13 Things Your Jeweler Isn’t Telling You—and 13 Solutions for Every Rookie Mistake
By Devorah Isenberg , Friday, April 15, 2011
Reader’s Digest’s monthly feature exposes the secrets behind every service industry, from doctors to baristas, allowing you to make better, more informed choices no matter what service you are receiving or product you are buying. This month, Reader’s Digest turns its attention to jewelers, revealing the 13 most common mistakes that ill-informed consumers can make. But of course, not every jeweler would let you fall into that trap, so we’ve countered every one of these possible mistakes with a simple solution that will ensure that when you go to purchase a diamond ring or gemstone necklace, you are getting the best product at the best price. In Houston, engagement rings and diamond jewelry are available in dozens of stores, so if you want to buy diamond rings that are worth every penny, you will want to know these tips. Whether you are looking for a tiffany ring, a loose diamond, or a gorgeous colored gemstone, these tips will help you shop like a pro.
1) If you are getting a really incredible price on a ruby, it may not be real. Several jewelers nationwide have been caught selling “composite rubies,” which can contain up to 50% glass.
Solution: Get a certificate! Gemstone certification may not work exactly like loose diamond certification, but there are reliable, reputable reports on gemstones from GIA and other well-known labs. Don’t buy a high-quality colored stone without one. Alternatively, choose a spinel—a gorgeous red stone with great light performance and excellent durability. When you buy engagement rings with gemstones, make sure the gemstones are durable and high-quality.
2) If the underside and corners of the ring aren’t smooth, that’s a sign of poor craftsmanship and finishing. Rough edges and visible joints between the ring parts is a sign that corners have been cut somewhere else as well.
Solution: If you are buying in a bricks-and-mortar store, look at the ring itself. Try it on, run your finger around every edge, and look for exposed sutures (where two pieces of the ring have been soldered together.) Luckily, Houston jewelry stores are known to be accommodating and friendly when it comes to trying on and examining before you buy diamonds and diamond jewelry. If you are buying online, read tons of online reviews and trust the wisdom of the crowd—if they’ve all been happy with their rings, you will be too.
3) If your favorite color is blue, you’re probably going to ask for a sapphire. But many other stones — including spinel, tanzanite, and tourmaline — also come in blue, and sapphires come in many colors besides blue. You just have to ask for it.
Solution: If you are specifically looking for a sapphire, whether it’s because you are September birthday or you are a huge royal wedding buff, jewelers can definitely supply you with sapphire rings and necklaces. And if you want a high-quality, but more affordable alternative to fancy colored diamonds, sapphires come in many colors besides blue that make modern alternatives to the classic colorless diamond. But if you just like the color blue, look into all the little-known blue stones—you may find something you like even more.
4) You might think never taking your ring off is a good idea because it prevents you from losing it, but it is not only unsanitary, it can cause damage to the ring and even cause you to lose the ring altogether.
Solution: Take off your ring whenever you do anything messy or potentially dangerous to the ring, like gardening, washing dishes, crafts, or painting. If you often need to take your ring off in the same place, like at the kitchen sink, place a pretty little box there so you’ll always have a safe place to keep it. (Never hold the ring between your teeth.)That way you prevent damage or loss of the ring, and you won’t have to clean it nearly as often.
5) Look for jewelry stores with American Gem Society credentials, and AGS certified diamonds, which means they will have more diamond knowledge and a higher code of ethics than anywhere else.
Solution: When you choose an AGS-certified jeweler, and buy jewelry with an AGS certificate, you are trusting the top scientists in the business—and you can rest assured that your purchase will measure up. You can find many Houston diamond vendors that are AGS certified.
6) Almost all emeralds used in jewelry are treated in some way—if your jeweler tells you otherwise, he is either being dishonest or not very well informed.
Solution: Just because emeralds have been treated, it doesn’t mean that they are fake or damaged. Information is the key—read up on the treatments that are used to make emeralds ready for prime-time, and decide what you are comfortable with and what your budget will allow.
7) If you’re buying a diamond on a budget, don’t worry too much about the clarity grade. Once the diamond is set in a ring, you will not be able to tell the difference between the clarity grades, as long as the ring looks flawless to your eye.
Solution: Tell your jeweler that you want a diamond that is eye-clean—in other words, one in which any flaws are invisible to the naked eye. Then you can concentrate your budget on the elements that really matter—like cut grade and carat size.
8) If your ring is stuck on your finger when you bring it in to the jeweler, don’t put it in your mouth or spit on it to get it off—and then hand it to the jeweler.
Solution: If your ring is a bit tight, ask your jeweler for a moistened towellette to help ease it off. If it’s tight and uncomfortable all the time, get it resized for a more safe and comfortable fit.
9) When you bring your engagement rings in for cleaning, all we do is wipe them with a little detergent. For shine, we use a spray that is basically Windex. And that expensive cleaner that we sell? It’s the same mild liquid detergent you can find anywhere.
Solution: Clean your diamond rings yourself 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.
10) Although some Houston jewelry stores have them, extended warranties from jewelry stores aren’t usually worth it. If you have a rider on your homeowners insurance for your ring and it’s lost, damaged, or stolen, your policy will often cover it without an extended warranty.
Solution: Double-check with your insurance company that your diamond ring or necklace is fully covered, and get extra jewelry insurance if you need to. As for extended warranties, they are not as helpful as lifetime upgrade policies, where you can trade in your diamond at any time for one of a higher quality or larger size.
11) In today’s diamond market, a “60 or 70 percent off” sale is literally impossible for an honest jeweler. There just isn’t enough margin in what we sell today that you can discount like that and run a business honestly.
Solution: Extreme discounts are the first sign of an untrustworthy jeweler. Opt for a jeweler with fair prices for the level of merchandise being sold and excellent online reviews—once you learn a little about the various kinds of diamonds out there, you’ll realize that what looks like an incredible price may actually be a mark-up on an inferior product. Choose a jeweler with quality diamonds, excellent customer service and fair, but not bargain-basement, prices.
12) Look for the word laser on your diamond’s certification. If there is 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 stone.
Solution: Decide what your budget and tastes will allow, and inform yourself and choose accordingly.
13) As the saying goes, “If you don’t know your jewels, know your jeweler.” Since you aren’t an expert gemologist, it really does come down to trust.
Solution: Talk to friends and family members who have purchased diamond jewelry, and read online reviews. If you’re buying online, look for reviews that show that the customer has a personal relationship with the jeweler and has returned or would return to them again.