1) Think you got a great deal on that beautiful ruby? It may not be real. A number of jewelers nationwide have been caught selling “composite rubies,” which are as much as 40 to 50 percent glass, for the price of the real thing.
2) A sure sign of poor craftsmanship: rough edges on the back of the piece. If it’s not finished underneath, they’ve probably cut corners somewhere else.
3) If your favorite color is blue, I’m going to try to sell you the most expensive stone in that color, probably a sapphire. But many other stones — including spinel, tanzanite, and tourmaline — also come in blue. You just have to know to ask.
4) Seek out jewelers who are credentialed by the American Gem Society, which holds them to a high standard of knowledge and a code of ethics.
5) When you tell me, “I never take it off,” I can’t help but think, That’s disgusting. To leave it on when you clean the house, lotion up your hands … yuck. You should take it off.
6) If you’re buying a diamond on a budget, don’t get stuck on the clarity grade. You can come down several clarity grades and in most cases will see absolutely no difference with the naked eye, especially once it’s set in a piece of jewelry.
7) If your jeweler tells you that none of his emeralds are treated in any way, he’s probably either ill informed or dishonest. Almost all emeralds today are treated.
8) Please don’t lick or spit on your finger to get your ring off, and then hand it to me.
9) Clean your gems in warm water with a mild liquid detergent and a toothbrush. For some extra shine on your diamonds (as long as they’re not fracture filled), spray a little Windex on them, then wipe it off. That’s actually what a lot of jewelers use, even the ones who sell expensive cleaner.
10) Extended warranties from jewelry stores typically aren’t worth the money. If you have a rider on your homeowners insurance for your ring and it’s lost, damaged, or stolen, or if a stone falls out, your policy will usually cover it.
11) The “60 or 70 percent off” sales you sometimes see? Not possible. There just isn’t enough margin in what we sell today that you can discount like that and run a business and pay your bills.
12) Here’s a word to watch for on that diamond’s certification report: laser. If your diamond has a high clarity grade, but under Comments it says laser path or laser, that means a laser beam was used to get rid of a flaw, and it should cost 15 to 40 percent less than an untreated diamond of the same grade.
13) We like to say, “If you don’t know your jewels, know your jeweler.” It really does come down to trust.
Sources: John Henne, president of Henne Jewelers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Clayton Bromberg, president and CEO of Underwood Jewelers in Jacksonville, Florida; Antoinette Matlins, author of Jewelry & Gems: The Buying Guide; and gemologist Renée Newman, author of Gem & Jewelry Pocket Guide