Who doesn’t want to own a piece of gold? Some elegant and luxurious gold jewelry is just what you need to turn heads at bridal showers, weddings, and other jewelry-appropriate events. Gold also stands as a solid investment that’s predicted to multiply in value, providing an excellent “safety net” during periods of financial uncertainty.
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However, purchasing gold jewelry isn’t always simple, and there are a few considerations you need to make to ensure you get the best bang for your buck. So, before you make your way to a jewelry store, make sure to follow the guidelines below:
1. Inquire about its purity
Checking for purity is almost always the first step. The easiest way to know if a piece of gold jewelry is pure is to search for “hallmarking.” Pieces that are hallmarked inform you about the metal’s official proportion. Also, there’ll be a number and a year associated with the hallmark. The higher the number and the older the year, the purer the gold.
Another way to gauge purity is to look at the jewelry’s finesse or karat. The purest form of gold is 24-karat (99.9% pure), but gold jewelry isn’t available in this range. Most jewelers stock pieces in the 22, 21 and 18 karat range. In the majority of countries around the globe, the law requires gold jewelry to feature a stamp of the karat utilized in making those pieces. Other requirements may also apply, most of which are supervised by the hallmarking organization of a country.
Note: If you’re looking to buy gold or vintage pieces outside the U.S., get familiar with these hallmarks:
- 18K gold is usually 75% gold and is marked with the number “750.”
- 14k gold is around 58.5% gold and usually features the number “585.”
- 10k gold is a bit over 40% gold and carries the number “417” in most countries.
2. Ask about “making” charges
Gold jewelry making is labor-intensive, and all jewelers pass on the costs to the buyers in the shape of “making charges.” These are generally a certain percentage of the actual cost of labor. Based on the overall payout to the jewelry designers and assemblers, the price you pay as making charges will vary from jewelry to jewelry.
Pieces that are machine-made or feature minimum artwork will generally carry a lower charge. The making charge of such pieces should range between 5% to 15% of the jewelry’s cost (as there’s no manual labor involved in making them). Also, a few jewelers will slap a “fixed” making charge on buying pieces in bulk. On the other hand, pieces featuring an intricate design will carry a higher charge, which can go up to 25% to 30% of the gold’s price.
All that said, you can always negotiate the making charge as these costs aren’t set in stone.
3. Know your color and alloy options
Not everyone has the budget to buy pure gold jewelry because it’s usually expensive and malleable. Fortunately, modern jewelers have come up with ways to offer gold at an affordable price. Their secret? Mixing pure gold with other elegant metals to create pieces that are equal to or less than 18-karat gold. In these pieces, the other metals will have a significant influence on the gold’s “yellow” and produce an alloy of a varying color.
Below are some of the colors and alloys you need to be aware of:
- Yellow gold – Not every piece of yellow gold jewelry is pure gold. Some buyers are unaware that plating is a common occurrence when it comes to gold jewelry. In fact, many jewelers will intentionally plate gold to give it the appearance of yellow gold. Gold-plated jewelry, as a result, contains less gold than pure gold pieces.
- Rose gold – This has a pinkish hue and a gold color alloy. It’s one of the most popular combos in the area of engagement rings. Jewelers will often mix gold and copper to achieve a pinkish blush, with the outcome being 58.5% purity or 14 karats. Crown gold is the highest available karat available for this alloy, designed with 25% copper and 75% gold.
- White gold (rhodium) – This is a popular color for engagement rings and looks like a bright shade of silver. The term “white gold” can be a little misleading, though. When jewelers advertise white gold jewelry, they are usually offering rhodium plating over a 24K gold plate. Rhodium is a hard metal very similar to chrome. It provides the same amazing color as white gold and is very durable.
Note: If you’re interested in creating your own gold jewelry, or in repairing old jewelry that has lost its luster, consider purchasing a gold plating kit. Bench-top plating kits are affordable and can be used by hobbyists and jewelry professionals alike to add gold plating to base metals of all kinds.
4. Buy from a reputable seller
The easiest way to ensure you’re shopping for high-quality gold is to purchase from a reputable vendor. Companies like Cartier have a solid reputation among gold buyers. But these companies usually price gold at a high mark-up, which can be a turn-off for many. So if you’re looking for budget-friendly options, we recommend that you buy from independent dealers. They’re also known to manufacture and sell exquisite gold jewelry.
When dealing with independent dealers, you can ensure you’re purchasing from someone reputable by verifying their certifications and credentials. Also, make sure to compare the dealers to ensure you’re getting a good price. While it may seem ideal to go for an impulse purchase, you might be able to find the exact set or piece elsewhere at a much better price.
Buying a piece of gold jewelry can be complicated. You have to be careful about the purity, as well as about the reputation of the dealers you’re planning to buy from. While you could always hire an independent appraiser to help you with your purchase, self-education and research will go a long way to ensure you’re capable of making informed gold jewelry purchase decisions independently.