Jewelry Buying Advice 101
Try to get a basic understanding of the product you are buying. Uneducated impulse buying can be dangerous and costly.
Be very clear about the return policy. Is it only for store credit? Can you get your money back? What is the time frame for returns? It should make you a little uneasy if you have a very limited inspection period.
The sales receipt should state the weights and specific grades of the stones. Grades should not in a range of three or more. Read the fine print.
Don’t be pressured to make a purchase because the ‘cruise ship’ is leaving or the ‘sale’ will be over shortly.
Don’t be fooled by fictitious retail prices. Price paid is a good idea of value. If you pay $5,000 for an item and you are given an “appraisal” stating a value of $10,000 — think about it — it may perhaps be just a marketing ploy. Consumers do fall for this.
Let the seller know you are going to have your item independently appraised.
Use a major credit card that has a buyer protection program.
When buying a diamond, it is very important to get good documentation of the stone. We prefer to see an American Gem Society (AGS) Diamond Quality Document or a Gemological Institute of America (GIA) Diamond Grading Report. Know what these reports look like. For samples, go to: www.ags.org or www.gia.edu . We have had clients think they are getting a GIA report — but find it is one that only looks similar to the format.
Other reports are out there and some are very inaccurate. If you see documentation that looks very nice and appears to be signed by a Graduate Gemologist (GIA) but you cannot read the signature, nor is it typed anywhere on the report – do not trust it. Just because it looks official and is perhaps laminated does not make it right.
Ask yourself –who signed this?
Below is a stone that was sold as a high clarity, VS2! This is the plot that went along with the report, which in fact, shows no inclusions. A picture paints a thousand words. Our plot of the same stone showed it was a much poorer quality, I2. The consumer had no idea what he was buying.
Plot on report
Our plot of same stone with our photo showing strain
Here is a plot that was presented with a stone sold as a poor clarity SI3.
This plot does not show many clarity issues in the stone.
Our plot of the same stone shows many clarity issues.
Do you think the report fairly represented the purchase?
Clarity Enhanced Diamonds. We have had quite a few of these stones show up at our lab. These are diamonds that have surface reaching inclusions (poor clarity to start), that are subjected to a treatment using fillers, to mask the inclusions. Understand what you are buying.
Investments? If you are buying items and being told they are wonderful investments, you should be very careful. Find out how you are going to liquidate. Where will you go to sell these items? It is very difficult to sell gemstones and jewelry. If you are being told by the seller that they will always be willing to purchase them back, find out at what cost. Also, what if the company is no longer in business in a few years? We have seen this happen too many times.
Reproduction alert! A lot of reproduced vintage items are starting to surface. Provenance is so important. How difficult do you think it is to reproduce a hallmark? If you are buying a Tiffany ring on Ebay you may want to get it verified. They are now cutting stones in older styles and reproduction pieces can be very tricky to detect.
Align yourself with a reputable jeweler. If a deal seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Have your purchases checked by a qualified independent appraiser. Always buy the best quality that fits your budget. There is always more value in better quality pieces.