Jewelry Tips and Info

Buying Jewelry

When you’re in the market for a piece of jewelry, compare quality, price, and service from several different retailers. Consider asking family members, friends, or co-workers for recommendations. If you’re unfamiliar with a seller, check its reputation by doing an online search. Enter the seller’s name and the words “complaint” or “review” in a search engine.  When shopping, ask your salesperson to write down any information you might rely on to make your purchase.

Shop Around

One of the best ways to ensure that you’re getting the best deal on pre-owned jewelry is to shop around, always compare new vs. pre-owned.  Do your homework and visit some online stores and then a few walk ins to compare pricing and quality.   Ask how old the piece is, what its condition is and information about the quality of its stones. It’s also a good idea to ask for certification and paperwork that verify the piece’s authenticity, including the quality of metal and grade of stones.

Referral/Testimonials

It can be difficult to find a credible dealer of used jewelry without taking a risk. However, with the vast growing of social media and things like Yelp with reviews and online testimonials these are your word of mouth referrals.  Another way to ensure your purchasing from the right dealer is to ask friends and family for advice, maybe they have purchased from the same dealer or another one that they you may want to steer away from.

Worth it’s weight in gold

The gold content of jewelry is indicated in karats. Solid gold jewelry is 24 karats. Lesser jewelry has less gold content and more of other metals and hardening agents.  Generally, the gold content of any piece of jewelry will be marked on it somewhere — on the inside of a ring or bracelet and on the clip of a necklace or the back of an earring. For instance, a 14-karat piece of jewelry may actually have “14 karat” inscribed on it in tiny lettering or the lettering may say “14/24” or “14K.”  The lower the gold content in a piece the less it is worth.  A beautifully designed piece of jewelry may have more resale value as used or “estate” jewelry than it will have as recycled gold.  If you think that might be the case, get the piece appraised.

Enhancements-What do they mean?

The treatment and enhancement of gemstones has existed for hundreds and hundreds of years. Some enhancements improve on nature, cannot be detected and are permanent.  This provides the gem market with a larger supply of beautiful gemstones. Other treatments produce dramatic changes in the gemstone itself, or it’s clarity.  The irradiation and heating of colorless topaz that permanently transforms it into blue topaz is an excellent example. A few treatments are less stable and should be avoided by the knowledgeable buyer.

There are some gemstones that would not even exist if it were not for treatments. The abundance of citrine, in shades of yellow, gold and orange is the result of heat treating amethyst. Naturally occurring citrine is quite rare in nature. If it was not for treatments the stone would be far more expensive than it is!

Tanzanite in shades of violet and blue depends on heat treatment to produce enough supply to meet the demands of the public.
Pink topaz is another example of a gem that would not be available without heat treatment. Not only are these treatments acceptable, they are necessary to keep these products affordable and available.
Recent demand for unheated sapphires and rubies has caused a price increase of as much as 50%-100% for unheated material. Does this mean that the untreated gem is more beautiful? NO! In most cases the heating enhances the gemstone to make it more beautiful; the price premium is the result of the rarity of being unheated!

Heating

Heating is the most common treatment available. It can cause the color of a stone to lighten, darken, or change completely.  It can bring about an improvement in clarity and brightness. Heating is detectable only by trained observers in a laboratory setting and is usually irreversible under normal conditions. The following gemstones are most commonly heat treated:

Tanzanite
Citrine
Pink Topaz
Aqaumarine
Ruby
Sapphire
Zircon

Filling

Filling is used on gems with surface fractures or cavities. Glass, plastic or other materials are used to fill these holes. This is sometimes done to rubies. With close examination with magnification you may be able to spot differences in surface luster, or see a spectral effect in fractures when viewed with dark-field illumination.

Infilling Diamonds-Clarity Enhancement

There are two main techniques for improving a diamond’s clarity, laser drilling and fracture filling. Laser drilling is commonly used for removing small dark inclusions.  The laser bores a small hole into the diamond’s interior and burns away the inclusion, or creates a channel through which a bleaching agent can be introduced to improve the inclusion’s appearance.  Fracture filling hides white fractures in a diamond called “feathers.” A glass-like substance is injected into the fracture to make it less visible and to improve the stone’s apparent clarity. Because the filling may be damaged or removed during routine cleaning and repair, the technique is controversial. Good fracture filling is very subtle, and so examination by a skilled diamond grader is necessary to detect its presence in a stone.