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- pearls:

            Look for pearls with a bright luster and a smooth, clean surface.  Larger and more spherical pearls are highly sought after and are generally more expensive.  However, pearls are all one-of-a-kind; each has a unique shape and color that gives it a special flair.  With regard to color, try to find pearls that complement both your skin tone and your personal sense of style.

 

            To learn more about pearls, visit http://www.gia.edu/pearl-description .

 

- sterling silver:

            Sterling silver is an alloy made up of at least 92.5% pure silver.  Jewelers mix silver with other metals because it is incredibly malleable on its own.  They will sometimes give the silver a matte or brushed finish.  Some people are mildly allergic to it, however, so before purchasing silver, make sure that you don’t!  It won’t hurt you, but the jewelry will tarnish much more quickly if you have a silver allergy.

 

- gold:

            When buying a gold piece of jewelry, ensure that it is real gold by checking for a carat stamp.  Gold has a bright, lively luster and can come in a number of colors when combined into an alloy with metals like copper, silver, nickel, or zinc.  These colors complement different gemstones better than others, so keep that in mind when buying a piece that includes a stone.

 

- gemstones:

            The quality of a gemstone is determined by depth of color, clarity, size, and cut of the stone.  Many gemstones are also enhanced during production, which means that a brilliant gem is more expensive if its qualities were naturally produced.  When shopping for a particular gemstone, look closely for a stone that has very few flaws and is cut such that you can see whether or not it contains flaws.  Jewelers will often cut a stone in one way or another in order to conceal flaws and make the gem seem closer to perfect than it actually is.  Look for a stone with a deep and strong hue, as well—vibrant colors will draw the eye more easily and will make your piece of jewelry the very center of attention!