Jewelry can be a significant investment. As with any big purchase, you’ll want to be sure that you’re getting your money’s worth when you buy a diamond ring or gold necklace. How can a consumer be sure that the jewelry they’re getting is the real deal? Here are some simple tips to follow that will help you separate quality jewelry from the fakes.
Who’s the Seller?
The first thing you should always consider is the source of the jewelry on offer. Are you shopping with a reputable retailer or auction company? Those who make it their business to deal in fine jewelry have nothing to gain—and a lot to lose—by passing off counterfeit merchandise as the real thing, as it is easy for a purchaser to have a piece appraised by a certified jeweler after they buy it. On the other hand, if you hear about a too-good-to-be-true deal through back channels, chances are the piece on offer isn’t genuine. And of course, you should never buy jewelry you’ve never seen at all. Any legitimate seller will give you an opportunity to see what you’re buying and will answer any questions you have about it.
Know Your Metals
If you have the opportunity to examine the item in person, certain features can help you distinguish real jewelry. One obvious thing to look for is a hallmark of precious metals. Sterling silver is usually stamped with “925” and gold will bear a mark such as “10K” or “14K” indicating karats. This mark may be on the inside of a ring or on a disk at the end of a necklace. Precious metals are denser than the substitute metals used in costume jewelry, so pick the piece up and see if it feels heavy enough for its size or too light. Genuine silver will also leave dark streaks (the oxidation that leads to tarnishing) when wiped on a white cloth. Finally, precious metals are not magnetic, so if the piece sticks to a magnet, it is definitely not real.
The workmanship of a piece can also be a tip-off. If the piece seems cheaply made, with protrusions, rough edges, or visible seams in the metal, it is almost certainly costume jewelry. Genuine pearl necklaces will have a knot between each pearl, to prevent the loss of more than one pearl should the necklace break. You should also check the inside of rings and bracelets, and other spots where a piece of jewelry would rub against a wearer’s skin, to see if a base metal is showing through worn-away plating.
When considering a gemstone for purchase, know that it is difficult to distinguish a genuine stone from a fake with the naked eye. Your best assurance that a gemstone is real is an appraisal report from a trained gemologist. The cost of such an appraisal is negligible compared to the value of a high-end piece of jewelry, so beware if the seller declines to provide one. Auction King provides certificates of authenticity with every purchase, so you can be sure that you are buying quality items.
With some basic knowledge and a little bit of common sense, you can feel confident that the jewelry you’re buying is the genuine article. Fine jewelry lasts a lifetime and beyond. It’s worth taking the trouble to know exactly what you’re getting.