BBB Tips for Buying and Selling Jewelry

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Evan Arnold-Gordon
Golden Gate Better Business Bureau

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, you may be thinking of getting that special someone in your life a piece of jewelry. Or perhaps you received a piece of jewelry over the holidays that you’re not too fond of. In either case, your Better Business Bureau is here to help.

According to BBB’s Scam Tracker, consumers nationwide filed more than 3,700 complaints against jewelry stores in 2018. Hundreds more filed complaints against pawnbrokers as well, which is an indication that whether you’re buying or selling jewelry, you need to do your research first.

Before you buy that bracelet or return that necklace, keep these BBB tips in mind before your transaction:

Buying Jewelry:

  • Do your research. Common complaints to BBB against jewelry stores allege poor craftsmanship, issues returning items, and problems with guarantees and warranties. Before you visit any store, check to find a trustworthy BBB Accredited jeweler near you. Read through a business’ complaints and Customer Reviews to see others’ experiences. You can also ask family and friends for recommendations.
  • Visit more than one store. Your first step should be to decide on a budget and expectations. Some jewelry stores are very high-end, while others have great deals. Be clear with store staff about how much you’re willing to spend and what you want to buy – this will help you stay in your price range and avoid making extra purchases. Shop around to find the best prices and most appealing styles.
  • Read the fine print and ask questions. Before making a purchase, read the refund, warranty, and guarantee policies carefully. If you, or the gift recipient, doesn’t like the item or realizes it doesn’t fit, how long do you have to return it? What happens if your watch breaks or a stone on your ring comes loose? If the store advertises a “lifetime guarantee” policy, ask for the details.
  • Keep the receipt. Just in case something goes wrong, ask for and make sure to keep a receipt. You can also ask for a certificate of replacement cost or an appraisal listing the qualities of your gemstones or precious metals to accompany your receipt. If your jewelry comes with a gemological certificate, be sure to get the original and keep it with your receipt. This can help with reselling in the future.

Selling Jewelry:

  • Shop around. Research every business at – you want to be able to make the best informed decision. If you’re considering a pawnbroker, make sure they have a “secondhand dealers” license with their local licensing agency. Take your time, and consider it a red flag if you’re being pressured to rush into a transaction. Get four or five estimates to determine the market value of your piece. 
  • Be careful using a mail-away service. Understand all of the terms and conditions before you mail your jewelry. Take photos and make a list of your items and insure them before sending. Know how long it takes to receive an offer and how long you have to accept or reject that offer. It’s also important to track your packages. Keep all records of package notifications and shipping updates.
  • Know your worth. Keep in mind that jewelers and pawnbrokers intend to resell your piece. You may be able to make more by selling to the public, but it comes with additional risk. Don’t let your jewelry of different karat value be weighed together. Separate your jewelry by karat value before selling and be wary of dealers who weigh all jewelry together and pay you the lowest karat value. Ask the buyer what the melt value of your items is so you can make an informed decision.

If you have an issue with a jewelry buyer or seller, your BBB is here to help. You can easily file a complaint online at

You can reach your BBB at or (510) 844-2000, or by visiting