One of the things we are most proud of, and choosiest about, is our jewelry selection. Choosing semi-precious stone jewelry is somewhat different than precious stone or solid metal pieces because there is so much variation in (not to mention an ever-changing variety of) semi-precious stone material. Many of the pieces we carry contain either ususual stones, esoteric symbols, and sometimes both. For these and many other reasons, we get a lot of questions about the jewelry. In this edition of the Great Earth Lore FAQ, I will attempt to clarify some common inquiries concerning the jewelry we carry.
Q: The pricing on your jewelry is a little erratic. Some pieces are much less expensive than I would expect, while some are a little more. Occasionally I will even find two identical items marked different prices. Why is this?
A: There are many reasons why this kind of thing happens in our business. You see, all of the pricing is mathematically based on what we can acquire items for. Because we deal with so many importers and distributors to find what we have in stock, our prices are subject to the changes that occur in the world import/export market, the value placed on items by domestic distributors, and the changing base price of precious metals (silver, specifically). On top of this, we must remember that the value of any kind of semi-precious stone is based on its availability, which can change at any time.
Q: Your silver chain and charms are so inexpensive that I question the quality of the silver. How do I know that what I’m buying is even real?
A: I have heard this one many times – and despite my generous offer to raise our chain prices to a more comfortable level, people are still skeptical. The plain truth is that most places that sell silver are grossly overcharging for it because the majority of people have no clue as to what it is actually worth, only what they see it sold for. Because our prices are figured mathematically (see previous question), we don’t engage in the the ‘whatever the market will bear’ philosophy of many businesses.
All of the silver we carry is Sterling Silver, or 92.5% silver. This is the best grade of silver you are likely to find in jewelry, because pure silver will gradually recrystallize and become soft unless it is alloyed. Luckily, you can verify the quality of almost any kind of silver by inspecting it closely for a very small ‘925’ or ‘STERLING’ stamped into it, usually on the back of a pendant or inside a ring band. It’s actually illegal to stamp any precious metal contrary to its actual content, so unless you’re buying a unique piece from a silversmith always look for the stamp.
Q: I saw this silver pendant here last month, and now that I’ve come back to get it you don’t have it anymore. Will you get another one? Can you order it for me?
A: Because we are so choosy about our jewelry, much of what we have is hand-picked from importers and manufacturers and thus we have no way of getting additional pieces until we make another acquiring trip. It is, unfortunately, the nature of the beast that jewelry styles are subject to change pretty frequently, and so we do not special order pieces as a rule either. The upshot of all this is that, if you see something you REALLY can’t live without, you should probably pick it up or take advantage of our Lay-Away policy.
Q: Why don’t you carry gold?
A: Aside from the high cost of gold, we have found that most semi-precious stones (which is the majority of our jewelry) are not set into gold by jewelry manufacturers. I suspect (though I do not know) that because the price of the setting would so far outweigh the price of the stone, most jewelry designers decide to not use it at all for that purpose.
Q: How fast will silver tarnish? How do I clean it?
A: For most people, silver that is worn regularly will need little or no polishing – this is because contact with your skin and clothing tends to rub off the minute bits of oxidization as it forms. This being said, it bears mentioning that some people’s body chemistry seems to have adverse effects with certain metals. If you buy a silver ring or chain and find that it is turning grey on black within a couple weeks of wearing it, your skin oils could be to blame (assuming the silver is real). Swimming in chlorinated pools or being around certain harsh chemical vapors can also potentially blacken your silver.
To clean, we reccomend, use, and sell (for $2.95 each) a chemical-soaked ‘polishing cloth’. Just open it up, rub your silver down with it, and unless you have actually chemically changed the composition of your silver, it should turn bright and shiny again. The cloths get dirty pretty fast, but will continue working long after they turn black with tarnish. Some stones are chemical sensitive, however, so always be careful about excessive contact with set stones.
There are also liquids on the market that clean silver, but many of these are very harsh and abrasive to the metal (which can cause it to tarnish faster in the future). One of the cool things about silver is that after tarnishing naturally inside the detailed parts of the piece where a polishing cloth can’t reach, it gains that ‘antiqued’ silver appearance. Before using liquid or cream polishes, question wether you really want the whole piece to gleam or just the highlights.
Well, that’s about all the most frequent questions I can think of concerning jewelry. Hopefully this has been educational for some of you!