Arrow review: cheap, but not free

First published on February 7, 2008

As I was looking through Business Week’s feature on the 101 best web freebies, I was intrigued by the entry about this free jewelry site, Basically, the site rotates 4 different pieces of sterling silver jewelry (mostly earrings, pendants, and rings with one size at a time) for sale at a time, with each item being available for 15 minutes. There is a somewhat fixed catalogue (you can do a Google search and find a site that shows the entire catalogue), so if you miss an item, it will probably come around again soon. You might spend quite a bit of time watching the items rotate, though…

The draw is that you only pay the “shipping cost”, which is $8.99 USD for orders outside of the United States (yup, that means shipping to Canada is $8.99).

So I took the plunge, ordering a sterling silver cubic zirconia ring, as shown in their product image here:

Image of cubic zirconia ring

I paid via PayPal on January 7th, 2008, got an immediate confirmation, then got a shipping confirmation on January 10th. The item arrived on January 23rd in a bubble envelope:

Envelope showing 69 cent postage

As you can see, they paid 69 cents for first-class international shipping from California. The ring came in a nice little case of sorts:

Nice little Peora box

And here is the bag that was inside the case that contains the ring:

Bag showing that it is made in Thailand


There’s nothing fishy about, unless their overseas manufacturing facility makes you uneasy (see the last part of this post). They delivered as advertised. Just make sure you read the full specifications for each item. They give you full information about each piece of jewelry, so you might want to get your ruler out to understand the size of the earring or whatever it is that you are getting.

The site has been around since 2005, and it has some handy diamond guides.

The person whom I gave the ring to said that it’s a good quality ring but the stone isn’t as shiny as one would have expected. My thoughts are that it looks good…

Why it’s “free”

The official line from is that they want to introduce their quality jewelry to the masses so that people will then want to buy more expensive items from You’ll notice that has a lot of the same “about” content but it sells better jewelry with a lot more choice (such as which size ring you can get).

While the “attracting people to” might be a small reason for the existence of, I think there’s much more to the story than that. It’s free because it’s not actually free. You pay almost $9 for something that costs 69 cents plus the cost of the envelope to ship. Whether you structured that as a $6.99 piece of jewelry plus $2.69 shipping, it’s still the same total cost for the buyer!

There’s even an affiliate program that pays people $1 for each “free sale” that they refer (no I didn’t sign up). This makes me believe quite strongly that does not exist purely for you to entice you to buy more expensive things at a later time. They’re taking advantage of economies of scale here… word of mouth for free things on the Internet spreads fast and I suppose that there’s a bit of an addictive appeal to the fact that the items rotate with only 4 available at a time.

Lastly, eschews the cost of running a retail store. They report that the items on their site would retail for between $50 and $70, which is probably true at some places. Most importantly, the labour to make the jewelry is relatively cheap. If you scroll up to the image of the bag that the ring came in, you’ll see that it is made in Thailand. In fact, their website is quite honest about their overseas manufacturing facilities.


8 Responses to “ review: cheap, but not free”

  1. Cathy says:

    hey PK! and what if u send to an addy in the USA…then the $9 is waived? making it a better deal?

    btw i want to be reading what ur reading! magazines etc :)

    c u in aug unless u swing my way?

  2. julia says:

    Hmm I had never heard of this before. Seems like it might be a bit of a gimick.

    Do you think there's something they get for website clicks as well given you have to visit so often with the 15min thing.

  3. Leah says:

    I'm so sad! I missed an item I wanted. There were a couple of reasons why. So here are some tips for anyone new to the site:
    -if you are not from the states, you need to click "Swith to our international site" on the top right corner
    -they only take paypal and online gift certificates if you are international

    Also, Peter mentioned that if you miss the item you may be waiting and checking the site often to see if it comes up again. There is a feature (which I have yet to use) that will notify you when the item you are interested in comes up. Click "click to see what's coming up next!" on the main page and see a dozen or so items that will be coming up in the next couple of hours. Click the ones you are interested in…receive notification…I think I may try it.

    Also note, you can buy a chain for an extra $4 if you buy a pendant. Not sure of the quality, but the option is there.

  4. says:

    I agree it's not free. Thanks for the article

  5. Peter says:

    Cathy — there's a separate site for US shipping, and I think the shipping cost is simply a few dollars less (it certainly ain't free)

    julia — no, I don't think it's a gimmick. It's just a matter of economies of scale…

  6. leslie says:

    I buy from the silverjewelryclub all the time. I use the notify me feature all the time. I usually leave the screen up while I do other stuff on the internet. My explorer is set to notify me when I receive an email, so I then switch pages and buy my item. It’s $5.99 for US purchases and takes about a week to get to me. I have bought maybe 60-70 items over the last few months. I love all of them. Even the ones that look really delicate feel pretty solid. The chain is okay, very tiny, but sterling silver. They have lasted very well with my active 8 year old daughter and my 18m old daughter (she yanks on my necklaces). Because it is sterling silver, and even though the company claims to put an anti-tarnish chemical on them, you will have to polish them every once in a while. I usually just grab a nail brush and soap and wash them while in the shower. They look brand new again! There is no risk. As a matter of fact, I received a sale code that took off $1 for all items for two months. I took great advantage of that.

  7. Kristin says:

    I ordered from peora through Amazon. Be wary of the return policy. The customer service really lacks. All I wanted is to be able to call and discuss my issue with an actual person and they stated they do not give out phone numbers (After 4 e-mails back and fourth). What kind of compay that deals with customers would not have a person whom customers could call regarding problems?

  8. aiken314 says:

    I just placed my 3rd order with; I was pleasantly surprised by the service & product the last 2 times & look forward to the arrival of my current purchase. S/H is expensive from almost every company & I would hope anyone would question anything that purports to be "free." That said, I like this site very much & don’t feel as if I’m getting ripped off. In addition, it allows me to purchase a piece of silver jewelry to "gift" casual friends at a reasonable price. It makes them feel special and makes me happy. I’m sure I will make future purchases, especially in this economy.

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