Jewellery buying guide

When it comes to buying jewellery, there are so many types of stones, finishes, styles and materials to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. In this guide, we take you through everything you need to know, from helping you find the right ring size to caring for your jewellery.

 

Fine and fashion jewellery

Our jewellery range is split into fine and fashion jewellery.

Our fine jewellery is made from precious metals, such as silver, gold and platinum and precious stones such as diamond, rubies and sapphires. Some items maybe handmade or hand-finished.

Our fashion jewellery or costume jewellery uses a range of mixed materials such as resin beads, wood, glass, simulated pearls and metal alloys. All of our fashion jewellery is inspired by the latest trends.

Precious metals

Sterling silver
 
Gold

Platinum

Platinum is the most expensive precious metal. It is very strong and has a white, silver colour making it ideal as a mount for diamonds. This is a popular metal for engagement and wedding rings and has become increasingly fashionable in recent years.

Nickel content

Some customers may be allergic to the nickel content in jewellery. As jewellery is made from a mixture of metals, products might not be entirely nickel free. In order to conform to the 'nickel safe' standard, manufacturers ensure that the nickel content is kept to a low level. All jewellery now produced is deemed nickel safe, however, customers who react strongly to nickel should buy gold of a high carat.

Precious and semi-precious stones

Gemstones are crystallised minerals, formed millions of years ago. The most popular precious stones are diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires.

These gems are normally set in yellow gold, platinum, white gold or rose gold.

 
Diamonds and the '4 Cs'

Carat

  • The size of a diamond is measured in carats. One carat is divided into 100 points e.g. 50 points weighs 0.50ct (1/2ct).
  • The name 'carat' comes from the carob tree. Carob seeds were once used as units of weight because of their uniform size and weight - the weight of an average carob seed is 200mg, equal to one carat.

Colour

  • Diamonds are found in all colours - mostly yellowish to white, or brown.
  • Bold colours like green, red, blue, canary yellow, violet, strong brown or two-tone are extremely rare and costly. These are grouped as fancy coloureds.
  • The colour grading scale ranges from colourless to light yellows. The difference from one grade to another is very subtle.

Clarity

  • Perfect clarity in diamond means that it's free from all surface blemishes and internal inclusions. Most diamonds will have minute imperfections.
  • It is commonly believed that a dark inclusion in a diamond is a carbon trace, but this isn't the case - these dark inclusions are tiny minerals which have grown as the diamond has formed.
  • If the diamond's clarity and brilliance is affected, the light transmission may be reduced and then the value will decrease.
  • Polished diamonds without any inclusions under a 10 x lens are considered as flawless or loupe clean. These are rare and very costly.
  • Inclusions visible with larger magnification are not taken into account for grading.

Cut

  • The grade for cut, the type and shape of the cut, proportions and symmetry as well as the outer marks are all taken into consideration.
  • The most popular is brilliant cut which has 58 facets.
  • A well-cut diamond will produce more sparkle, and light will be reflected from one facet to another, then dispersing through the top of the stone.
Pearls

To create a cultured pearl, a tiny bead is implanted into the oyster, and gradually, over time the oyster coats the bead in many layers of natural minerals and proteins known as nacre. It is the nacre that gives pearls their beautiful lustre and colour.

Pearls come in lots of different shapes:

  • Round: the rarest and most valuable
  • Button: slightly flattened
  • Drop: referred to as tear drops, ideal for pendants
  • Baroque: unique and interesting shapes

The larger the pearl, the more valuable it is. The most valuable pearls in our assortment are South Sea and Akoya; black Tahitian pearls. Cultured pearls grown in rivers are called freshwater pearls. They vary in colour and shape and are less expensive than sea water pearls.

Lustre is the primary characteristic by which pearls are judged when shape, colour and symmetry are equal. The unique lustre of pearls depends on the reflection, refraction and diffraction of light from the translucent layers. The thinner and more numerous the layers in the pearl, the finer the lustre.

 
Freshwater and saltwater pearls

Natural freshwater pearls are formed within various species of freshwater mussels living in lakes, rivers, ponds and other fresh water.

Although freshwater and saltwater pearls may look quite similar, pearls from the sea are more highly valued than freshwater pearls.

Tip
Pearls should be worn as often as possible, as the natural oils in the body keep them shiny and lustrous.

 
Semi-precious stones
The 4 Cs

Caring for your jewellery

Semi-precious stones

To clean stones, wipe with a moist cloth after each wear. Protect them from exposure to hair spray, perfume or cosmetics as certain chemicals can damage semi-precious stones over time. It's best to store them in separate fabric pouches or wrap them in pieces of soft fabric to prevent scratching. You can also keep them safe in a jewellery box.

Pearls

  • Wearing pearls keeps them lustrous and iridescent as the natural oils from your skin will give them shine and keep them protected.
  • Put pearls on last when getting ready and make them the first thing you take off when back home. Keep them away from household chemicals including perfume, makeup and hairspray as they can dull the lustre.
  • Store pearls in soft fabric bags separately from other jewellery to avoid scratching their tender surfaces.

Sterling silver, gold and diamonds

If silver hasn't been worn for a while, you'll notice it takes on a dark, grey-black layer. This is a sulfide build-up due to a chemical reaction that occurs when silver is exposed to the air and humidity.

When cleaning silver, protect your hands with waterproof gloves or silver polishing mitts. Then use a silver dip or a silver polish to clean tarnished silver, always following the manufacturer's instructions. You can also use a silver cloth or a sunshine cloth. There are also many homemade recipes that can be used to clean silver, but it is always wise to test the method on the back of a piece of jewellery.

To add sparkle back to gold and diamond jewellery, try our special jewellery cleaner that's suitable for gold, platinum, diamonds and most other precious stones.

Ring sizing guide

Ring sizes are expressed by letters of the alphabet. To find the right size for you, print out our ring size guide to get the perfect fit. 

Download our ring size guide here