Many Americans are in the market for jewelry this holiday season but unless you are a gemologist, you may not be able to tell what is real and what is fake.
Consumer Reports experts say knowing how to shop can help you avoid being taken advantage of at the store.
Few purchases are as emotional as fine jewelry.
However, if you shop with your head, you’ll be less likely to overpay.
Amanda Walker, with Consumer Reports Money Adviser, said, “Fine jewelry is generally one-of-a-kind, so you can’t shop for the best deal like you can with a vacuum or a TV. So, you need to know what to look for, especially if you shop online.”
When it comes to gold bracelets, it can be hard to tell how pure the gold really is or even if it is real.
Emerald rings can also be enhanced by filling them with oil but over time, the oil can leak out.
A diamond can appear more brilliant through what’s called fracture filling.
However, it also makes them more likely to shatter, so you have to be careful when they’re repaired and cleaned.
Walker said, “You should ask if a gemstone or a diamond is imitation, treated or synthetic. And if the jeweler can’t or won’t tell you, that’s your cue to shop somewhere else.”
If you are buying gold, look for a karat mark, which indicates quality.
Also, look for a manufacturer’s trademark so you know whose work it is.
Money Adviser’s top tip for protecting yourself is to deal with a reputable company.
Members of the American Gem Society must abide by a strict code of ethics.
Michael Wilson, with Wilson & Son Jewelers, said, “You go to the AmericanGemSociety.org to find a reputable jeweler in your area. Not just here where I am, but anywhere in the country.”
Whatever you buy, make sure you get the details in writing.
Consumer Reports also says to consider an appraisal from a certified jewelry appraiser.
Also, make sure the return policy gives you at least enough time to return something if it’s not what you expected.