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Beware of holiday season jewelry rip-offs

Don't Waste Your Money

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If you are in the market for some jewelry this holiday season, a new report warns you to beware of poor quality jewelry at high prices.

Unless you're a gemologist, you may not be able to tell what's real from a fake.

But our partners at Consumer Reports Magazine say knowing how to shop can help you avoid getting swindled.

Take emotion out of it

Few purchases are as emotional as fine jewelry. But shop with your head and you'll be less likely to overpay.

Amanda Walker, of Consumer Reports Money Adviser, can tell you how to get a great deal on jewelry and avoid costly rip-offs.

"Fine jewelry is generally one of a kind, so you can't shop for the best deal like you can with a vacuum or a TV. So you need to know what to look for, especially if you shop online," Walker said.

What to watch for

When it comes to gold bracelets, it can be hard to tell how pure the gold really is or even if it is real.

Emerald rings can also be enhanced by filling them with oil but over time, the oil can leak out.

A diamond can appear more brilliant through what’s called fracture filling.

However, it also makes them more likely to shatter, so you have to be careful when they’re repaired and cleaned.

Walker said, “You should ask if a gemstone or a diamond is imitation, treated or synthetic. And if the jeweler can’t or won’t tell you, that’s your cue to shop somewhere else.”

If you are buying gold, look for a karat mark, which indicates quality. Also, look for a manufacturer’s trademark so you know whose work it is.

Protect Yourself

Consumer Reports top tip for protecting yourself is to deal with a reputable company. Members of the American Gem Society must abide by a strict code of ethics.

Michael Wilson, with Wilson & Son Jewelers, said, “You go to the AmericanGemSociety.org to find a reputable jeweler in your area. Not just here where I am, but anywhere in the country.”

Finally,  Consumer Reports also says to consider an appraisal from a certified jewelry appraiser.

Also, make sure the return policy gives you at least enough time to return something if it’s not what you expected.

That way you don't waste your money.

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Copyright 2013 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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