Gemstones: What Consumers Should Look For When Buying

Precious stones have a luxury problem: their value is just as difficult to measure as that of jewelry or works of art. When buying and selling, interested parties should follow a number of guidelines in order to avoid costly mistakes.

First of all, consumers must be well informed. “Especially with gemstones, inexperienced private investors should exercise caution, take sufficient time and use specialist expertise. Otherwise, there is a risk that gemstones will be overvalued or, in the worst case, turn out to be plagiarism, ”says Ralf Scherfling from the North. North Rhine-Westphalia Consumer Advice Center. In order to reliably determine the value of stones, they must first examine qualified experts, called gemologists. As a result, independently issued certificates are essential when trading gemstones. Because they document the four Cs, which are decisive for value: carat for weight, color for color, clarity for purity and cut for cut.

If traders offer internal certificates, investors should not be happy with them as they are generally not accepted by other traders. Instead, certificates from well-known independent organizations are required. These are, for example, the Swiss Foundation for Gemstone Research, Swiss Research Gemlab, the Swiss company Gübelin and the German Foundation for Gemstone Research in Idar-Oberstein in Rhineland-Palatinate. Experts also advise investing only in natural, cut stones. In raw form, you cannot see possible flaws in gemstones.

Buying gemstones on vacation? This is usually not a good idea

It is also important to take a close look at the seller, who should specialize in gemstones if possible. As a rule, the prices of specialists are about 20% lower than those of jewelers. Caution is also required if the merchant rules out the possibility of buying back his stones later; reputable dealers usually offer this option. Consumer advocates generally advise against buying gems on vacation. Tourists often mistakenly thought that they could get a good deal in the countries of origin of the gems, but this is rarely the case. Instead, criminals often search there for vacationers in order to throw them into fake stones.

Investors should not be blinded by sharp increases in value – at the start of the pandemic, valuable specimens temporarily rose 25%. Gemstones remain a speculative investment, as consumer advocates point out. VAT is also due on every transaction with gemstones. And don’t forget: stones should also be stored safely at home.

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