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How to Buy Jewelry Online and Get the Most Bang for Your Buck

Written by Annabelle
April 3, 2020

Buying jewelry is a fun hobby for everyone, but as with most hobbies- there’s a specific way to “get good” at it. Navigating the world of jewelry can be a daunting task for newcomers, but with some handy tips and tricks, you’ll be able to snag some new shiny bling for a good deal. Here’s how to buy jewelry online and get the most bang for your buck.

Three Things To Consider When Purchasing Jewelry

The first thing you need to know about jewelry is the markup. As a general rule, jewelry is priced from 20% to 250% more than its manufacturing cost. If that seems astronomical to you, you’re correct- and it’s why you need to shop smart. 

While price is always the primary factor to consider in a purchasing decision, there are also two things you should take into account. One is design- maybe the item you’re looking at is so one of a kind that it justifies the purchase. The second factor is material; you might want to invest a little more into getting something that’s solid gold instead of gold-plated.

With price, design, and material in mind, you’ll need to weigh all three of these factors when you’re shopping for jewelry. Is the price justified by the material? Does your love for the design overrule material and justify the purchase? You'll have to juggle these three things when you buy jewelry online, and it all boils down to your decision making. 

How To Buy Jewelry The Smart Way 

Given your three factors of price, design, and material, let’s start off with price. Designers will typically have the highest markup, especially if they’re well-established, high-end niche, or brand-name. Lesser-known small shops and wholesalers will have lower prices, and some may even sell at manufacturing cost. Secondhand, vintage, and estate items are marked down accordingly, and may even be a better deal in terms of material and price than a brand new item. The location of the shop also plays an important part when it comes to price; for instance, buying antique jewelry from the UK is generally cheaper than buying from a vendor located in the US. 

Knowing how to search for the item you want to buy is also a good way to help you get price comparisons. For instance, you fall in love with a pair of earrings, but they’re far too expensive. Look at how the seller describes and titles the item- if it’s labeled as “White Gold 10k Sapphire Leverback Earrings” and the description says “pave-set stones” these are the words that you want to input into search to pull up similar results. Pay attention to the vocabulary in the jewelry industry and you’ll be able to pull up sophisticated search results for the designs that you want.

Now that you have this information, the next step is knowing where to look. Etsy is a fantastic marketplace where you can access tons of wholesalers and small shops. Try using the filters to set your price range and remove any products that come up in search that are out of your budget. Next, compare prices. If you’re looking for a 14k gold bezel-set ruby ring, sort through the results- a designer who’s selling it for $250 may not be as good of a deal as the manufacturer who’s selling a similar product for $140. 

Buying Used Jewelry Online


This vintage Black Hills ring shows off the signature multicolored gold look, with grape leaves.

Keep in mind that buying a brand new product can often be more expensive than buying secondhand. If you want to browse through used items, your design options are more limited as these pieces are not freshly manufactured and are only available as one-of-a-kind items, unless if someone’s selling old jewelry inventory. Add “vintage,” “estate”, or “secondhand” to your search query, following by the type of item you’re looking for. Etsy will automatically flip your search into their vintage category if you add vintage to your search, helping you narrow down what you’re looking for. Make sure to also check out Rubylane and Ebay. Rubylane is an online marketplace that is dedicated to all things vintage, and it has an extensive jewelry section that’s definitely worth browsing. Ebay can be a hit-or-miss, as some wholesalers on there will often add “vintage” or “antique” to their item descriptions to describe a brand new piece of jewelry that is antique-inspired, but with a practiced eye you’ll be able to tell what’s used and what’s not when you buy jewelry online.

An important thing to note is that secondhand jewelry has a great price point for materials. You can usually buy solid gold items for significantly cheaper, but this comes at the cost of restricted design and less-than-perfect condition. Some antique and vintage dealers may offer polishing and sizing services, but more often than not you’ll be receiving an item as-is. These are the pros and cons that you’ll have to consider when purchasing used jewelry. 

Purchasing High-Quality Jewelry

In the jewelry industry, a lot of different metals and gemstones are used to create jewelry. For instance, costume jewelry is made from miscellaneous alloys, brass, copper, or bronze with plastic or glass gems. Higher-end jewelry is made from fine metals such as sterling silver, gold, and platinum, from least expensive to most expensive. 

It’s important to understand that costume jewelry can be very hard to repair and is generally not worth the money if the price is veering close to $50 or more, unless if it happens to be a designer piece that may have resale value for its brand. Of course, you can still make the purchase if you love the look of the item, but keep in mind that the markup is extravagant and if the item is damaged you may not be able to fix it.

Items that are “gold” in appearance but fall under the category of gold plated, gold vermeil, gold-fill, or rolled gold may also not be a worthwhile investment unless if you really like the design and don’t mind the expense of gold plating it every now and then. All of these items are not solid gold, and the coloration will wear off over time. 


Gold vermeil is usually stamped with 925 for sterling silver, and then another number to indicate gold content.

When it comes to stones, you have more flexibility in balancing out aesthetics and pricing. For instance, a lab-created ruby looks like a genuine ruby, but is comparatively more affordable. Look into gemstone substitutes if you want a particular style with a lower price point, like wearing white sapphire earrings instead of genuine diamond earrings. The more familiar you are with these materials, the easier it is to economize and still make a purchase that you love!


These synthetic rubies have a bright and vivid color that would be expensive to purchase if natural.

Modifying and Repairing The Jewelry

Once you’ve made your purchase, you may still need to modify the item or repair it. Rings often need to be sized, chains have to be shortened, and any antique/vintage jewelry pieces need refurbishing in order to bring it back to perfect condition. 

Many shops do not offer these additional services, so you’ll have to invest a little time to look for a credible jeweler who can get the work done. Not all jewelers can repair antique & vintage jewelry, so if you’re fond of purchasing used items, you’ll need to do your research into their capabilities. 

At Quick Jewelry Repairs, we handle a lot of post-purchase ring sizings for our clients, as many items are often manufactured at a set size or do not have a particular size available for purchase. Our jewelers are experts at antique and vintage jewelry restoration, and the process can even be a fun one as we help you refurbish your item with dramatic results. In fact, the jewelry restoration process has even become a hobby for some of our customers who are jewelry shopping addicts!

Now you’re all set on how to buy jewelry online and get the most bang for your buck. If you’ve recently made a purchase that you need to fix up or size, hit us up in the comments section. We’ll be able to help you out with any repairs or services you need.

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