Although eBay is a widely used and (mostly) respected website through which to bid on and/or purchase new or used goods… Try to remember that you are still taking a risk every time you make a purchase.
I’m not new to the eBay woes. I’ve bought things before that turned out to not be quite as I thought. In fact, I bought a bottle of nail polish that wasn’t at all the shade of pink that I thought it was. That was no big deal – I’d never turn down a bottle of nail polish! Pictures can be deceiving, so it’s really important to read product descriptions completely. Fine print is fine print and it is meant to be read!
But what happens when you have read and re-read it all and you base your purchase on something with the understanding that it is indeed the sort of item you are looking for, and it turns out that it isn’t exactly as described?
This happened to me this week when I purchased a “Sterling Silver Star-Shaped Pendant”.
You’re probably wondering why I am purchasing jewelry from off of eBay when I work in a jewelry repair store. Simple answer: I couldn’t find what I wanted as a very special gift for one of my closest friends and/or I couldn’t afford to purchase a white gold item that alone would have cost me well over $100 even with my steep discount.
Notice something? It is not a “Sterling Silver Pendant” at all. It’s a sterling silver PLATED item. Specifically, it is sterling silver plated over copper, plated over brass. Ew. The jewelry snob in me is twitching.
I will be fair and admit that I spent $2.25 on this pendant. That wasn’t me cheapening out. A little secret: silver isn’t super expensive and considering this item was purchased from overseas, the low price is actually pretty spot on. A lot of these companies overseas are just looking to dump a bunch of product that they probably purchased at whole sale for mere pennies on the dollar. It isn’t unrealistic that this item could actually be a solid piece of silver for that price.
That said, you also take a risk when you do this because they are simply not held to our standards in marking items like we are here in the U.S. Do yourself a favor – Buy American. Buy from a reputable jewelry store locally.
While I am not… I repeat I am NOT a professional jeweler nor do I claim any level of expertise on this subject, I have found the following to be mostly true. Keep these little notes in mind when purchasing jewelry from eBay or any online source.
Items listed as “silver colored” are plated most of the time. It is the sort of universal understanding that that is what it means.
You should never purchase an item that does not show either a certification card of some sort or at the very least shows an image that clearly displays the material mark such as the following examples.
- 24k / 24kt / .999 representing pure gold
- 18k / 18kt / .750 representing 75% pure gold, 25% alloy
- 14k / 14kt / .585 representing 14 out of 24 parts gold
- 10k / 10kt / .417 representing 10 out of 24 parts gold
- .925 / SS representing Sterling Silver which is 92.5% silver, 7.5% alloy
Some other marks include…
Platinum is usually represented as PLAT. and not to be confused with “plate”. It may even be depicted as 90/10 PLAT. which means the item is 90% Platinum, 10% Iridium.
G.F. for “gold-filled” (not to be confused with gold plated), a process in which the item was created with a thin piece of gold with a base metal like copper or brass beneath it. The gold exterior typically lasts longer than a plating would, increases the integrity and slight value of the item. It is typically marked as 1/20th 14k G.F. (or a variation of this) denoting that 1/20th of the weight of the item is 14k gold.
Gold plated means that the item is either a base metal of some type or sometimes silver. It’s usually represented as 18k HGE (Heavy Gold Electroplate) or 18k G.P.
Material content is just one of a gazillion different issues you can run into when purchasing jewelry from online. If you are unsure about an item you have purchased, a local jewelry repair shop will almost always be willing to look at the item for you and/or test the material content for you (often for a small fee).
The important thing is to not rush into a purchase no matter how exciting or cute you think it is. More often than not, a “deal” isn’t really a deal at all.