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.