Jewelry Essentials

Build a Basic Jewelry Collection

Like a basic clothing wardrobe you can build a basic collection of jewelry with a few pieces that can be worn for many years and on numerous occasions. The two most important considerations when choosing jewelry are quality and choosing pieces that compliment you. For instance, you should choose pieces according to your face shape, hair style, hair color, skin tone, and body proportion. Remember to buy the best that you can afford! A purchase of fine jewelry is a worthy investment.

Below is a sample basic jewelry collection:

1 watch

1 or 2 strands of pearls different lengths. Taller women can usually wear longer strands better.




Pearl stud earrings.

Diamond stud earrings. Buy real diamonds if you can afford them. Another option is quality cubic zirconia stud earrings. Smaller cubic zirconia studs appear more authentic than something huge.

A diamond pendant (optional)

A pair of gold hoop and /or silver hoop earrings

A pair of 14k gold and / or sterling silver button earrings (optional)

A gold chain 14k

A sterling silver necklace that works with your earrings

Only after the basics add pieces of quality costume jewelry as dictated by your outfit. These can be found in Museum gift stores or from artists. This way you have unique pieces instead of junk.

Selecting Jewelry






A diamond’s value is based on four criteria: color, cut, clarity, and carat. When purchasing a diamond be sure to get a diamond grading report and appraisal.

Carat Weight

Carat is actually a measurement of weight, not size. However, too many jewelers will advertise “approximate” weights such as “approximately” a 1/2 carat, which can actually be as low as 45 points. There is nothing wrong with buying a “light” 1/2 carat, however the cost is significantly less. You should know exactly what you are buying and pay accordingly.


The cut more than any other quality aspect, gives the diamond its brilliance. Often times, discount jewelers will advertise diamonds based on weight and color. But, often they have sacrificed some of the diamond’s beauty to achieve a stone that is a larger carat weight. A diamond gets its sparkle by cutting and polishing the diamond facets to allow the maximum amount of light that enters through its top to be reflected and dispersed back.


The grading scale for color starts with the letter D, being the whitest, or best, and goes down the letter Z, being more yellowish. It is the whiteness in a diamond that allows the light to pass effortlessly through the stone and enhance the brilliance. A white diamond will look clean, crisp, and brilliant.


Clarity refers to how many inclusions (or flaws) are in the diamond. Clarity has little to do with how the diamond looks under the microscope. Clarity is graded under 10x magnification by a gemologist. Minute flaws are invisible to the naked eye. However, the fewer inclusions, the rarer your diamond will be. If a diamond is rated SI-1 or above, it is flawless to the naked eye If there is even a tiny inclusion visible to the unaided eye, the stone is usually graded an SI-2 or I-1.

Diamond Buying Tips

Buying Diamonds 101


The word gold by itself refers to all gold or 24 karat gold. Because 24K gold is soft, it’s usually mixed with other metals to increase its hardness, strength and durability. The karat quality tells you what proportion of gold is mixed with the other metals. For example, fourteen karat (14K) jewelry contains 14 parts of gold, mixed in throughout with 10 parts of base metal. Solid gold, on the other hand, does not mean it is 24K, but it refers to jewelry made of any karat gold if the inside of the item is not hollow.

You should be aware that often times jewelers will advertise jewelry at a discounted rate such as 50% off. This means that they might have marked up the value and falsely discounted the piece.


Natural gemstones are found in nature, while Synthetic or Laboratory-created stones are made in a laboratory. Synthetic stones have essentially the same physical and visual properties as natural gemstones, however they do not have the rarity of naturally colored stones and are valued less. Imitation stones should be clearly identified as such. Note, some gems are treated to improve their appearance or durability, or even change their color. Jewelers should tell you whether the gemstone you’re considering has been treated since sometimes the treatment is not permanent, or the stone may require special care or the treatment could significantly affect the value of the gemstone.

How to Buy a Gemstone?

Organizations that grade and value diamonds, gemstones and pearls:

1. Gemological Institute of America

2. Gubelin Gemological Laboratory

3. American Gem Trade Association

4. International Gemological Institute

5. American Gem Society