How to Shop for Jewelry
by: Reynold Cummings
If 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.
Gold means all gold or 24 karat (24K) gold. Because 24K gold is soft, it's
usually mixed with other metals to increase its durability and hardness. If a
piece of jewelry is not 24 karat gold, the karat quality should accompany any
claim that the item is gold.
2. Platinum, Silver and Other Metals
Platinum is a precious metal that costs more than gold. It is usually mixed with
other similar metals: iridium, palladium, ruthenium, rhodium and osmium.
Different markings are used on platinum jewelry as compared with gold jewelry.
These quality markings are based on the amount of pure platinum in the piece -
based on parts per thousand.
Natural gemstones are found in nature. Laboratory-created stones are made in a
laboratory. These stones 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. Gemstones may
be measured by weight, size, or both. The basic unit for weighing gemstones is
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 is described as "flawless"
if it has no visible surface or internal imperfections when viewed under
10-power magnification by a skilled diamond grader. Diamond weight is usually
stated in carats.
Natural or real pearls are made by oysters and other mollusks. Cultured pearls
also are grown by mollusks, but with human intervention. Because natural pearls
are very rare, most pearls used in jewelry are either cultured or imitation
pearls. Imitation pearls are man-made with glass, plastic, or organic materials.
Cultured pearls, because they are made by oysters or mollusks, usually are more
expensive than imitation pearls. A cultured pearl's value is largely based on
its size, usually stated in millimeters, and the quality of its nacre coating,
which gives it luster. Jewelers will usually tell you if the pearls are cultured
To get the best deal on a piece of jewelry for yourself or someone you love,
shop around. You should 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.
Always check for the appropriate markings on metal jewelry and find out if the
pearls are natural, cultured, laboratory-created or imitation. Also, Find out
whether the gemstone has been treated. Is the change permanent? Is special care
Shop with companies you know or do some homework before buying to make sure a
company is legitimate before doing business with it. Get the details about the
product, as well as the merchant's refund and return policies, before you buy.
Look around the website for an address to write to or a phone number to call if
you have a question, a problem or need help.
More in-depth information on
gemstones and pearl are available at our gemstone infocenter.
More information on diamonds are available at our
For authentic jewelry, visit our jewelry gift home
For genuine loose gemstones, please visit
our Loosegem home.
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Reynold Cummings writes for the Fine Jewelry Website at http://www.finejewelryonline.org/
where you can get up to 50% off Exclusive True Handmade Jewelry - Rings,
Earrings, Necklaces, Bracelets and more.