A little education can go a long way to protecting yourself from an unscrupulous jeweler when you're looking to buy bling for the holidays. Here's what you need to know.
The lights and tinsel may not be the only things glittering around your Christmas tree.
Jewelry is a gift-giving favorite, and nearly one-quarter of shoppers plan to give a little bling this holiday season, according to the National Retail Federation.
If you’re planning to buy your loved ones jewelry, some simple knowledge will help you keep more gold in your pocket, and not in the pocket of some unscrupulous jeweler. Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson describes some jeweler tricks of the trade in the video below. Check it out, then read on for more tips.
Find reputable jewelers
A good starting point is asking friends and family for jewelry store recommendations. Look for membership in the American Gem Society. Also, check them out with the Better Business Bureau and search for online complaints.
5 in-store tips
We’ll get into more detail about what to look for when you’re buying a diamond, another gemstone or gold. But here are some jeweler tricks of the trade to be aware of when you walk in the store:
- Inflated discounts. If the clerk is saying the ring has been discounted by 50 percent or more, be wary. The profit margin in jewelry is not high enough to make a discount like that probable. Also be on guard for a high appraisal and a low selling price.
- Hidden flaws. The setting of a ring can be used to hide flaws in a diamond or other gemstone. When you’re buying a diamond, you’ll want to examine it with a jeweler’s loupe. Ask the jeweler to show you how to use it properly.
- Tricky lighting. Make sure you examine the diamond or other gem in different types of lighting, including natural lighting. The store’s lighting might make cloudiness or other imperfections difficult to see.
- Enhancements. Has the stone been treated to remove or hide imperfections? You’ll want to ask. Consumer Reports says:
Sapphires and rubies are often subjected to high heat to improve their transparency and color. And there are a number of techniques to improve the clarity of diamonds, including laser drilling, which can vaporize tiny carbon specks. The holes are so small they’re very difficult to see. But if you look at the side of the stone in very bright light it might show some thin “threads.” Sometimes a chemical is used to fill small cracks in a diamond to make it appear more brilliant.
- Pressure sales tactics. Beware of jewelers who pressure you to make a purchase. Instead, take the time to compare jewelry at several stores.
Now, let’s look at what you’ll need to know after you’ve decided what type of jewelry you’ll be purchasing and before you head to the store. You’ve got to study up to be sure you’re getting a quality product at a fair price. Both the American Gem Society and the Jewelry Information Center, which is run by the Jewelers of America, have extensive guides to buying diamonds, gold and other high-end jewelry.
Don’t rely on the salesperson behind the counter to tell you how beautiful a stone is. You need to know how to recognize quality yourself. See “A Man’s Guide to Buying Diamonds in 5 Simple Steps.” But, briefly, here are some tips: