When it comes to buying fine jewelry, it pays to do your homework. Precious stones and metals have their own language of quality, and it’s difficult for an untrained eye to fully grasp the quality of a particular stone. For that reason, you need a trusted jeweler to help answer your questions and guide you to your pieces.
Most people make fine jewelry purchases just a few times in their lives, and when they do, they’re often moments filled with emotional significance. This means a critical step in finding the perfect piece is to find a jeweler you trust. Don’t leave such an important purchase to the luck of the draw.
Here are important questions to ask when choosing a jeweler, courtesy of jewlerywise.com.
1. Is the jeweler a good listener?
- When searching for the perfect piece of jewelry, take note of whether the jeweler listens to your wishes and stated budget. Respected jewelers should listen to you. Red flags include pushing their own agenda or focusing on one thing, like price. They should also show you an array of different pieces but help guide you in narrowing your choices. You shouldn’t walk away feeling overwhelmed.
2. Is the jeweler established and credentialed?
- Choose someone with whom you can develop a lasting relationship. Look at how long the jeweler’s been in business and research the store’s reputation. An established business is more likely to have great references, and to be around years later for regular maintenance.
3. Does the jeweler offer a wide array of services and selection?
- A respected jeweler will offer an array of services to help you choose your jewelry piece and anticipate your needs that are likely to pop up down the road. Here are a few things to look for:
- An in-house gemologist who’s trained in the properties of precious and semi-precious stones and precious metals, and can guide you in finding the right piece for your style and budget.
- A bench jeweler, who can help repair or resize your jewelry.
- Some jewelers can also design custom pieces. If this interests you, inquire!
- You’ll want to be sure you have plenty of styles to choose from — along with a little guidance. However, you should never feel pressured.
4. Is the jeweler knowledgeable?
- When working with a reputable jeweler, everyone on staff should be able to answer your questions with confidence and ease, or point you to someone else in-house who can.
- Choosing a jeweler that specializes in loose diamonds and fine jewelry, and ensuring there’s a trained gemologist in-house, makes this more likely to happen. Don’t hesitate to walk away if a salesperson refuses to answer a question — everything you ask matters.
- If you’re choosing a jeweler to purchase a diamond engagement ring or other diamond piece, you’ll also want to ask plenty of questions about the stone itself. These questions mostly center around the color, clarity, cut, and carat weight of the diamond.
5. How does the jeweler handle diamond certification and appraisal?
- Don’t just take your jeweler’s word for it: Ask for a third-party diamond certificate from a respected independent gem lab, such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), International Gemological Institute (I.G.I.), Gemological Science International (G.S.I) or American Gem Society (AGS). The certification proves the stone is natural and describes any treatments done to it. It also documents the color, carat and quality of the diamond.
6. Does the jeweler teach you how to look at diamonds — and explain the 4Cs?
- You may not be trained to see a diamond’s 4Cs (carat, color, clarity and cut), but a good jeweler should guide you through the process, and provide the tools to help you see the true beauty of what you’re about to purchase.
- Can you see the cut of the diamond under a gemological microscope? Does the jeweler have a full-spectrum diamond light for color grading? Is there a set of diamonds or color grading stones to compare the color of the diamond? Does the jeweler have a full-spectrum diamond light for color grading? Is there a set of diamonds or color grading stones to compare the color of the diamond?
7. How does the jeweler mark the integrity of the precious metal in the ring?
- You’ll find most jewelers focus — and rightly so — on the quality of an engagement ring’s diamond. But the metal matters too. Ask to see a stamp verifying the precious metal content, such as 10K, 14K or 18K for gold or PLT for platinum. A reputable jeweler won’t hesitate to show you.
8. What’re the jeweler’s policies around warranties and returns?
- The basic logistics of any large purchase also applies to fine jewelry. Can the jeweler provide the jewelry you want in the timeframe you need? What’s the warranty policy? What does it cover? Can the piece be returned or exchanged? Be sure to understand the fine print before making a final purchase.
9. Can you trust the jeweler?
- It’s worth saying again. Before plunging into a purchase, you need to ask yourself: do I trust this jeweler? The sense of trust can come from many places: the referral of a friend or family member, reputation in the community, or you having done your research and asking all the right questions.
10. Can you trust an online store for your fine jewelry?
- Although it may seem riskier to purchase a fine piece of jewelry online, there are reputable jewelers that rely on their reputations and reviews. For example, Adina Jewelers by Empire has had over 10,000 transactions and has a 100% satisfaction rating on its eBay store. It’s owned and operated by third generation jewelers with a staff of appraisers who are GIA trained. The return policy is excellent, and is ranked as a trusted source for fine antique, vintage and estate jewelry.