Always wanted a chic collection of expensive jewellery to layer up your wrist but felt like those shops were out of your reach? This post explains why you should stop buying high street jewellery and how you can actually spend less by buying designer pieces.
Like many women, over the years my jewellery collection has seen a lot of change. From the milky mood rings, tattoo stretch chokers and Argos birthstone necklaces of the 90s to the curated collection I have today. It’s grown and then shrunk again over the years as I’ve come to realise exactly what I like. For me, less is always more. I’ve outgrown the need to have one of everything. Every metal, every stone, every style. I no longer wear my jewellery to match my outfit. Nowadays I collect delicate pieces of jewellery to layer up, each of which instead matches me and I find it so much more satisfying. Besides, that way it always goes.
Having spent years focusing on when to spend and when to splurge my money, I’ve worked out which areas of fashion are worth investing in a jewellery is most definitely one. There are certain items of clothes that I’d refuse to buy from a designer store because I know that you can find just as good quality on the high street. Jeans for example, how many of us swear by Topshop denim? Same goes for great t-shirts, leggings and dresses, all can be found on the high street. If I’m going to splurge on clothes, it’ll be for the design rather than the quality because the high street does such a great job but with accessories it’s a different story. Pair a designer £1,000 blazer, £800 jeans and a £200 t-shirt with high street jewellery, handbag and shoes and I bet you that 99% of people wouldn’t look twice. Throw on a high street blazer, t-shirt and jeans with £1,000 of jewellery, an £800 handbag and £200 shoes and heads will turn. The devil is in the detail and that means it’s the little things that count.
The reason designer jewellery is a better investment is that often it is actually worth more, gram for gram. Denim is denim no matter if it’s made in Milan or Milton Keynes. With fine jewellery however, often just the raw materials themselves, silver, gold etc. cost much more to buy than the cheap versions so it makes sense that it costs so much more. We don’t all need to run around dripping in diamonds though. By shopping at some of my favourite accessible luxury brands like Pandora and Michael Kors, I’ve quickly built up an impressive collection of quality jewellery to layer up and mix and match to beautiful effect. With affordable luxury brands like these, though the jewellery may not be made entirely from precious metals, they are usually superior quality in order to justify the higher price and carry the name of the brand well. This means that for under £100 you can pick up pieces that don’t tarnish, fade or irritate skin in the same way cheap jewellery does.
The other benefit in paying more for a reputable brand is that, on the odd occasion that it doesn’t hold up, you’ve got a much better chance of success when going back to the store to complain because designer items are meant to last. If you snag you jumper and a stone pops out they’ll likely repair it for you. Go back to a budget brand after two months with your busted necklace and they’re likely to laugh in your face, ‘What do you want for £12?!’.
Don’t get me wrong. As a champion of affordable fashion, I think it’s great that so many high street stores now offer beautiful jewellery too. As someone who’s notoriously terrible for losing earrings (I blame my tiny ears) it’s great to know that, on the odd occasion that I want some bright aquamarine earrings to go with my bold new dress, I can find them in a heartbeat. As long as I don’t expect to have them come next season. Years of tarnished jewellery have taught me that, whilst fine for a one off, in the long run, the immediate saving just isn’t worth it. Not when we end up spending hundreds of pounds each year on fast fashion jewellery that chips, fades or brings us out in a rash. £12 for that statement necklace, £5 for a chunky ring and ‘Omg, 10 knuckle rings for £9.99!’. It all mounts up but no sooner have you bought it than it falls apart or gets lost because – let’s face it- nobody’s going back to the bar they were at last night to ask them if they found a bunch of tiny 99p rings on the floor.
Instead, like with many accessories I’ve learnt to save up my money and invest in pieces that will have a better cost-per-wear in the long run. Okay, so that high street necklace was only £12 but I only wore it for two months before too many stones fell out of it and it was beyond salvageable. £12 / 60 days = 20p per wear. Not bad. However, the Michael Kors necklace I replaced it with that Christmas may have been £99 but I’ve worn it every day for two years so that’s £99 / 730 days = 0.14p per wear and it’s look like I’ll have it for years to come meaning that cost will only go down. Yes, it costs more up front and you may have to save up and wait a while to get it but it will always be worth the wait.
*Update*: It’s not often that I’ll come back to a post to add something but every now and then some of you kind, thoughtful, luxury-loving souls share additional tips after reading one of my posts and I feel it’s only right to pay it forward. After sharing this post on Instagram, the lovely Louise @louisemcdonagh1 commented that Kenneth Jay Lane is another great affordable luxury jewellery designer. It then occurred to me that there are several other accessible luxury jewellery brands I love that I’ve failed to mention in those post (slap on the wrist). I’m going to do a more extensive follow-up post going it to what each offers but for now some brands I love that do great pieces under £100; Michael Kors and Pandora as I’ve mentioned but also Monica Vinader, David Smallcombe, Abbott Lyon, Chan Luu, Orla Kiely and, now, Kenneth Jay Lane – thank you Louise!
I’ve now curated a collection of really special pieces of jewellery to layer up and mix and match as I please. Special because they’re more luxurious but also, because I’ve had to save for them, all of my jewellery has more meaning now. Whether a loved one has helped me to purchase it with birthday money, perhaps I pushed myself extra hard at work to get a bonus that paid for it or perhaps I saved up and bought it as reward for reaching a milestone. You can even make a day of buying it, there’s no feeling like walking into a luxury store and picking out something sparkly that you know you’ll have for years to come. My collection is more unique because it comprises pieces by little-know designers too rather than the mass-produced, high street trend pieces. I’m not ‘stuck’ with my collection either, I still have enough pieces to mix and match and layer up my jewellery to suit my mood and better still, if I want a new piece, I can always sell another to pay towards it as quality jewellery holds its resale value.
I hope that this gives you the confidence to stop stocking up on heaps of high street jewellery and put your money towards a beautiful collection of more delicate jewellery to layer up instead. Next time you go to put a cheap bit of jewellery in your basket, take it out and instead put the money in a little pot. Before you know it you’ll have enough money to purchase something really special that will elevate all of your outfits. I also talk more about exactly how I save up to buy designer pieces in Tuesday’s YouTube video which you can watch here.
Did you catch my last post? Break You Summer Occasion Style Rut