If you're looking for an engagement ring, don't stroll into the first jewelery store you see. Do your research and pick a competent jeweler. But how do you know if the jeweler has the credentials? Our guest blogger from the Gemological Institute of America provides valuable insight into the dazzling world of diamond buying.

Carlsbad, Calif. - Purchasing a piece of jewelry requires important decisions. Just as you consult with other professionals for important advice, such as a family doctor or lawyer, you should turn to a professional jeweler to make a jewelry purchase a pleasurable event.

How do you select a professional jeweler? The non-profit Gemological Institute of America (GIA) - considered the world's foremost authority on gemology - offers these valuable guidelines.

Guidelines for Selecting a Qualified Jeweler

First, a professional jeweler should have the knowledge and training to help you make an informed purchase. Look for credentials that indicate professional experience. For example, the initials G.G. (Graduate Gemologist) or A.J.P. (Accredited Jewelry Professional) after a jeweler's name indicate that the jeweler has had a high level of gemological training.
In addition to product knowledge, a jeweler's reputation is one of his or her most valuable assets. Ask friends to recommend a jeweler, or ask a jeweler to provide references. Find out how long the jeweler has been in business, check for affiliations with industry associations and ask whether he or she is a member of the GIA Alumni Association.

A Diamond or Gemstone Grading Report Adds Peace of Mind to Your Purchase

If you are buying a diamond or colored gemstone, consider getting a report from an independent laboratory with your purchase. For example, professional jewelers worldwide provide independent diamond grading reports with their fine diamonds. The most widely used and respected are those issued by the GIA , the inventor of the 4Cs and the International Diamond Grading System. A jeweler can even arrange to have a diamond's unique GIA Diamond Grading Report number, or even a personal message, laser inscribed onto the diamond's girdle (outside edge) for easy identification. Learn more about how to get a diamond report at the special GIA diamond buying guide.

Be sure to ask jewelers about the types of services they provide - such as repairs, appraisals, and inscriptions - the range of products offered and the store's return policy and credit terms.

For a list of professional jewelers who have undergone training through the Gemological Institute of America, visit the Institute's web site at www.gia.edu. Check the GIA Alumni Association searchable database for a list of members nearby.

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