13+ Things Your Jeweler Won’t Tell You

Find out the secrets to getting the most out of your fine jewelry purchases.

By Michelle Crouch from Reader's Digest | May 2011
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    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.

    14. 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.

    15. 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.

    16. If you’re paying big bucks for a diamond, always get a certification report from a major lab such as the GIA or AGS.

    17. 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.

    18. 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.

    19. 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.

    20. If I tell you your diamond has been “clarity enhanced,” it basically means it had fractures that we filled with glass.

    21. 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.

    22. 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.

    23. 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.

    24. 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

    25. 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.

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    Your Comments

    • Raychel

      I have to take my rings back to where my husband bought them every 6 months to have them inspected to keep the lifetime warranty on my diamonds from being nullified, I also have a jeweler that I trust very much so I always take it to him after to make sure they haven’t switched out my stones.

    • Cskern

      There is a link just under the numbers to “View slideshow on a single page.”

      • Anne246

        only on a few

      • Anne246

        only on a few

    • Rodw1

      a tip for Reader’s Digest—the way these tips are presented (one to a page)  just frustrates your readers!