You can't buy love, but on Valentine's Day those in love certainly like to treat the special people in their lives to some lavish tokens of affection. According to the National Retail Federation's Valentine's Day Consumer Spending Survey, Americans spend an estimated $19 billion on gifts, flowers, dinners, and more come Valentine's Day.
In addition to chocolates and flowers, jewelry is a popular Valentine's Day gift. Since jewelry is often a personal taste, much like a fragrance, it can be challenging to find the perfect item. With so many different styles, colors and pieces, it's no surprise that so many jewelry shoppers feel overwhelmed. Some expert advice can make the process go more smoothly and ensure you're getting the best value for your money.
The Federal Trade Commission suggests thinking before you shop. Since jewelry is a major purchase, shoppers should first establish a budget. Consider the gift recipient's style and look at other jewelry he or she wears. The more informed you are before visiting the jewelry stores, the easier it will be to find a piece he or she will like and one that you can afford.
Take the time to become educated about diamonds and other gemstones. Diamonds' value is based on four criteria: color, cut, clarity, and carat (often referred to as "The 4 Cs"). Color ranges from the diamond being nearly white to graded down to yellow. The cut is the way the stone is fashioned. Clarity informs consumers if the stone is flawless or has specs or scratches inside of it. Carat refers to the weight of the diamond.
Diamonds and gemstones can form naturally or be manufactured in laboratories. Lab-created gemstones may look like natural gemstones but be of lesser value.
Shop around and get referrals for reputable jewelry stores. You can consult the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been lodged about a particular store. Many consumers are most comfortable purchasing jewelry made in-store so they can verify the merchandise and retailer.
Check for the appropriate markings on gold, silver and platinum jewelry that indicate their authenticity. Make sure the jeweler will include certification or a grading report with the jewelry and your receipt.
No matter how much research you do, realize that there's a chance the jewelry you purchase will not prove the perfect fit. So make sure you understand the store's return policy and if there is a charge to have rings or other items resized.
Jewelry is a classic Valentine's Day gift. With the right approach, shoppers can make the process of buying jewelry a lot less intimidating.