What you should know about choosing a Professional jeweler.

When you buy a dazzling piece of fine jewelry, you're making an important purchase. Equally important is the decision of where you're going to make the purchase.

A Lasting Relationship with Your Jeweler

The right jeweler should be one you can rely on for all your jewelry purchases, year after year. From gifts for loved ones to treasures for yourself, the jeweler with whom you do business should educate and inform you when you're making a purchase.

Your jeweler should be there to guide you in selecting fine jewelry of lasting quality and beauty which will enrich your life and the lives of those you love. Your jeweler should also be there to help you properly care for your jewelry so that it can give you years of enjoyment.

A professional jeweler can do all these things and more. Your professional jeweler should be on the same level as your doctor, lawyer or accountant — trusted individuals who have mastered the unique but necessary skills required by their professions.

When you are ready to find a professional jeweler look to a Jewelers of America (JA) member. JA jewelers will not only help you with your purchase but they will also be there in the future to answer your questions.

Is Your Jeweler a JA Member?

If you see the "J" mark on the door, the jeweler is a member of Jewelers of America, an association that promotes and reinforces integrity and professionalism among jewelers. JA is a professional organization with standards of conduct and business ethics which its members agree to follow.

These standards include a commitment to maintaining the highest level of personal and professional integrity, as well as treating customers with courtesy and respect.

JA members also keep pace with industry and fashion trends and are able to provide the most up-to-date merchandise and information for their customers.

When you see the "J" mark, you know you are pinging your business to professionals with the skill and knowledge to help you make the right selection of quality jewelry within your budget.

JA Resources for the Professional Jeweler

A major benefit of shopping with JA members is that these stores have access to many resources which can make your jewelry shopping experience as enjoyable and rewarding as possible.

  • JA is dedicated to promoting the professionalism of the jewelry industry. JA members have joined with their colleagues to work toward this goal. JA members are committed to promoting professionalism and outstanding customer service in their stores and throughout the entire jewelry industry.
  • JA must have the respect and confidence of the public and the jewelry industry. For this confidence and respect, JA members must maintain the highest possible ethical standards in their business dealings. Every JA member must follow and agree to the ethical standards, principles and practices of JA.
  • JA members have access to special educational programs which keep jewelers up-to-date on the latest trends and techniques in the industry. JA also offers several formalized certification programs to evaluate the professional abilities of each member of the retail operation. These programs measure an individual's abilities in traditional jewelry skills (product knowledge, bench abilities, customer service, management, etc.) against an established industry standard for the candidate's specialty (sales associate, store manager or bench jeweler). In order to be certified candidates must demonstrate sufficient competency in their profession's skills. Ask if the staff of your jewelry store is certified.
  • JA offers its members numerous services that are passed along to you as special value-added features.
  • JA provides its members with special publications which help educate you about jewelry and how to make a purchase. The pochure you are currently reading is part of the "What You Should Know About..." series, a group of consumer-education pamphlets which provides information about the most popular jewelry items and answers the most frequently asked questions about jewelry. Another JA series provides information about the 27 most popular gemstones. Look for these pochures in your jewelry store.

In addition to looking for a JA member you should follow these guidelines as you search for a professional jeweler who is reliable and offers a wide selection of beautiful, distinctive jewelry for you to choose from.

How Long has the Jeweler Been in Business?

Has the store just recently opened or is it well-established? If the store is new, be sure to visit it and talk to the sales staff and, if possible, the manager or owner. This is a great way of assessing the professionalism of the store and it helps you establish a personal relationship with the jeweler. Ask yourself a series of questions. How does the sales staff treat you when you enter the door? Do they answer all of your questions? How is the store designed? Does it look like time and effort went into making the store look inviting? How is the jewelry displayed? Do you feel comfortable in the store and would you be comfortable shopping there on a regular basis?

Many jewelry stores in your area are probably not new but have been in business for many years — some for several generations. If you are shopping at one of these retailers ask how long the store has been in business. Find out if the jeweler has a history of community involvement. Some jewelers regularly sponsor or host beauty pageants, art exhibits and other community events. Chances are, the longer the store has been involved in the community, the more solid its reputation. If it is a family-owned store, ask if the family actively manages the store.

Whether you are shopping at an established or a newly opened retailer, you should ask the same questions. What types of merchandise does the store offer? What services are available? Is a manager or owner available if you need to talk to them? More importantly, what are the credentials of the staff and management? Do they have experience or formal training in jewelry, retailing or management?

What Services does the Jeweler Offer?

Maintaining the fine jewelry you have purchased will be important to you as time passes. Ask if the jeweler is able to clean size, engrave, restring or remount your jewelry.

Does the store have a trained gemologist and a bench jeweler on the premises? Gemologists have studied the unique properties of diamonds and colored stones. They are familiar with the various types of precious and semi-precious stones used in fine jewelry and can explain how to care for and clean your gemstone jewelry. If you are interested in purchasing diamond or gemstone jewelry, a gemologist can guide you to an appropriate purchase which matches your taste, budget and lifestyle.

A bench jeweler is trained in the fabrication and repair of jewelry. This individual can repair your jewelry, resize your ring and reset a stone. Highly experienced bench jewelers can often custom design a piece for you.

In some stores the bench jeweler and gemologist can be the same person. In larger stores, several people may be employed as gemologists and bench jewelers. Sometimes the owner wears all of these hats. In all cases, having trained gemologists and bench jewelers on site is an important component of the professional jewelry store.

Do You Have All the Information About the Jeweler's Products?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has established guidelines for the fair and clear marking and advertising of all jewelry products so that you are able to make an informed and educated purchase.

According to the FTC, jewelers should give you all the information about the product you are buying including price, the type of metals and gemstones used, and any enhancements or treatments which may have been performed on the jewelry. The FTC guidelines cover not only jewelry but many other items you may find at your jewelry store including watches, accessories, giftware and non-precious materials such as pewter.

Professional jewelers follow these guidelines and give you all the information they can about the merchandise in their stores.

What is the Jeweler's Return Policy?

Be sure to inquire about the time period for returning jewelry. Also ask whether you will be allowed an exchange or a cash refund, if this is of concern to you.

Does the Jeweler Regularly Offer High Discounts?

Some stores continually discount or use wholesale prices as a means of attracting customers. These discounts sometimes go as high as 50 or 60 percent. Find out if the "discounted" jewelry was ever sold at the regular price and for how long. Some states have laws, regulations or guidelines that limit the length of discount sales and require retailers to display the products' original prices. Check with your attorney general's office, or a local Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce for the regulations in your area. You can also contact your state jewelers' association and ask if they have any materials that will help you understand accurate jewelry pricing and discounts.

You may also want to compare prices from jeweler to jeweler, so you have a better sense of relative costs for items of similar quality.

Does the Jeweler Offer a Wide Selection?

As in any retail store where you enjoy shopping, selection is an important factor in your choice. Look at the selection a jewelry store has to offer and determine if it reflects your taste and meets your needs. Remember, a professional jeweler will help you develop a jewelry wardrobe that meets your budget, tastes and lifestyle. Jewelers can almost always special order jewelry for you and some may even be able to custom design a piece. Simply ask if these services are available.

What Information Can the Jeweler Share with You?

A professional jeweler is also a consumer educator who understands your need for information. Does the store provide you with information that will help you select and care for your fine jewelry? Booklets, brochures and other materials should be available to help guide you in your purchases and answer questions you may have.