If you’re seeking style on a budget, great jewelry can be hard to find. That’s because high-quality pieces come at a cost, but there are alternatives. Secondhand jewelry offers average buyers a chance to invest in pieces that might be out of reach otherwise. Still, it’s easy for new buyers to stumble into bad buys if they’re not careful. If you’re a new buyer interested in exploring the used jewelry market, these 4 tips will help you score the best pieces for the lowest prices. Why pay full price when you can stretch your budget by buying used?
Know Where To Shop
When buying secondhand jewelry, you have several choices. Sure, you can look at sellers on Craigslist or eBay, but since you typically can’t examine the pieces in person before you buy, these can be risky. Instead, consider shopping at thrift or consignment stores or checking the jewelry available at pawn shops. Pawn shops often have a great selection of both antique pieces from estate jewelry, as well as newer pieces. And because pawn shops rely on estimated value to pay traders for their goods, you can feel relatively confident about the authenticity of their items.
Know The Details
While pawn shops may offer you assurances about authenticity, it’s always a good idea to know what to look for when shopping for secondhand jewelry. For example, if you’re interested in buying pearl jewelry, for example, you need to be able to tell real pearls from artificial ones, and should know what features pearls are graded on, particularly shape, size, color, and luster. While real pearls are rarely perfect, high quality ones will come close.
The same principles apply to shopping for gold and silver, or for precious gems; though no one expects you to suddenly be a gemologist, if you want to be sure that you’re getting what you pay for, learn a few basic jewelry identification skills. Real gold is typically marked with a karat number, and high quality gold and silver are often rather soft compared to low-karat alloys.
Embrace The Unusual
Though shopping for secondhand jewelry can be a good way to find classic pieces at budget-friendly prices, the larger portion of the market is made up of more unusual pieces. Keep an open mind to distinctive items that you wouldn’t find on mainstream store shelves. While you may not have had Art Deco-style earrings on your must-have list before you walked in the door, you might be surprised what strikes you. This isn’t like going to a typical jewelry store – you should have a sense of possibility, rather than focusing narrowly on a specific item you hope to find.
One of the best thing things about regularly shopping for jewelry at pawn shops and other secondhand stores is that you have an opportunity to build relationships with the store owner, negotiate the price of pieces, and establish yourself as a regular. That’s how you get these sellers on your side – you may even get to the point when they call you when something they think you’ll like comes in. That’s power in the secondhand world, and it’s something you’ll never get buying new.
Though shopping for secondhand jewelry is a little more labor intensive than just walking into your local jewelry store, it can be a lot more fun and lead to exciting finds. It’s also easier on the wallet. Keep your eyes peeled and keep coming back – consider this a grand fashion adventure.