“Tis almost the season to adorn the world with anything that jingles” be it songs, bells or jewelry. Yes, this is the time to dress up by draping yourself in beautiful bangles that dangle, or at least glisten with a timeless elegance for many seasons to come.
To assure you’re buying a finer piece of jewelry and getting your money’s worth, conduct your due diligence. Hey, you’ve started that process already if you are reading this! Don’t buy the first thing that catches your eye in the store’s glass case, but do go into the adventure with an open mind. Definitely plan to stick to your budget so there are no regrets!
Whether you’re looking for a bracelet, a necklace, a ring, a watch or earrings, the most important thing to bring with you even more important than your credit card is knowledge. Before you buy, educate yourself on how to select the perfect diamond, distinguish the difference between a natural and a cultured pearl, and recognize a precious gem versus a semi-precious stone.
A diamonds ultimate quality and price are determined by the Four Cs: Carat*, Cut, Clarity and Color. It’s a good idea to start your shopping with a decision on carat, which is a unit of weight equal to 200 milligrams. A bigger, heavier rock typically costs more. Cut refers to a diamonds proportions, symmetry and polish. It’s the quality that gives a diamond its distinctive beauty. Clarity refers to how clear the stone looks. If a diamond looks cloudy or murky, purchase with caution, as it should be vastly more affordable than a stunningly clear stone — and perhaps not even worth your money. Color refers to exactly that: color. Diamonds come in yellows, pinks and even blues and of course white. A white diamond with less body color is more valuable; the same diamond with a hint of yellow is of lesser value.
Color is a matter of personal preference, and some colors are priced higher than others. When a diamond is in a setting, it may be challenging to discern the actual color because it reflects light and color from the setting and mounting material. Play it safe by selecting a loose diamond, then the setting. Ideally, look for one that balances the Four Cs without straining your budget.
Pearls come in all shapes and sizes, and originate from various parts of the globe. Cultured, or farmed, pearls are more common than natural pearls, of which there are four types: Akoya Pearls, traditionally white; South Sea Pearls, the largest and most valuable; Freshwater Pearls, cultivated throughout the U.S. and China; and Tahitian Black Pearls, which come in many dark hues. An easy way to check for natural pearls is to run your tooth along a pearl; if its smooth, chances are it’s a fake. Real pearls have a gritty surface. (Tip: Don’t bite too hard and definitely don’t swallow!)
When it comes to gemstones, your choices are virtually endless. But in the precious gem category, you can narrow down your selection to the four types: diamond, ruby, sapphire and emerald. All other gemstones are regarded as semi-precious. Just like pearls, there are fake gems on the market. Some are synthetic and lab-created; others are simulated. To assure value, stick to the same four Cs used for diamonds.
It’s helpful to remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the perfect piece may come down to something you love, a piece that you appreciate aesthetically. (If the piece is destined to appreciate in the financial sense, all the better it will be of even greater value now and in the future.)
So, step into the limelight and show off your sparkles. From the tiniest diamond stud to the largest pearl pendant, there’s something about fine jewelry that brightens everyone’s day.
Thinking of buying some jewelry
this holiday season? A birthstone
piece will surely to the trick!