Ask Your Jeweler

Louise Coulson

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We frequently hear that if you don't know jewelry, you should know your jeweler. Actually, even if you do know jewelry, it is best to know you can trust your jeweler. You can be taken advantage of even with ethical practices if you don't have the best information. Your jeweler should be glad to answer your questions and have ready knowledge of what he or she is selling

One example of a piece of information that can affect the price of a stone is whether or not it is treated. There is nothing wrong with buying a treated stone, but you are being taken advantage of if you pay the price for a stone that has not been treated and the stone you purchased has been enhanced. Ask your jeweler what the difference in price is between a treated and non-treated stone.

Some in the jewelry business feel that if a stone is not specifically stated to be natural, then it is treated or if the treatment is not discernible, then it need not be mentioned. Always ask if the stone has been treated and what the treatment was. Ask exactly what the treatment does to the stone. Does it enhance the color, increase the clarity, change the color, change the durability or make the stone more marketable? Also ask if the treatment is permanent and if there is any special care needed to maintain the integrity of the treatment.

One of the more important questions to ask is how to take care of the piece of jewelry you are buying. Some care products and techniques are fine for diamonds, but lethal for pearls. Some pieces of jewelry are much more affected by abrasives or chemicals than are others. Follow the jeweler's directions exactly in caring for the jewelry as it can affect your warranty.

Ask your jeweler about the durability of the stone in the piece. Can it be easily scratched like a pearl or piece of turquoise? Is it hard but brittle like Tanzanite? If it is in a ring, should it be worn only occasionally rather than on a daily basis? Opals and pearls, for instance, need gentle treatment and when worn in a ring.

While your jewelry should not be worn at the swimming pool due to the chlorine or while working with chemicals or heavy tools due to the possibility of damage, other situations may compromise their beauty. Some stones are affected by sunlight, so ask your jeweler if you can wear the piece in the sunlight.

Some jewelry needs maintenance now and then, and you should ask your jeweler what maintenance the piece might need beyond keeping it clean. It may need specific storage methods, to have the prongs checked on a regular schedule, to be kept in the proper humidity or to have a regular treatment to keep it at its best. If you are buying pearls, ask how often they need to be restrung.

If the piece of jewelry is very expensive, you need to ask your jeweler about the value of the stone itself and his or her opinion on whether to insure the piece separately. He or she may have an idea of the process needed to insure a piece of jewelry and do a written insurance appraisal for you.

Among the most important questions you need to ask your jeweler are about the return policy and the warranty on the piece. Check to see if a return is for store credit only or if your money is returned, what the time frame for returns is and if you need original packaging along with your receipt. Ask if there is a condition for return or if you can return the piece just because you have decided it doesn't fit into your jewelry wardrobe.

You might find that the guarantee on the stone is different than the guarantee on the piece of jewelry. The guarantee may be contingent on certain care or a maintenance schedule. Ask if the jeweler's repairs are made in-house or if they are sent out.

A trustworthy and informed jeweler will be more than happy to answer your questions to secure a sale and a satisfied long-term customer.

Kingfisher Designs

Louise Coulson along with her husband Don designs and creates jewelry from sterling silver and gold filled wire. Their jewelry shows the wire used almost as if it were a fiber. The fiber arts approach comes from Louise's long background as a weaver and the meticulous craftsmanship is due to Don's background in engineering. The pieces are one-of-a-kind or limited edition.


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