No matter how you label it -- as inexpensive
-- budget jewelry isn't difficult to find. Shop online or locally and you'll find plenty of stores that sell attractive jewelry that won't put a huge dent in your bank account.
It's easy to save money on all types of jewelry, classic gemstone pieces that you'll wear year-after-year and less pricey costume jewelry (jewelry that doesn't contain authentic gemstones or precious metals) that might only be hot for a couple of seasons. Tuck those trendy pieces away though, because nearly every style comes back around again.
Scout Out Local Department Store Sales
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Large department stores often have hefty markdowns on costume (also called fashion) jewelry, especially when the next season's shipments are just in or about to arrive. Sales racks are always an excellent place to find trendy jewelry, and the majority of styles don't typically change too much from one season to the next.
You'll find lots of classic styles on sales racks, too, like always-in-style hoop earrings.
Haunt Your Local Thrift Stores
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It's true, some of the jewelry for sale at thrift stores is less than appealing, but if you visit on a regular basis you'll up your chances of finding pieces that work with today's fashions. And if you're a do-it-yourselfer, keep an open mind when you look at thrift store jewelry. Are there components that could be removed from one piece and used in another? It's fun and easy to recycle old jewelry
, turning blah styles into unique pieces of your own design.
Visit Local Pawn Shops
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Pawn shop jewelry isn't always cheap, but sometimes you'll find a deal. Try this option when you're looking for gold or gemstone jewelry, since pawn brokers don't typically have costume versions. Avoid paying inflated prices by becoming accustomed to typical jewelry costs before shopping for pawned jewelry, and try to establish that a broker has a good reputation prior to your visit.
Flea Markets and Yard Sales
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You never know what you might find at flea markets and yard sales, but plan to shop them early in the day for the best selections. Both types of sales are good spots to put your negotiation skills to use, because the price marked isn't always a seller's low-point.
Keep your recycling eyes open when you shop flea markets and yard sales.
Consider Online Auctions
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Online auctions, like ebay and Justbeads.com, can be a good source of affordable jewelry. Always check a seller's feedback ratings and be sure to consider shipping costs before placing a bid (some sellers inflate shipping costs to increase profits).
Watch your local newspapers for estate auctions in your area. Arrive early and be sure to search for costume jewelry in boxes packed with miscellaneous items.
Buyer Safety Tips for Online Auctions
Browse Online Stores & Crafter Sites
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The Internet is packed with department and jewelry stores selling everything from inexpensive trinkets to high-end gemstone jewelry. And while their wares are very different, they nearly all have occasional or ongoing sales. Most stores publish newsletters or mark-down flyers -- opt in to receive updates about new and discounted products.
Crafter sites (like Etsy) are an excellent source of hand-crafted jewelry and other items. Users are allowed to rate their purchases, giving potential buyers a heads-up on a seller's products and customer service practices.
Don't forget to check shipping costs, and be sure to review refund and replacement policies so that you'll know what to expect if an item goes missing during transit.
Opt for Lab Created Gemstones
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They won't necessarily fall into the cheap
jewelry category, but styles made from lab created gemstones typically cost less than jewelry containing the same-sized gems that were found in nature. Lab created (synthetic) gems have all of the characteristics of a genuine stone, but with one difference -- they are sometimes more perfect, with excellent clarity and color. Much of the birthstone jewelry you'll encounter is made from synthetic gems.
Treated gemstones can be a money-saving option (nature-created gems that been enhanced to improve their appearance). Reputable jewelers always disclose that gemstones were either treated or synthesized in a lab.
Before you shop, learn some facts about Gemstone Terminology.
Know Your Metals: Base vs. Precious
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Nearly all costume jewelry is made from a base metal. That's a term used to describe a substance that does not contain a precious metal like gold or sterling silver. The outer surface of the metal is a coating that covers a less attractive "base" underneath. Costume jewelry from well known designers can be pricey -- you're paying for a name, and not (necessarily) quality components.
Metals used in less expensive jewelry can be coated with a precious metal. Gold filled jewelry has a thicker, more durable gold layer than gold plated pieces. You'll encounter some sterling silver plated jewelry, but if an ad says "silver plated," the coating is probably not the more desirable sterling.
See: Why Metals Discolor Skin
The Bottom Line
Jewelry deals are everywhere, and there are some bargains out there. But there are also plenty of scams. The best way to protect yourself is to research jewelry components before you buy, to develop a good understanding of exactly what a seller's ad describes. That may not seem important to you when you fall in love with an inexpensive piece of costume jewelry, but any jewelry you purchase should have a reasonable life span. Even cheap jewelry isn't much of a deal if it breaks or discolors the second time you wear it.
You'll find all sorts of jewelry buying advice throughout this Jewelry site.