Expert Tips on Buying Gems
Empire Pawn of Nassau Inc
Love gems? Here’s some expert advice on how to get a great deal and value when buying gems, from determining real from fake, to what to do and say when you’re ready to buy.
Learn about the gems you want to buy. 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.
Determine if it’s real or fake. 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. Since they have the same properties as their natural counterpart, they can be called genuine.
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.
Know if it’s 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.
If you like it, then buy it. 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.