Genuine handcrafted silver jewelry is as beautiful as it is unique. Whether you're looking for pieces to add to your collection or are shopping for gifts, there are excellent online sources for handmade earrings, pendants, rings, barrettes, and necklaces. For a wonderful buying experience, follow these five tips.
1. Find a reputable source. This may go without saying, but don't confuse commercially manufactured jewelry with handcrafted silver jewelry. The latter is made by artisans that take great pride in their work. It's helpful to look for a company that has been in business for decades, and that has been selling online for at least five years.
2. Take advantage of customization. When jewelry is handmade, it can be customized in any number of ways, from the lengths of chains to the types of gemstones used in pendants and rings. You don't need to settle for "almost good enough." Instead, you can get the piece you've always dreamed of, in exactly the right size.
3. Measure carefully. Because customized pieces generally aren't returnable, it's important to make sure that the handcrafted silver jewelry you order will fit. It only takes a few minutes to get a good measurement, and doing so will ensure that the necklace or ring you order will be exactly what you want. For rings, ask a friend to take a piece of string, put it around the knuckle or largest part of your finger, and mark the string. To determine the size, hold the string against a tape measure and compare your measurement to the website's sizing chart. If you're in between sizes, it's best to go with the larger size. You can also use string to measure for bracelet, necklace, or anklet lengths.
4. Do your gemstone research. The best online jewelry sites have a wealth of information on gemstones. Before you order, read up on the gemstones you are considering. It's important to know, for example, that aquamarine can be cleaned with dishwashing detergent, but that ultrasonic and steam cleaning may damage the stone. Similarly, you may know that pearls are delicate and can easily absorb liquids, but you might not know that turquoise is also porous and can easily become stained.
If you're going to order jewelry with gemstones, it's also crucial to know whether the stones are natural or if their colors have been enhanced. Reputable artisans will freely share this information. Don't be alarmed, however, if the stones have been heated or irradiated to intensify or change their colors. Naturally colored rubies, sapphires, and topaz, for example, are extraordinarily rare; it is an accepted practice within the jewelry industry to enhance gemstone colors.
5. Invest in the real thing. Silver jewelry is gorgeous, but only if it's real silver. Make sure that the online source you select uses either sterling silver (.925 or 92.5 percent silver) or fine silver (99.9 percent pure silver). When you invest in handcrafted silver jewelry, you're not only buying a piece you will treasure, but one that is likely to become an heirloom for future generations.