The Very Highest Quality Advice...


What's the best way and place to buy jewellery?Chard 18 Carat Home PageClick here to return to Information Index


We are slightly biased, of course, but...

What follows is intended to be as impartial as we can make it, and no, we will certainly not always be the best place!

The first question to ask yourself is "What do I want from this piece of jewellery?"

Only you can really answer this question. It's rather like asking what's the best restaurant in town. You have to decide what factors you will be judging on. Do you want the best gourmet food, the best atmosphere, the most impressive decor, plain cooking, the fastest service, the greatest wines, the lowest price, the nearest, the widest menu range, the most friendly or intimate. One person might give ten different answers on ten different days. I can think of one successful businessman who judged restaurants on three main factors, the size of the portions, whether they served chips with everything, and whether they had Piesporter on their wine list. So it is with jewellery. Before you can decide which is the best piece of jewellery for you, or where to buy it from, you need to ask yourself what you want it to do for you.

If sycophantic service is very important to you, you will need to get your chauffeur to drop you at the nearest "county" type jeweller. It's best to get you personal assistant to phone first to announce your imminent arrival. Expect to pay through the nose. If you merely want to spend 5 on a pair of gold ear-rings to cheer yourself up, then the nearest jeweller is probably as good as any other.

Because jewellery tends to be expensive, it's my firm view that good value should be an important factor. So now I need to define good value, and that's not easy. There are a few simple thoughts to start with.

Cheap jewellery is hardly ever a good buy. If it has been designed and made down to a price, then the likelihood is that it will look cheap and nasty.

Whilst it is nice to receive good service, unless you have unlimited money, it should not be the most important factor when choosing a supplier. The style, quality, appearance and cost of the jewellery should be the prime decision factors.

If it's vital that you own something exclusive, then you either need to pay an exclusive price for it, or go to a designer, and get a piece designed and made to your taste. Do allow sufficient time, and do expect to pay for good quality work. If you commision a piece to be made quickly and cheaply, you should expect it to look as if it has been made that way!

Like most things in life, the more you put into it, the better results you can expect. Take the time and trouble to do a little basic work, learn a little about your subject, do a little arithmetic, ask questions.

Don't be afraid to ask the jeweller or assistant questions. Ask why this costs much more than that, what standard of gold is it made of, how much does it weigh, don't be afraid if the answer is in grams or carats, even if you don't understand what a gram or carat is. Let's take a simple example:

You see two gold chains in two different jewellers. One is 100, the other is 200. They both look similar. Ask the weight. Assuming that they are both 9 carat gold, and the first one weighs 10 grams, and the second one weighs 15 grams. For the first one, divide 100 by 10 grams, and it is costing you 10 per gram. (Ask the sales assistant to do the sums for you if you like.) The second one is 200 divided by 15, working out at 13.33 per gram. Unless the second one is 33% better made, then the first one sounds the better buy. In any case, if you tell the shop staff your findings, and ask them to explain the difference in prices, you may find them offering discounts! You may find the first shop offering to obtain a heavier chain for you, or the second shop offering to match the per gram price of their competitor.

On a long term basis, if jewellers found that customers bought on price or value, they would become more competitive in their pricing, so all consumers would get a better deal.

If you are trying to compare two different diamond rings, then it's a much more difficult process. Diamond qualities are discussed elsewhere on our website. You could try working out how much per carat you are being asked, and then compare these /Carat prices. Certainly don't be afraid to tell each jeweller about the alternatives you are considering. They probably won't like being played off against each other, but it should make them try harder. Another suggestion is to ask if you can take each ring to an independent valuer for a professional opinion. Do expect to pay for this service, but it should repay the expense.

Talk to friends, and ask for their recommendations. This should give you more data on which to base your judgments. It always amazes me that some women can spend half an hour discussing a penny price difference on Heinz baked beans, or will cross a busy high street to check whether cauliflowers are two pence less across the road, but then pay 1500 on a diamond ring which we would have been selling for 1000!

Of course, the price of a frequently purchased commodity is easier to recall compared with making a twice a lifetime decision about a diamond ring purchase. All the more reason to do a little research.

Is it best to buy from a big multiple, or a smaller indpendent store? Either could be right or wrong. Personally, from an early age I developed a distaste for many multiple shop groups. To digress for a moment, at age 16, I took a solo (pedal) cycle trip around Europe, you can see the photo on our "about us, who we are" page. I owned a lightweight racing type bike which was equipped with specialised tubular construction tyres, the inner tube being sewn into a lightweight outer casing.
Half way down the A1, I developed a puncture and had to sit cross-legged by the roadside with a puncture repair kit and a sewing needle. As I had stupidly omitted to pack a spare tyre, I decided it would be sensible to divert into the nearest town and buy one. Each diversion wasted over an hour of precious travelling time.
I called in at Corby, Ketting, Northampton, and in each town I rode around looking for cycle shops, then starting asking people. In each town I was told that there used to be a real bike shop until a few years ago, and that now the only choice was Halfords or Curry's. I tried these, and in each case, the sales staff obviously knew nothing about bikes, and usually informed me that tubular tyres (tubs) did not exist. Now, too late, I realised my folly. I had been attempting a 2,000 mile round trip on non-existant tyres which only existed as a figment of my imagination. In London, I easily found a specialist shop, who had a large selection of the imaginary tyres I needed.
The moral seemed to be that people would buy cheap inferior goods from a multiple, and kill off a real specialist expert in the process. Since then, I have seen the same process repeated many times over. Often the large multiple retailer is no cheaper than the small independent, but can afford a superior more convenient high street location. Dixon's is a topical example. I have long held a very negative cynical view of them. Many times in recent years have they been criticised in the consumer press for selling extended warranties at excessive prices, also just look at their credit charges, they usually have some of the highest APR rates around, recently they were attacked by Intel for slowing down British computer sales by charging excessive prices. Interestingly, may people proudly say that they were smart enough to avoid Dixon's, and bought their PC instead from PC World or Curry's, both of which are owned by Dixon's!
Most people don't realise that Ratner's is now called Signet Group PLC, and owns H. Samuel, Ernest Jones, and many others!

Is an independent best? I would like to be able to say "yes", but unfortunately, the value, service, and quality varies considerably. Once again, the best answer is to do your homework, learn a little about your subject, and always ask questions. If sales staff ridicule or patronise your questions, then it's usually safe to assume that they have gone on the defensive for some reason, you would be well advised to avoid this shop. It might do them good for you to return with your eventual purchase, to show them what a good sale they missed! Nasty, but it would help the next customer.

Should you buy from Chard?
The answer depends on what you want!
We don't sell watches, clocks, cheap lightweight gold, costume jewellery, silver, glassware, figurines, 9 carat gold diamond rings. We don't advertise to carry out repairs. If you want any of those, you're on your own for the time being.
We do sell better quality diamond rings in 18 carat gold or platinum
We do sell high quality gold jewellery. We would prefer to sell only 18 carat gold, but some of our stock (and sales) are 9 carat.
We also have special offers from time to time on cultured pearls, and other selected items.
Gold sovereigns, krugerrands, other gold, silver, copper, coins ancient and modern, coin sets. Numismatics was how our busuness started way back in 1964.

That's about it!
You may correctly have guessed that we try very hard to sell attractive and beautiful jewellery at very competitive prices. I will guarantee that there are better jewellers than us, better diamond ring designers, cheaper jewellers even, but we can assure you that all our stock is carefully selected, designed or made, with loving care, and that we sell all are products direct to the public, also to other jewellers, at prices often considerably lower than retail. Typically, our prices are between 25% to 50% under retail prices.

In return, we expect our customers to be loyal to us, and to recommend us to their friends and relations.


...at the Lowest Possible Price

32 - 36 Harrowside, Blackpool, Lancashire, FY4 1RJ, England.
Telephone (44) - (0) 1253 - 343081; Fax 408058; E-mail: [email protected]
The URL for our main page is: http://www.18carat.co.uk/index.html
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