Jewelry is both ubiquitous and incredibly varied. It can be jaw-droppingly expensive, made at home for pennies, or handed down for free. It can be made from precious materials or disposable ones. Most women have at least one piece, and many women have one or more pieces of emotional significance. Jewelry can be subtly invisible or the perfect finishing touch on an outfit. And, like so many people, I absolutely love it.
Please note that I’m not limiting myself to “shopping,” here, my friends. There are plenty of ways to get new jewelry that don’t involve spending big on pre-made pieces!
Let’s start with the obvious, shall we? I’d estimate that 70% of my jewelry hails from Etsy. I’ve been buying pieces from the various individual vendors on this shared site since 2005 and just keep finding more designers to love. As many of you already know, Etsy offers consumers the chance to interact with designers and vendors directly, so you can buy up finished pieces, but you can also collaborate with merchants to create custom pieces. Which is SO MUCH FUN. Some of my favorite Etsy jewelry vendors include:
If I’m looking for a specific piece – like a snake-shaped cuff bracelet or red drop earrings – I generally hit Etsy first, and then turn to eBay. You can get just about any piece you can imagine from Bakelite bangles to estate jewelry to enormous lots of rhinestone brooches. Prices run the gamut, as you can imagine, but there are always some amazing deals to be nabbed. (In case you need a quick refresher on how to shop eBay, here you go.)
OK, I’ll admit that I’ve only purchased once or twice from this site. And I’ll tell you why: The inventory is so massive and amazing that I get overwhelmed. But the search function works pretty well, and if you’re on the hunt for semi-precious gem designs at reasonable prices, Trader Lou has got you covered. The site also sells supplies, but my understanding is that Fire Mountain has better deals.
Antique malls and flea markets
If 70% of my jewelry hails from Etsy, much of the remaining 30% was purchased at antique malls and flea markets. I adore costume jewelry and find that I can get phenomenal deals on fun, versatile, and well-made vintage pieces when I shop at these places.
Thrift and consignment stores
Most thrift stores offer a small selection of jewelry, most of which is relatively inexpensively made but well worth a peek. I’ve nabbed a couple of my workhorse pieces at my local thrift haunts and always make a point of hitting the jewelry rack just in case.
Consignment stores are a bit choosier, of course, and the ones I frequent keep their offerings in cases. If someone has gone to the trouble to consign a piece of jewelry, it’s likely valuable, well-made, trendy, or some combination thereof. Don’t forget to comb those cases before you check out!
I’ll throw a couple of sites on the fire, here, too, though Pinterest is also a wealth of jewelry-related tutorials. Most of the sites below are hodgepodge DIY sites that throw the occasional jewelry project into the mix, but when they do? Fun times.
For Twin Cities Locals
Gotta plug a few of my favorite local resources in case you TC folks are interested!
Many of these resources are sustainable/handmade, but in case you’re looking for more, my roundup of vendors and brands with sustainable, conscious, or worker-focused practices includes some fantastic additional jewelry resources.
Image courtesy Karin Jacobson.
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