How to Find Affordable Alternatives to Designer Jewelry

Recently I was seeking a delicate, gold-and-diamond evil eye ring, but the only options I could find either exceeded my budget or sacrificed quality for a lower price point.

I fell in love with a 14K white gold blue-and-white diamond ring at Lord & Taylor and another worn by Katie Holmes on the cover of MORE. I don’t exactly have an A-list-celebrity budget.

Finally, I found a ring that satisfied my needs: the Carol Brodie .2 carat diamond and sterling silver evil eye ring from HSN. It’s made from a precious metal, it’s set with natural stones, and it’s delicate and simple. Even better, it cost less than $75!

After purchasing my look-alike ring, I decided I’d like to share some tips for finding affordable alternatives to jewelry that’s out of your budget. After all, we deserve to enjoy at least a sliver of luxury for whatever we can afford.

1. Search eBay

What I like most about eBay is that I can filter searches by price points. Then, the search results won’t tease me with items I can’t afford.

Using this search feature, I’ve found great deals from international eBay sellers. In some other countries like India and China, the markup for jewelry is not as high as in the United States, and a few savvy international entrepreneurs have learned how to market themselves to American customers by undercutting local competition and charming buyers with beautiful photography and enticing guarantees.

Before purchasing, be sure to read user reviews and ask questions to confirm quality, return policies, and shipping terms.

eBay is also a great source for vintage and pre-owned jewelry, which is sometimes less expensive than a new piece. Slightly worn-looking jewelry can often be polished and refurbished by an experienced jeweler, especially if it was made from high-quality materials.

2. Consider Pre-owned Jewelry

As I mentioned above, you can find pre-owned jewelry on eBay and bring it to a local jeweler for refurbishment. However, some brick-and-mortar jewelry stores and even websites of national jewelry store brands have sections dedicated to pre-owned jewelry, just like car dealerships with a selection of certified, pre-owned cars. You’ll be the only one who knows you’re not the original owner!

3. Build Your Own 

Educate yourself on purchasing gemstones and mountings or semi-mountings (the pre-fabricated metal structures that hold your stones in a ring, pendant, or earrings). Online, many resources jewelry education are available, and one of my favorites is the gem-buying guide at JTV.

Soon, you’ll begin to understand how much your favorite gemstones should cost when set in finished jewelry. You’ll be able to spot bargains and turn up your nose at overpriced pieces. Once you feel comfortable, you can purchase loose gemstones from reputable e-commerce sites and hire a local jeweler to set them for a fraction of the cost of buying premade.

4. Forget the Brand

When it comes to clothing and accessories, we’re often willing to spend more for a brand name. Some brands are known for high-quality items. However, when it comes to jewelry, brand name doesn’t necessarily signal a better-quality piece. When purchasing a brand-name piece of jewelry, you can expect to find an original design, but inspired designs can be mimicked by generic jewelry makers.

Unless you can afford to pay for a brand or absolutely must have a specific design, don’t worry too much about brand name. Most people admiring your jewelry probably wouldn’t recognize a brand anyway!

5. Google Search Metal and Stone Alternatives

If you find a piece of expensive jewelry you like, try to Google a description of it but substitute other metals and stones. For example, instead of “white gold,” search for “silver,” and instead of “diamonds,” search for “white topaz.” Silver may require slightly more maintenance than white gold or platinum, but it’s still a precious metal that you should feel proud wearing.

If you educate yourself about gemstones, as I suggested above, you’ll be able to seek more affordable alternatives to expensive stones that will still withstand the test of time and wear.

Did you ever find an affordable alternative to an expensive piece of jewelry? Was the find accidental, or did you have a strategy in mind?

Cover photo by Philip Taylor

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