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Jewelry makes you sparkle almost as much as your stunning personality. Costume jewelry can be a gorgeous accessory to any outfit, but real jewels have a gleam that can't be replicated in a lab. Real jewelry made of gold, silver and precious stones is more expensive than plated metals and paste stones, so it's important to make sure you're getting the real thing when put your credit card on the counter. Knowing a few tricks -- not the kind you use when you're flirting with that cute barista -- is one way to see if the jewels you're ogling are real.
Gold jewelry looks best with warm tones and goes with any kind of stone, but some pretty yellow metals can be substituted for gold with non-savvy shoppers none the wiser. Look for a mark on gold jewelry -- usually on the interior of rings or on the clasp of other jewelry -- to see if you can find a number that tells you what karat you have. Anything less than 10 karats isn't legally salable as gold in the United States.
Just like being able to tell a designer purse from a knockoff by its frayed stitching and worn edges, you can tell whether metal is real or fake by checking the edges where time may have worn off a plated covering. If you're looking at gold but see a sheen of silver peering out from underneath, then it's not real gold. In the same way, if you see a discoloration under silver that's wearing away, it's only silver-plated and not real, valuable silver.
Magnetic attraction is great when it's you and the cute cable installer, but when a gold piece is attracted to a magnet, it's a sign you're dealing with a fake. Set a magnet near a piece of gold jewelry and see if it pulls it close. If it does, you know it's not gold.
Diamonds may be forever, but fake, clear stones set in precious or non-precious metals are easily passed off as diamonds. Check to see if a diamond is real by looking at the colors that are created when you hold it under a light. A high-quality diamond should reflect shades of grey, while a cheap stone or a non-diamond stone will show a rainbow of colors. You can also examine the diamond with a jeweler's loupe. Diamonds have imperfections in the center of the stone. Most man-made stones will not have these imperfections.
Find a friendly -- and hot, if possible -- jeweler and ask him about the piece you're interested in. Most jewelers will give you a free consultation and examine your piece. You can even ask them to perform a test with nitric acid, if you don't mind damaging the item if it's a phony. Play your cards right, and maybe you can segue your consultation into a dinner date.