Avoiding Jewelry Ripoffs

Few purchases are as emotional as fine jewelry. But shop with your head and you'll be less likely to overpay.

Amanda Walker at Consumer Reports Money Adviser can tell you how to get a great deal on jewelry and avoid costly rip-offs.

Amanda Walker with Consumer Reports found, "Fine jewelry is generally one of a kind, so you can't shop for the best deal like you can with a vacuum or a TV. So you need to know what to look for, especially if you shop online."

How pure is that gold bracelet? Maybe it isn't even real!

Emeralds can often be enhanced by filling them with oil. But over time, the oil can leak out.

And a diamond can appear more brilliant through what's called
fracture-filling. But this also makes diamonds more likely to shatter, so you have to be careful when they're repaired and cleaned.

Amanda says, "You should ask if a gemstone or a diamond is imitation, treated, or synthetic. And if the jeweler can't or won't tell you, that's your cue to shop somewhere else."

Buying gold? Look for a karat mark, which indicates quality, and a manufacturer's trademark, so you know whose work it is.

But Money Adviser's top tip for protecting yourself is to deal with a reputable company. Members of the American Gem Society must abide by a strict code of ethics.

Amanda points out, "You go to the American Gem Society dot Org to find a reputable jeweler in your area. Not just here where I am, but anywhere in the country."

And whatever you buy, make sure you get the details in writing.

Consumer Reports also says to consider an appraisal from a certified jewelry appraiser. And be sure the return policy gives you at least enough time to return something if it isn't what you expected.

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