Some of the most expensive gifts come in the smallest boxes. With jewelry, subtle details can make a huge difference in value and price. While you should always try to work with a reputable dealer who is personally recommended to you, there is no reason why you can’t use knowledge, compromise and negotiation to get just the kind of jewelry look you want for a great price.
Determine what you want. Look up online wholesale pricing reports like the Rapaport Diamond Report. Use your research and do some shopping so that you know what different things look like, particularly if you have been looking online.
Shop several different stores in your area for pricing. They should all be pretty close in price. If a store is dramatically more or less expensive, something is not right or the jewelry is not of the same quality.
Ask to see the certification on any diamond you are interested in and make sure the certification matches the diamond by looking at the stone under 10x magnification. Look for certifications, or certs, from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) or the International Gemological Institute (IGI) for most accurate grading.
Use a jeweler’s 10x loupe (magnifier) to examine the jewelry. Look for any cracks, pitting or rough spots. This is a sign of cheaper construction and will not last as well. Make sure all stones are tightly set and don’t wobble in the prongs.
Get a price in writing from each source that has jewelry that is comparable in quality. Do not buy on a first trip in, no matter what pressure they try to apply. Narrow it down to the top two who seem to offer the best overall value—quality versus price.
Go back to one of the stores. Bring the written quotes with you and go alone. Ask to speak to the manager.
Tell her what piece you are interested in and be sure to inspect it thoroughly to make sure it is the same piece of jewelry. Tell the manager you have been looking and that you have narrowed it down to two stores.
Tell her that you will buy if she will sell you the piece at “X” price. Be prepared to finish the deal if she says yes, and to walk away and go to the second store if she won’t work with you. Quote a price that allows her to make a little money--maybe 20-30 percent over wholesale.
Pay cash, if you can, to get the best price. Credit companies charge retailers a percentage for the transaction, which bumps up their bottom line cost by two to three percent.
You may be able to get a deal online, but just because a piece of jewelry online has the same carat weight of stones or gold content does not mean it is identical to what you have seen in a store. How the jewelry is assembled and finished has a lot of influence on the overall impact of the piece, which you cannot know without seeing it and may affect how much you are willing to pay for the piece.
Big box and mall jewelers have the highest markups—anywhere from 200 percent on small inexpensive items to 100 percent on more expensive pieces. Smaller family jewelers may have as little as a 30-50 percent markup depending on the price point of the piece you are looking at. They will usually offer the best deal.