There may be nothing sweeter than giving jewelry on Mother’s Day, but those feelings can be tarnished if it turns out you got a bad deal.
That can be especially true if you are paying a lot of money. And this Mother's Day, that's more likely to be the case than in previous years. According to the National Retail Federation's annual survey, Americans plan to spend $5 billion on jewelry this Mother's Day. That's up from $4.2 billion last year.
The first thing to do when buying jewelry is to make sure you are educated about the kind of jewelry you are interested in, says NerdWallet retail and shopping expert Courtney Jespersen.
Cost can depend on issues such as individual craftsmanship, but comparing prices at different retailers can help you gain a sense of what a certain diamond cut might fetch, for instance. Jespersen also recommends that novice jewelry buyers bring along a friend or relative who has more expertise for advice.
Then, think about the financial aspects of buying jewelry. Here are some tips:
Be wary of financing plans. Some jewelers offer what appear to be sweet financing deals. To get them, buyers have to open a store credit card. Those cards typically include a low-interest or interest-free promotional period to make payments on the purchase. But after the grace period ends, the cards charge high interest rates.
Kay's, for instance, currently offers a 0 percent interest promotion if the balance is paid off in 12 months. After that, interest is charged at rates between 17 percent and 26.99 percent.
Zales has an interest-free promotion for a period of six months, 12 months, or 18 months. If you pay in full by 36 months you'll be charged an APR of 9.99 percent. After that the card charges an interest rate that can be as high as 29.74 percent.
Consider buying insurance. If you are making an expensive purchase, consider buying insurance in case of damage, theft, or loss. Standard homeowners or renters insurance typically covers only up to $1,500 of jewelry value. Some insurers offer specialized plans for jewelry that is worth more. Talk with your insurance provider about your options.
Check the return policy. Each jeweler has its own return and exchange policies, so make sure you understand the fine print before committing. For instance, JCPenney won’t accept returns of customized jewelry, which includes jewelry that has been engraved or was custom-designed for the customer. Zales also doesn’t offer returns or exchanges for jewelry that has been engraved. Blue Nile, though, does accept returns on rings that have been engraved, although it won’t refund the cost of the engraving.
Ask about trade-ins. If you have jewelry you’re no longer wearing, consider asking the jeweler whether it would accept trade-ins to help offset the cost of buying jewelry. In that case, the jeweler will allow you to trade in the older piece for a newer item. Some jewelers will accept trade-in items from other stores or jewelers; others accept only jewelry previously bought at their store.
Ask for a discount. Jespersen says that shoppers can ask for an incentive to follow through with a purchase. One example: a discount equal to the value of sales tax on the item you are planning to buy.