Whether you are purchasing a gift or buying for yourself, it is important to understand how to assess the quality of a piece of finished jewelry. After selecting something that catches your eye, there are six to seven basic features of the setting to review when deciding to make a purchase.
J8424 | medium | play
Ruby Jewelry ID: J8424
Origin of Rubies: Mozambique
This refers to the different metals being attached together with “solder”, a metal with a lower melting point than the pieces being joined. More complicated crafting techniques involve joining pieces at separate times, requiring solder with gradually decreasing melting points.
Check the soldering on all parts of the mount. Precious metal jewelry is often constructed with different jewelry manufacturing methods. This can be any combination of die struck, cast, electroformed, and hand fabricated components, whatever is required to make the individual piece. When the metal is assembled correctly, the solder joints should be invisible.
When done incorrectly, solder joints can be cracked or have areas where excess solder is evident. This is important because ultrasonic jewelry cleaners can damage poorly soldered jewelry. Poor soldering can also discolor over time, and low-quality solder will tarnish.
Like many other materials, metal is capable of being porous. Household cleaners like bleach can create pits in jewelry metal, which weakens the overall piece. Metals like gold are chemically inert, so why would gold jewelry get pits? Pure gold is very soft, so we make a gold alloy with different karatage like 14K and 18K for use in jewelry.
Most jewelry metals are alloys, hence the necessity to take off jewelry when cleaning. Improper jewelry crafting techniques are also susceptible to pitting too. Keep your eyes peeled for any cracks or pits in the metal, especially where it can be difficult to see and where it wouldn’t normally be seen.
Fine jewelry is polished to shine on the back as well as the front of the piece, while mass produced jewelry lacks this quality. Any good jewelry piece should have no evidence of tool marks, no jagged edges, should not scratch easily or catch on clothing.
Is the jewelry hollow, or solid? Hollow pieces can appear chunky, but be light, and have a lower cost than a solid piece. Electroplating is one example of a hollow jewelry technique. The main caveat of this technique is that hollow pieces can dent easily and be difficult to repair. In other words, this is not a good type of jewelry to be worn daily. Techniques like casting and especially die cast are much more durable.
J7052 | left | “Ruby Jewelry ID: J7052”Different metals have different durability, and different price points. Most jewelry is either silver, gold (14K or 18K), or platinum. Silver is easier to work with, gold does not tarnish, and platinum is the most durable. Other metals are possible to use like titanium, which is highly durable and light. However, most jewelers do not use titanium because it is extremely difficult to work with. There has also been an evolution in the available alloys, as well as regulations for toxic materials.
Durability aside, an important aspect is selecting the color of metal that is the most suitable for your ruby. Ruby fluorescence can also play a role in appearance since higher fluorescence can make rubies seem hazy, and low fluorescence will make the rubies appear clearer but darker.
J5412 | medium
Ruby Jewelry ID: J5412
Ruby Weight: 0.40 carats
Ruby Origin: Myanmar (formerly Burma)
J8417 | medium
Ruby Jewelry ID: J8417
Ruby Weight: 0.45 carats
Ruby Origin: Mozambique
Since this will be a piece that can last generations, it is important to pick out something you will love. There are also various meanings associated with these metals, and an array of different color alloys available.
Since gold has a yellow color, this tends to emphasize the warm color of a ruby. It is a very popular and classic color combination for rubies, though silver colors also provide a beautiful contrast between the warm color of the gem and cool color of the ruby.
Silver, white gold, and platinum typically bring out the desirable bluish tones in emeralds, which is what commands the highest prices.