Buying Jewelry – How to Avoid Getting Tricked
When you’re buying jewelry, if you’re not careful, it can be quite easy to get tricked. Many jewelry dealers are honest people running an honest business – But you have to also be aware that there are quite a few who are not. How can you avoid getting tricked? Here are a few tips.
Avoid Foreign Online Sellers
Try to buy jewelry from reputable sellers in person. It’s much more difficult for in-person sellers to rip people off, because you can come back and find them.
Online sellers are much more likely to be scammers. That’s especially true with foreign sellers. If your seller is based in China, India, Thailand or Taiwan, proceed with extreme caution. Look up their business in the BBB and RipOffReport and avoid anything that doesn’t have a vetted A rating.
Don’t Fall for Sales
One of the most popular methods for marketing jewelry is to advertise huge sales. For example, you might see a gold seller put on their window “35% Off All Gold!” or see in a newspaper “40% Off Diamonds!” and so on.
These sellers are almost certainly out to take your money. Remember: There’s a market rate for gold. It’s publically traded. Diamonds don’t have a traded market rate, but they have a set value as well. No real dealer would ever sell their goods below this value.
Retailers who do these kinds of sales invariably mark up their goods by a lot before discounting them again. For instance, they might take a ring that’s actually worth $200 and price it at $400, then “discount” it by 30%. The consumer loses because they thought they were getting a great deal.
Examine the Appraisal Form
If the retailer is claiming that the jewelry has been independently appraised, ask to see the appraisal form. Make sure it was appraised by a known and reputable organization, not someone you’ve never heard of, as there are many fake appraisal agencies happy to sell overpriced appraisals.
To verify that the piece was indeed appraised, don’t be afraid to call up the organization and verify for the appraisal using the appraisal number.
Beware of the Carat Total Weight Scam
Unscrupulous sellers will often try to get away with selling you a piece of supposedly valuable jewelry based on the “carat total weight.” The carat total weight is how much weight all the diamonds (or other jewelry) on the piece weigh combined.
Why is this a scam?
Because it’s the main centerpiece diamond that actually holds most of the value. Five smaller diamonds that all add up to 2 carats is not nearly as valuable as a 2-carat diamond. In fact, the latter can be more than 5 times as valuable as the former.
Don’t pay attention to carat total weight. Pay attention to the carat weight of the main piece. If the dealer tries to sell you using carat total weight, run the other way.
Try the Breath Test
If you’re buying a diamond, one of the easiest and most effective ways to test if it’s real is with the breath test. It’s pretty simple.
All you need to do is take the diamond and breathe on it. If it’s a real diamond, your breath will have no effect. If it’s cubic zirconium or any other type of fake diamond material, it’ll fog up. If you see fog when you breathe on it, you know it wasn’t a real diamond.
The Infamous Bait and Switch Tactic
Another common scam is the bait and switch. This tactic is quite famous already. Basically, the seller runs an advertisement saying that a certain deal is available. When you get there, they say it’s been sold out. However, they have a similar deal that you might want to take advantage of. In reality, the “similar deal” is much less valuable than the advertised deal.
Don’t fall for this. If you see a deal advertised in the papers, go to the store and ask for that deal specifically. If they try to switch you to a different deal, you can be pretty certain that you’re looking at a bait and switch.
Be careful and do your research as a consumer. Buying jewelry should be an enjoyable experience, not a hair raising one. These tips will help you find a great deal and avoid getting tricked in the process.
Any time you buy a new piece of jewelry, make sure you talk to your jeweler about how to keep that piece of jewelry in good condition. Different kinds of metals, different kinds of bands and different kinds of stone all have different care procedures.
If you ever notice damage to your jewelry, take it to your jeweler right away. Don’t try to clean it yourself, as you can just make it worse by rubbing it or moving things around.