Tips for Buying Jewelry
Jewelry makes a great gift for any special occasion, whether it be a birthday, holiday, anniversary, or even popping the big question. But finding the right piece can be difficult, especially if you are not sure of what you want, or don’t really know what to look for. Doing your homework and taking time to research can help you make buying jewelry easier. Here are just a few tips and explanations to help bring you understanding of fine jewelry without having to spend money on a buyer’s guide.
When it comes to the world of gemstones, there are only three different types out there to look for; Natural stones, Manufactured stones, and Imitation stones. Determining which kind to buy is really up to you, the customer. For some, it has to be natural. For others, price may be an issue. And then there are those who just like the look of something, but don’t want to pay a lot of money to look fabulous. But what do the terms “Natural”, “Manufactured”, and “Imitation” mean?
Natural Gems- This one is simple to explain. A natural gem is a gem that was created in the Mother Nature’s lab. A combination of heat, pressure, and thousands of years come together to make those pretty things that sparkle we call gemstones. These are also the most rare, and take the most effort to deliver to you, the consumer. They have to be mined, refined, graded and cut before they are mounted and sold.
Manufactured- Unlike natural gems, these are made in the controlled atmosphere of a scientific lab. Molecularly, they are structured the same as natural gems, and they look the same. However, manufactured gems lack the same value and rarity as their natural counterparts. Anyone with experience can tell the difference between the two.
Imitation- Like the other two, this one is rather self-explanatory. They look like manufactured gems at first glance, but can sometimes be manmade, like costume jewelry. They can even be natural, like Cubic Zirconia. Be sure to know what you are looking for, because sometimes imitation can be sold as manufactured gems (but don’t let this scare you out of buying because it won’t happen with the trusted jewelers at Sandberg Jewelers!
Things to Watch For: The Basics
Knowing what to look for when shopping for jewelry or gemstones can save a great deal of time, effort, and sometimes money. One thing that is important to know is how a gemstone is measured. In the gemstone industry, the stones are weighed by using carats as a unit of measurement. A single carat is equal to a fifth (1/5) of a gram, and is divided down into one hundred (100) points. So if you were to buy a quarter carat stone, for example, it would weigh out to .25 carats, or 25 points.
Another thing you may want to know about gemstones before you buy is the difference between a treated and untreated stone. Sometimes gemstones undergo treatment to help improve their luster, or even to change the color. Most gemstones are treated in one way or another, but some treatments may change or wear off over time. Some gemstones may require special care, and need to be taken to an experienced jeweler. If you have a jeweler who sells treated stones, make sure they disclose that information before you buy because treatments can have an effect on the value of the stone.
With Sandberg Jewelers, having your trust and confidence matters when it comes to buying gemstones or jewelry, or even finding a trusted jeweler in your area. At Sandberg Jewelers, it is our goal to provide the best customer support and to be knowledgeable of the jewelry industry. Our certified appraisers have all the necessary experience and education to bring you valuation reports of your gemstones or jewelry in a timely fashion.
The appraisers here at Sandberg Jewelers do not buy or sell, and are educated in the different purposes involved in appraising, such as estate tax. They also have access to gemological testing and a library to make accurate appraisals.
Something else that is important when buying gemstones or jewelry is insurance. Never buy an expensive or unique piece or gem without it. You never know when something may happen in today’s world. It can be used to repair or even replace your jewelry, and can cover theft, damage, and loss. It’s much cheaper and easier than replacing your jewelry out of pocket. There are different policies for different kinds of coverage, so be sure to ask your jeweler for information on obtaining insurance, and find a policy that meets your needs.
All That Glitters…
No jewelry would be complete without precious metals. Such metals include gold, silver and platinum. They can be pure (which isn’t often), or, what is more common, are mixed with other metals to make what is called an alloy. Their values are determined by their karat quality. The more alloy there is, the less their karat quality.
Take gold for example. Gold, in its purest form, has a karat quality of 24 karats. When an alloy is mixed in with it, you get different quality levels ranging from 18 karat gold, to 10 karat gold. Jewelry made with gold should have its karat quality clearly marked somewhere on it, often on the bottom or the inside of the piece where it can’t be seen when worn. Along with the karat quality mark should be a trademark of the manufacturer. It’s often recommended that if you do not see such a mark beside the karat quality marking to find a different piece.
When it comes to platinum, things are done a little differently. The purity of platinum is measured in parts on a scale that go up to 1000. The reason for this is because platinum is mixed with other metals that are similar to platinum, and are known as “platinum group metals”. Such metals include, but not limited to palladium, rhodium, and iridium. So if you buy a piece of platinum jewelry, it will be stamped with a number such as 950, which means there are 950 parts platinum out of 1000, and means that the piece is 95% platinum, and like gold, it should have a trademark beside the number.
Silver is measured similar to platinum, being on a scale of 1000. A piece of jewelry that is marked as “sterling silver” is a piece that contains 92.5% pure silver. As with platinum, the number is stamped on the piece. With sterling silver, the number should read 925, meaning there are 925 parts of pure silver out of 1000. As with gold and platinum, a trademark should be stamped beside the number.
Finding the Right Precious Metal
Everybody has different tastes and likes, especially when it comes to jewelry. Think of a piece of jewelry as an extension of your personality. But you can also buy jewelry to fit your lifestyle. If you are prone to beating up what you wear, you may want to get something more durable, such as platinum. But if you are a moderately active person who likes to stick to tradition, gold would be the better option, with 10 karats being the hardest, and 24 karats being the softest. If you like to wear different pieces of jewelry often, or switch pieces out, then silver may be the way to go. However, silver is the softest precious metal, and will scratch and scuff easily, so it isn’t recommended if you lead an active lifestyle, but is cheap enough to easily replace.
In the end, though, it all comes down to you. What do you want? How much do you want to spend? Ask yourself these kinds of questions before deciding on something. Remember, it’s your money, so be sure to get every cent’s worth! Go to Sandberg Jewelers today to find a trusted jeweler near you.
Pearls: The Mother of Jewels
For years, pearls have been used as a symbol of status and beauty in many cultures. Today, though, anybody can get them, and are considered a classic in the world of jewelry and they come in different styles, settings, and sizes. And, unlike how it was years ago, when the only pearls you could get were straight from the oyster’s mouth, they are also farmed. But what does it mean to farm a pearl, you ask? And what is the difference?
The answer is easy, really. There is no difference, except that man plays a role in their growth. An oyster is the most common mollusk (or shellfish) used to produce pearls, and a pearl is formed when foreign matter, such as sand, gets inside the shell and irritates the animal. The shellfish then creates a substance known as nacre (NAY-ker), or what is commonly referred to as mother of pearl, around the irritating debris. Man’s role in making pearls is to introduce an irritant, which is usually a small bead of mother of pearl, to the inside of a shellfish. But what makes a pearl valuable?
There are a few things to look for when determining the value of a pearl: Shape, shine, and surface. Remember those because they are important. The shape of a pearl isn’t as important because they come in various shapes, such as oval, or round. A pearl should also have a nice shine to it, and the surface should be smooth and free of blemishes.
Did you know that pearls aren’t limited to just saltwater shellfish? Even freshwater shellfish, like mussels, can grow a pearl. But know this. Finding a pearl in the wild as opposed to pearls that are farmed is very rare. Natural pearls are more valuable than those grown on a farm. Pearls that are grown in saltwater vary in size and color, depending on what region they are from. They can be anywhere from 2mm-20mm in size, the larger ones being the rarest and most expensive, and can be anywhere from the creamy color that is most popular to blue or even green.
Freshwater pearls are slightly different than their saltwater counterparts. For example, where a starter bead is used to culture a pearl in saltwater, a small piece of tissue paper is used, which gives a thicker coating of mother of pearl. Also, colors are different, being various pastels.
Like with gemstones, there are imitation pearls as well. These are generally made by using a glass bead, and often offer a better shine, but not nearly the depth that farmed pearls have. An experienced jeweler will know the difference between imitation and farmed pearls, though the difference between natural and farmed pearls may be harder to decipher. But since natural pearls are much more valuable than farmed pearls, you may want to consult with a Certified Gemologist at Sandberg Jewelers.
The Mystical Powers of Gemstones
Throughout the ages, gemstones have been thought to hold certain mystical powers to help with various ailments. Below is a list of gemstones thought to hold such powers, and the powers they are thought to behold.
Amber- Believed to help soothe headaches and relieve stress
Amethyst- Thought to help with the relief from pain and problems with your circulatory system. It is often used for meditation, and finding inner peace and strength.
Aquamarine- This stone is believed to help with ailments involving the liver and upper digestive system, including teeth, and is thought to help let go of fear, as well as help clear the mind.
Citrine- A stone many believe helps to improve hearing as well promoting success and clear thinking.
Garnet- Helps with the circulatory and respiratory systems, and promotes romance and intimacy.
Lapis- Believed to help fight off depression and insomnia, and promotes honesty and helps one be creative and open with others.
Onyx- This stone helps with one’s spirituality and helps control one’s emotions.
Pearl- Helps to calm one’s nerves, and is believed to help one feel pure, charitable, honest, and loyal.
Peridot- Known for its calming properties, this stone helps with relationships by helping one to feel less angry, jealous, and supposedly helps slow the aging process.
Ruby- Helping to level out emotions, this stone is believed to help you feel happy and more devoted, as well as boost one’s integrity.
Sapphire- Helps to alleviate pain, promotes peace from within and helps one express themselves more creatively.
Topaz- This stone is believed to be very powerful, and helps level out emotions and helps protect against the green eyed monster known as Greed.
Turquoise- This gem is found a lot in folk lore and is thought to help one heal faster as well as balance out emotions.