Newsflash: this article is all about good news. We are going to start by telling you that spotting a fine jewelry store is a very, very easy thing to do. It does come with complications at times, but there is nothing that you cannot avoid. Luckily, we are also here to give you a helping hand in spotting everything that you are looking for and we can guarantee that, after reading this guide, you will be properly equipped to deal with fine jewelry and spot potential scams. After all, nobody wants to get fooled into understanding what fine jewelry is and then buy it just because it has gold written on it, right? We actually need to know things.
It’s All In the Metal (and the Stones)
If you should ever check online shops, it is quite easily to get fooled into buying jewels that are not actually what people say they are. This is why we usually recommend that you purchase only from the known online shops or the ones that have been recommended to you by people who have tried them. As for regular shops, you can simply walk up to any jewel that you desire and look at whether it is made out of a high quality metal. You can also ask any shop assistant to guide you in your search. Gold, platinum or sterling silver are the metals you are looking for when it comes fine jewelry. Anything else will not do if fine is the key word you are looking for. This is another important detail that you need to always keep in mind when it comes to your budget. Always ask yourself if that jewel is worth it. With one or two hundred pounds you can buy some really good fine pieces without worrying about their quality. But if you spend money on a jewel that does not fulfill this criteria, you can pretty much consider that money lost.
While the metal is the most important indicator when it comes to spotting a fine jewelry store, diamonds, stones and pearls should also not be overlooked. When we are talking about stones, we actually mean natural gems. They need to possess all the special properties of a mined gemstone before they can actually be categorized as fine jewelry. If you want to properly determine if a shop is trustworthy or not, we suggest that you study these properties a little bit. Not too much, but enough so that you can ask the shop assistant a few questions. If the assistant answers them correctly it means that the shop is run by someone who is interested in the jewels’ quality and the assistant’s training. That can be a very good indicator of a good shop. People also get confused about pearls most of the time. Are cultured pearls fine jewelry, for instance? The answer is very simple: cultured pearls are, in fact, natural pearls. Never forget that. They are cultivated in oysters and they undergo this process so that they can be used in fine jewelry afterwards. Diamonds are also a subject that generates confusion sometimes. Just to be clear: all natural diamonds are fine jewelry. There are plenty of other substitutes for diamonds, but this does not make them fine jewelry at all. A few examples include glass, plastic, quartz and zirconium, but if anybody ever attempts to sell these items to you claiming that they are diamonds, you had better run. Then there is the issue of diamonds that were created in a lab. While their quality is fairly good, it does not come even close to that of a natural diamond and this is reflected in the piece’s price. So remember: it’s all in the metal and the stones with which the jewels are adorned. If you do not have high quality metals and no precious stones, like actual precious stones, then that is not a fine jewelry piece to begin with.
A General Misconception
There are many situations in which people are not exactly sure whether they are dealing with a fine jewelry store or a costume jewelry store. The two are very different types of jewels and the only way to actually avoid making a mistake is to determine which one is which. Fine jewelry was “born” in the 19th century and its ingredients have not changed until this day. As long as something is made out of gold, platinum and gemstones, anyone will agree that that is a fine piece. These jewels underwent a couple of styles during their lifetime: the Art Nouveau style between the 10s and the 20s and the Retro style in the 40s. Art Nouveau was all about abstractions: flowers, serpent shapes, butterflies and plenty of other fascinating designs. The Retro style mostly boasted on large brooches, a great use of gemstones and pink gold. This is how fine jewelry made its stand and if you recognize these two styles in a jewelry shop, there is a chance that you are dealing with fine jewels. However, costume jewelry appeared to serve the people’s need for some financial stability (at least when it all came down to jewels, of course). Metals like gold and platinum were very expensive and could not be afforded by anyone, so costume jewelry was made to accommodate the need for fashion, but not leave everybody with their pockets emptied. World War II made things even more complicated and thus made costume jewelry rise in demand. You might have heard or read that costume jewelry and fashion jewelry are considered the same thing, more or less, but there are plenty of voices in fashion who contest this reality. The truth is that the main perceivable difference between the two is the price. Expensive metals are harder to make and harder to maintain, thus they require extra money and extra care.
Costume jewelry does, too, come in different prices, but let’s just say that your wallet won’t feel drilled alive if you drop costume jewelry on the ground. It is replaceable and you can perhaps buy several more, but if you drop a golden ring on the ground, you’re pretty much done for. Ten and 14 karat pieces are quite durable, but you do not want to mess around with them either, but the moment you stop caring about an 18K or a 24K fine jewelry piece, the results will horrify you. This is another easy way to see what kind of jewelry store you are dealing with: check the prices. If the numbers start piling up in just one price, there is definitely something going on there. Another very important detail is that, if you see a really expensive piece in a costume jewelry shop and you like, you should immediately engage in conversation with the store assistant to actually understand what you are dealing with. This is a technique that is being used by many shops that started small and tried to make some fast money: the shops were filled with common jewels and two or three pieces that seemed exquisite and must-buy pieces. They looked nice, were made of more solid materials than the rest and put in some place that would catch the eyes. Do not fall for it. This is a cheap technique that will feel wrong from the very beginning. Rely on your instinct and you will surely not go down easily.
Quality of Service
This is perhaps the most discrete variable of all, but the sensation you will get from it will tell you that it is a fine jewelry store. Quality of service is a very important detail, not only in jewelry or fashion in general. Quality is something that we all strive for. The ability to properly relate to people, listen to their needs, meet them and treat them with love and respect is a fantastic quality that very few people possess. Luckily, this quality is learnable and teachable. Any jewelry store assistant, manager or owner who respects themselves and their work will greet you respectfully and try to properly identify what you are looking for. Above everything else, the delivery will be impeccable. Any shop owner who is both a good businessman and a fantastic human being will understand that quality is a must. And this is not a fact because they want to make money, it is a criteria required to have happy customers. A fine jewelry shop will very rarely be found behind an alley, in a dusty room and it will have a well-trained assistant who will answer all of your questions accordingly and give you all the information you need. This goes beyond looking tidy and showing fancy jewels: it is a matter of ethics, principles and core values. If you want to invest in jewels at any time, this is the sort of shop that you are looking for. No wonder famous jewelry shops are where they are today. They understood from centuries ago that a good business is built on trust, mutual respect and meeting people’s needs.