Dallas, Texas (WiredPRNews.com) — Shopping for fine jewelry made of precious metals and genuine gemstones requires a basic knowledge of industry terms and specifications to ensure a satisfying purchase.
Buying jewelry can be fun and exciting, like a treasure hunt; but it can also be a bit confusing, like hunting for treasure without a map! Here’s a 3-part guide.
Shopping for fine quality jewelry truly is a hunt for treasure; you will be looking at precious, gleaming metals, scintillating diamonds, and an amazing array of glittering, colorful gemstones and lustrous pearls.
It can all be pretty dazzling and blinding.
To help avoid confusion and “bling overload,” it’s good to familiarize yourself with some of the terms and definitions used in the industry, plus some common sense shopper’s tips before heading out on your treasure hunting adventure.
Like every other high-ticket purchase, fine quality jewelry requires some research and inquiry before purchase. The admonition “shop around” applies.
Compare quality, price, and service. Prices for similar items can vary greatly from one store to the next, and with Internet sales on the rise, checking online stores is always wise. Online stores do not have the overhead costs of maintaining a “brick and mortar” store in an expensive location such as a mall, plus the salaries and commissions of salespeople, and the “prestige” of a recognizable name.
Many online stores offer high-quality jewelry at 30 to 60 percent off retail price.
But if the distinction, reputation, and industry stature of a “name” store are important to your jewelry investment, or you are looking for unique designer pieces, by all means explore those retailers who are the standard of the industry.
Whether online or on Rodeo Drive, ask for the store’s refund and return policy before you buy.
And if you’re stumped at where to start in the first place, ask family members, friends, co-workers and acquaintances for recommendations, especially if you spy them wearing a piece you admire. People love to receive compliments on their jewelry, and in return will be glad to tell you where they found a special piece, as it reflects on their good taste, trendy-ness, or aesthetic appreciation.
Shopping for Precious Metals
Pieces made of precious metals such as gold, silver and platinum will be marked as such.
The word gold used by itself means 24 karat gold, which is 100 percent gold with no other metals mixed in. But 24K gold is very soft and not suited to most jewelry uses.
The karat quality marking on a piece of jewelry tells you what proportion of gold is mixed with other metals.
Fourteen karat (14K) contains 14 parts gold mixed with 10 parts base metal. Common karat qualities in jewelry are 18K, 14K, and 10K.
Gold plate refers to items that are mechanically plated, electroplated, or plated by any other means with gold to a base metal. This includes gold-filled, gold overlay, rolled gold plate and gold electroplate.
Platinum is a silver-colored metal that is more expensive than gold. Items that contain 95 percent pure platinum are marked simply “platinum.” Often platinum is mixed with other metals known as “platinum group metals.” Pieces made this way will be marked with the percentage of pure platinum along with the percentage of platinum-group metal, such as iridium or rhodium.
To be stamped “silver” or “sterling silver,” a piece must contain 92.5 percent pure silver. Often pieces will be marked simply “925.”
Silver-plate has a layer of silver bonded to a base metal. Vermeil is often used in less-expensive jewelry. It is made of gold plated over a base of sterling silver.
In part two shopping for pearls and diamonds will be covered.
Contributor: Renee Brown
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