Expert tips make jewelry shopping less daunting
BY BRAVETTA HASSELL World Scene Writer
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
12/18/12 at 6:47 AM
Jewelry shopping doesn't have to be as hard as it might seem.
"It can be daunting," said Texas-based fine jewelry designer Katy Briscoe.
But buying bling for your loved one can be done.
Briscoe, whose work rides the edge of fashion forward while also maintaining a timeless elegance, said her clients find their own self-expression in her work - something to think about when visiting your jeweler.
And although the saying goes that "diamonds are a girl's best friend," they aren't the only precious gemstones out there, nor are they necessarily the only gem the woman in your life is interested in.
Emeralds are beautiful, said Briscoe, whose focus includes colored stones and yellow gold.
She's also very fond of freshwater pearls. And the bronzy color we're seeing more of is so interesting, Briscoe said, calling it "a very good-selling piece."
Pearls used to be worn only on very special occasions, but now they are seen in a variety of settings.
Local jeweler Eliot Charney, owner of Treasured Concepts Fine Jewelry, said tanzanite is also a popular gem. He explained part of the precious stone's renown is its rarity - the unique blue-purple jewel is a "one-source-only gemstone." Tanzanite can be found only in north Tanzania near Mount Kilimanjaro.
Whether in your ring or necklace, Charney said, tanzanite is very popular. Another gem of interest is Ethiopian opal, which has been on the market only about 20 years.
Charney and Briscoe offered tips for jewelry shopping this holiday season and any other time of year.
"Shop with someone who knows the receiver," Briscoe said. This person will have a pretty good idea of what her taste is as well as what she may have been pining for lately in the jewelry department.
Briscoe said if such a person is not available, then a good sales associate should be able to guide the shopper.
Charney said to do your homework before settling on a store. Credentials mean a great deal, but they don't mean everything. Make sure the jeweler is bona fide, and be sure to check the store's policies on returns and refunds as well as, if possible, their history with the Better Business Bureau. Asking a friend whom they would recommend shopping with is also a good idea.
The Jewelry Information Center suggests searching for jewelers affiliated with a professional trade association that requires adherence to high ethical standards and provides members with ongoing education.
Decide whether to go natural, synthetic or simulant in the stone you decide to invest in, Charney said.
A synthetic stone is grown under laboratory conditions from the "seed" of a gemstone. It has all the characteristics of its natural counterpart that comes from the earth except the time that goes into natural gem formation. With synthetics, conditions found in nature are replicated to a point where the time taken to create the same stone is accelerated, Charney explained. A natural and synthetic stone are virtually the same, but their value is greatly different - naturals obviously being more valuable.
Simulants are gemstones created to simulate natural stones but have no natural qualities, Charney said. Cubic zirconia, for example, is widely used as a diamond simulant.
Lastly, check your gold and silver content. The higher the karat, the greater the gold content, Charney said. But 24-karat gold, which is pure gold, is too soft to be worn as jewelry and is easily susceptible to damage. He recommends gold jewelry that is between 14-karat and 18-karat. For those rough on their jewelry, 10-karat may be best.
The jeweler you purchase from should be able to test the pieces you're interested in to confirm their contents.
Above all, Briscoe said, the piece of jewelry you select for your loved one should give you a quickening in your heart. You know it when you feel it.
It's a successful piece when the wearer's face brightens when she puts it on, Briscoe said.
Original Print Headline: Tips make jewelry shopping less daunting
Bravetta Hassell 918-581-8316
Treasured Concepts Fine Jewelry, 2808 E. 15th St., displays an arrangement of tanzanite jewelry. Owner Eliot Charney said tanzanite is among the most popular gemstones right now. Tanzanite can only be found in north Tanzania near Mt. Kilimanjaro. Courtesy