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Consumer tips for buying fine jewelry

With Valentine's Day officially less than a month away, buyers are approaching the pinnacle of the season for fine jewelry sales. Sometimes it's not always an easy process when trying to find the perfect jewelry, and it can be just as difficult to know which retailers are reputable. Since jewelry is a tangible investment and technology being so far advanced, inferior mediums can be passed off easily as higher quality products. Being a savvy consumer can certainly lower any risks of being hoodwinked when making fine jewelry purchases. To aid buyers in the process, we've created a list of tips to make the process a little easier:

Feeling comfortable with your jewelry specialist is key to confidently purchasing fine jewelry.
  • Before looking for retailers, browse the internet for different jewelry styles. Don't decide to buy fine jewelry based on market trends unless you're sure you or your loved one will be in love with the piece for years to come. Fine jewelry is a little different than seasonal costume jewelry as far as cost and durability. Since fine jewelry tends to long outlive costume jewelry, you may be more inspired by timeless classics. If the jewelry is to be given as a gift, get a feel for their tastes. Does she adore pearls, or are diamonds her best friend? Does she tend to wear more silver jewelry, or does she prefer warm gold tones? (If she prefers silver but you'd like to go the gold route, many retailers also have jewelry crafted in white gold.)
  • As the old adage goes, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." This statement couldn't be any more true when it comes to buying fine jewelry. Never respond to spam emails that advertise "wholesale fine jewelry" or any other kind of extremely discounted jewelry, especially if the email is unsolicited on your part. These types of ads often grossly misrepresent the product, may contain viruses that infect your computer, or are complete scams altogether. The best thing to do in this kind of scenario is to avoid the tempting subject line and delete the email entirely without opening it.
  • Prior to your shopping trip, do a little homework on retailers in the area. Make note of their customer reviews and check their ratings with the Better Business Bureau. The BBB grades establishments based on number of negative feedback from consumers and how the company resolved the issue. Read what other past customers had to say about the products they received. This will give you a snapshot of what the company values and how they treat their customers overall.
  • While visiting a few retailers, look for the "Jewelry Centers of America" logo or other verifiable credentials for the jeweler. A "BBB" accreditation sticker is always a favorable sign. Jewelers that belong to these networks value their integrity and reputations and tend to follow national jeweler regulations, such as the "Clean Diamond Trade Act." These fine jewelry carriers are also more likely to have fair return or exchange policies, usually offer warranties on their merchandise, and strive to maintain positive customer relations.
  • Don't be shy- question the salesperson about jewelry pieces that pique your interest. Think of this process as you would a job interview- hiring managers want to seek out the best candidate for the position they're offering. You're sort of a hiring manager when you purchase fine jewelry; you want to select the best jewelry from the best retailer to suit your needs. If the salesperson can't or won't answer your questions, be wary. This can often indicate a red flag- either the salesperson genuinely doesn't know, or there is a reason your questions are being side-stepped. You should also never feel pressured into buying something you're not sure about. In this situation, try to interview other prospects before making any further decisions with this retailer.
  • If you've found a jeweler you're comfortable with, feel free to ask for documentation on the stones. This type of documentation is generally from a third party organization. The retailer can produce a "Gemstone Grading Report" or some other document verifying the authenticity of the piece. Also, be sure to ask about the origins of the stones used to make sure the stones come from conflict free zones.
  • Be familiar with the store's return and exchange policies and any stipulations in the warranty. Most people don't consider this aspect when purchasing jewelry, but these things could affect you in the future as a consumer. There is no such thing as a perfect product and sometimes things happen; a watch pin could become loosened, a clasp may fail, or a stud could come out completely. We hope none of that happens, but make sure you're covered in the event something like that occurs.

Most of all, make sure to have fun while you're shopping. It sounds like a long process, but being a smart shopper can make you feel more confident in your purchases and helps you understand the overall value of what you bought. We hope you treasure your fine jewelry for years to come.

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Be sure to stay tuned...the Grammy Awards are next week and we're eager to see the styles and chat about the highlights of the night.

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