Buying fine jewelry like diamonds and gold is often an emotional purchase. So, Consumer Reports offered advice to help shoppers buy with their heads, not just their hearts.
"Fine jewelry is generally one of a kind, so you can't shop for the best deal like you can with a vacuum or TV," said Consumer Reports' Amanda Walker. "So, you need to know what to look for, especially if you shop online."
Unless you're a gemologist, it can be hard to tell the fabulous from the fake and to spot less-than-perfect jewelry.
Emeralds can be enhanced by filling them with oil, but oil can leak over time.
A diamond can appear more brilliant through what's called fracture-filling. That makes diamonds more likely to shatter, so you have to be careful with repairs and cleaning.
"You should ask if a gemstone or diamond is imitation, treated or synthetic," Walker said. "If the jeweler can't or won't tell you, that's a cue to shop somewhere else."
If you're buying gold, look for the karat mark, which indicates the quality. And, look for the manufacturer's trademark, so you know whose work it is.
The best way to protect yourself from a bad buy is to shop from a reputable company, according to Consumer Reports. Members of the American Gem Society www.americangemsociety.org have to abide by a strict code of ethics.
Whatever you buy, make sure you get details of the purchase in writing.