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Buying Silver Jewellery Online

Jun 2, 2008
First and foremost, find websites which sell jewellery which is hallmarked and guaranteed Sterling Silver. A hallmark is not just the 925 stamp that any silversmith can add to their silver, it is stamp given by an independent accredited laboratory that has carried out a scientific test on each and every item individually to ensure that the silver used does contain 92.5% pure silver and does not contain any Nickel (one of the commonest causes of jewellery allergies). You can not tell this by eye, and the 925 stamp does not guarantee this (I know. I have sent 925 stamped silver back to the smith that has failed the assay test because he thought he was helping by giving the silver a nickel bath to improve the shine).

Size
It is very difficult to determine the size if a piece of jewellery from a photo, particularly if the photo is only a close up with nothing to compare it with. To give you the best visual impression, find sites which also show the jewellery modelled on a person. This will allow you to see how it will look, where it will sit, and whether it will work for you. Also look for sites which provide the weight and dimensions of the piece. Then mark these dimensions on a piece of paper so that you can see the actual size of the piece. If you work in imperial measurements (inches and ounces) use a conversions internet site to convert out the dimensions from grams and millimetres so you know exactly what you are buying.

Fit and Style
Once you know the actual size of the piece, it is important to understand if that will fit and suit you. Earrings are pretty simple; all you need is the drop and an image to see if they are too long or short. Pendants again are not a problem once you have the actual size. Just make sure it's the right scale for you, and check the size of the loop on the pendant if you plan to hang it on an existing chain or necklace.

Bracelets are a little more tricky. When buying any bracelet, there are 2 things to consider. Firstly do you want a bangle (a bracelet made from a solid piece of silver which is a fixed shape & size)? Or do you want a bracelet (usually a silver chain or set of silver links or beads which has more flexibility and movement in it)? Secondly, be sure to measure your wrist. Wrist size does not reflect dress size. The key to choosing the right bracelet is to look at the size of your wrist & decide how small or large a piece will suit you best. When you have decided which design will work best, then measure your wrist and make sure the silver bracelet you order will fit comfortably. If you are unsure, go for an elasticated bracelet which not only feel great on, but are also flexible enough to accommodate significantly different wrists.

With necklaces, it is all about the drop. Like wrists, necks vary enormously. When buying a necklace, first think about the length that suits you best. Perhaps you have a specific outfit with a neckline you need to fit. The best way to get this right is to make a necklace to the size you want from a piece of string and then measure the string. This will give you the perfect length. Most retailers provide the total length of the necklace, and this usually does not include the drop of any attached pendant. If in doubt, mail them and ask.

Then think about scale. Silver necklaces come in an almost unlimited number of designs. If you are a dainty size 8 (US sizes 4), stick to dainty pieces that won't swamp you. If you are taller or bigger boned, you can get away with a bolder silver necklace with more detail, and heavier silver pendants.

Price
If you are buying a brand, or a standard piece of jewellery that is sold by a number of different sites, then by all means shop around for the best price. Make sure you are actually comparing identical pieces. Check weight and dimensions and if they don't provide them, don't risk it. Something that looks the same on the picture may be smaller or lighter in reality. Make sure you check for any additional costs like postage and packing to be sure the cheapest site really is cheaper. Alternatively, you may be looking for an exclusive piece or even a one off. These will never be as cheap as the standard pieces which are made in their thousands, but you do have the comfort of knowing you have something special, and in some cases completely unique. In that case, price is probably not your main concern.

The price of silver jewellery is determined in 2 ways. Firstly weight. Silver has a worldwide price per troy ounce and the heavier the piece, the higher the price. Secondly workmanship and method of manufacture. Machine made is cheaper than handmade, pieces made using moulds tend to be more expensive than other pieces of the same weight because of the time and costs involved in creating the initial mould. Pieces with a lot of intricate detailing will again be more expensive purely based on the time it takes to make each one. If you are ever concerned about the price of a particular piece, then mail the retailer, they will be happy to explain the reasons behind it.

Advice
If you are buying your jewellery as a gift for someone else, and you are not entirely sure what to buy, then advice is also critical. Find a site which offers a gift buying service, or free advice. If they don't say so, mail them and ask. Most good retailers will be happy to help you.

Security
Make sure the site you are buying from uses a reputable secure payment provide like Worldpay or Paypal to ensure your credit card details are safe and secure at all times. Make sure they have a privacy policy so you are not inundated with junk mail afterwards. My advice is sign up for their mailings as you may get some great offers along the way, but if they mail you too often or send you irrelevant offers, then unsubscribe immediately. Life's too short for junk mail.
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