There are many different aspects to think about when purchasing fine jewelry, but perhaps the first and foremost consideration should be the issue of trust. Nobody wants to pay too much for a purchase of anything, let alone jewelry — and most people want to be sure that they’re not buying something of poor quality — but the first thing that should come to mind is trust in the seller, because once this is established, many of the other factors fall into place rather nicely.

One problem with buying jewelry from an unfamiliar source is that few people have enough expertise to be able to determine quality or good pricing all by themselves, and these issues are anything but minor. (By the way, unless pricing history can be established, you should never arbitrarily accept that a percentage “discount” is an indicator of good value — and caveat emptor if a store is offering big discounts because it is “going out of business”!) Also to be considered, a warranty or return policy is normally established by the retailer, not by the manufacturer, and any such policy will be woefully inadequate if the company will not be in business much past the beginning of next year! If you already have a relationship with a jeweler, and have established at least some degree of trust, you’re well ahead of the game.

Another important factor to consider is expertise on the part of the merchant. (Remember that not everyone behind a jewelry counter is an expert.) Although this is not an absolute requirement, when it comes to jewelry, it is always a desirable asset. Nothing can take the place of an educated consumer, but certain information is not always readily available. In general, the higher the value, the greater the merchant’s level of product knowledge and expertise should be. Do actual “credentials” exist for such things? Yes, and there are many different types, but formal credentials alone are not a guarantee of good product value, although I should point out that those who lack formal “paper” credentials are not necessarily less knowledgeable than their scholarly cousins. In fact, sometimes someone who has intimate knowledge of jewelry and the current diamond market may be a much better person to be buying a diamond from than someone who knows every technical specification of a diamond, but lacks the expertise to insure that you’ll get a well-made product at a great price.

Joe Brandt is a local resident, and President of J.L. Brandt Company, offering diversified fine jewelry advisory services to the general public. Questions or comments may be directed to JLBCO@hotmail.com. All inquiries are confidential, and will be responded to promptly.