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How to Find Fine Jewelry that Won’t Break the Bank

SPRING 2016Ayana MillerComment

There's no doubt that buying inexpensive jewelry has it's perks:

- You can always afford to have the latest fashion and styles to go with every outfit and style you can imagine

- There is very little, if any, maintenance needed

- If you lose or break the piece, it's easy to replace it or move on

However, there may come a time when you want to treat yourself. Maybe it's to celebrate a special occasion like landing your dream job or buying a piece for your wedding that you'll want to pass down in your family. Whatever the occasion, you should know that finding a high end piece of jewelry doesn't have to mean handing over your entire life-savings to a jewelry store. 

Here's how to approach shopping for nice jewelry pieces that won't break the bank: 

Focus on one accessory.

Unlike walking into your favorite department store and picking out an outfit, shoes, jewelry, and grabbing some candy from the checkout line, finding a nice piece of jewelry will require some planning. It's unlikely that you will build your entire jewelry collection all at one time (although that's awesome if you can!) Pick one key accessory you want to wear as a staple piece of jewelry or that you'll enjoy wearing for special occasions. Is it a cocktail ring with a gemstone, a diamond necklace for formal events, or a pair of pearl earrings for everyday wear? Narrow your accessory goals to what makes sense for your immediate needs and budget (see number 3 for more on this point). 

Research respected brands.

We're all familiar with Tiffany's and Kay's, but there are so many talented jewelry artists and companies that can offer you quality pieces without paying for the brand name. Once you know that you're looking for quality pearl earrings, for instance, it's easier to search who's who in the pearl earring industry and learn more about your options. For instance, for pearls alone, you have the option of type (ahoy, freshwater, tahitian, south sea), color- often referred to as the body color (black, white, white rose, pink, gold, and silver), shape (round, off round, semi-baroque, oval and teardrop), size, and smoothness. 

Pro tip: Any reputable jewelry company will provide some education about the options available and explain why they offer the services that they do. Ask questions! If you don't like the responses, then keep shopping!

Determine your non-negotiables.  

As your research deepens, you will begin to get a better understanding of the market for your piece. You'll learn what the high end of the market includes as well as some options you may not have realized you had. Ultimately you will have to decide what are non-negotiables for you. For instance, does the roughness of a pearl matter to you? The smoother a pearl, the higher the cost. If you can handle a pearl that is rougher, then you're going to find cheaper options- without sacrificing overall quality! This pearl will last forever regardless of how rough it is. On the other hand, if you want a rare, very smooth conch pearl, then you may have to keep saving or searching until you find a brand that can provide exactly what you're looking for. 

Splurge (wisely)!

Now that you've done your research and determined your non-negotiables for your special piece, you are ready to approach the jewelry stores you know will carry exactly what you're looking for. You will know what questions to ask and will help the jewelers identify the best options for you. You may even find that they offer seasonal discounts, promotions, or have an annual sale on the exact item you're looking for. All the planning and research you've done to this point will make the purchase that more meaningful. 

Have you already started purchasing fine jewelry? What steps did you take to in order to ensure that you were getting the most value for your money? Share your comments and experiences in the comments section below!

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