Avoid scams

Most jewelers are honest and scrupulous businesspeople, but many aren't. Here's how too avoid being scammed on this expensive purchase

Total carat weight scam

The tag states the CTW (carat total weight), but it's actually displaying the aggregated weight of the center and side stones. You can't compare prices with another ring if you don't know the weight and quality of the main diamond. One large diamond is worth much more than six small ones that equal its weight. If the store can't provide you with carat weights of the individual stones, shop elsewhere.

The huge sale scam

If you see a "Diamonds Half Off!" sale, don't fall for it. Liquidation and "going out of business" sales are the same. These "bargains" typically mean the dealer marked up the original diamond price to double what it's worth and is offering the customers "an incredibly low price." If a dealer can afford to mark it down, then he marked it up too high from the start.

Bait-and-switch scam

An advertised diamond is sold out when you get to the jeweler but they offer to show you something much more expensive. They bait you with the fake diamond, then switch to something with a high profit margin. If a store can't find another diamond just like it the one it originally offered, scram.

Bright light scam

Be mindful of the lighting at the jewelry store. Some lightbulbs have a strong blue component that makes yellowish stones look whiter. Some lightbulbs have strong ultraviolet wavelengths that make many diamonds look especially white. Ask to see the gem without the bright lights in another part of the store before you agree to buy.

Fraction scam

A gem's tag will state it is 3/4 carat but it might actually weigh as little as .69 carats. This could mean you're paying a significant amount more than the diamond's actual value, since prices leap at certain sizes. If the jeweler will not give you the exact weight of the center diamond, go elsewhere. To ensure that your diamond is exactly what you want, be sure to get an independent appraisal.

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