Buying fine jewelry isn’t like buying other big ticket items. Expensive items like cars, appliances, etc are manufactured to be one just like the next. So yes, those 3,000 Amazon reviews on that big flat screen TV will apply to the specific one you receive (barring any manufacturing defects).
Fine jewelry is a different beast. Unique gemstones of different sizes and qualities, customization options, and sourcing concerns all work together to make your path to the “perfect” engagement ring or piece of fine fashion jewelry a bit more complicated.
In addition, our adventures in the world of fine jewelry often coincide with moments of great emotional significance, making it even more important to find a trustworthy jeweler who you’re comfortable bringing into these sometimes very personal life moments. Once you’re home watching that big screen TV you’ll probably forget about that slightly annoying guy who sold it to you at the store. Not so much when you’re working with a designer to refashion your parents’ wedding bands into a necklace. Or when you’re trying to find the perfect setting for the family diamond you want to present to your future wife. This time it’s personal. The shopping process needs to fit the product.
You don’t need to compromise or leave these significant purchases to chance! When you’re “shopping” for a jeweler, be sure to consider these very important points:
Relationship and Personality
Respected jewelers should:
- Focus on you. Your styles. Your needs. Your desires. Not theirs. Their opinion may be valuable, but only if you’ve asked for it!
- Listen to you. If they seem intent on pushing a certain product or price point simply glance at your watch and pretend you’re late for an appointment 😉
- Offer choices for comparison. However, you shouldn’t walk away feeling overwhelmed!
Is the jeweler established with a excellent reputation? These days most businesses have websites where they spell out their history for you. Read up and compare! Check out their Google and Facebook reviews. Remember, established, reputable businesses will not only take care of you now, but also in 10 years when you’re looking for that special anniversary gift.
You may not be trained to see a diamond’s 4Cs, but a good jeweler should guide you through the process, and provide the tools needed to help you see for yourself the quality of the item you are considering. When viewing stones, does the jeweler:
- Let you see the diamond under a gemological microscope?
- Present diamonds under a full-spectrum diamond light for color grading?
- Display diamonds of other color grades for you to compare?
The best jewelers will also be able to tell you with certainty whether a diamond is natural or lab-grown. Detecting the difference requires expensive diagnostic tools, but is essential to protect the value of your diamond purchase. Market trends are showing a decline in the value of lab-grown diamonds. If it’s important to you that your diamond is natural or “earth grown,” you should definitely purchase from a jeweler who is able to tell the difference!
Most jewelers will obviously focus on the quality of diamonds or gemstones, but bonus points to those jewelers who discuss metal type with you. Depending on your lifestyle, the metal type can have a huge impact on how your jewelry wears over time. Also, don’t feel bad about asking to see the stamp which verifies the precious metal content (10k, 14k, 18k or PLT). Those stamps can be hard to see with the naked eye and an honest jeweler won’t hesitate to show you with a loupe or magnifier if needed.
A good jewelry store will have a wide range of bridal and fashion jewelry at a variety of price points, but all with exceptional quality. Does the store update their styles regularly? Do they offer a balanced selection of classic, vintage, and modern designs? A good jeweler will be able to present you with options without overwhelming you.
When working with a reputable jeweler, everyone on staff should be able to answer your questions with confidence and ease, or point you to someone else in-house who can. Choosing a jeweler that specializes in loose diamonds and fine jewelry, and ensuring there’s a trained gemologist in-house, makes this more likely to happen. Don’t hesitate to walk away if a salesperson refuses to answer a question or cannot give a succinct answer — everything you ask matters.
An excellent jeweler will offer a full spectrum of services to help you choose your jewelry and take care of it for years to come.
- An in-house gemologist who’s trained in the properties of precious and semi-precious stones and can guide you in finding the right stone for your style and budget. Bremer Jewelry has one of the only American Gem Society accredited Gemological Laboratories in Central Illinois. It takes specific tools and equipment to achieve this prestigious designation. Nathan Wright is not only a Graduate Jeweler Gemologist, he also holds the distinction of being a Certified Gemologist Appraiser. This title is the highest designation within the American Gem Society. He passed his 2017 AGS Re-certification with a 100%, joining the “AGS Honor Roll” group made up of only 12% of the participants to achieve the perfect grade.
- A bench jeweler, who can help repair or resize your jewelry – we have FOUR!
- Jewelry design services can also be important. Are you looking to create a design from scratch or re-fashion heirloom or unused pieces into something new? Our on-site jewelry studio is fully equipped to make this happen!
- Jewelry inspections. Your most worn jewelry pieces should be inspected for loose settings at least once a year, sometimes more often. A good jeweler will gladly perform this task as often as you wish and while you wait. Preferably for free!
Certifications and Appraisals
As concerns diamonds, a reputable jeweler will always provide you with a diamond certificate from an independent gem lab, such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or American Gem Society (AGS). The certification proves the stone is natural and describes any treatments done to it. It also documents the color, carat and quality of the diamond.
A good jeweler will also be able to provide you with an appraisal for any piece of fine jewelry. These appraisals can be important for insurance purposes and for your own peace of mind.
Warranty and Return Policies
It’s natural to expect some sort of warranty on any large purchase. Cars, appliances, even some homes come with warranties – so should expensive jewelry! A reputable jewelry should be able to provide this to you. Also be sure that you understand the jeweler’s return policy. They should explain any policy difference between special order and custom vs. in-stock jewelry.
Last, but not least, trust your gut. If there’s anything about the jeweler or atmosphere that you doesn’t feel right to you – walk away! You will likely make several jewelry purchases over your lifetime, some of them at very significant times. Don’t you deserve a jewelry store that puts off good vibes and makes you feel good just being there? We think you do!
We hope that you’ll use these criteria and expectations and to find your very own “jeweler for life”!