What To Look For When Buying Quality Jewelry-Extended Closing Remarks

What To Look For When Buying Quality Jewelry-Extended Closing Remarks

Are you in the market to purchase a piece of fine jewelry with gems either for yourself or for that special someone?  Aside from the considerations of: design or look; gems of choice; and type of jewelry (Engagement Ring, Necklace, Pendant, Earrings, etc.), the quality of the craftsmanship should also be looked at carefully.  Some buyers prioritize on gem size and quality.  For those who do, I encourage you to review this article just so that you can understand some elements that will surround your gem of choice.  Some buyers prioritize the look of the jewelry: how blingy; how dainty; or how elegant, rather than the actual longevity of piece of jewelry.  For that special group that can afford that priority (Must be nice), I guess you can skip this article.  For all others who do want to prioritize quality but do not really know what to look for, this is the article to read.  Here are the 6 features or considerations to look for when buying quality fine jewelry with gems.

This article is the closing remarks of a longer article that will be posted in a couple of weeks.  For a summary, please see 6 Tips in What to Look For When Buying Quality Jewelry.  Please sign-up to receive the more detailed future posts.

 

Quality Feature for Further Discussion

One feature that I was tempted in including in regards to quality, is the feature of the quality of the designer/crafter.  Why did the designer/crafter make this piece?  What is the meaning of the piece of jewelry? What does he/she believe is quality?  How do they relate to society and its demands of fair trade, sustainability, and eco-consciousness?  Aside from following ethical practices (as we hope they do), what is the ethic of the designer/crafter?

After all, why not judge the craftsmanship of a piece of jewelry by the quality of the crafter/designer?

I felt that this element was better suited for another article on another time.  Especially because this type of quality feature would be important only if you want to buy a meaningful piece of jewelry.  If you want to buy a piece of jewelry that looks beautiful and has valuable, rare jewels without any particular meaning, then this feature would not apply.

At any rate, I wanted to mention it here as consideration or an invitation for further thought.

This concludes my 6 tips on what to look for when buying quality fine jewelry.  Stay tuned for the full article on the next post.

by David Alvarado
What To Look For When Buying Quality Jewelry-Extended Part 6

What To Look For When Buying Quality Jewelry-Extended Part 6

Are you in the market to purchase a piece of fine jewelry with gems either for yourself or for that special someone?  Aside from the considerations of: design or look; gems of choice; and type of jewelry (Engagement Ring, Necklace, Pendant, Earrings, etc.), the quality of the craftsmanship should also be looked at carefully.  Some buyers prioritize on gem size and quality.  For those who do, I encourage you to review this article just so that you can understand some elements that will surround your gem of choice.  Some buyers prioritize the look of the jewelry: how blingy; how dainty; or how elegant, rather than the actual longevity of piece of jewelry.  For that special group that can afford that priority (Must be nice), I guess you can skip this article.  For all others who do want to prioritize quality but do not really know what to look for, this is the article to read.  Here are the 6 features or considerations to look for when buying quality fine jewelry with gems.

This article is part 6 of a longer article that will be posted at the completion of the all the parts.  For a summary, please see 6 Tips in What to Look For When Buying Quality Jewelry.  Please sign-up to receive the more detailed future posts.

 

 6.  What to Look for in a Quality Gem

There are so many great educational articles in the internet that would do a better job informing you of how to look for a great quality gem.  Some obvious places to look for great material would be from the main gemological laboratories that certify the gems we purchase.  The most reputable source in the US for all gems is GIA and for diamond education specifically, I like AGS.  GIA (Gemological Institute of America) has a great encyclopedia of gems, each having its own buyer's guide.  AGS (American Gemological Society) also has a buyer's guide but what I like more about AGS is its focus on the diamond's scintillation--the brilliance of the diamond.  There are many other sites out there with additional tips and pointers and I will occasionally update this post to add a few more later.  To keep it simple, go to the source that certifies most gems like the above mentioned.  

That being said, I will add a few cents on what I prioritize.  My pointers should only be used as reinforcement to those great articles out there and not as a primary source.

In the case of diamonds, there are many factors involved in selecting a center stone, if one of your main factors is sparkle or, like the kids call it, "bling"--officially called "scintillation" by AGS--then the cut of the diamond should be the absolute priority in selecting diamonds.  The cut of the diamond is the main feature of a diamond that returns light to your or that special someone's eyes.  The better the cut, the more accurate the return of light to the eyes, and the amount and array of color that will return to the viewer.  This should apply to any size of diamond equally.  Even small diamonds should sparkle like the rock stars that they are.  For smaller diamonds, also known as melee diamonds, excellent or ideal cut diamonds are recommended.

For center stones, the hierarchy in grading the cut of high quality diamonds should be at the very least Very Good in GIA or AGS2 for AGS and at the best Excellent for GIA or AGS0 if it is graded by AGS.  I recommend maximizing the cut's three subgrades (For GIA: Cut-Excellent; Polish-Excellent; Symmetry-Excellent).  For AGS: Light Performance 0; Polish-0; Symmetry-0).  There is some confusion with the different cut grades from GIA and AGS.  The simplest way to look at it is to focus on the three sub-categories of cut and go for the highest grade you can afford.  For more info on the confusion and some further clarity visit this post.

The carat weight, color, and clarity are important also, but I would sacrifice any of them, to get the best sparkle possible.  If you would ask me to prioritize, I would say: Cut, Color, Carat Weight, Clarity.

For color faceted gems, the simplest way to evaluate these gems are by color, color intensity specifically.  Again, I invite you to visit GIA for more in-depth details.  Whatever color you are looking for, make sure that the color is rich and it is not faint or too dark.  If you want to delve deeper into quality, then check the enhancements on the color.  The less enhancements (heat treated, color treated, etc.) the rarer and better the gem.  If you want to delve even further, then look at the quality of the facets or cuts in the gem.  There should be nice symmetry and proportionality in the facets.  If you want to go even deeper than that, first of all, you are into a world of hurt, but you can educate yourself as much as you want in the internet.

For other gemstones or semi-precious stones.  It gets a lot more subjective.  There are rare gems and stones, so there's that, but there are some gems that are not rare but can have a lot of character or significance.  Make sure that the stones are natural.  There are some that are treated for stability and there are others that are rare versions of opulent stones or gems.  Every gemstone and semi-precious stones require a unique set of factors to evaluate, so use the internet.

So this is the take-home point:

Diamond cut matters for sparkle; pure colors, enhancements, and cut symmetry matters in color faceted gems; everything else, check GIA, AGS, and the internet.

This concludes my 6 tips on what to look for when buying quality fine jewelry with gems.  Stay tuned for my final installment on this topic that will detail some further considerations and closing remarks.  Please subscribe.

by David Alvarado
What To Look For When Buying Quality Jewelry-Extended Part 4

What To Look For When Buying Quality Jewelry-Extended Part 4

Are you in the market to purchase a piece of fine jewelry with gems either for yourself or for that special someone?  Aside from the considerations of: design or look; gems of choice; and type of jewelry (Engagement Ring, Necklace, Pendant, Earrings, etc.), the quality of the craftsmanship should also be looked at carefully.  Some buyers prioritize on gem size and quality.  For those who do, I encourage you to review this article just so that you can understand some elements that will surround your gem of choice.  Some buyers prioritize the look of the jewelry: how blingy; how dainty; or how elegant, rather than the actual longevity of piece of jewelry.  For that special group that can afford that priority (Must be nice), I guess you can skip this article.  For all others who do want to prioritize quality but do not really know what to look for, this is the article to read.  Here are the 6 features or considerations to look for when buying quality fine jewelry with gems.

This article is part 4 of a longer article that will be posted at the completion of the all the parts.  For a summary, please see 6 Tips in What to Look For When Buying Quality Jewelry.  Please sign-up to receive the more detailed future posts.

4.  Look at the top thickness of the setting

All types of setting/s should have a substantial amount of metal on top of the setting, above the gem/s.  The way you can check for thickness is by imagining or physically placing your nail on the gem/s and sliding your nail towards the setting as if you were about to guitar pluck the setting.  If your nail catches on the setting, you have a nice amount of metal above your gem/s to hold and later, to splatter and hug your gem/s.  The only exception I would mention is on micro-pave setting.  The beads are so small that it would be unfair to test it this way.  As long as the beads have enough buffer metal (you can use the nail thickness test on the buffer), and the micro-pave is used in the appropriate place and type of jewelry, the thickness of the setting should not be a factor.  Just make sure that the beads are indeed touching the gem/s.

So this is the take-home point:

Check the thickness of the setting.  It should have at least the thickness of your nail of extra metal above the gem/s.

Metal thickness is important both on the setting and the body of the jewelry.  Stay tuned for the next installment which will focus on some other areas that should be checked for strength and longevity.

by David Alvarado
What To Look For When Buying Quality Jewelry-Extended Part 3

What To Look For When Buying Quality Jewelry-Extended Part 3

Are you in the market to purchase a piece of fine jewelry with gems either for yourself or for that special someone?  Aside from the considerations of: design or look; gems of choice; and type of jewelry (Engagement Ring, Necklace, Pendant, Earrings, etc.), the quality of the craftsmanship should also be looked at carefully.  Some buyers prioritize on gem size and quality.  For those who do, I encourage you to review this article just so that you can understand some elements that will surround your gem of choice.  Some buyers prioritize the look of the jewelry: how blingy; how dainty; or how elegant, rather than the actual longevity of piece of jewelry.  For that special group that can afford that priority (Must be nice), I guess you can skip this article.  For all others who do want to prioritize quality but do not really know what to look for, this is the article to read.  Here are the 6 features or considerations to look for when buying quality fine jewelry with gems.

This article is part 3 of a longer article that will be posted at the completion of the all the parts.  For a summary, please see 6 Tips in What to Look For When Buying Quality Jewelry.  Please sign-up to receive the more detailed future posts.

3.  The Type of Setting Matters for the Longevity of Your Jewelry.

I know that when we buy jewelry with gemstones, we want to show the most amount of gemstone as possible.  There is a fine line though, between showing off the most amount of gem and keeping your gem/s secure.  Some types of settings show more of the gem/s than others but if you want to have a quality piece of jewelry that will last for a long time, considering the type of setting is important.

This opinion that I am about to provide will be very controversial to most people: The bigger the gemstone, the more the setting should cover the gem/s.  It is controversial because most folks want to show the least amount of metal around their gem of focus.  I usually do not recommend this.  I know that you spent a decent amount of money to purchase the gem but I feel that longevity is more important than showing-off.  


That means that a large percentage of engagement rings that are being sold with 4 prong or even some 6 prong settings are not to my "code."  Some exceptions to this rule are thick 4 prong settings (See left-Courtesy of Pampillonia Jewelers).  4 and 6 prong settings should be used more for non-wear-heavy jewelry but are usually used for the focal gem/s in rings.  For center gem/s, I usually recommend bezel, half bezel, or thick 4 prong settings.  Tension setting is also fine as they usually cover the gem significantly.  Engagement rings suppose to last the test of time so I want the settings to last a very long time. 

Now there are those who plan to buy an engagement ring for the short term for a wide range of reasons (like because they want something better, sooner.  No offense Aunt Judy).  For those on this trajectory, I guess none of this article applies to you.  For all others, I really recommend that you consider what type of setting maximizes the hold of your gem,



Wear-heavy jewelry needs to carefully consider the type of setting it utilizes.  If prongs or pave setting are utilized in wear-heavy jewelry, they should have a buffer from the edges that have the most wear.  The micro-pave trend that is happening now has many beautiful benefits, but I have many reservations of using this setting type in the edges of wear-heavy jewelry.  The tiny beads or prongs that hold the gem/s are just too small to be considered good quality if there is no metal buffer in the edges. 

There is no debate that the gem/s show beautifully in this type of setting, but it is inevitable that the beads/prongs will wear out and only highly trained jewelers will be able to replace those prongs.  I should know because I am one of those highly specialized jewelers that is able to replace those beads/prongs.  If the gem/s in question are color gemstones and not diamonds, the challenge escalates.

 

Although channel-set jewelry has gone out of fashion, gem/s set in this fashion are some of the most secure wear-heavy jewelry.  Burnish set wear-heavy jewelry should also have enduring quality as long as the burnish has been set with enough metal.  Non wear-heavy jewelry should be carefully evaluated by their type of setting as well.  In necklaces and pendants, you want to have a buffer on beads and prongs because otherwise they are prone to catch on clothes. On earrings, you should be freely chose whatever setting you prefer.

So this is the take-home point: 

The bigger the gem/s the more the setting should cover the gem.  Micro-pave and small prongs setting, in cases of heavier wear should have a buffer in the edges.

Now that we are focusing on the setting work.  There is one more feature regarding setting to carefully consider.  Stay tuned to the fourth installment.

by David Alvarado
6 Tips on What to Look for When Buying Quality Jewelry

6 Tips on What to Look for When Buying Quality Jewelry

Are you in the market to purchase a piece of fine jewelry with gems either for yourself or for that special someone? Here are 6 tips to look for when buying quality fine jewelry with gems.
by David Alvarado