Jewellery Shopping | Is your gold worth its metal?

Jewellery Shopping | Is your gold worth its metal?
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First Published: Fri, Apr 23 2010. 01 15 AM IST

Photo by iStockphoto
Photo by iStockphoto
Updated: Mon, May 10 2010. 06 00 PM IST
This marriage anniversary, you want to gift your wife a beautiful gold ring or necklace. While hunting for the one that matches her beauty, you may not care too much about how much it costs you. But at all costs, you would want to gift the perfect piece—in terms of beauty as well as authenticity.
This is why you need to look beyond aesthetic appeal before finalizing that ring or necklace. If you are going for branded jewellery, pricing and authenticity is not an issue and you simply pay the minimum retail price (MRP). To get the right price and authentic jewellery from your local family jeweller, you need to understand how the metal is priced to discern the chinks.
When you buy gold jewellery, you basically pay two sets of charges—the price of gold and the making or labour charges.
Gold pricing
Photo by iStockphoto
The price of gold may change in a day depending on the market rate for gold, also known as the bullion rate.
The purity of gold is measured in carats (K), 24K representing the purest form. Gold is alloyed with other metals to give it strength. Gold jewellery is typically 18-22K.
The bullion rate, typically, is the price of 10g of 24K gold. Most shops that don’t sell at MRP display the bullion rate as on that day.
This should work as a reference point for you to deduce the price of the amount of gold used for your jewellery.
For instance, if the bullion rate is Rs16,411 per 10g of gold, the price for 22K gold would be 91.67% of the amount, or Rs15,044. Bargain for the right price if you notice an anomaly.
Typically, reputed shops also display the price of 22K and 18K gold, along with the bullion rate for 24K gold.
Most branded shops don’t factor in this fluctuation as they sell at MRP. However, the MRP can change from time to time.
In case you are buying diamonds, the price fluctuation is not much. In fact, the pricing of diamonds is determined on totally different factors—carat, clarity, cut and colour. Remember that each of these can be measured. Obviously, diamonds of greater weight (carat), clarity, brilliance in cut and colour will be more expensive. Says Sandeep Kulhalli, vice-president of Tanishq, the jewellery business group of Titan Industries Ltd, “The most famous price reference chart for diamonds is the one published by Rapaport. However, the prices are indicative as this is just a reference point.”
Making charges
To get the gold fashioned in a design that you like, you will have to pay for the labour charges.
Says Himanshu Shekhar, director, Manohar Lal Sarraf and Sons Jewellers Pvt. Ltd, a Delhi- based jewellery shop: “Over and above the price of gold, the labour charges can vary anywhere between 8% and 25% of the cost of gold, depending upon how intricate the work is.”
Treat it as your bargaining window—it’s here that most retailers would tuck away their profit margin. If you feel the labour charges do not match the work on your jewellery, try convincing the jeweller to bring down the overall cost.
Certificate of authenticity
Obtaining this is absolutely essential. Branded shops will sell hallmarked jewellery, but some local shops may palm off jewellery that doesn’t bear this sign of authenticity at a discount.
But remember—while there’s a charge for diamond hallmarking, this is almost free for gold as the cost is marginal. Which is why you should insist on hallmarked jewellery. Says Mehul Choksi, chairman and managing director, Gitanjali Group: “Jewellery is hallmarked through centres certified by government bodies like Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS). So, a consumer should look for the BIS hallmark. One cannot guarantee the purity of gold purchased without a hallmark. For example, consumers may have paid for 22K when the purity is only 18K. This risk is eliminated in the case of hallmarked jewellery.”
In the case of diamonds, you get a certificate from a recognized laboratory. For instance, the most popular certificate is from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). Some of the other labs that certify diamonds and are accepted worldwide are AGS Laboratories, HRD Antwerp and International Gemological Institute.
Jewellery certification can cost anywhere between Rs500 and Rs1,000 per carat. You can also get the certificate number inscribed on your diamond to establish legitimacy.
Says Shekhar: “Laser inscription costs about Rs300 if the customer asks for it at the time of ordering the jewellery when the stone is going to get certification. Later, the cost could go up to Rs1,000.” However, some branded shops such as Tanishq have their own certificates, which come at no extra cost. It is essential to have your diamond certified in order to establish its credibility.
So, when gifting that diamond or gold, make sure it’s worth it.
deepti.bh@livemint.com
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First Published: Fri, Apr 23 2010. 01 15 AM IST