1. Want your ring to look better than rings that are far more valuable? There’s a simple formula: Keep it clean. A clean imperfect diamond is much more attractive than a dirty flawless one.
2. People tend to think that stores that do a lot of volume can give you the best price, but the reality is that the markups at national chains are often a lot higher than the markups at independent jewelry stores. Always check and compare.
3. If you’re paying big bucks for a diamond, always get a certification report from a major lab such as the GIA or AGS.
4. To cope in this economy, a lot of jewelers have transformed themselves into buyers of scrap gold because it’s a way to make quick money. But many have let their merchandise selection slip as a result.
5. Sure, there may be some jewelers who don’t tell their customers the diamond they’re buying is fracture filled. But there are also a lot of husbands and boyfriends out there who don’t tell their loved one that the diamond they’re getting is fracture filled. The woman brings it to me to clean or alter it, all the filling comes out—and I’m the one left in the lurch.
6. If you’re buying something expensive, ask your jeweler to put the details of your piece in writing on the sales receipt. Then take it to a gemologist appraiser who holds a respected credential (MGA, CGA, or CMA). Never deal with a jeweler who doesn’t have a generous return policy.
7. If I tell you your diamond has been “clarity enhanced,” it basically means it had fractures that we filled with glass.
8. Don’t buy a piece of jewelry, then return it with the smell of perfume all over it and say, “My wife didn’t like it.” At least clean it first.
9. If you have a ring that was passed on, but it’s not to your taste, bring it in and have me take the stones out, rearrange it, put it in a new setting. Don’t let it just sit in your jewelry box.
10. Before you complain about your birthstone, find out whether it comes in other colors. Most do. November’s topaz, for example, can be blue, yellow, green, purple, or pink.
11. Just because a stone is a genuine diamond, ruby, sapphire, or emerald doesn’t mean it’s valuable. I can show you some that aren’t worth 50 cents a carat because they’re cloudy or dull, but I can still sell them to you for a big profit.
12. The biggest trend in jewelry right now? Sterling silver jewelry mixed with gold accents. Because gold and platinum prices are so high, we’re selling a lot more silver. Get a polishing cloth to keep it from tarnishing.
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.
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