Jewellery Buying Guide

December 13, 2016

Jewellery Buying Guide

Edge Only jewellery 14 carat gold teardrop earrings, teardrop pendant and gold parallel rings

Jewellery is special. It's the last thing that we put on to feel ready for work or an exciting night out.  It is also a vast industry with excellent fakes, enhanced, and lab grown gemstones on the market alongside their natural counterparts. The word gold is used everywhere in fashion and fine jewellery and it is available in different colours and qualities. It's hard to know what to value and what to watch out for, so I wrote an article for Maven 46 to help narrow it down.  

A few key tips on what to look for and what to ask. You can't be expected to know it all, but they person you are buying from should be very well informed and if they don't seem to be - walk!

Having grown up in the jewellery trade I am aware of the vast variety of valuable stones on the market and the even larger amount of stones with limited, little or no value. My mother Jane Huston is a GIA certified Gemologist so i am very lucky to have access to her years of expertise and to the many nuggets of wisdom she has passed on.

That's why i wrote a buying guide for Maven 46 when asked. It's a great place to start if you have any friends thinking of proposing, recently engaged or wanting to invest in quality jewellery. Happy shopping!

Here is a link to the full article on Maven 46 (or see below)





‘The’ Most Important Things to Know When Buying Jewellery

From jewellery designer Jenny Huston

Our grandparents knew about good jewellery. They often had relationships with their jeweller of choice, going back each year for birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas presents. Even today, a jeweller’s reputation is everything, it is a relationship based on trust, knowledge, expertise and increasingly, on transparency (as well as Gemstone certifications where appropriate).

Jewellery and watches have always been a sign of status and wealth and like a good coat, suit or pair of shoes, it is worth investing in the best quality that you can afford. Sadly for us, the line between fine jewellery and costume jewellery or fashion jewellery, is starting to blur.

With fashion jewellery often selling at very high price tags it can be difficult to know if you are paying for quality and skill or simply paying for a brand name. The industry uses words like Lucite, which sounds much more exciting than its actual dictionary definition: “Lucite: a type of transparent plastic.”

Marketing and advertising has become so huge in the industry that I fear many consumers are being misled by lower end jewellery companies into believing that they are buying something much more valuable than it actually is. I hear the words “it’s real” spoken far too often. Real what?!

What is the metal? What quality is the stone? Has it been heat-treated or dyed to look that colour or is it a natural beauty? What carat is the gold? These are the question we should be asking.

here are 5 things to consider before you buy jewellery this christmas.

1. know the key facts about gold

Gold is naturally yellow.

Gold is measured in 24ths, so 24 carat is 100% gold. The addition of other metals (alloys) to gold are used to increase the toughness and hardness of the metal, to change the colour i.e. white gold, red or rose gold and in the case of lower carat gold, to lessen the cost. The higher the carat the more valuable the gold.

Jenny’s Tip:  Think cost per wear. Unlike a sparkly jumper that comes out once per year, if it is a piece of jewellery you will wear with pride every day, or every week, then it’s worth it!

14ct tear drop earrings by edge only
parallel ring in 14ct gold by edge only

2. look for a hallmark

A hallmark is a guarantee of metal purity. In the UK and in Ireland there are three compulsory hallmarks applied to precious metals as a quality control: a sponsor’s (maker’s) mark, a fineness mark (purity), and an assay office mark. These marks establish the origin and fineness of the precious metal and ensure it has been accurately and independently tested (assayed). In Hallmarking, the metal and fineness mark for 18 carat is 750. The mark for 14 carat gold is 585. The mark for 9 carat is 375.

Irish hallmark examples:

18 carat gold is 18 parts pure gold and 6 parts alloy or 75% pure gold. Also stamped as 750.

14 carat gold is 14 parts pure gold and 10 parts alloy or 58.5% pure gold. Also stamped as 585.

9 carat gold is 9 parts pure gold and 15 parts alloy or 37.5% pure gold. Also stamped as 375.

Jenny’s Tip: 18 carat gold is ideal for allergy sufferers, as it does not cause allergic skin reactions. No one is allergic to gold, but they may be allergic to the alloys it’s mixed with.

3. beware of vague or misleading labels

Magazines and fashion retailers will often list something as “gold” when they should say “gold coloured”, “gold tone” or “gold plated” (or they should say the carat if it is in fact gold).

18 carat gold-plated is not 18 carat gold! What is underneath? Will it make your skin turn green when the plating wears off? Is it a quality vermeil – sterling silver (hallmarked 925) plated in carat gold or is it a cheap base metal? If you find a piece of jewellery that is only €20 more in “gold” than it is in “silver”, then it isn’t gold!

Jenny’s Tip: Gold vermeil (pronounced vur-may) is a wonderful way to have great jewellery at a reasonable price, especially for large statement pieces, but if you want to enjoy your gold jewellery for years, without fear of fading, invest in the real thing. Nothing replaces the look or feel of solid carat gold. Plating, no matter how good, will eventually wear off (especially on items like rings and bracelets that receive more wear).

Terms used in fashion jewellery:

Gold filled, rolled gold, bonded gold and gold plate are often used in fashion jewellery. To read more about what they are and how they are produced scroll to the bottom of Edge Only’s FAQ page here.

4. coloured stones

There have been a flood of “designer” stones hitting the market in the last decade that are new names for heat and colour treated (dyed) stones that are not inherently valuable. Typically from the quartz family, they can be very large, but as they are very common, not of any particular value. Enjoy them for what they are – a fun stone typically set in silver or vermeil.

GIA polished green Emerald

Traditionally precious gemstones refer to Sapphires, Rubies, Emeralds and Diamonds but, there are many more very valuable gemstones out there (tanzanite, aquamarine…). Value is typically in depth of natural colour as well as the clarity and cut, but each stone family has a different set of criteria. For example an Emerald’s value (shown above) is less about clarity (they have natural inclusions) as they are about colour and other attributes. For each family of gemstone there are stones of incredible beauty with exceptional value but also stones that may be pretty to look at, but are of little value.

Edge Only Diamond and Sapphire High Top Ring in 14 carat goldThere is so much information to learn in regard to coloured stones and what makes them valuable, that I would recommend only buying from a reputable jeweller or goldsmith, preferably with gemmological qualifications from the GIA (Gemmological Association of America) or BGI (British Gemmological Association) or that has advanced trade knowledge. Not all retailers are gemmologists but they make sure they purchase from qualified and experienced gemstone suppliers. Your retailer or jeweller should be able to explain a great deal about stones.

Jenny’s Tip: If the sales person can’t talk you through and show you a poor vs. an excellent stone, I would be wary. Unlike with Diamonds, it is often very apparent which coloured stone is better and why.

5. diamonds – the 4cs

The globally accepted standard for describing diamonds are the 4Cs: ColourClarityCut, and Carat Weight.

Diamond Colour: In most diamonds, the term actually refers to the absence of colour. The less colour in the stone, the more desirable and valuable it is. Colourless are the most valuable because they are the most rare.

Jennys tip: The exception to this are very rare and exceptionally valuable – saturated pinks, blues and greens. Also deep canary yellow diamonds.

Diamond clarity measures the amount, size and placement of internal ‘inclusions,’ and external ‘blemishes.’ Grades run from ‘Flawless,’ with virtually no imperfections, to ‘Included,’ which contain a significant number of imperfections.

Jennys tip: Avoid stones with “Visible to the eye” inclusions (they often look like black pepper or foggy patches)! Aim for VVS, VS, or the best that you can afford, especially in centre stones (it’s of less concern in small accent stones). A quality jeweller will not usually sell diamonds with visible inclusions or stones below SI1 unless it has some redeeming factors.

Edge Only Diamond Parallel Ring in 14 carat gold

Diamond cut does not refer to a diamond’s shape, but to the proportion and arrangement of its facets and the quality of workmanship. The amount of brilliance, sparkle and fire in a diamond is determined by cut. Grades range from ‘Excellent’ to ‘Poor.’

Jennys tip: Don’t confuse shape with cut.

Diamond carat refers to a diamond’s weight. Generally speaking, the higher the carat weight, the more expensive the stone. Two diamonds of equal carat weight, however, can have very different quality and price when the other three “C”s are considered.  No matter how beautiful a diamond may look you simply cannot see its true quality. The 4Cs will provide you with the information you need to know the diamond’s actual quality.

Jennys tip: Bigger is not always better! There is little value in a large stone that has poor colour, poor clarity and is badly cut.

Black Diamonds: Until recently black (or grey) Diamonds or “industrial diamonds” were not used in jewellery – they were used for drilling and grinding – and still are. The opaque colour of black diamonds is caused by dark inclusions or, more commonly, by colour treatment.

Jenny’s Tip: Black Diamonds have become fashionable and as a black loving, rock and roll kind of gal, I really like them to accent jewellery, but they are not very valuable (in comparison to a clear, colourless diamond). Treat them as a low grade diamond when considering price and don’t be swayed by carat weight.

Shop fine gold jewellery

14 carat gold lightning bolt earrings and lightning bolt pendant Edge Only fine jewellery


*EXTENDED CHRISTMAS RETURNS. We are happy to accept items purchased for Christmas in January. Please advise us of any exchanges or returns before January 17th.

Q: How do I contact Edge Only?
A: Email us at or use the “contact us” form on the bottom of our website.

Q: Can orders be delivered to a different address from my own?

A: Yes. As you complete the checkout process you will be given the opportunity to enter your billing and delivery addresses, if different. Choose an address where you (or someone you trust) can sign for your registered package. If you are buying a gift for someone you may prefer to give them an Edge Only Gift Card, redeemable for an entire year.

Q: How long for delivery /  How long will it take to arrive? 

A: Stocked items are dispatched within 48 hours Monday to Friday unless otherwise stated (special orders and custom gold orders). Delivery times will vary depending on the destination (and time of year - do allow longer at Christmas). Typically:

Ireland: 1-2 Working days

UK: 2-4 Working days

Rest of Europe: 3-5 Working days

US, Canada:  4-7 Working days

Australia & New Zealand: 5-10 Working days  

For full international delivery times and Christmas shipping deadlines please visit our Shipping Page

Q: How will my purchase be delivered?

A: We offer free worldwide shipping for all jewellery purchases (over €100). We use An Post Express mail as standard. Packages are sent daily Monday through Friday. If a courier is required we can offer DHL Express Worldwide for an additional charge.

Q: If I order multiple pieces, will they arrive together? 

A: Yes. Unless one of your items is a custom order, in which case it will be sent separately after your bespoke piece has been created for you.

Q: Where is your jewellery made?

A: All of our jewellery is designed and ethically made in Ireland. Edge Only's home workshop is in Kilkenny. We have highly skilled goldsmiths working with us in Dublin and Kildare. All of our jewellery is Hallmarked at the Assay Office in Dublin Castle, Ireland. Web exclusives are special items we have brought in through our European chain manufacturers.

Q: May I have a different metal?

A: Yes! Our collections are made with sterling silver and recycled 14 carat yellow gold as standard, but if you would like to have 9 carat gold, 18 carat gold, rose gold, white gold or platinum, please let us know. We can quote to have your special request made in 3-4 weeks (+ delivery). Please note that Platinum and Gold prices may be subject to change due to market fluctuation.

Q: How do I measure my ring size?

A: All ring size options are listed according to UK / Irish ring sizes. We typically stock ladies sizes L & M (small) N & O (medium), P & Q (Large) and Men’s S & T (small), U & V (medium), W & X (large). If you require a different size we can have a ring made for you in approximately 2 weeks. Tip: When purchasing a wide ring (or a set of stacking rings) it is often more comfortable to go up at least one size. Please see the international ring size chart below. We recommend that you ask a reputable jeweller to size your finger for you using "leading edge" as the size guide, taking more than one reading. Most stores will happily do this for free!

Measuring your finger:

Your ring should fit your finger comfortably – snug enough so that it will not fall off and loose enough to slide over your knuckle. Finger size changes depending on the time of day and the weather. For best results measure your finger size at the end of the day and when your fingers are warm (fingers are smaller in the early morning and when cold). Measure more than once to get an accurate reading.

Q: I ordered the wrong ring size, can I change it? A: Yes we will happily exchange any unworn rings for a new size. If the ring has been worn we can arrange for it to be sized for you. The charge for sizing is typically 15-20 euro depending on the ring style and whether it is going up or down (up is easier).
Q: My ring size is not listed. Can you make me one?

A: Yes. We do free ring sizing on newly purchased rings +/- 2 of our stock sizes. Rings more that 2 sizes up or down are charged at €30.00. We can make virtually any size you like, with a bit of time. Please email us for custom rings

Q: May i have a different necklace length?

A: Yes. Typically we sell our pendants on an 18"/45cm chain for women and a 20"/50cm chain for men (or longer). Depending on the difference in length, weight or the type of chain your wish to have, there may be an additional charge. Contacts us to find out on

Q: What is your policy for returns and exchanges?

A: We offer a hassle free, 30-day exchange or refund on unworn pieces. To be eligible for a return, your item must be unused and in the same condition that you received it. It must also be in the original packaging. Please note that engraved items cannot be returned or exchanged. CHRISTMAS EXTENSION: We are happy to accept items purchased for Christmas in November and December for exchange or return in January. Please advise us of any exchanges or returns before January 17th, 2020 and let us know they are on the way back.

Q: How is my gift packaged?

A: Your gift is packaged in our custom Edge Only jewellery boxes. Edge Only jewellery boxes are light-weight luxury. They are black, grained paper with black gloss foil writing and have a plush black velvet foam insert (Silver boxes shown below). All silver purchases come with a complimentary Edge Only silver polishing cloth and care instructions. They are shipped in black kraft protective bubble packaging.

Edge Only boxes Edge.

Edge Only Silver Cloth. Maintain Your Edge

Q: Is gift wrapping available?
A: We don't currently offer a gift wrapping service (the bows get squashed in the post!) but each order is beautifully packaged in tissue and includes care instructions, postcard and a complimentary branded silver polishing cloth for all silver orders. We also include one of our custom Leah Hewson for Edge Only black and neon luxury kraft paper gift bags.

Q: Are the products pictured actual size?
A: No. Because screens vary in size, it is next to impossible to show an actual size image on the Internet. We do provide measurements where appropriate and try our best to have each design photographed on a model for scale. We also provide gold weights. Something missing? Please let us know. Email us if you would like us to take a custom picture for you - we will do our very best!

Q: Which payment methods do you accept?
A: We accept payment online by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Maestro and PayPal. In addition, you can also pay for your order using One4All Gift Cards. *Please note you may have to enter a name when you type in your One4All gift card as you would on a VISA - we suggest either your own name or: One All (without the number). Our payments are processed through Shopify Payments powered by Stripe.

Q: How do I redeem my Edge Only Gift Card?
A: Gift cards are available in a wide variety of denominations and may be redeemed at any time for an entire year. Gift cards are immediately delivered to you by email and contain instructions to redeem them at checkout. A beautifully packaged gift card will follow in the post. Each gift card has a unique code number, which can be redeemed against any purchase on the website. Please email us at should you have any further questions about using your gift card.

Q: How do I use a Discount Code?
A: From time to time we may offer discount codes to our newsletter subscribers, on social media or through carefully selected media partners. To use a discount code, please enter the code in the box provided on the shopping cart page, click ‘Apply’ and the discount code offer will be applied to your shopping cart. If you have any problems redeeming your discount, email us at Please note: Some discounts are time sensitive and have an expiry date. 

Q: How do i care for my jewellery?
A: We have a jewellery care guide here with tips on polishing silver and cleaning gold.

Q: What does Carat / Karat mean?
A: When used in reference to gold, carat is a measure of purity. 24 carat is 100% gold. In most parts of the world, the terms carat and karat are used interchangeably (in the USA the designation for gold fineness is karat). The weight of gold in jewellery is measured in grams. All Edge Only jewellery is hallmarked. Both our 9 and 14 carat gold pieces are ethically made from recycled gold.

Q: What is the difference between 9ct, 14ct and 18ct Gold?
A: 18 carat gold is 18 parts out of 24 pure gold and 6 parts alloy or 75% pure gold. 18 carat gold is ideal for women with very sensitive ears or skin as it does not cause any allergic skin reactions. It is highly valuable metal with a deep warm yellow colour. In Hallmarking the metal and fineness (purity) mark for 18 carat is 750. 14 carat gold is 14 parts gold and 10 parts alloy or 58.5% pure gold. The mark for 14 carat gold is 585. The addition of other metals (alloys) to gold are used to increase the toughness and hardness of the metal as well as to change the colour i.e. white gold and rose gold and also to lessen expense with lower carat gold items (9 carat and 10 karat) 9 carat gold is 9 parts out of 24 pure gold and 15 parts alloy or 37.5% gold. The mark for 9 carat gold is 375. 

**Gold prices may be subject to change due to market fluctuation.

Q: What is Black Rhodium?
A: Rhodium is from the Platinum family of precious metals. It gives a shiny black veil to silver resulting in a cool, gun-metal grey colour. As with all plating it will gradually fade with wear.

Q: What is Vermeil?
A: Gold vermeil (pronounced vur-may) is sterling silver that has been gold plated. Sometimes referred to as gilded silver or gilt, vermeil is made using the process of electrolysis — electricity and an acid bath — to attach the gold to sterling. To be considered vermeil, the gold should be at least 10 carat and be at least 1.5 micrometers thick (at Edge Only we use 18 carat gold). Vermeil differs from gold plating in that the base metal in vermeil is sterling silver (gold plating is generally used on inexpensive base metals like brass). The layer of gold is thicker than that applied using the electroplating process for gold plate. It is hallmarked with 925 for sterling silver. Please note that as it is a surface treatment, gold plating will naturally fade with wear. If you want your design to last forever invest in carat gold. For more see: Tips For Buying Gold

Q: Do you offer re-plating?
A: Yes. We are happy to re-plate your gold vermeil designs when you feel they need them. Most designs will be re-plated in 18 carat gold and sent back by express post for just €30.00 - 50.00. Simply email us to confirm the details: 

Q: What is a Hallmark?
A: A hallmark is a guarantee of metal purity. Hallmarking is a system that originated in London at Goldsmiths’ Hall in the 14th century. In the UK and in Ireland there are three compulsory hallmarks applied to precious metals as a quality control: a sponsor’s (maker’s) mark, a fineness mark, and an assay office mark. These marks establish the origin and fineness of the precious metal and ensures it has been accurately and independently tested (assayed.) In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission does not require a gold fineness stamp; however, if one is used, it must be accompanied by the manufacturer’s mark.

Example of 14carat gold hallmarked in Dublin Castle:

Irish Hallmarks

At Edge Only we only use solid sterling silver and solid carat gold, hallmarked in accordance with UK and Irish law. Our Gold Vermeil is hallmarked sterling silver plated in 18 - 24 carat gold.  We do NOT use gold plate, rolled gold or goldfill.  

For more about Gold see our blog: Tips For Buying Gold

At Edge Only we believe in transparency and the ethical production of fine jewellery. Something we have forgotten? Please let us know. Questions? We are happy to help!

*Free standard shipping worldwide on orders over €100