Finding Your Gem Dealer: Where and How to Look

Are you in the market for a gemstone? How can you be sure that you are dealing with a reputable company? Are there any industry watchdogs on your side? Apart from customer reviews, is there a way you can investigate and evaluate your gem dealer before deciding on that big gemstone purchase? Here are a few organizations you should be aware of and what role they play in regulating the jewelry industry. Use this as a guide in selecting your gem dealer.

The Federal Trade Commission: The FTC exists to protect the consumer. There are very specific laws regarding the way gemstones are to be described, right down to the hundredth of a carat. Familiarizing yourself with the FTC guidelines is your first area of research. How can you tell if a gem dealer is compliant with the FTC regulations if you don’t even know what they are? If a gem dealer offers to sell you a gemstone and claims that the gem is of a particular grade, the seller is also obligated to tell you what kind of grading system they are using. Additionally, words such as “perfect” and “properly cut” are considered deceptive and unfair. If a gemstone is described as “flawless” this specifically means that the gemstone will reveal no internal or external inclusions under 10x magnifications. Part 23 of the Federal Trade Commission deals with the fair practices involving gemstones and jewelry.

The American Gem Trade Association: Founded in 1981, the AGTA now has over 1000 members. Recognized as an authoritative source on colored gemstones and pearls, the AGTA requires members to disclose all gemstone treatments and enhancements in writing. AGTA members are also required to conform to a standard of ethics and fair business practices which are even stricter that the FTC. Ask your gem dealer if he or she is a member of the AGTA. This will tell you a lot!

The Jeweler’s Vigilance Committee: The JVC describes itself as the guardian of ethics and integrity in the jewelry industry. Established in 1912, the JVC is dedicated to providing education and self-regulation to the jewelry industry. Members are required to comply with all the laws that govern the jewelry industry as well as make accurate representations about their products whether they are buying or selling. They are expected to resolve any complaints from a customer quickly and fairly, and are also required to communicate the ways in which they comply with all applicable laws. Ask your gem dealer if they belong to the JVC. And call the JVC if you are having problems with your gem dealer.

The Better Business Bureau: You can always search the Better Business Bureau for a review or an accreditation before you agree to a purchase. Dedicated to advancing trust in the marketplace, the BBB also offers you some recourse if things turn sour. The BBB upholds values such as truth in advertising, transparency, swift conflict resolution, safeguarding of customer’s information, and best practices.

Gem Lab Reports

A gemological laboratory report can be a powerful selling tool when it accompanies a gemstone. A gem lab report means that your stone has been “certified.” This means that the gem has been sent to an outside testing lab and has been evaluated and identified, weighed, measured, plotted, described and even photographed. A gem lab report, or “cert” does not contain any kind of appraised value, but an appraiser may use a cert to determine the fair market value of a gemstone. A cert will also list any treatments discovered during the evaluation. It is a good idea to obtain a cert, especially if you are thinking about reselling your gemstone.

A Gem Dealer You Can Trust

Finding a gem dealer you can trust begins with knowing where to look in the first place. The FTC guidelines will tell you what information a gem dealer is required to disclose. The AGTA will hold your gem dealer to an even higher standard. Membership in the JVC or BBB tells you that your gem dealer has made a commitment to honestly and excellence. And a gem dealer who offers you certified gemstones (when done by an outside lab) and/or third party appraisals is indicating that their word can be verified. Did you recently purchase a gemstone from an AGTA member? Were you told of the seller’s accreditation or did you ask? Start a comment conversation about the way you vetted your gem dealer.

Read more posts from the Gemstone Buying Guide series