With the explosion of sharply cut outfits for the spring, it is time to let the spotlight shine on your jewelry selections. Clean lines and sleek colors provide the perfect canvas for timeless pieces that never go out of style, as well as the costume jewelry that is back with a vengeance. No matter what your budget, you will be able to look stunning for any occasion.
Before you decide what should go with that little black dress, or even a baby doll top and jeans, think about the right way to shop for the latest accessories. The more beautiful and eye-catching the piece, the more difficult it is to evaluate its value without bias. Whether you are looking for gemstones and gold or silver and bangles, there are a few key points to keep in mind to be sure you get what you want for the price you want.
Reputation is Important
If you have never heard of a particular jewelry store in the past, you may never hear of it again. Don’t risk spending your money in an unknown location unless someone you know and trust has had success with the shop. The longer the business has been in operation, the more likely they are to care about your business and their reputation. Go on testimonials, but still be cautious. If high-quality gold and gemstones are what you are after, check on the store’s affiliation with industry associations. Jewelers of America is one organization that requires high standards and the continuing education of their members. Even if this association is clearly marked within the shop, be sure to get an itemized receipt and a written return policy.
Quality over Price It’s likely you won’t start looking for the perfect piece without some idea of how much you want to spend to acquire it. It is important to research price, but don’t let it be the sole guide for your purchase. Higher prices do not always mean higher quality; but lower prices do generally mean you are sacrificing something for a discount.
When examining a specific piece, you will want to look for obvious flaws. Even jewelry you purchase from the local department store just to wear for fun should offer seamless lines in the design. When purchasing gold or silver, check for markings.
Beyond the standard karat markings in gold, silver products that are at least 92.5% silver will be marked as such, or may simply offer the numbers 925. A marking of Pt. or Plat. indicate Platinum, which is a metal more precious than gold. Is it Real or a Great Imitation? The science of gemstone creation has made it possible for consumers all over the world to purchase flawless stones in brilliant cuts for thousands less than mined stones. In lower price ranges, it is much easier to tell the difference between natural and lab created stones. The latter do have the same properties as natural gemstones, but are the result of a man-made process. The advantage of this process is the flawlessness that can be achieved in the presentation.
Aside from the process of lab creation, some gemstones are treated with oils or a heating process in order to improve the beauty of the presentation. If you purchase a piece that has been treated, it will quickly lose its luster if you do not maintain such a regime. The Federal Trade Commission does require the disclosure of such processes to consumers, but it is important to ask the question. Is it Safe to Buy Online? When fine jewelry first became available online, forums were overloaded with complaints and recounts of scams, misrepresentations and pure fraud. Consumers are protected with the same laws that apply to brick-and-mortar establishments, but early entrants into the online market were able to take advantage of lose regulation and nonexistent accountability.
Advancements in technology are changing the industry, making it possible to track down companies who give the appearance of no physical location. As a result, it is much more difficult to conduct successful scams over the long-term. Still, there are certain rules you should apply to shopping online to protect yourself and your investment, such as: •
Only shop Web sites that offer a phone number, physical address and other “Contact Us” information. A lack of this information is a red flag. • Always use a credit card when buying online as the credit card company can act as a second line of defense if anything goes wrong. • Read ALL fine print as information on returns, guarantees and other policies is likely to be less than obvious.
Once you know what you want and where you want to get it, just remember these tips before handing over the cash. Finding quality pieces to top of the latest outfit is not difficult, but getting value for your dollar