The wonderful world of jewellery really does accommodate a range of budgets. From fashion to demi-fine, fine, and high jewellery, there's a category for everyone who appreciates jewellery as both an art form and a method of self-expression. The trick is recognising your budget and shopping cleverly to maximise its potential. Don't rush into a decision but do your research and find a brand whose signature style and pricing structure aligns with your values and wallet. Here is my advice for making the purchase that's right for you.
Broaden Your Shopping Scope
Going directly to brands to buy your jewels is wonderful, but don't ignore the auction market as a potential source of pre-loved and underappreciated gems that are ready to wear or perfect for remodelling. Auction houses offer collectable pieces, antique designs, retro creations and everything in between. And don't just stick to the famous international houses like Bonhams, Sotheby's and Christie's. Your local town or city will likely have an auctioneer offering fine jewellery sales – Hindman Auctions in Chicago, Roseberys in London and Artcurial in Paris. You never know; you may come to enjoy the process of bidding for and winning the jewels you love!
Up Your Access
If you love a particular brand, seek out VIP and members-only clubs that you can join online to access sample sales early. Personally, I am a member of Arlettie – a VIP club that organises exclusive private sales for luxury brands in Paris and London. It has an online jewellery sale every month featuring great brands like Pomellato, Isabelle Langlois, and Messika. There are also websites like 1stDibs, where you can purchase pieces from various sellers or eBay, which according to our sources, is trying to boost its jewellery sales in the long term. Just remember, it is important to choose legitimate and well-respected businesses to buy from, so there's no risk of being mis-sold, especially when it comes to diamonds and gemstones.
Give Pre-Owned a New Home
There are many boutiques offering pre-owned jewellery, often in mint condition with their original boxes and relevant paperwork. This is a fantastic opportunity to purchase something that is almost good as new at a fraction of the original retail price. Suppose you are passionate about Art Deco, Edwardian, Victorian and Retro jewellery. In that case, you can establish a relationship with your local pre-owned specialist, like Stephen Silver Fine Jewelry in California, Susannah Lovis in London or Galerie Montaigne in Monaco, who can start to learn your tastes and highlight pieces you'll love. This is worth its weight in gold!
Choose Gemstones Carefully
If you're drawn to the look of large coloured gemstone cabochons or faceted stones, you may be worried you can't afford to have what you love. This isn't strictly true. Minerals in the quartz family, like citrine, amethyst, and topaz, are relatively inexpensive compared to sapphires, rubellites and morganites. Plus, opaque gemstones (sometimes known as ‘hardstones’) like malachite, lapis lazuli, turquoise, onyx and other minerals can be beautiful when entrusted to talented jewellers, like Isabelle Langlois, Carol Kauffman, Veschetti, FerriFirenze, Pomellato, and Luca Carati, among so many others. With these gemstones as the central focus, you can enjoy much larger and splashier pieces. Also, it is important to remember that you needn’t exclusively shop at the top end of the gemstone market. For example, you can choose emeralds with a slightly less desirable colour and more inclusions for a more accessible price. When included in a beautiful jewel, these emeralds can have the effect you are looking for without costing the earth.
Speaking of gems, it's not just about the stones you choose but how you buy them. Let me explain. Imagine you are dreaming of a deep green cabochon tourmaline ring. It may be cheaper to buy the stone from a recognised and trusted dealer and then take it to your chosen jeweller – let it be Yataghan or Donna Hourani in Dubai, Amelie Vaiene or Maison Veyret in Paris or Sabine Roemer in London - to create a custom piece. Yes, it is more time-consuming and contains extra steps than tapping a few buttons on a website, but shopping this way has some big advantages. Not only can it work out better value for money, but you'll also have a piece that no one else does.
Repurpose Your Forgotten Gems
When was the last time you went through the jewels you own and made decisions about what to keep, what to sell, and what to repurpose? A skilled jeweller like Sarah Ho, who specialises in repurposing old jewellery, can transform these forgotten creations into something contemporary that you'll enjoy wearing. The same goes for family heirlooms and sentimental treasures. It is possible to preserve the special memories they represent and update them to suit your modern wardrobe. Of course, this is a different kind of jewellery shopping, but its potential shouldn't be underestimated.
Become a Diamond Detective
We all want the best of the best, but when budget comes into play, we need to act smart. Rather than looking for a D-colour diamond, search in the G-H colour range instead. You aren't likely to notice a striking difference when this colour diamond is set in your jewellery, but you could save yourself lots of money. Similarly, think about the setting your diamond is going to be in. An H colour stone will look white and bright in a yellow gold mount. And don't just take my word for it! Read this interview with Sam Karmiel of IceRock Diamonds for an expert take on diamond clarity and colour.
Choose Laboratory-Grown Gems
Laboratory-grown diamonds are a growing phenomenon in jewellery, and there’s no doubt they are a good way to save money. These man-made stones are being paired with precious metals and used in creative designs by brands like Le Blanc Jewellery and Nomis. There are also specialist laboratory-grown brands like Courbet, Mazarin, Smiling Rocks and Vrai that have emerged onto the scene. If you prefer bigger carat weights but can’t afford this in natural diamonds, laboratory-grown could be a way to replicate this look within your budget.
Similarly, be open-minded about diamond inclusions and their placement within a stone. For example, if a diamond is described as "eye clean," inclusions may be present, but you won't be able to see them without a magnifying glass or loupe. Also, suppose there is an eye-visible inclusion that sits right at the edge of a diamond. In that case, a skilled jeweller may be able to hide or partially conceal this imperfection with some clever design trickery. Again, there are options you may not be aware of, and with a little investigating, you could save yourself hundreds of pounds.
Fall in Love with Alternative Materials
Finally, consider alternative materials like 14k gold, titanium, ebony and aluminium for exceptional jewels that won't break the bank. It's true that 18k gold and platinum are very expensive metals that put considerable strain on fine jewellery budgets. However, using alternatives doesn't impact creativity or desirability… far from it. We particularly like Vhernier and its use of aluminium, the combination of silver and diamonds at Statement Paris, and the updates to the Tiffany & Co. Bone cuff collection in coated copper.
Embrace the Illusion
Have you heard of an illusion setting? This is where multiple smaller diamonds or coloured gemstones are set closely together to mimic the shape of a much larger statement gem. For example, two marquise-shaped stones and two round brilliant-cut diamonds can be arranged to look like an eye-catching oval. The benefit of this for budget-conscious jewellery shoppers is that you aren’t paying the premiums associated with high-carat weight solitaires. Instead, you get the impact of a much heftier gem at a more accessible price. Great examples of this can be seen at Nadine Aysoy Fine Jewellery, Stenzhorn and Jaipur Gems, specifically in one of its most covetable ruby necklaces.
I hope these small nuggets of advice will inspire your next jewellery shopping experience. The most important thing is to enjoy every moment of building your jewellery collection so that each piece is meaningful and special in its own way.