How to Shop for Jewelry Online
If you're considering a gift of jewelry for someone special or
as a treat for yourself, take some time to learn the terms used
in the industry.
1. Gold Gold means all gold or 24 karat (24K) gold. Because 24K
gold is soft, it's usually mixed with other metals to increase
its durability and hardness. If a piece of jewelry is not 24
karat gold, the karat quality should accompany any claim that
the item is gold.
2. Platinum, Silver and Other Metals Platinum is a precious
metal that costs more than gold. It is usually mixed with other
similar metals: iridium, palladium, ruthenium, rhodium and
osmium. Different markings are used on platinum jewelry as
compared with gold jewelry. These quality markings are based on
the amount of pure platinum in the piece - based on parts per
3. Gemstones Natural gemstones are found in nature.
Laboratory-created stones are made in a laboratory. These stones
have essentially the same chemical, physical and visual
properties as natural gemstones. Laboratory-created stones do
not have the rarity of naturally colored stones and they are
less expensive than naturally mined stones. By contrast,
imitation stones look like natural stones in appearance only,
and may be glass, plastic, or less costly stones. Gemstones may
be measured by weight, size, or both. The basic unit for
weighing gemstones is the carat.
4. Diamonds A diamond's value is based on four criteria: color,
cut, clarity, and carat. The clarity and color of a diamond
usually are graded. However, scales are not uniform: a clarity
grade of "slightly included" may represent a different grade on
one grading system versus another, depending on the terms used
in the scale. Make sure you know how a particular scale and
grade represent the color or clarity of the diamond you're
considering. A diamond is described as "flawless" if it has no
visible surface or internal imperfections when viewed under
10-power magnification by a skilled diamond grader. Diamond
weight is usually stated in carats.
5. Pearls Natural or real pearls are made by oysters and other
mollusks. Cultured pearls also are grown by mollusks, but with
human intervention. Because natural pearls are very rare, most
pearls used in jewelry are either cultured or imitation pearls.
Imitation pearls are man-made with glass, plastic, or organic
materials. Cultured pearls, because they are made by oysters or
mollusks, usually are more expensive than imitation pearls. A
cultured pearl's value is largely based on its size, usually
stated in millimeters, and the quality of its nacre coating,
which gives it luster. Jewelers will usually tell you if the
pearls are cultured or imitation.
To get the best deal on a piece of jewelry for yourself or
someone you love, shop around. You should compare quality,
price, and service. If you're not familiar with any jewelers in
your area, ask family members, friends, and co-workers for
Always check for the appropriate markings on metal jewelry and
find out if the pearls are natural, cultured, laboratory-created
or imitation. Also, Find out whether the gemstone has been
treated. Is the change permanent? Is special care required?
Shop with companies you know or do some homework before buying
to make sure a company is legitimate before doing business with
it. Get the details about the product, as well as the merchant's
refund and return policies, before you buy. Look around the
website for an address to write to or a phone number to call if
you have a question, a problem or need help.