The average U.S. household spends only $167 on jewelry per year, but that number varies greatly by region. The northeastern U.S., southern and central coastal California, and the east coast of Florida, for example, spend the most on jewelry per year, while the northwest region spends less than $50 annually per household.
The popular concept of smarter spending has a lot of people taking a closer look at how much they spend on everyday items, and jewelry is often an impulse buy. Self-help and finance blogs discuss budgeting and making realistic financial plans, which often results in cost-cutting or looking for ways to get some of your money back.
But when you’re buying new jewelry, how much should you be willing to spend? What’s the price tag on feeling pretty or scoring a compliment from your moody boss? The obvious answer to this dilemma is: spend the amount that makes sense for you, whether that’s based on your region, your social circle, or your personal style. The decision, however, is more complicated than that, and probably varies with every piece you look at. It’s not easy to choose between shelling out more cash for nicer, longer lasting jewelry over less costly, trendier pieces. It’s hard to place a number on the value of the little boost in self-esteem you might get.
Websites like Pinterest and Instructables make Do-It-Yourself a viable option for saving money on a lot of important items including jewelry, but there are certain pieces that are essentially impossible to DIY. And that’s one element of DIY that people often overlook before diving in to a project: the cost of the materials and tools, which is one part of what goes into jewelry-making. When you’re deciding how you want to better your budget, consider how original you would like your jewelry collection to be. If originality is important to you and you want handmade jewelry from an artist or smaller manufacturer on a site like etsy, plan to spend a little bit more than you might for a similar piece from a larger manufacturer, like Forever 21, who outsource their work and user cheaper materials specifically so they can offer their products at a low price point. Some smaller companies even begin to outsource once they gain popularity so they can manage the costs and offer their product to more customers, saving 400-500 percent by having someone else produce their designs.
Choosing how much to spend on jewelry may also depend on the materials you are looking for. If you’re more concerned about the look than the actual material, sterling silver is a good substitute for silver and white gold, and purchasing gold-coated jewelry can save you a lot of money if you prefer the darker color. In addition, synthetic gemstones can be created to look like a natural gemstone, so if you are here because you are aiming to sell your diamonds, a man-made stone might be a great replacement.
Another consideration for choosing an amount to spend on jewelry is whether you value the experience of going into a physical store and trying on the jewelry or whether you are comfortable buying it online. Online stores are often cheaper, simply because renting a brick-and-mortar space is expensive for the business.
If you are not looking for a specific piece, buying jewelry at an overstock or auction site can be a way to find great deals. Sale jewelry is typically marked down temporarily, while clearance and overstock jewelry are usually marked down because the manufacturer or retailer wants to make room for other products. Because there is an incentive to get rid of it, clearance and overstock jewelry can offer a steeper discount, but the selection may be limited.
One great rule of thumb for a jewelry purchase is the dollar-per-wear rule. To follow this rule, ask yourself how many times you anticipate wearing a particular piece, and if that number is the same as or lower than the price, then it is probably a good purchase. However you decide how much money to spend on jewelry, remember to make the choice for your own reasons, not someone else’s.