We all know the old adage 'you get what you pay for' and that is certainly true about many things.
I'm very into researching and reviewing products before buying them. I like to get the most for my money, the best quality item within my budget but sometimes, the best product isn't always the most expensive and some of the pricier items don't always get the best reviews.
When it comes to jewelry, there are certain pieces you want to spend money on. Things like engagement and wedding rings, timeless pieces that you wear pretty much everyday, like a pair of diamond studs or a nice silver bracelet. There are also pieces that are more stylized or seasonal, pieces that are trendy or a certain novelty.
I think people need a large jewelry wardrobe. I love having enough pieces that I can have choices that work into an outfit perfectly. I'm not wealthy so I have to choose what to spend my money on. I invest in a few key pieces and then I can buy more affordable pieces to round it all out. There is nothing wrong with combining heirloom pieces with pieces you didn't pay a fortune for. Did you know that many celebs will wear one really expensive, borrowed, diamond item and round out the look with crystals and cubic zirconia? You'd just assume everything they had on was Harry Winston huh? Yes, you would.
When I opened my Etsy shop, I wanted to offer items that were affordable. I chose not to work with precious metals. They cost so much and really add a lot to the cost of the finished piece. I like working with stainless steel, brass and plated base metals. You can get the look for a fraction of the cost.
When it comes to trendy or seasonal pieces, they are items you don't wear every single day so why invest a lot of money into those? You might choose to wear a fun and festive Christmas tree pendant at work a couple days of the year, or maybe you want to slip on some cute earrings showing your love of your favorite football team every Sunday. The certainly make pricey Christmas and NFL jewelry, but why pay it when you can get the same look for a lower price?
I've had people ask me why my jewelry is so affordable and why I choose not to make money on it. First off I do make money on it. I'm just not marking it up 300% like most jewelry stores do! I try and price my items within the Etsy marketplace. I will research what others are asking for similar items in their shops. I also figure out the material cost of each item and factor in the fees I have to pay to Etsy and Pay Pal and then factor in a little for my labor and time. No, I'm not making cash hand over fist but I'm getting it covered.
I'd rather sell it to you than have it sitting here, taking up space. I create because it's fun... and I need to sell it to pay for the addiction I have to beads. (you think I'm kidding. I'm not)
The problem I run into is that there is a certain group of people that think affordable equals low quality or 'cheap' materials. I use genuine gemstones - both precious and semi-precious, imported glass beads, stainless steel, brass, copper and silver plated components. I use high quality specialty beads that are unique and beautiful.
I try and shop with independent sellers on Etsy for supplies when I can. I get many of my beads and most of my gemstones thru Etsy sellers. I've cultivated friendships with certain suppliers to get the best prices and the most interesting components I can.
I have a section in my shop that has 'inspired by' designs. I very often see pieces in catalogs or online from famous designers that I love. I'm not going to pay $300 for a pair of earrings unless I wear them every single day (like a pair of studs) and I'd never pay $800 for a necklace .. I mean, come on. So, I create something similar with affordable materials and you can get the same look for a lot less. No one is going to know that you paid $300 or $12 for the earrings (unless you tell them) and think of how many $12 pairs you can buy for $300!
The top photo in this post is a pair of my Sunny earrings that I sell for $14. I saw a pair that looked identical in a famous boutique catalog that sold for $98. They were sterling silver with genuine moonstone. Mine are silver plated with genuine moonstone.
If you are one of those people that think affordable equals crappy, please think again. Please poke around on Etsy and buy something you love, even if it isn't $100 ... just so you can see the care and pride put into a pair of earrings or the time spent on a necklace. I make sure every item I sell is the quality I'd expect from someone else. It is very common for me to re-do the wrap of an earring three or four times to get it just right. I make sure I ship orders quickly because I hate waiting for anything when I order it.
Sure, personal taste and our own opinion of what it means for something to be 'quality' can be all over the place but don't assume that if something is affordable, it must be crap. Investigate, ask questions. If you do end up with an item you don't care for, return it or give it away.
I've gotten things from Etsy sellers that were way under priced for the work I know went into them. Some people just want to get their stuff out into the universe or just out of their house. Some people bead, paint, craft, knit and crochet for fun or as a stress reliever. They just want to sell their creations so they can buy more beads, paints and yarn! It's fun to search Etsy for things that just speak to you and to see the person behind the design. To see photos of their pets and children in the profile section ... you don't get that buying an item at the mall.
I love it when I am wearing something from an Etsy seller and someone comments on it and I can tell a story about it .. about how I got the charm on that necklace from a woman who sells beads to help pay for her son to go to college or how I met an amazing mom that blows glass in her backyard as a way to relieve the stress she has of raising an autistic child. The story about how the pit bull necklace I bought benefited a rescue or how the crochet necklace is a one of a kind creation and I only paid $12 for it. How I've amassed a sizable collection of pieces from an amazing and trained jewelry designer that lives in NYC or how I've picked up a few pieces from a designer in Los Angeles who also loves to do ballet. I have wrap bracelets from a woman in Colorado that rides horses for fun and a great number of pieces from a very talented artist in Pennsylvania that has also become one of my closest friends. Isn't that better than. 'oh, I got this at Macy's'?
I think so.