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25 Things Your Jeweler Won’t Tell You

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

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Those jewels might be fake

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.

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There’s a way to check the craftsmanship

A sure sign of bad craftsmanship: rough edges on the back of the piece. If it’s not finished underneath, they’ve probably cut corners somewhere else. Quit making this mistake you make with your jewelry in the TSA line.

3 / 25

Don’t limit your options

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 / 25

Accreditation is important

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 / 25

It’s OK to take your wedding band off

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—unless of course your ring is a variety of permanent jewelry. Learn why we wear wedding rings on the fourth finger.

6 / 25

Clarity isn’t everything

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 / 25

Be skeptical

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. Find out why some jewelry turns your skin green.

8 / 25

Keep it clean

Please don’t lick or spit on your finger to get your ring off, and then hand it to me.

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Don’t dish out for a specialty cleaner

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 / 25

Skip the extended warranty

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. Keep your expensive jewelry safe by learning the first hiding spots burglars always check for valuables.

11 / 25

Our big sales are a gimmick

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. Find out 32 more ways stores trick you into spending more money.

12 / 25

Steer clear of expensive lasers

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.

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Trust us

We like to say, “If you don’t know your jewels, know your jeweler.” It really does come down to trust. Learn why you should stop buying jewelry and other items on Groupon.

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You can make your jewels look more expensive

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. Check out these other 11 fashion upgrades that make you look expensive.

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Big names aren’t always better

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. Don’t miss these other 13 things a mall salesperson won’t tell you.

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Check before you buy

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

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Be wary of stores that buy gold

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 / 25

Don’t blame me

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.

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Get documentation

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.

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Know the lingo

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

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We know your tricks

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. Check out these 18 clever ways to organize your jewelry.

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I can make Grandma’s old jewelry look good again

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. Here are 51 more tips personal stylists won’t tell you for free.

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You aren’t stuck with an ugly birthstone

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. Once you’ve picked out what you want, make sure to purchase your fine jewelry at the right time.

24 / 25

“Real” doesn’t mean much

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.

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Mixed metals are all the rage

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.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest