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Fine and Costume
Jewelry, Diamonds, and Watches
Some ABCs on Buying Fine Jewelry
If you're buying
fine jewelry for the first time, you're probably quite wary, because diamonds,
gemstones, and gold don't come with labels and brands that make comparison
shopping easy. You may feel ill-equipped to determine quality and value,
to be sure that you're buying at a fair price, or know if you're paying
more than you have to. If you are armed with some basics about buying
jewelry—using common sense, taking time, asking questions, and,
above all, comparison shopping— you need not hesitate to venture
out of malls or high-profile jewelers to make your purchase.
A word about
diamonds: Two diamonds that look alike at first may be very different,
and two diamonds of equal size can have very unequal values. Because no
two diamonds are alike, experts use four criteria to determine a diamond's
value: the "Four Cs"—carat, color, clarity, and cut. The
of all these characteristics determine the quality and value of a diamond.
& GEMOLOGISTS, INC.
210 Post Street,
Third Floor, Suite 321, San Francisco.
(415) 781-0063. T-Sat
10:30-5. MC, VISA. Parking: pay lots.
Azevedo offers a
beautiful selection of diamonds, colored stones, gold jewelry, and cultured
pearls at substantial savings; its success is due to low overhead, careful
buying, and referrals from satisfied customers. Appraisals are done by
graduate gemologists. Its showroom is very classy, but most of the jewels
are kept under wraps for obvious security reasons. Azevedo features jewelry
designed by Oscar Heyman & Bros. at the low prices you'll find in
the Bay Area. This is one of six American Gem Society stores in San Francisco.
2599 Eighth Street
(888) 704-0203. M-F
10-5. (most) Sat 11-5. MC, VISA. Parking: street.
For some very original
fashion jewelry, take a peek into this boutique-sized outlet. Maybe you'll
recognize the line—"People Pins" with over 60 familiar
faces engaged in various activities, including sports, hobbies, and professions.
They're fabricated from 24K gold and rhodium-plated metals. They're fun
and almost guaranteed to grab a smile. Free up your hands with a necklace
pouch. These are elegantly designed, in various sizes, to hold eyeglasses,
cell phones, credit cards, keys or cosmetics. The lambskin pouches hang
from metal chains decorated with swirls, beads. and other adornments.
The contemporary, mixed metal earrings and pins are usually spotted under
the glass in museum gift shops around the country. Buy any of the leftovers
from these three collections and you'll save about half off retail. Prices
range from $5 (bargain baskets) to about $30.
760 Market Street
(Phelan Building), Suite 860, San Francisco.
(415) 397-0110. M-F
10-4, other hours and Sat by appointment. Cash/Check, VISA. Parking: pay
This company's talent
lies in finding maximum value for the best price, using connections developed
over the years. If you're interested in a special gift—pearls, lapis,
jade, diamonds, precious gem-stones, gold, or silver—Beadco probably
has it in stock, or can find it, usually at a price 30-60% lower than
conventional retailers. Contact Beadco if you need pearls restrung, plating,
jewelry repaired (including sterling silver and costume jewelry) or remodeled,
a custom design, or an appraisal. Creating innovative wedding rings is
the store's special pleasure. Unless you're coming in for repairs, it's
essential to call for an appointment.
210 Post Street,
Room 611, San Francisco.
(415) 421-9313. Tues-F
9:30-3:30, Sat by appointment. Cash/Check. Parking: pay lots.
Mr. Broder does custom
design, appraisals, and repair work for many of San Francisco's finest
jewelry stores and works closely with a private clientele, creating special
pieces like rings, pendants, and bracelets. However, he does not sell
watches or other items usually found in jewelry stores. His closet-sized
office has no stock on hand, so this is definitely not a store for casual
browsing. If you have a picture of a design, bring it in, or Mr. Broder
can create one. His low overhead accounts for the low prices on diamonds
and colored stones and on anything he can special-order from a large number
of manufacturers and their catalogs. Naturally, if you need a ring sized,
repaired, or reset, his talents are at your disposal. One of the few jewelers
who works in platinum. A 50% deposit is required before custom orders
111 Sutter Street
(at Montgomery), San Francisco.
(415) 781-7371 or
www.cresaliajewelers.com. M-Sat 9:30-5:30. MC, VISA, AE, DIS. Parking:
validated parking in garage next block.
an extensive selection of diamond rings, fine jewels, and watches. It
designs and manufactures its own rings and carries well-known
brands as well. You'll recognize the companies in its selection: Artcarved,
Italiano gold, Kobe pearls, Krementz, Gorham, Reed & Barton, Lunt,
Wallace, Ballou, Sheffield, Kirk, and Cross pens just for starters. Prices
are guaranteed to be 25-50% below regular retail prices. Cresalia has
a staff of graduate gemologists from the Gemological Institute of America
to help you choose a diamond or gem, and to grade and appraise jewelry
you own. If you're shopping for elegant gifts, you'll appreciate the extensive
array of silverware, crystal, clocks, hollowware, china, and dinner accessories
that can be wrapped and shipped UPS if requested.
2660 Harrison Street,
(415) 821-9971. Sat
10-4. Cash/Check. Parking: street.
A woman can never
have too many earrings, or pins, or pendants, or belts. That's never more
evident than when trying to choose just a few pieces to buy at this outlet
for a local manufacturer of mixed-metal jewelry collections. The line
is sold by many famous stores and well-known fashion mail-order catalogs.
The leftovers—samples and discontinued collections—are reduced
to about half off wholesale in the outlet. Although designs are contemporary,
there are earrings understated enough for corporate boardrooms and earrings
that dangle for expressing one's liberation on Saturday nights. Both clip
and post styles are available. Clip-earring wearers can afford to buy
a spare pair to make up for the inevitable lost earring. Average pricing
at retail: Earrings range from $30 to $60; necklaces/pendants $30 to $70;
belts $60 to $120; bracelets $18 to $50; and pins $20 to $40. It's possible
to match up earrings, pins, or necklaces for a very nice gift set. Your
biggest challenge? Resisting the temptation to go overboard and buy, buy,
buy! Note: The hours for the outlet are still being fine-tuned, so
a call ahead might be prudent.
1015 Camelia Street
(one block south of Oilman), Berkeley.
(510) 527-2431. M-F
Noon-6, Sat 10-4. MC, VISA. Parking: street.
This company manufactures
a somewhat esoteric (to my mind) line of funky, novelty, whimsical, and
appealing rhinestone jewelry. Collectors buy some very special Dorothy
Bauer pieces under the glass at better stores. Prices are half off wholesale.
Most pins are $7.50 to $30 (some can go as high as $100); earrings $10
to $40. Some themes: sports, wildlife, domestic pets, Christmas, patriotic
symbols, flowers, recreational activities, and words and expressions (like
one that I should have: "I Love to Shop"), These are all discontinued,
prototypes, samples, mistakes, and occasional seconds. A popular store
for collectors of rhine-stone jewelry.
210 Post Street, Suite
203, San Francisco.
(415) 563-0258. By
appointment. Cash/Check. Parking: pay lots.
Joan Fenton serves
as a personal jewelry shopper. In her twelve and a half years in business,
Joan has helped many brides, professional women, and "awfully smart
men." She keeps no inventory, and her low overhead lets her pass
on good prices to her discriminating clientele. She knows how to get things
done and brings a sense of style and charm along with her expertise to
her business. Call for an appointment
to assess your needs. When Joan knows what you want, she can present choices
that meet the specifications of size and price that you've requested.
Using her trade resources, she'll either find it for you or have it custom-designed
at whole-sale prices plus a slight markup, generally 10-20%.
Prime Outlets at
(408) 848-2709. Daily.
MC, VISA, AE, DIS. Parikng:lot.
Fossil achieved fame
with its fashion watches, popular with a younger and hipper crowd. It
didn't take long before the company was expanding into sunglasses, belts,
ties, sweatshirts, women's hand-bags, and fashion jewelry. All these things
are sold at about 30% off original retail. There's usually a $19.99 watch
or sunglasses special on selected styles. Look for other exceptional savings
on closeouts and discontinued styles.
GOLDEN K FINE
2229 Bunker Hill
Drive (off Hwy. 280), San Mateo.
(650) 349-2972. M-Sat
by appointment. Cash/Check. Parking: street.
If you have old jewelry
tucked away and you'd like to have it updated, reset, or repaired, this
company can do the job. For years Golden K has worked with prominent jewelry
stores creating custom designs and repairing gold, platinum, and precious
stones. It has also created replacement jewelry for insurance claims.
You can bring in stones for setting, or stones can be purchased for you
if you know what you want. No inventory is kept on the premises. If you
want a wedding set, ring, or piece designed, you can browse through wholesale
catalogs, or you can bring in a picture. When updating jewelry, the gold
or platinum in your jewelry can be reused. (No work is done with sterling
silver jewelry.) Although this small studio is not a conventional retail
setting, I think customers will feel very comfortable here. However, it's
important to schedule an appointment, because Golden K is not set up for
walk-in business. I think you'll find the savings very worthwhile, and
the work is done to the highest standards.
150 Bellam Boulevard,
Suite 240, San Rafael.
(415) 258-0601. M-F
9-5, Sat by appointment. MC, VISA. Parking: street.
has solid credentials. When buying directly from this source, you'll save
about 35% off the "major store price." If you need something
fast, you'll be able to find something that's just right. Guardian provides
extraordinary quality in original custom designs, and special orders are
its forte. It keeps a good inventory of diamonds up to one carat and can
readily provide larger sizes upon request. If you're in the market for
a status watch (most priced over $1,000 at retail) such as Bertolucci,
Omega, Cartier. Rolex, and many more, you can pick a style from a note-book
full of catalogs, and on most lines you'll pay just 10% over Guardian's
cost. Don't come in expecting to see several cases of fine jewelry. It's
more of an office serving its private clientele (the public) on an appointment
& SON JEWELERS
760 Market Street,
Suites 346-348, San Francisco.
(415) 986-4066. www.irahocherman.com.
M-F 8:30-4:30 by appointment. MC, VISA. Parking: pay garages.
is a relative term. Even at great values, a fine piece of jewelry purchased
at Hocherman & Son may still be quite expensive depending on your
perspective and budget. It's not set up for casual browsing, because most
of its work is done on a custom-design basis. Many couples come here seeking
unusual settings (true works of art) for wedding rings and will spend
$6,000 to $8,000 for a ring that would cost $12,000 to $14,000 at a Union
Square jeweler. Of course, other customers spend much less, especially
on wedding bands, gemstone jewelry or pearls, or jewelry resetting. If
you'd like estate jewelry reset or want to rework original wedding sets
into something more up-to-date, consider this resource. The company keeps
an extensive selection of loose diamonds and gemstones on hand and works
with you to develop a design for your jewelry piece. There are modest
charges for designing the model and renderings. and work proceeds with
a 50% deposit.
St. Helena Premium
Outlets, St. Helena.
(707) 967-0738. Daily.
MC, VISA, AE. Parking: lot.
Upscale buyers are
very impressed by the watches they see under lock and key at Movado. Some
are seconds with small cosmetic surface imperfections. Others are discontinued
styles. Whatever the "flaw," the movements inside are perfect
and the watches are under full warranty. You don't have to be rich to
shop here, because you can find many styles priced $100 to $300. On the
other hand, you can buy Concord watches, solid gold pieces with diamonds,
solid gold pieces with leather straps and also two-tone gold and stainless
steel starting at $400. Movado's 14K solid-gold watches are priced at
$400 and up, while its sportier Esquire line goes for $30 to $300. The
new Coach collection watches range from $125 to $350. Overall discounts
are 20-70% off original retail. Buy with care because there are no refunds;
exchanges only within 10 days with receipt for an item of equal or higher
value. This elegant store hardly seems to fit the term "bargain,"
but you will be surprised.
1475 N. Broadway
(Lincoln Broadway Building), Suite 490, Walnut Creek.
(925) 937-9570. M-F
9-6 by appointment. MC, VISA. Parking: garage across street.
The best values are
often found in the least likely locations. This company does most of its
business with stores that use its custom fabricating, diamond-setting,
and repair service. Essentially a wholesaler, it also works directly with
It doesn't claim
to sell at wholesale prices (how refreshing!), but it certainly offers
substantial savings. It has a display case with many dazzling rings; however,
most of its available settings are kept in trays or are represented in
wax patterns that you can try on. Engagement rings and wedding sets are
a specialty. Services include repair, remounts, sizing, repronging, reshanking,
and polishing. You can choose from loose stones including diamonds, jade,
lapis lazuli, pearls, and other precious and semiprecious beauties. Appointments
are essential to get through the locked doors.
760 Market Street
(Phelan Building), Suite 800, San Francisco.
(415) 392-4086. www.citysearch.com
/sfo/zwillinger. T-Sat 9:30-5. MC, VISA, AE, DIS. Parking: downtown pay
You'll feel more comfortable
if you wear your Sunday best before entering the vaultlike security doors
of this firm, which has been in the same location for the past fifty years.
For those great occasions in life—engagements, anniversaries, graduations—when
you desire a very special memento, a piece of fine jewelry can be purchased
here at considerable savings (20-50% off retail). Prices on 14K and 18K
gold and platinum jewelry, watches, and diamond rings are very impressive.
You can create your own wedding set by selecting a mounting with or without
stone, and then pick a center diamond of the size and quality to fit your
budget. The selection of loose diamonds is breath-taking! Discriminating
women and men appreciate the large array of fashion jewelry from such
noted designers as Charles Gamier, Winward, Judith Conway, Garaveli Aldo,
Gemveto, and others usually seen advertised in Architectural Digest,
Connoisseur, Town & Country, et al. If Zwillinger doesn't
have a particular piece in stock, bring in a picture; chances are the
piece can be ordered or custom-made for you. Watches from Omega, Movado,
Seiko, and other status brands ($3,000-plus range) are available. Graduates
from the Gemological Institute of America are on staff. Appraisals and
full jewelry repairs are done. Zwillinger buys diamonds and replacement
jewelry for several large insurance companies. First-time jewelry buyers
will be in good hands.