I love jewelry and I used to purchase a lot of fast fashion pieces because I always wanted to have variety. Well after getting rid of a bunch of fashion jewelry I never wore (the best of which I saved for my closet sale to benefit the wildfire relief fund) I finally realized that like in other areas of my life, quality is way more important than quantity and variety. It’s much better to have some good quality pieces that are your signature. Especially if they look amazing. And with solid gold jewelry, they always have a resale option later (currently I’ve been selling them on TheRealReal because I feel like it would be hard for me to sell on other sites without credentials).
So I started by looking into ethical jewelry companies like Vrai and Oro (reviewed here), but I realized that they’re still using new materials for their pieces. That’s more precious metals mined from the earth (though their diamonds are man made). And I’m tempted by the aesthetics of Gldn and Mejuri but in the end, that’s all new production pieces and they’re not always solid gold either. That’s when I started looking into Etsy and finding vintage or antique pieces. And you know what? Those old jewelry pieces are usually so unique and gorgeous that now I rather buy used than new. And about 90% of the time you can find some really good deals for these used items. Plus the feeling of a piece being well-loved and cherished, makes me want to cherish it even more. There’s a sense of history to them. My favorite era for jewelry is 1900-1930s, which includes some Victorian era pieces and Art Deco pieces.
So who to trust on Etsy? Well I always stick with U.S. small businesses that have high reviews (both in number and number of stars). Also I prefer to buy from those who take the time to write about themselves on their About page. Then you can see if they are just a hobbyist or a legit brick and mortar family store. The family stores usually are more trustworthy but at the same time their prices are higher. When I purchase from a hobbyist, I usually will ask them questions about the item to see if they are 1) prompt and 2) know what they’re talking about. And most of the hobbyists with high ratings on Etsy are honest and legit sellers (they would be like me if I decided to sell my stuff on Etsy). And last but not least I always take my newest find to my local jeweler (found through a high rating on yelp) to clean, fix, and evaluate the pieces. I’ve purchased a fair amount of jewelry on Etsy so far and of the pieces I’ve acquired they have all turned out to be really good buys (well all except 1, but for $100 sometimes it really is too good to be true lol).
So here are some of my favorite Etsy jewelry shops if you’re thinking about adding any used pieces of jewelry to your collection:
BlackMarketLLC: A brick and mortar store based in Boston, this store has a wide range of vintage and antique jewelry. I purchased a pair of diamond hoops here when I wanted something Jennifer Fisher-esque without the brand new marked-up prices. I also was able to bargain with them to bring down the price by about $50.
EstateAntiqueJewelry: Purchased several antique rings from them and both exceeded expectations. Pretty good prices for a lot of their antique items when compared to other Etsy shops.
Majean Vintage: A shop run by two GIA gem institute graduate sisters in Lancaster, PA, they specialize in the really old stuff and mostly rings. I purchased one gorgeous aquamarine ring from them for my birthday (my birthstone!), and their prices aren’t cheap. But the quality of their items are really superb.
LoveAlwaysGalicia: Run by a former jewelry shop owner, she always has the most unique and beautiful antique and vintage rings. I especially love her selection of opal rings. Prices aren’t bad either.
LittleCoterie: Sara is a hobbyist I took a chance on, and it has really paid off. She has the cheapest prices when it comes to antique rings though her pictures aren’t the best. But she is really good with her communications, and I usually ask her for more pictures of anything I’m interested in. She usually replies right away and sends pics by the end of the day. Also she’s able to keep her prices down because unlike the merchants above she doesn’t spend money on the packaging (it’s just tissue paper in a bubble mailer), so if it’s going to be a gift you’re going to have to procure your own ring box.
DavidJThomasJewelry: David is a former GIA instructor and has been in the jewelry biz for 35 years so he really knows his stuff. He mostly sells loose gems or old stick pins. I purchased a stick pin from this shop (at probably the best prices for Etsy) and converted it to a ring (which most jewelers can do pretty easily). It’s a great way to get a truly unique Victorian ring for the cheapest possible prices.