Nicely Made in China

News on China quality products, lifestyle, design and services.



This post is also available in: French

At Nicely Made in China we are constantly on the lookout for interesting quality products from China. Our goal is to help you identify the unique and maybe even the unusual, across a wide range of products and services. Towards that end, we start this week with a new “Expert’s Corner” series! As ever, we welcome your feedback on this initiative.

Jewellery tends to be an occasional purchase, which probably means most of us lack expertise on the subject. To help with that, we invited Nicolas Favard to speak to us. Nicolas studied jewellery and gemology for 6 years at the Institut de Bijouterie de Saumur, and now runs a jewellery shop in Beijing.

Nicolas, how do you differentiate between a worthless piece of metal with a bit of colored glass on it from a platinum ring with an embedded flawless 18-carat diamond?

We have to consider two things here: the metal part of the ring and then the stone. For the metal, the first thing you should look for is the hallmark. This is a custom that started in France in the 13th century. Jewellers have a personal hallmark, usually bearing their initials. Then an Assay Office will deliver the hallmark, which guarantees the purity and the quality of the metal. Different metals have different hallmarks, and there are even different hallmarks for the same metal depending on the quality. For example, in France, a dog’s head is used for platinum or an eagle’s head for gold of a certain quality. Hallmarks also vary depending on the country of origin.

And what about the diamond – the famous 4Cs – color, clarity, cut and carat weight ? What should we look for with such gems?

The price of a gem is determined by, among other things, its purity. A stone should always come with its own certificate from a laboratory with a good reputation, like the Gemological Institute of America. I always give a certificate for the gems I use in my creations. It is essential then, as an amateur, to first try to show the stone you’re considering buying to a professional. If for some reason he cannot tell you what it’s worth by examining it, he should give you the address of a laboratory who will help. In Beijing, I rely on the National Gemstone Testing Center which does a very good job.

For precious stones – diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds – I recommend that you obtain a certificate.  For less expensive gems, provided you have a “coup de coeur” for it, you can probably take the risk provided they are not too expensive!

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