What To Look For When Buying Quality Jewelry-Extended Part 1

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 1 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.

1.  Consider the brittleness and malleability of the jewelry you are thinking of buying.


Before we delve into the quality nuances of an actual piece of jewelry.  I want to discuss metal karat (or carat) and how metal wears.  When dealing with the gold metal Karats (10k, 14k, 18k, 22k, 24k) and the platinum "karats" (950 pt, 900 pt), the purer the metal, the softer it is.

What the karats are indicating is how much alloy—an amalgam of harder, less precious metals—is used to harden more precious metals.  The more alloy "parts" that are mixed-in, the harder the gold and platinum will be.  The harder the metal, the less deformation, dents, and scratches, are noticeable.  For some instances, the harder the piece of jewelry, the better it will stand wear, in terms of look.  So a general understanding developed that assumes that harder is better in regards to wear and tear.  This is not the case.

A better way to describe the character of an alloy-infused precious metal is this way: the harder it is, the more brittle it becomes; the softer it is the more malleable it becomes.  This is a more important way to see your jewelry because it lets you determine whether you want something more brittle or more malleable. 

Metals that are considered hard are more brittle.  Without going too much into the science of it, brittle metals fracture or break apart without any deformation.  It breaks apart much faster than more malleable metals.  That includes wear and your occasional trip to the jeweler to maintain or polish your piece of jewelry. 

Malleable metals, bend but do not break as easily.  Malleable metals deform, dent, and show scratches, but do not break apart as easily.  A 14k gold ring will lose its metal but will keep the integrity of its look for much longer.  An identically 18k gold ring will keep more of its metal but the integrity of its looks will show more wear.  An identical platinum piece will hold on to more of its original volume of platinum but will show significant, bends, scratches, dents, and kinks.

So when one is looking for quality in fine jewelry, I recommend having the brittleness vs malleability of the metal in mind.  This consideration will become more important as I go more into detail about specific features in the upcoming posts.  For now, just mull over this distinction in correlation with the type of wear you envision the fine piece of jewelry will have.  A ring has a lot more wear than earrings.  Gems are held with metals in a variety of ways, so malleability is a factor there.  The moving parts of your jewelry would benefit from less brittle metals.

So this is the take-home point thus far:

Consider the wear in correlation to the brittleness and malleability of the jewelry you are thinking of buying.

As you are looking for jewelry to buy.  Choosing a quality piece of fine jewelry involves determining what kind of wear it will have in order to figure out whether you want a more malleable or more brittle metal.  This point will be reiterated in slightly different perspectives throughout the upcoming posts. It goes to show the importance of this feature.

Part 2 will focus on the brittleness of the settings in relation to wear.

October 04, 2016 by David Alvarado

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