Buying jewelry in Japan
article from global-travel.mobi
Buying jewelry in Japan, can be a real challenge. Whether you’re considering purchasing a gift of gold- or platinum jewelry in Japan for yourself or possible for someone else you should take your time to learn the terms used in the jewelry industry and if you are a tourist to Japan, you should even take more time.
Because 24K gold is soft, it’s usually mixed with other metals to increase its hardness and durability. If a piece of jewelry in Japan is not 24 karat gold, the karat quality should accompany any claim that the item is gold.
The karat quality marking tells you what proportion of gold is mixed with the other metals. Eightteen karat (18K) jewelry contains 18 parts of gold, mixed in throughout with six parts of base metal. The higher the karat rating, the higher the proportion of gold in the piece of jewelry.
Most jewelry in Japan is marked with its karat quality, although marking is not always required by law in Japan.
Solid gold refers to an item made of any karat gold, if the inside of the item is not hollow. The proportion of gold in the piece of jewelry still is determined by the karat mark.
Platinum Jewelries in Japan
Platinum is a precious metal that costs more than gold. It usually is mixed with other similar metals, known as the platinum group metals: iridium, palladium, ruthenium, rhodium and osmium.
If you shop for highly priced platinum jewelries in Japan, please make sure that the platinum jewelry you wish to purchase from a jewelry shop in Japan contain at least 950 parts per thousand pure platinum and are marked 950.
Purchase gemstones in Japan
Natural gemstones are found in nature and if you look for gem stones in Japan, make sure and ask the jewelry shop in Japan that all gemstones have not been created and produced in a laboratory. These stones, which also are referred to as laboratory-grown, or synthetic, have essentially the same chemical, physical and visual properties as natural gemstones. Laboratory- created stones, sold in Japan do not have the rarity of naturally colored stones and they are less expensive than naturally mined stones.
By contrast, imitation stones look like natural stones in appearance only, and may be glass, plastic, or less costly stones. Laboratory-created and imitation stones should be clearly identified as such. If you bought labratory-created stones in Japan but the jewelry shop in Japan has not informed you that they sold you synthetic gemstones, you should file as soon as possible a complain with the Tourism Authority in Japan and as well with the Consumer Protection agency in Japan.
Jewelers in Japan should tell you whether the gemstone you’re considering has been treated, when the treatment is not permanent; the treated gemstone requires special care; or the treatment significantly affects the value of the gemstone as heating can lighten, darken or change the color of some gems, or improve a gemstone’s clarity.
Purchase diamonds in Japan
If you consider purchasing a diamond ring in Japan, the real value of the diamond is based on four C’s: the Color, the Cut, the Clarity, and the size in Carat. The clarity and color of a diamond’s in Japan are usually graded. However, scales are not uniform: a clarity grade of “slightly included” may represent a different grade on one grading system versus another, depending on the terms used in the scale. Make sure you know how a particular scale and grade represent the color or clarity of the diamond you’re considering to buy in Japan. A diamond can be described as “flawless” only if it has no visible surface or internal imperfections when viewed under 10-power magnification by a skilled diamond grader.
As with other gems, diamond weight usually is stated in carats. Diamond weight may be described in decimal or fractional parts of a carat. If the weight is given in decimal parts of a carat, the figure should be accurate to the last decimal place. For example, “.30 carat” could represent a diamond that weighs between .295 – .304 carat.
Some diamond retailers in Japan describe diamond weight in fractions and use the fraction to represent a range of weights. For example, a diamond described as 1/2 carat could weigh between .47 – .54 carat. If diamond weight is stated as fractional parts of a carat, the retailer in Japan should disclose two things: that the weight is not exact, and the reasonable range of weight for each fraction or the weight tolerance being used.
Some diamonds may be treated to improve their appearance in similar ways as other gemstones. Since these treatments improve the clarity of the diamond, some jewelers in Japan refer to them as clarity enhancement. One type of treatment – fracture filling – conceals cracks in diamonds by filling them with a foreign substance. This filling may not be permanent and jewelers in Japan should tell you if the diamond you’re considering has been fracture-filled.
Another treatment – lasering – involves the use of a laser beam to improve the appearance of diamonds that have black inclusions or spots. A laser beam is aimed at the inclusion. Acid is then forced through a tiny tunnel made by the laser beam to remove the inclusion. Lasering is permanent and a laser-drilled stone does not require special care.
While a laser-drilled diamond may appear as beautiful as a comparable untreated stone, it may not be as valuable. That’s because an untreated stone of the same quality is rarer and therefore more valuable. Jewelers in Japan should tell you whether the diamond you’re considering has been laser-drilled.
Imitation diamonds, such as cubic zirconia, resemble diamonds in appearance but are much less costly. Certain laboratory-created gemstones, such as lab-created moissanite, also resemble diamonds and may not be adequately detected by the instruments originally used to identify cubic zirconia. Ask your jeweler in Japan if he has the current testing equipment to distinguish between diamonds and other lab-created stones.
Buying Pearls in Japan
Natural or real pearls are made mostly by oysters and mollusks. Cultured pearls sold in Japan also are grown by mollusks, but with human intervention; that is, an irritant introduced into the shells causes a pearl to grow. Imitation pearls are man-made with glass, plastic, or organic materials and have not much values.
Because natural pearls are very rare, most pearls used in jewelry are either cultured or imitation pearls. Cultured pearls, because they are made by oysters or mollusks, usually are more expensive than imitation pearls. A cultured pearl’s value is largely based on its size, usually stated in millimeters, and the quality of its nacre coating, which gives it luster. Jewelers in Japan should tell you if the pearls are cultured or imitation.
Some black, bronze, gold, purple, blue and orange pearls, whether natural or cultured, occur that way in nature; some, however, are dyed through various processes. Jewelers in Japan should tell you whether the colored pearls are naturally colored, dyed or irradiated.
A Jewelry Shopper’s Checklist to Japan
When you’re in the market for a piece of jewelry for yourself or someone you love, shop around. Compare quality, price, and service. If you’re not familiar with any jewelers in Japan, you should ask the jewelry shop in Japan for the following:
Ask for the store’s refund and return policy before you buy.
Check for the appropriate markings on all Gold and Platinum jewelry.
Ask if the pearls are natural, cultured, or imitation.
Ask if a gemstone is natural, laboratory-created, or imitation.
Ask whether the gemstone has been treated and if the change is permanent?
Make sure the jeweler in Japan writes on the sales receipt any information you relied on during the purchase of the jewelry, such as the gem’s weight or size. Some jewelers in Japan also may supply a grading report from a gemological laboratory.
For More Information
If you have a problem with the gold jewelry you purchased, first try to resolve it with the jeweler in Japan. If you are dissatisfied with the response, contact the local consumer protection agency in Japan. You also may contact the Jewelers Trade Association in Japan.
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