How to Judge Quality Online
How can anyone buy good quality, well made hand crafted jewelry online?
What details should you look for that will help you know if a piece of jewelry is worth your time and hard earned money? Can you tell if it is well constructed or not, and if it is hand crafted not mass manufactured. How can you tell if the piece is made of genuine silver and natural gemstones and not silver plate and extensively treated stones?
There are three main categories of jewelry, mass produced, hand crafted, and goldsmith made. These are three very large groupings that have many sub-categories, but will be a good division for online jewelry. Most of us can recognize mass produced pieces, just imagine what is typically offered in a department store’s jewelry section. Lots and lots of similar items all with made in China stickers on the back. Often these are cast in base metal (so you can check for mold marks) and sometimes though not always plated ( look for assay mark i.e. 10k, 12k, .925 etc.)
Goldsmith jewelry is generally made in 14k or 18k , uses clear, precisely faceted gems like diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and pearls. The pieces are usually polished to a mirror finish and always have a makers mark.
Hand crafted jewelry is a large category that lies between the other two, and because it is made by many individual artists, can be the most difficult to qualify. This is the category that LMN Jewelry Designs falls in, so we know it well and can tell you what standards that we meet and look for in other quality hand crafted jewelry. Look for these details in the large image of a piece:
- Makers mark and or assay mark – Most, but not all jewelry artists sign their work and mark their pieces with the precious metal content.
- Matte or brushed finish – slight tools marks and irregularities show that the piece is individually made by hand, not machine. There should be no rough edges.
- Solder lines slightly visible – but even and smooth around the stone, with no rough edges.
- Connectors should be soldered closed – no split or open jump rings which can open if pulled. All crimps should have crimp covers for a more finished look.
- Wire wrapped loops – fully wrapped loops as connectors instead of a half loop which can open if pulled. The exception is if the wire is very heavy gauge and hammered so that it is work hardened and rigid.
We want to encourage you to purchase a piece of artisan crafted jewelry and to do so with confidence.