|How to Buy a Jewelry
Buying jewelry can be fun, exciting and confusing. Whether you're considering a gift of jewelry for someone special or as a treat for yourself, take some time to learn the terms used in the industry. Here's some information to help you get the best quality jewelry for your money, whether you're shopping in a traditional brick and mortar store by catalog or online.
The word gold, used by itself, means all gold or 24 karat (24K) gold. Because 24K gold is soft, it's usually mixed with other metals to increase its hardness and durability. If a piece of jewelry is not 24 karat gold, the karat quality should accompany any claim that the item is gold.
Platinum is a precious metal that costs more than gold. It usually is mixed with other similar metals, known as the platinum group metals: iridium, palladium, ruthenium, rhodium and osmium.
Natural gemstones are found in nature. Laboratory-created stones, as the name implies, are made in a laboratory. These stones, which also are referred to as laboratory-grown, [name of manufacturer]-created, or synthetic, have essentially the same chemical, physical and visual properties as natural gemstones. Laboratory- created stones do not have the rarity of naturally colored stones and they are less expensive than naturally mined stones. By contrast, imitation stones look like natural stones in appearance only, and may be glass, plastic, or less costly stones. Laboratory-created and imitation stones should be clearly identified as such.
A diamond's value is based on four criteria: color, cut, clarity, and carat. The clarity and color of a diamond usually are graded. However, scales are not uniform: a clarity grade of "slightly included" may represent a different grade on one grading system versus another, depending on the terms used in the scale. Make sure you know how a particular scale and grade represent the color or clarity of the diamond you're considering. A diamond can be described as "flawless" only if it has no visible surface or internal imperfections when viewed under 10-power magnification by a skilled diamond grader.
Natural or real pearls are made by oysters and other mollusks. Cultured pearls also are grown by mollusks, but with human intervention; that is, an irritant introduced into the shells causes a pearl to grow. Imitation pearls are man-made with glass, plastic, or organic materials.
A Jewelry Shopper’s Checklist
When you're in the market for a piece of jewelry for yourself or someone you love, shop around. Compare quality, price, and service. If you're not familiar with any jewelers in your area, ask family members, friends, and co-workers for recommendations. You also should:
Ask for the store's refund and return policy before you buy.
Check for the appropriate markings on metal jewelry.
Ask whether the pearls are natural, cultured, or imitation.
Ask whether a gemstone is natural, laboratory-created, or imitation.
Ask whether the gemstone has been treated. Is the change permanent? Is special care required?
Make sure the jeweler writes on the sales receipt any information you relied on when making your purchase, such as the gem's weight or size. Some jewelers also may supply a grading report from a gemological laboratory.