James Rees Founder of Baroc jewellery boutique talks to Vows and Venues about what to look for when buying jewellery for a wedding.
Buying jewellery during wedding preparations is no longer a daunting task solely reserved for the groom-to-be or happy couple. Aside from engagement rings and wedding bands, buying jewellery as gifts for bridesmaids or groomsmen is becoming more and more popular to ensure that the occasion is a time never forgotten.
For those planning to buy, stepping into a jewellery store can be an intimidating experience. If not prepared, you can be pushed into buying jewellery that is out of your budget and not what you’re looking for. Throw online jewellery stores into the mix, and you can be overwhelmed by the amount of choice.
Top 3 factors that you should look for when buying jewellery to ensure its quality and that it will stand the test of time:
Know who you’re buying for
Before you even start looking for jewellery, it is important to understand who you are buying it for. Whether the jewellery is a gift for someone or yourself, take into account the lifestyle of the recipient. For example, if you or the recipient has a physically-intensive job - will an extravagant ring or chunky bangle be ideal? Perhaps it would be better to opt for a minimalist, lightweight chain with delicate detailing.
Likewise, if the person you’re buying jewellery for frequently wears a certain type of jewellery, such as ornate earrings, then it’s a safe bet that a pair similar would not go amiss. The golden rule is if you can imagine the person, or yourself, wearing this piece on a day-to-day basis and will not get in the way or easily misplaced. In this sense, high-quality comes from ensuring you are buying the most relevant item for the correct person.
Know your metals
Karats is the measurement that indicates the type of gold and the actual gold content in a piece of jewellery. The karats in a piece determine the ratio of gold to other metals or alloys mixed in the metal. As gold is a soft, delicate metal, it is often mixed with other metals to increase the longevity and durability of jewellery. For example, rose gold is a blend of gold and copper whilst white gold is gold combined with one white metal such as nickel, silver or palladium.
When looking for jewellery to buy, it is important to note that karats are measured on a scale from 0 to 24. Therefore, 24-karat gold is the purest you can buy, 18-karat will be around 75 per cent pure whilst 14-karat is roughly 58 per cent pure.
Know the market
Don’t be tempted to buy jewellery as a gift, or for yourself, under the assumption that it is high-quality because it came from a prestigious brand. In reality, no one will ever see the box, nor do most pieces have the brands’ logo or name on them. Unless, of course, you proudly display the branded box in your home or buy the flashiest branded piece that the designer has to offer.
You might assume that paying a premium for Tiffany & Co and Cartier, for example, will mean that you have paid for premium quality. However, it is important to remember that these glamorous brands will have accounted for their luxurious marketing campaigns and red carpet events into the costing structure of their jewellery. Meaning that you could have bought a similar piece at a fraction of the cost and sleep peacefully knowing that the jewellery you bought hasn’t contributed too much to a luxury brand’s marketing activity.
Aside from the cosmetic aspects of jewellery, it is important to factor in the ethical production of any pieces that you buy to solidify its quality. Look out for certification schemes in jewellery brands such as the Kimberely Process or The Responsible Jewellery Council’s Code of Practices. Fairtrade gold is also available in the UK too. With over 99.8 per cent of the world’s diamonds now certified as conflict-free, you can now ensure that any jewellery that you buy does as much good as it looks.