samedi 5 octobre 2013

How To Buy Baltic Amber Jewelry Online

The Baltic Amber jewelry is getting more and more diverse and sophisticated.  Every year one can find more variety in designs from very simple pieces to the most sophisticated combined with unusual materials like wood or antique silver and other stones or when huge nuggets are mounted in naturally looking settings. Thus, a number of stores which sell amber jewelry is multiplying every year. From the most astonishing Amberif, the largest jewelry fair devoted exclusively to the Baltic Amber jewelry which takes place in Poland every year, to small online stores that resell mass made jewelry through eBay. How to choose a quality piece out of hundreds of Internet stores which often offer the best prices?

You can find gorgeous amber jewelry through online stores. But make your shopping experience safe. There are several rules which a responsible and reliable vendor would follow:

1.  Transparent Return Policy clearly indicated at the web site. Always make sure that you can return your piece of jewelry if you are not satisfied with your purchase. If the vendor offers only exchange or store credit, or even worse: no returns - be aware! The responsible vendor is interested not only in making profits, but in quality customer service (good example, Tiffany & Co return policy - 30 days). You will have time to test your piece of Baltic amber jewelry, wear it for a few days, see if it is as beautiful in reality as it is pictured online and decide whether you are happy with it.

2. Both Dimensions and Weight accurately added to the description. Sometimes vendors just indicate the length, and it may be enough for some customers. But if you want to know the width of the beads? Or even thickness which is often unclear from the photo. All these parameters must be dully described. The more accurate the dimensions, the more reliable (and hard working) the vendor. Weight is a crucial thing. Amber is sold by weight, so it is fair to let your customers know what it is worth, isn't it? Knowing the weight also helps better visualize the piece of jewelry (of course, only if you are familiar with amber). A tricky photographer is able to take such a shot that the tiniest piece of jewelry would look like a significant one.

3. Several images demonstrating all the details of the Baltic Amber jewelry. Are you satisfied with buying something having only its frontal view? Maybe yes, if it is a book or a skin lotion. But how about something which is intended for wearing? Or to be added to your collection of curiosities like amber with fossils? The more sophisticated the piece, the more pictures should be taken. Three at least, taken from different points of view. Ideally one image showing how it looks like on skin: a bracelet put on a wrist or a ring on a finger. All this will help you decide whether this piece would look great on you.

4. Natural or not? Nowadays the market is full of so-called "reconstructed, or "modified" amber, when an amber bead is made out of several small pieces of amber glued together. Natural Baltic Amber means that the piece of jewelry or a bead is carved out of one piece of amber. Natural Baltic Amber is always mined in Kaliningrad's area (Russia) and is never collected from the Baltic Sea shores as it is sometimes romantically described by some vendors. This detail is very important as the prices for natural and for pressed (reconstructed, modified) amber vary 2-5 times. For example, this vendor on eBay puts "modified" in the description without giving the details of whether it is made out of amber powder (lower quality) or out of small pieces of amber (higher quality).

5. Baltic Amber Balls, or Round Beads are in very high demand now. To give you a better idea about what is going on with prices, for instance, the price for natural Baltic Amber ball beads 10-15 mm in diameter are $13-15 per gram for whole sellers and only if you know the market very well and know where to get them at such a price. Smaller beads cost a bit less and larger ones more. In case you come across ideally round balls described as "natural not pressed not reconstructed amber" at much lower price, most likely the vendor lies to you. Or this amber was stollen or used. Price must be always your guide for the quality and genuineness. Large workshops that make such beads normally don't care to sell retail through the Internet with a very little mark-up.

Baltic Amber ball beads reconstructed from several pieces of amber.
In this case it is very hard to tell the difference.
6.  Do you need a certificate of authenticity? The truth about the certificates is that it is a common misleading factor that a purchase of genuine Baltic Amber must be accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. Does a certificate guarantee that the amber is real? No. In theory, every company can provide a certificate of authenticity saying common phrases like "we guarantee that your piece of jewelry is made out of 100% natural Baltic Amber, etc". Every company can provide their own form of certificate and add it to the invoice to ensure their customers that they made the right decision. The point is that there is no superior authority that can verify their products and the certificates alike. Especially in the USA. In Europe, particularly in Poland and Lithuania, where there is a high concentration of amber workshops, the system is different. In a nutshell, the certificate of authenticity matters only if you are a wholesale vendor purchasing large quantities of amber goods from Lithuania and Poland.

7.  Raw or Treated Baltic Amber? If you need amber necklace or bracelet for healing purposes, make sure that you buy raw amber as it has the highest concentration of the succinic acid. It can be polished or not.  Polishing does not alter the healing properties of amber. All sparkling amber, with bubbles and discs as well as super translucent varieties and faceted beads are treated with heat, pressure, humidity, etc. The treatment makes the beads more appealing and pretty, but it decreases the amount of the succidic acid. Treated amber is still natural and, of course, real. It is a common confusion that real amber must be only raw. The reply is no. Baltic Amber has been treated in different ways for hundreds of years. As many other natural stones, amber often reveals its full beauty only after treatment.

Natural Baltic Amber set treated with pressure and heat
8. From Europe or from the USA? There are many companies selling retail from Poland, Lithuania and also quite a few from the USA and also in Canada and Australia. Their prices vary, but generally speaking nowadays there is not much price difference between prices for Baltic Amber in the USA and in Eastern Europe (20% maximum). If you shop on eBay, you probably come across numerous "deals" of  bulky expensive looking "amber" jewelry set in silver plated settings. This "jewelry" is manufactured in China and they certainly use pressed amber of the lowest quality. Look at this item: a "real amber" bracelet in "sterling silver" for $5.99 shipped for free from China. 

2 commentaires:

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