Don't get ripped off on your holiday jewelry purchase

Jewelry is a great gift for the one you love, but you need to be aware of several things in order to protect yourself. Jewelry retailers are in high gear to take advantage of the holiday buying season, and you don't want get ripped off. Use these ten tips to protect yourself and your jewelry purchase this year.

1. Focus on the gem – When buying a colored stone such as a sapphire, ruby, or tanzanite, the key is to focus on the gem itself. There may be small diamonds surrounding it, but your real value is in the larger gemstone. Focus on that when selecting your piece and evaluating the quality.

2. Know the difference between natural stones and lab-created – Gemstones that come out of the earth are more valuable than those created in a lab. However, some consumers prefer lab-created gems because they are often clearer and have a brighter color. Just be sure you know which you're buying.

3. Less is often more – When surprising your sweetie with a piece of jewelry, simpler is usually better, unless she has picked out a specific item. If you're picking something out as a surprise, go for something less unusual. Plainer items generally have wider appeal and are more likely to make her smile. Fancier items generally have a unique appeal, and might not go over as well.