Tag Archives: Imitation Birthstones

Buying Birthstone Jewelry – Money Saving Tips

You have consulted birthstone charts and want to buy jewelry. Are you looking for some ways to save money? There are many factors that contribute to the cost. Some are obvious. Others may not have occurred to you.

Identity
The birthstones are gemstones. Some are obviously more expensive than others. The birthstones chart currently used in the United States contains less expensive alternates for most months.
There are many other lists:
Astrological charts use different time periods that combine months.
Old historical lists often assign the gemstones to different months and may substitute a few different stones.
Different countries have their own lists.
You can find these different birthstone charts on many websites. Look for a less expensive stone for your birth date.

Quality
The term genuine gemstone simply means that the stone has the necessary characteristics for its identity. The qualities of color and clarity affect the price. Inclusions of other materials can detract from the clarity and reduce the value. Choose a pretty stone with inclusions that are not obvious.

Color
Today many gemstones are color enhanced. Heat treating, diffusion, radiation, oiling, and dyeing are means of improving color. The gemstone industry assumes that these processes have been used, and sellers often do not volunteer the information. Ruby, sapphire, topaz, tanzanite, aquamarine, citrine, and others are routinely heated. Emerald is oiled. Beads may be dyed.
Assuming other qualities equal, natural color gemstones will be the most expensive. Dyed stones will be the least expensive.

Size
Gemstones are sold by weight. The larger the stone, the higher the price per carat. For example, one carat total weight of several small rubies will cost less than a one carat single ruby.

Beads
When rough gemstone material comes out of the mine, the highest quality is set aside for cutting into loose stones for settings. The lower quality is used for beads. Why? Because drilling a bead hole wastes valuable weight.
Beaded jewelry may cost less. The difference in quality is not always obvious.
The best quality gemstone beads are often tiny faceted rondelle shapes. The more valuable gemstones, such as ruby, emerald, and sapphire are seldom made into large beads, unless they are dyed or contain many inclusions. If you want natural color birthstones, you can probably find them as beads at an affordable price.

Lab Created or Synthetic Gemstones
They have the same characteristics as natural gemstones, but not the same inclusions. The process contains similarities to the natural creation, but time and quality are controlled by man. These high quality stones are expensive, but should cost less than the same quality mined gemstone.

Imitation Birthstones
They may be other less expensive gemstones that are dyed. Howlite is used to imitate turquoise.
Glass imitations were popular in the 1940’s and 1950’s. They were often set in 10k gold rings. You may find them in antique or vintage jewelry stores. Prices will vary and may be determined by value as a collectible.
Swarovski crystal is a popular substitute as a birthstone. The colors are named after gemstones.
Imitations should cost less than genuine gemstones.

Precious Metals
The cost of gold and silver has increased drastically. They are also sold by weight. Heavy ornate settings, clasps, or beads will increase cost.
Different kinds of metal are priced from high to low in this order: 18k, 14k, 10k gold, vermeil (gold plated sterling silver), sterling silver, gold filled, gold plated, silver plated, gold or silver tone base metals.

Beaded Jewelry
Beaded birthstone jewelry has other options for lower prices.
Tiny spacer beads reduce the number of birthstone beads needed.
Look for other less expensive beads in the design, or just a few birthstones as focal points.

Designer
This term can raise the price. Jewelry that carries the name of a well known store, name brand, famous designer, or celebrity may cost more. Endorsements are expensive.
If fashion jewelry containing imitation gemstones and base metal is sold in a well known or upscale clothing store, it can cost more than jewelry with genuine gemstones sold on a website.

Custom Made
Birthstone jewelry that requires extra time, new design, buying new or unusual materials can be expensive.
Instead use the seller’s existing design with substitution of in stock stones or beads.

Middlemen
The number between the mine and the jewelry seller is one of the biggest factors affecting price.
A hobbyist who buys materials from a retail store adds a middleman.
A seller who designs and makes jewelry and buys beads or loose stones directly from the cutter eliminates distributors.
Ask questions.
Today it is easy to buy from jewelry makers. Look for their websites. Attend craft fairs or gem shows.

Overhead
Does the seller have to pay any large business overhead costs?
Store, warehouse, office, employees, website design or hosting, advertising.
Buy from a website business that is run from a home. Look for information on the About Us page.

Shipping and Packaging
It is never free. It must either be included in a higher jewelry price or paid as added cost by the buyer.
Actual shipping costs vary. If the seller offers options, compare their costs.
If you buy directly from a country where labor costs are low, the savings may be offset by high international shipping. Returning an item would be expensive.
Handling costs also vary. Fancy boxes and packing materials can raise the jewelry price or handling cost.

Conclusion
If you do comparison shopping, be sure to consider the quality of the birthstone jewelry.
Be suspicious of low cost items that cannot be returned easily, worthless guarantees, deceiving imitations.
If the price is too low to be true, it probably is not a bargain.
Save money, but do it intelligently.

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