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How to Buy Jewelry? Setting And Clasps

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How to Buy Jewelry? (Part 4) Setting and Clasps

In buying any jewelry, one should look at more than the quality marking.  Sometimes what you want to look for depends on the type of jewelry. Here are buying jewelry quality marking general guidelines:

  • Be satisfied that the metal is what it is supposed to be.
  • Inspect the claps and settings, if gems are involved.

Check any and all links carefully, regardless of the type of jewelry. Any chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and any jewelry is only as strong as its weakest link. The links may be an integral part of the jewelry or they may be used to connect the jewelry to the clasp or catch.  The links should be well made, with no separation where the link is joined to form a circle. A link that is bent or is slightly apart may give way under wear, letting the rest of the jewelry or part of it slip through.

Keep in mind the intrinsic qualities of the metals, too. Platinum and silver are harder than gold, which is relatively soft in is purest forms. The purest the gold, the softer it will be and the more apt it is to wear thin or lose its shape with wear.

  • Rings.
    Regardless of the kind of setting, check the stone and make sure it is held firmly in the setting, whether the setting is open or closed.
    In an open setting such as high or Tiffany setting and the low or belcher setting, examine the prongs.  They should grip the gem at the girdle, closing firmly just above itThe prongs should be smooth.  Remember, the higher the setting, the more stone will be visible, with a greater tendency for prongs to catch on gloves or clothing. You want to be sure the prongs are made in such a way that there are no rough edges that could catch or that could lead to the prongs being bent or broken an d the loss of a stone.
    In a closed setting, examine the rim or bezel that holds the gem.  Some gems or coins may be set just below the rim and may have prongs at the back holding them against the rim. In this case, make sure the prongs are tight and well made to hold the coin or other material in place.  As far as gold coins go, make sure the coins are mint perfect, not bent or scratched or damaged by the setting.
    Cabochons are usually set in a closed setting, with the dome higher than the setting.  Again, the setting should be made in such a way that the gem cannot fall out. This is particularly true if the gem has a tendency to contract or expand.  A gem may feel very slightly loose, but by trying to move it you should be able to feel the firmness of the setting.
    The fit of the ring is as important as a well-made setting.  A too loose ring may fall of your finger, while a snug on may be difficult to get on and off.  Making sure the ring fits in a store is not enough.  You want to take into account whether your fingers have a tendency to swell in warm weather or not.  If they do swell, you may want to consider a slightly large ring on which you can have a ring guard put.
    A ring guard can be preferable, especially for rings with narrow backs.  A wide ring is more difficult to fit with a guard, but it is also less apt to slip off or slip around your finger. If you do decide to have a ring made smaller, remember you are losing precious metal.  At the same time, more precious metal will be needed to make the ring larger.
  • Earrings.
    The choice of earring backs is strictly personalEarring with screw backs should be checked care fully to make sure the screws are in good working order and are tight enough for you to fasten securely in or on your ears.  Clamps should be tight, although not so tight that they are uncomfortable to wear. Comfort and a secure fastener, in fact, are probably more important for earrings than other jewelry, since there is no way you can add a guard or safety catch as you can for other jewelry. All you can do is make sure the backs are good ones and they work well—and that means on both earrings.  Try putting both earrings on and taking them off several times. To put them on correctly, pull lobe down, place earring, and adjust back.  When you have them on, shake your head vigorously to make sure the earrings don’t loosen or fall off.  Shaking your head will also assure you of another factor: are they so heavy that they bother you or so light that you can’t feel them and could lose one just by using the telephone?
    A store may sometimes not allow you to try on earrings, in which case you should ask to see the manager or go to another store.  In case you are purchasing an earring from online store, most online stores have return policy.  You need to try earrings on to judge whether the design and color flatters you because they are so close to your face. Then, there are size and weight. Not all earlobes are the same. Earrings that may fit one ear may be too large or heavy for other earlobes.  Most necklaces and bracelets will fit anyone, but not most earrings.  In short, when buying expensive earrings in particular, you need to try them on before deciding you like them and can wear them.
  • Clasps and Catches.
    All clasps and catches, both regular and safety ones, should be worked several times, on you and off you. Do they fasten easily and firmly?  Can you work them yourself without help?  Make sure you try the jewelry on yourself as well as letting the clerk help you. If you find that you can’t put the jewelry on by yourself, it may be a bad buy—regardless of cost—unless you always have someone available to help you.
    Make sure the clasps are appropriate to the rest of the jewelry, which they are not so fragile they are apt to break or bend.  The more expensive the jewelry, the more you want to be sure that the jewelry has a safety clasp or catch of some kindA safety clasp or catch is like a hand brake on a car, you may never need it, but when you do it is indispensable. For this reason, any fine quality piece jewelry, especially with gems, that does not have a safety clasp or catch should have one added.  The lack of one on jewelry with a big price, moreover, may indicate the jewelry is not what it is supposed to be.  In any case, ask the jeweler to suggest a remedy ad be sure to look for quality markings.
    You want to be just as careful of catches and safety catches on pins and brooches. Even better costume jewelry pins generally have safety catches, but make sure both the catch and clasp are sturdy and fasten firmly and easily.
    In all kind of jewelry, make sure there are no rough edges that can catch on clothes.  You do want to run the risk either of losing the jewelry or of its snagging or tearing clothes or catching on fabric when you put on or take off a coat.  These are other reason for checking necklaces and bracelets and all jewelry to see how well catches and links are attached to the rest of the jewelry. A good catch flimsily affixed is little protection against loss.  In addition, necklaces and bracelets that are strung should be well strung on good string and tightly knotted to clasps.

Customer Satisfaction is of paramount important to The Jewelry Hut.

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To Web Masters:

The article above can be used on your web site or newsletter.

When it is published, may I request that you include my name and resource box (the bio, contact and copyright information) that follows the article. I would also appreciate if you could send me an email of notification along with a complimentary copy of the publication.

Copyright 2005 Bijan Aziz.

Bijan Aziz is the owner and Web Master for The Jewelry Hut

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