m prepared for. I do my research on the seller and know
when to pass on a deal, or am prepared to take a lesser product and
be happy. I’m a deal shopper and I sort through the crap on eBay and
find the deals, such as a $1500 diamond scale for $120, and a 100
ring magnetic tumbler for $225. You just have to know what a deal is
when you see it. I’ve never sold anything on eBay, I just buy. It is
a “buyer beware” situation, but I just pay attention and use common
sense. Oh yea, I love the BMW I got on eBay last month.

Your eBay Addict,

I have to say I love Ebay. But only for things I can be sure of. I
never bid on stones that can vary by color, clarity, etc.[snip].
It carries a certain amount of risk, but there are reputable
reliable sellers. It's definitely worth the effort. 

I pretty much agree with Veronica-- eBay is very much caveat emptor.
But it can also be great, even for stones. I have definitely wasted
some money, but also gotten some wonderful rough and cut stones. I
just posted a picture on my blog--
–that shows a piece I made with a stone I took a chance on, on
eBay. It is a really vibrant piece of sugilite I paid $15 for-- I
have not found any more as nice anywhere, at any price. If you know
where I can get some, please let me know, because the very pretty
rough I bought on eBay crumbled when I tried to cut it…



I just have to ask you : Did you ever sell on Ebay? I believe you
probably haven’t, due to your position on Ebay’s feedback system. As
a Seller and Buyer on Ebay for over 7 years now, I have experienced
over 6,000 transactions combined in my 2 Seller accounts, my Seller
feedback is 100% positive to date. I will leave feedback when I
receive feedback. Many times, people will make mistakes, don’t check
measurements, don’t know stones, there is an infinite amount of
reasons why someone would miss something in the description, be
disappointed and blame the Seller. My descriptions are thorough and
accurate to the best of my ability. I have a refund policy. Items are
shipped well packaged and very fast. Most people are nice and it is a
wonderful experience. On the other hand some just don’t care. The
items turns out to be smaller or larger, darker or lighter, they are
damaged in transit, lost in the mail or the Buyer simply doesn’t like
it, that is not the Seller’s fault. I have seen other Seller’s get
negative feedback simply because the Buyer did not bother to contact
them and return the item, did not read the description, inquire about
delivery or want to file an insurance claim with the Carrier.

For larger Seller’s there are automated systems that will post
positive feedback when positive feedback is left for them. Selling on
Ebay is a time consuming activity and if you sell many items at lower
prices believe me, you need all the help you can get.

My Buyer account on the other hand has 3 negative feedbacks. All 3
are retaliatory from Sellers that sold me junk and advertised as
something else. I contacted them first, when there is no response,
they get a negative. My feedback is honest. They hired a 3rd party to
try to convince me to remove the feedback, but I was not interested.

As a Buyer, 99.7% of my experience has been very positive. As a
Seller I would say 100% has. There is always something to learn from
each, even when I give the Buyer a full refund.

The problem with the feedback system is that the Buyers many times
are not versed enough. I ordered a strand of Peridot beads and they
turned out to be glass advertised as stone. You could not tell from
the pictures. The Seller had a very good rating, including for the
same item I purchased. Obviously, the other Buyers did not know the
difference between stone and glass.

Yes, I agree, the feedback system is not perfect, but forcing
Sellers to leave positive feedback for a Buyer before they receive
feedback is not the answer.

Just my 2 cents :slight_smile:

Vera Battemarco
Couture Artisan Jewelry ™

My ebay experiment

Noel, I have to say, it’s always a pleasure to see the fun and
thought that you put into your pieces. I can relate, I use to love
incorporating my jewelry into art that was more than just
functional, such as pins with removable frames on stands, etc. It
brings me back, why did I stop!

Lisa Hawthorne

So don't put too much stock in the "positive" feedback records of
those selling on e-Bay. Because sellers insist that buyers post
positive feedback about their shopping experience first, before
the sellers will post any feedback concerning the buyer, most
buyers who want to have a positive feedback rating go ahead and
post positive feedback about the seller even if the transaction was

Absolutely correct! As a matter of fact some sellers tell you up
front that if you post negative feedback you WILL receive negative
feedback from them. I have made upwards of 150 purchases on ebay over
the past several years, buying things from gemstones a gold nuggets
to Chinese swords and Irish sweaters. I have posted three negative
feedbacks and a couple of neutrals all of which earned me negative
feedback from the seller. I don’t care! No seller has ever refused to
sell to me.Two of those I gave negative feedback to shortlly
thereafter went off ebay. I suppose they reentered under a different
name, but that’s another subject. The point is buyers need to show a
little backbone and call it like they see it. If you read the
positive feedback on the sellers you can usually figure out whether
it has been sincere or coerced. Some buyers damn with faint praise.
As others have said, pay close attention to the seller’s description
and terms. In the case of gems,with few exceptions, I have always
received what I thought I ordered.

Jerry in Kodiak

Well, I can’t resist Ebay…

but when considering a purchase, the most useful tool I’ve found is
the following website: (or if this
link is not allowed, I’m referring to toolhaus dot org, then select
neg feedbacks.)

This site allows you to enter a seller’s id and see ONLY the
negative or neutral feedbacks received by that seller. I find this
invaluable, as it is way too time consuming to scroll through Ebay
feedbacks to try to find the negs hidden among hundreds of feedback

Even if a seller has only a small proportion of negative feedbacks,
you may see a pattern that might convince you that is not safe to
purchase from them. (You’ll also find out which sellers RETALIATE for
a neutral or negative comment from the seller.)

Caveat Emptor

C. Rose

Ok, I have to ask all you ebay stone buyers how much do you mark up
your piece with these ‘discount’ gems?

I see it like buying the stones of Jewelry Television and making
something with that and selling it at a 300% markup.


About the only thing I buy on ebay routinely is tooling. Things like
$12 carbide inserts for 50 cents. And 80% of it is from an ebay
store. But one the useful things about ebay is research. We’ll get
some old watch or other things - collectables or anything, and look
it up on ebay to see what the market is like. My mother had a blue
glass violin wall decoration that I thought might be rare or
something, and I found out it’s not so much on ebay. We use it a lot
for and Antiques Roadshow kind of thing.

In reality though the only way it could do that is if e-Bay had the
ethics needed to mandate that Sellers post feedback concerning
their experience with the Buyer first. It is e-Bay's number one
flaw (my perspective.) 

I have had sellers post positive feedback for me before I have done
so. Are you sure the fedback system works in this manner?

Alana Clearlake

I have people ask me all the time if I sell online or have a
website, if I sell on Ebay. My thoughts of selling on Ebay are this:
it is like a big swapmeet or garage sale. People look on Ebay for
deals. I don’t think I would get even close to the price I need to
get for my jewelry if I posted it on Ebay. It seems to me it would
only be good to liquidate items, not for retail sales.


This site allows you to enter a seller's id and see ONLY the
negative or neutral feedbacks received by that seller. 

There was a time when Ebay had a filter like that in place. I love
Ebay too, but that caused me to raise an eyebrow when I looked for
it and it was gone… I can think of 5 or 6 reasons why they would do
that, but they’re all “protecting the guilty.” My feeling is that
Ebay is a quality outfit, with good corporate values overall (not
everyone shares that, I know). I report everything irregular - I
report all phishing no matter where it comes from (Stock market:, FTC (Nigerians, etc.): SPAM@UCE.GOV, Paypal:, Ebay:, and individual banks,
etc.). To some degree we, the public, need to participate - Ebay
doesn’t know about things until someone tells them. That’s no
guarantee that it will stop, but at least it’s something. If
thousands of people complain about some seller(s) - shipping pirates
are a big issue, then things can be done. And read some of the
guides, too. Many of them are obvious - “How to” - but there are many
posts about scams and related on Ebay, too.

As an ebay seller, how am I to know if the buyer is satisfied, untl
he/she lets me know thru positive feedback. + or -feedback tells the
seller that the transaction is complete.

Ed in Kokomo