It is hard to know whether you are getting good value for your money when you purchase gemstones, even for experts. There are a lot of good fakes and jargon terminology out there to confuse and trick buyers. Here are a few things to keep in mind that will help you make sound decisions regarding gemstone jewelry.
Start by buying from a trusted source. It is hard to know who to trust but look for credentials, like membership in the International Gem Society or guilds. Big jewelry companies do not necessarily mean they are to be trusted because they are beholden to shareholders and Executives so they don’t necessarily buy from ethical sources and many of their pieces are mass produced that lack artistry or skill. Listen to the jeweller to see if they are truly knowledgeable or just trying to sell you something.
Ask questions, such as:
- Did this gemstone come from a lapidarist or a company? Was it hand or machine cut? Which country and mine did it come from? What grade is it?
- What is the hardness level of this stone? (Mohs index from 0-10, 10 is the hardest for diamonds and opals and turquoise are soft at about a 5). I do not recommend buying softer gemstones for rings and bracelets as they will inevitably get damaged. https://www.gemsociety.org/article/select-gems-ordered-mohs-hardnessIs this stone graded? Expensive gemstones are graded according to the 4 C’s: clarity, carat, colour and cut.) I will go into this in more detail in a subsequent newsletter but if you are curious you can find more information athttps://jcrs.com/JCRS_for_consumers/jewelry_information/colored_gems/4Cs_color_stones.htm .
- How rare is this stone?
- How should I care for this stone? Is there anything I should avoid?
Do a bit of research first: If you want to buy a piece of turquoise jewelry, for example, there are a lot of different types of turquoise out there and even more fakes. What colour turquoise do you want? Do you want it mostly solid colour or do you like it with veining in black or brown? Do you want turquoise from Arizona, Mexico, China or Africa? Do you want it to go up in value or is that not important?
My suggestion is to take a look online at all the different types of finished turquoise and find the ones you like the best. Check out the average size and price of them so you know what to look for in your price range. It seems like there is a lot of turquoise on the market but actually most of the quality American turquoise has been depleted. If you cannot find the type you want at a price you can afford, check out the vintage market because there is a lot more vintage turquoise on the market than new cuts. If you are spending more than $100 for a turquoise stone or piece of jewelry, ask for a guarantee that it is authentic. Be aware that some sellers will call a dyed Howlite or Magnesite “turquoise” and they get away with it because they are referring to the colour, not the type of gemstone. They may also call it “real” but they are referring to it being a “real” stone not necessarily a real turquoise. There are as many cons as there are fakes. A trusted jeweller will welcome your questions and be happy to share their knowledge.
If you are in doubt, send me a message and I will try to send you references or point you in the right direction.