We probably all know to stay away from the “gold” watches sold on the street corner for ten dollars apiece, but nowadays even well-known retailers are being accused of selling synthetic diamonds to unsuspecting customers.
With the rise in cheap imports and a general lack of buying knowledge, more and more customers are being duped into spending their hard-earned money on fake jewelry disguised as the real deal.
We’ve been in the business for 17 years, and we’ve seen it all: glass stones posing as diamonds; fake gemstones; lead disguised as gold. There are many “quick tricks” out there that claim to reveal if jewelry is real or fake, like the bite test and the magnet test, for example. These tricks don’t work, however, because there are simply too many ways around them.
Here are some simple things to look for to ensure you don’t unknowingly purchase fake jewelry:
Scrutinize the source.
Who are you buying from? Items sold online from ebay or Craigslist are far more likely to be fake. Look at the image of the piece – does it look blurry or like it was copied from another website? Google the image to see if it was taken from somewhere else. This won’t necessarily guarantee the item is real, but it will weed out some of the “bad guys.”
Always check for hallmarks and brand marks.
Check the back or underside of the piece for a hallmark or stamp (like gold karat, for example), which specifies the purity of the metal. This is a good indicator that the piece is real; however, fake hallmarks do exist. You can also check for the brand stamp, but these too can be fake; look for misspellings or inconsistencies.
Ask for documentation.
Most quality jewelry sold by a reputable jeweler will come with documentation, like a certificate or other paperwork. Real diamonds should always come with a certificate, usually from either the EGL or GIA. Look over the documentation carefully and check for bad grammar or spelling errors, which can be signs of fake jewelry.
Ask about the warranty and return policy.
Is there a return policy? You should have at least a 14-day window to return the item for a full refund; even better if the piece comes with some kind of warranty.
If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
There’s a lot to be said about good, old-fashioned common sense. If something feels off, the price is outrageously low or you’re feeling pressured into making a decision, trust your instincts. Do research; price shop; review the dealer’s reviews and history.
If you can, bring the item to a reputable jeweler.
The best way to tell if jewelry is real is to bring it to a Certified Jewelry Buyer.
Buy smart – don’t buy twice!