Buying jewellery can be quite tricky. It is hard enough to tell at first glance which pieces are authentic or have a higher value than their cheaper counterparts, and you can easily pay too much for low-quality jewellery. But with these tips, you can buy your jewellery like an expert jeweller, and snatch the most lustrous deals for the best prices.
Coloured stones have been treated
When you walk into a jewellery store, keep in mind that none of those coloured gemstones is “naturally” coloured, especially if it was already set in the finished jewellery. If the salesperson tells you that a stone is natural, simply ask if it has not even been heated, and they will either admit that it has been heated, lie, or reveal their lack of knowledge on the subject. In any case, you will have established that you are not someone to be easily fooled.
While gem heating is a common treatment process, you must avoid those that were irradiated or injected with silicone or coloured glass. Gems become slightly radioactive when they undergo irradiation, and injections tend to compromise their quality and durability.
To guarantee that you are not buying a stone that was treated harmfully, the store should let you return it after being appraised by a third party. Insist on full written disclosure about how it got its colour, and explain that the disclosure should be accurate because you are having the gem appraised by an independent appraiser.
Hallmarks are easily faked
Anyone can stamp a white gold with Pt for platinum, or 14-karat gold with 18k. However, you should not quickly accuse anyone of that. If a piece claims to be platinum, ask to compare its weight with a similar white gold piece. The white gold will be shinier, lighter, and often a bit yellower. As for one-of-a-kind dealer hallmark, like an alleged Fabergé, Cartier, or Louis Comfort Tiffany, study it carefully under a loupe. If there is no elaborate attention to even the tiniest details, no unnecessary flourishes, and just generally seem like the jeweller is not showing off, it is probably not an original.
Bargain wisely and aggressively
Leave without buying when you first visit a store and take their business card without sharing your personal information. Do your homework on the piece you are interested in, and check out its prices in other stores or over the Internet. When you return, prepare easy facts about similar pieces that you have seen, and quote lower but realistic prices.
Understatement is part of the bargaining game, so do not boast about things you know nothing about. Do not worry about the money or how you are dressed and do not wear your best jewellery to the store. Keep in mind that you are there for business and not to impress anyone, so do not make up any relations in the business, either.
Your goal is to get the best deal for a certain piece and to buy it close to the jeweller’s cost. Shamelessly bargain. Initially offer half the price, and if they reject it, ask for their best price, look around a little more and leave. On your next visit, offer slightly more than half. You never know when the dealer is sitting on that piece for years and is desperate to sell it, even for a price under his or her cost. Be relentless about your offer, and wear them down until they sell you the piece.
Getting your desired jewellery for the best price requires ample knowledge and patience, but the payoff is a lot greater than wasting money on pieces that are not worth it. For all you know, you may land your most precious treasure for half the price.