Expert Advice on Buying Gemstones
Empire Pawn of Nassau Inc
Watches, Jewelry Store, Wedding Rings
From Empire Pawn of Nassau, Inc. of East Meadow, NY
With the worldwide proliferation of counterfeit gems growing by the year, it’s a good idea to have a basic understanding of how to distinguish a real gem from a fake one, as well as some variables that determine a gem’s value. Here’s what to know before you buy.
Tip 1: Do your gem homework. The first thing to do if you’re planning on buying a precious gem is to do some online research. Go to some legitimate and well-respected gem websites and learn about the gems you are interested in buying. Two great nonprofit trade group resources are gia.edu (Gemological Institute of America) and gemstone.org (the International Colored Gemstone Association). Both sites offer a large amount of objective, consumer-friendly information about the various gems and how to shop for them. Also, visit various jewelry stores and examine the gems with some of the knowledge you gain from this article. The better educated you are, and the more time you spend examining gems, the better the chances that you’ll be happy with your purchase when you do buy.
Tip 2: Is it real or made in a lab? There are multiple terms used to describe a gem’s origin. It’s useful to know what they mean when shopping. Here’s a brief glossary:
Natural — Gems that are pure and found in nature; they have not been altered in any way, other than cut and polished. Perfect, natural gems are the most expensive and sought after.
Genuine — Gems also found in nature, but have been enhanced in some way, such as heat treated.
Synthetic — Are created in a lab to have the same physical, chemical and visual properties as a natural gemstone.
Simulated — Also created in a lab to look like its natural gem counterpart, but has different physical, chemical and visual properties.
In many cases, a person cannot tell the difference between a natural and lab-made stone. But it’s important to know: some people want a nature-made stone, and a lab-made stone should be cheaper than the real thing.
Tip 3: Has the gem been heat-treated? Heat treating gemstones to enhance their color is a common practice in the industry. It’s legal, as long as consumers are informed of it before they buy, but heat-treated stones are not as valuable as non-treated ones. If you’re a traditionalist who prefers non-heat-treated stones, make sure you know if the stone has been treated or not before you buy. An ethical, Gemological Institute of America-educated seller will be able to tell you up front. Look at the gem: is the color even throughout? How is its brightness in both natural and artificial light? It is often difficult, if not impossible, to determine if a gemstone has been heat treated with the naked eye. But as a rule of thumb, the more perfect a gem looks, the more likely it is heat treated.
Tip 4: When you’re ready to buy…You’ve done your research, visually inspected the gem and you’re ready to buy. Here are a few final pre-purchase tips. Don’t buy a gem as an “investment” because you think it will rise in value. Get it because you like it. Even if the gem is color enhanced, if you love it, then buy it. Before you do, make sure the seller gives you a certificate stating the type of stone, size, color and whether it’s natural or enhanced. Also, use a credit card for the purchase. That way, if for some reason you have to return the gem, you’ll have some financial recourse.
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