7 Tips to Avoid The Most Common Mistakes When Buying Jewelry

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Many people — traditionally men — view both shopping and jewelry as foreign territories filled with expensive landmines. Combining the two seems like a recipe for personal anxiety and financial disaster.

If the thought of buying jewelry for your honey fills you with dread, this article is for you.

Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson has a simple but vital rule to help avoid jewelry-buying mistakes: “Go with your eyes.” That is, do not listen uncritically to what the clerk is insisting you need.

You know what you find appealing, and you should trust your judgment as you begin to browse. You can still buy gorgeous jewelry your loved one will cherish without sabotaging your budget. Just follow these guidelines to avoid common stumbles:

1. Set a realistic budget

There is a wide variety of fine jewelry at a huge array of price points — including many lovely pieces that cost less than $100. Before you find yourself peering into a glass case while a salesperson grills you, decide what you can actually afford.

If the salesperson shows you items that cost more, just say “I’m sorry: That was more than I was planning to spend.” If that means you are guided to another counter or need to go to a different store, so be it.

2. Educate yourself

Are you looking for diamond jewelry or something with another gemstone? What will the setting be made of?

Not only do those specifics impact the look and cost of jewelry, but they also tell you what it will require to care for the purchase. Sterling silver needs regular polishing, for instance, and gemstone settings should be examined by a jeweler occasionally to ensure they remain secure.

If you’re shopping for a diamond, here’s another idea to ponder: “3 Reasons Lab-Grown Diamonds Are Better Than the Real Thing.”

3. Don’t guess on ring size

Sure, rings can be resized, but it’s fairly easy to secretly determine someone’s ring size and look like a hero when it easily slips onto your love’s finger. If you can get a ring that your beloved currently is not wearing — a ring worn on the same finger as the one for which you’re shopping — you can match it to a ring-sizing chart like this one from Zales.

Or, just trace around the ring on a piece of paper and bring it to a jeweler to help you determine the correct size. Another way to get close — at least a step above guessing — is to consider the average size of rings (7 for women and 10 for men) and go up or down a size from there, accordingly.

4. Know the recipient’s tastes

The most common jewelry-shopping mistakes are made when the giver wings it without knowing the recipient’s preferences. Sure, we told you to start with what you like. But as you winnow your choices you’ll naturally make the final selection based on what you believe your significant other would most enjoy.

Two general rules of thumb:

  • A hopeless romantic will likely enjoy heart-shaped jewelry.
  • Conservative and casual types might enjoy basic hoop earrings, diamond stud earrings or link chains.

In general, it’s best to stay away from glitzy and unusual designs unless you’re confident that is your loved one’s preference.

5. Become an online sleuth

Consider gently — but unobtrusively — looking at your loved one’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest accounts for “likes” or “follows” of certain types of jewelry brands, recommends Brilliant Earth.

Beware, though: Your research may well lead to online advertisements that will be emailed to or displayed on your computer. Clear your browser history and block the site from collecting cookies on your computer so the surprise isn’t unearthed.

6. Choose your jeweler carefully

Overpriced and fake gems are impossible for untrained shoppers to spot. The best way to ensure you buy from a reputable source is to find those recommended by the American Gem Society and the Jeweler’s Vigilance Committee.

Both have information on certified jewelers. Begin your shopping from those lists.

7. Read the fine print

What if your gift is something that, despite your best efforts, just doesn’t work? What if a stone falls out or a clasp breaks? Can you get your money back?

Make sure you understand the jeweler’s return, refund and exchange policies before you walk out the door. Some jewelers will prompt you to buy a high-priced extended warranty. Before you agree to that, consider the likelihood of needing to repair the piece versus the cost of doing so.

And check to see whether your credit card offers extended-warranty coverage on this type of purchase. Many do, and that can save you from forking over even more money to the jeweler.

What lessons have you learned while shopping for jewelry? Share with us in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

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