How Do You Know if Something Is Fine Jewelry?

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When we first started wearing and caring about jewelry we made some big purchasing errors. It’s hard to know if the price you’re about to pay is worth it, so here are our tips for making sure you’re buying the real thing.

What is fine jewelry?

Most jewelers define fine  jewelry as anything that’s made with gold, sterling silver, platinum or gemstones. The big clue is that gold has to have at least 10 karats to be considered fine jewelry. The second major thing to know about fine jewelry is that gemstones must be naturally made, not man made. That means that anything  made with cubic zirconia cannot be considered fine jewelry.

How to tell if vintage jewelry is fine jewelry?

Because selling and buying jewelry depends so much on trust, it’s rare to find something mislabeled. However, when you’re buying jewelry second-hand the seller may not always know. Here’s what to look for:

Metals:

How to tell the difference between gold and gold-plated? Use a magnet! Gold is a non-magnetic material. With vintage pieces you can also look for discoloration where the softer gold plate may have rubbed off exposing the non-fine metal underneath.

How to tell the difference between silver and platinum? Most fine jewelry is cast in platinum rather than sterling silver. This is almost 100% the case when there are gemstones in the piece as it is usually not worth it for the jeweler to bother using sterling silver. Platinum is also heavier than silver, which can sometimes be helpful to consider. But the best way we’ve found is just to see if the piece has more of a white-ish or grey-ish tint when something is reflected on it – such as diamond. Platinum is much closer to white than silver.