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Buying Jewelry in Department Stores

Chain retailers have good jewelry, too.

DON'T OVERLOOK THESE stores when shopping for fine jewelry.

Neiman Marcus, Mazza Gallerie, 5300 Wisconsin Ave., 202-966-9700, neimanmarcus.com. Contemporary names like John Hardy, Michael Dawkins, Stephen Dweck, and the ubiquitous David Yurman fill the cases of the Designer Jewelry department. There's a nice array of what one salesman described as "everyday diamonds"—circle and heart-shaped pendants casual enough to be worn with jeans. There's some upscale costume jewelry, such as trendy cascade earrings made with semiprecious stones. Prices are up to about $12,000 as compared with the separate Precious Jewelry Department (closed Sundays), where tags can climb as high as $200,000. Here you'll find statement jewelry—large stones, South Sea pearls, intricate and one-of-a-kind designs.

Saks Fifth Avenue, 5555 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase, 301-657-9000; Tysons Galleria, 703-761-0700; saksfifthavenue.com. European designers from the pages of Town & Country are well-represented here: Pomellato, Chimento, Paul Morelli. There's an entire wall of David Yurman. Most pieces have a classic-contemporary sensibility, like the white-gold cable bracelets and chokers of Roberto Coin. Diamonds, pearls, and semiprecious stones abound. Ladies who lunch go for dramatic pieces like a stunning star-shaped diamond-and-platinum pendant, South Sea Island pearls, and chunky gold-and-enamel earrings.