WANT A JEWELER who will spend an hour with you to explain how to buy a sapphire or who will hand-select pieces for you?
These jewelers--some call themselves personal jewelers, others brokers--work by appointment. Most don't have stores--although they may have select inventories--but they can get you almost anything, usually with low overhead costs.
Paul Jacobs, Ascot Diamond Trading, Arlington; 703-243-8929.
Ira Kramer, Diamond Exchange of Maryland, Rockville; 301-770-0100.
Jerry Root, Root Jewelers, McLean; 703-821-2922.
Austin & Elkins, 421 S. Washington St., Alexandria; 703-684-5555; austinandelkins.com. Although Austin & Elkins is a store, it operates differently from most. The boutique, in an Old Town townhouse, is open only by appointment (except Thursday, when it's open all day), so you have a salesperson's undivided attention. The updated classics are lovely, high-quality, and not easily found elsewhere. Custom work and 18-karat gold are specialties.