on smart shopping for holiday jewelry|
Whether you're buying five
golden rings or that classic strand of pearls, purchasing a nice piece of jewelry
for the holidays isn't that difficult. But getting a good deal takes a little
The first rule: Buy from someone you trust.
"Know what you're buying," says
Laura Simanton, senior public relations manager for the Gemological
Institute of America, or GIA. "And the best way to know what you're
buying is to know who you're buying from."
get "a full and accurate description of the item," she says. Know that
words like "synthetic," "created" or "lab created,"
mean the stones are not natural. "Be sure you know if the gem you're buying
is natural, synthetic or treated in any way."
the item comes with a laboratory report, it should be from an accredited gem lab.
In the report, look for treatments done to the stone (such as heating, irradiation
or laser drilling and filling) that may enhance the appearance, but not necessarily
And, whether you're buying
for yourself or someone else, you want the option of returning the item. Whether
your special someone prefers gold to platinum or the item just isn't the quality
expected, you want a seller who stands behind the product with a convenient return
Like other stones, the key is to know what you're buying. If the pearls are real,
odds are they're cultured. "You really won't find natural pearls in the marketplace,"
says Maureen Gribbin, spokeswoman for Mikimoto America.
quality pearls, look for a bubble- or blemish-free surface on the pearls. And
the rounder they are, the better. "The more round they are, the more expensive
they will be and the better quality they will be," says Gribbin.
pearls, which tend to have an irregular shape, are usually less-expensive because
they take less time to grow, she says.
can range in color from silvery white to white, with green or pink overtones,
to pink. There's no right or wrong with color, says Gribbin. If you're choosing
something like a pearl necklace, select a color that will complement the skin
Also look for high luster,
which Gribbin calls the pearl's "inner glow." "The more lustrous the pearl, the
better the quality," she says.
good quality string of pearls, like many better necklaces, is likely to have a
safety clasp. In addition to the regular clasp, there will be some sort of second
fastening device as a safeguard. "In more inexpensive strands, it's less
common," says Gribbin.
grading system exists for pearls, but Mikimoto
does offer a grading system on its Web site. Its system grades pearls heavily
on their reflective quality (luster) and surface perfection.
yes, you can tell if pearls are real by running them over your teeth, says Gribbin.
But save that for the set you inherit from Grandma, not your next trip to the