Don’t let your jewelry purchase leave you heartbroken

Rick Walz writes the "Consumer Advocate"

Rick Walz writes the “Consumer Advocate”

After the holidays, Valentine’s Day is always a busy time to buy and sell jewelry. But, just as with any sought-after items – scammers aren’t far behind. Jewelry can be bought and sold through a jeweler, pawnbroker, or even the public. All options are good but be sure to do plenty of research before making any purchases or sales.

A good start to ensuring safe buying and selling is to keep the receipt. It’s also smart to ask for a certificate of replacement cost or an appraisal listing the quality of the gemstones or precious metals to accompany the receipt. If the jewelry comes with a gemological certificate, be sure to get the original and keep it with the receipt as well. This can help with reselling in the future.

Also be careful when using a mail-away service. Understand all of the terms and conditions before mailing or receiving the jewelry. Take inventory and make a list of the items being sent. It’s important to insure their quality before sending, as mail services can be unreliable at times.

Use BBB’s tips for buying and selling jewelry:

• Do your research. Common complaints to BBB against jewelry stores allege poor craftsmanship, issues returning items, and problems with guarantees and warranties. Before you visit any store, check to find a trustworthy BBB Accredited jeweler near you. Read through a business’ complaints and Customer Reviews to see others’ experiences. You can also ask family and friends for recommendations.

• Visit more than one store. Your first steps should be to decide on a budget and your expectations. Some jewelry stores are very high-end, while others have great deals. Be clear with store staff about how much you’re willing to spend and what you want to buy – this will help you stay in your price range and avoid making extra purchases. Shop around to find the best prices and most appealing styles.

• Read the fine print and ask questions. Before making a purchase, read the refund, warranty, and guarantee policies carefully. If you, or the gift recipient, doesn’t like the item or realizes it doesn’t fit, how long do you have to return it? What happens if your watch breaks or a stone on your ring comes loose? If the store advertises a “lifetime guarantee” policy, ask for the details. If you’re buying jewelry online, first check out BBB’s guide to savvy online shopping.

• Shop around. Research businesses at – you want to be able to trust them! If you’re considering a pawnbroker, find out if they need a special license in your state or province. Take your time and consider it a red flag if you’re being pressured to rush into a transaction. Get four or five estimates to determine the market value of your piece.

For more tips from BBB, visit And if you spot a scam, whether you have lost money or not, report it to BBB’s Scam Tracker at and the FTC at Your story can help other consumers avoid similar scams.

Rick Walz is the President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Northern Indiana, which serves 23 counties. Contact the BBB at 800-552-4631 or visit

This article originally appeared on South Bend Tribune: Consumer Advocate: Tips for buying and selling jewelry