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Within each gemstone variety, quality dramatically affects price: a gem can sell for $100 or $2,000,000. When buying a gemstone - buy the best quality, most experts recommend. Choose a smaller stone of higher quality over a larger stone of lower quality, or buy a higher quality gem from an unusual variety if your budget is too small.

Well-known gemstone like ruby, emerald and sapphire - which have been known for centuries - are more valuable than more recently discovered gemstones which are also beautiful and rare. You may be surprised how beautiful and affordable garnets, tourmalines, tanzanites, and other exotic gemstones can be.

To judge the quality of the jewelry setting, pay close attention to details. Is the metal holding the stone even and smoothly finished so it won't catch on clothing? Is the stone held firmly and square in the setting? Is the metal well polished with no little burrs of metal or pockmarks?

Inexpensive jewelry often is very lightweight to give you a bigger look for the money. If a piece is lightweight, pay special attention to the prongs holding the stone: are they sturdy? Do they grip the stone tightly? You won't be happy about the money you saved in gold cost if you lose your stone!

If the piece is gold, does it have a karatage mark? Is the company trademark stamped next to it? If it is, the company is standing behind that mark and assuring you that the karatage is as stated.

When buying a necklace, make sure it lays well around the neck. Try it on or ask a salesclerk to model it so you can check how it fits against the skin. For earrings, check to make sure that they hang well from the ear and don't tip forward. Designs that are asymmetrical should have a left and right which mirror each other.

Here is one final hint from real jewelry buying pros: if a piece of jewelry is really well made, the back will be well finished also.

If you are buying a gift and you are not sure about the style of the piece of jewelry, why not give the perfect gemstone in a black velvet pouch and let the lucky recipient design her own perfect setting: many jewelers offer custom design services. Gems can speak louder than words. You can choose a gemstone that symbolizes what you want to say with your gift.



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