Jewelry Resource Roundup

Where to shop for affordable, handmade, or trendy jewelry

Jewelry is both ubiquitous and incredibly varied. It can be jaw-droppingly expensive, made at home for pennies, or handed down for free. It can be made from precious materials or disposable ones. Most women have at least one piece, and many women have one or more pieces of emotional significance. Jewelry can be subtly invisible or the perfect finishing touch on an outfit. And, like so many people, I absolutely love it.

Please note that I’m not limiting myself to “shopping,” here, my friends. There are plenty of ways to get new jewelry that don’t involve spending big on pre-made pieces!


Let’s start with the obvious, shall we? I’d estimate that 70% of my jewelry hails from Etsy. I’ve been buying pieces from the various individual vendors on this shared site since 2005 and just keep finding more designers to love. As many of you already know, Etsy offers consumers the chance to interact with designers and vendors directly, so you can buy up finished pieces, but you can also collaborate with merchants to create custom pieces. Which is SO MUCH FUN. Some of my favorite Etsy jewelry vendors include:


If I’m looking for a specific piece – like a snake-shaped cuff bracelet or red drop earrings – I generally hit Etsy first, and then turn to eBay. You can get just about any piece you can imagine from Bakelite bangles to estate jewelry to enormous lots of rhinestone brooches. Prices run the gamut, as you can imagine, but there are always some amazing deals to be nabbed. (In case you need a quick refresher on how to shop eBay, here you go.)

Trader Lou

OK, I’ll admit that I’ve only purchased once or twice from this site. And I’ll tell you why: The inventory is so massive and amazing that I get overwhelmed. But the search function works pretty well, and if you’re on the hunt for semi-precious gem designs at reasonable prices, Trader Lou has got you covered. The site also sells supplies, but my understanding is that Fire Mountain has better deals.

Antique malls and flea markets

If 70% of my jewelry hails from Etsy, much of the remaining 30% was purchased at antique malls and flea markets. I adore costume jewelry and find that I can get phenomenal deals on fun, versatile, and well-made vintage pieces when I shop at these places.

Thrift and consignment stores

Most thrift stores offer a small selection of jewelry, most of which is relatively inexpensively made but well worth a peek. I’ve nabbed a couple of my workhorse pieces at my local thrift haunts and always make a point of hitting the jewelry rack just in case.

Consignment stores are a bit choosier, of course, and the ones I frequent keep their offerings in cases. If someone has gone to the trouble to consign a piece of jewelry, it’s likely valuable, well-made, trendy, or some combination thereof. Don’t forget to comb those cases before you check out!

DIY resources

I’ll throw a couple of sites on the fire, here, too, though Pinterest is also a wealth of jewelry-related tutorials. Most of the sites below are hodgepodge DIY sites that throw the occasional jewelry project into the mix, but when they do? Fun times.

For Twin Cities Locals

Gotta plug a few of my favorite local resources in case you TC folks are interested!

Many of these resources are sustainable/handmade, but in case you’re looking for more, my roundup of vendors and brands with sustainable, conscious, or worker-focused practices includes some fantastic additional jewelry resources.

Image courtesy Karin Jacobson.

**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details.

Originally posted 2012-02-02 06:46:11.

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28 Responses to “Jewelry Resource Roundup”

  1. Jenn

    First, let me say that I have never posted on your blog before, but I read it every day and enjoy it so much! 🙂

    Okay, I used to make a lot of jewelry (to sell and for myself) but I got so burned out on it. And then we started going to Forever21, which is sooooo cheap, and it’s hard to buy anything anywhere else now! Tons of rings and necklaces for less that $3.00! (sorry, I don’t know how to make the links pretty!)

    And then, we discovered Charming Charlie which is a tad bit more expensive, but still on the cheap side. Plus, they’re color-coordinated which appeals to my sensibilities greatly. 🙂 And they have an online store now, but they don’t ship internationally yet. 🙁

  2. Jessica

    Great suggestions! As a longtime jewelry seller on etsy, it’s awesome to hear that you find so many goodies there. 🙂

    One of my favorite etsy sellers is none of the above, an artist that makes that most beautiful, colorful, lacy/ geometric designs:

    In regards to your comments about purchasing gemstones directly, I’ve bought from fire mountain in the past, and their quality was okay. Fine for costume-y kinds of applications. If you want a genuinely good deal on nice gemstones, I highly recommend going to an actual bead and gemstone show. Since stones are so incredibly variable in quality and individual characteristics, my experience has been that it’s better to purchase them in person, or from a dealer that shows a great photo of the exact pieces you’ll get instead of a stock photo.

  3. Elissa

    I love all of your recommended sources, but I’m really the biggest fan for Etsy. I love knowing that by buying a piece from Etsy I’m supporting a small business. It also helps that much of what is sold is handmade, making it unique in a way that a piece sold in a department store can’t be.

    Thanks for the great suggestions – I’m off to check out Trader Lou!

  4. Kristina

    The last time I bought a piece of jewelry was last weekend from a street vendor in Berkeley. There is some neat stuff both there and from street vendors in San Francisco. I also like stuff I find in museum bookstores, though that can be kind of pricey.

  5. Danielle

    I am a big fan of Paraselenic Studio, located in the Twin Cities. You can find them at (though the link was not working for me this morning), and at most of the art fairs around town. They make some really exciting, edgy, yet beautiful pieces from found objects. I have a fantastic pair of barrettes made from the circuit boards from digital watches, and a gorgeous necklace made from a triangular chunk of iron found in a Northside train yard, and offset with copper wire.

    • Sal

      The link isn’t working for me either, but I’ll keep trying. Love to support the locals!

  6. Sarah

    I know this isn’t very creative, but I love Fire & Ice and Kohl’s for reasonably priced earrings. Fire & Ice has beautiful, fun studs for under $10 (I love wearing little frogs, bees, elephants or lizards with an otherwise fancy-schmancy ensemble, makes me feel like I have a fun secret). They also sell some really pretty, small dangly earrings for under $30 – with opal, dicrhoic class, Roman glass, Venetian glass, even mother of pearl. I usually go in the store, not online, just because I like looking at all the pretty jewels. 🙂

    Kohl’s is great for jewelry too – I am a huge fan of the Vera Wang for Kohl’s collection – but they have lots of offerings. Plus if you have Kohl’s cash or just shop during a big sale, you can save a ton of cash. I returned a really ugly pair of boots right after Christmas (thanks Mom!) and with my $40 credit, I was able to buy 4 pairs of earrings and 3 bracelets, everything was on asuper clearance!

    Target also features some fun, relatively inexpensive jewelry – I usually scope out the new stuff in the display case and then wait for it to get marked down. I bought a $40 pair of marcasite disco balls that I adored for $3.75 after I waited about 4 months for them to get clearanced.

  7. Rachel

    Gallery 360 in Minneapolis, my favorite artists being Heinz Brummel, Karin Jacobson and Karen Gilbert.

  8. The Waves

    For higher-end vintage jewelry, I’d recommend browsing It’s a similar system as Etsy (many sellers under one umbrella), but the jewelry is often nicer. They also have a section for artisan jewelry.

  9. Trystan (the CorpGoth) is an Etsy alternative that many independent artisans are using as well.

    For DIY, Fire Mountain generally has the best prices online for findings, unless you stumble across an overseas eBay bulk seller sometimes. For beads & gems, you just have to hunt & compare prices. As someone else noted, going to a gem & bead show is always great, but that will depend on having one where you live.

    For both jewelry to wear & DIY, I’m a big fan of Forever 21, Target, Claire’s, Icing, & whatever random mall store I stumble across, the cheaper the better! I’ll either find something I want to wear as-is, or I find stuff I can take apart & use as material to make a new, different piece of jewelry.

  10. D

    Like other commenters above, I have good luck with target clearance for fun jewelry. I am also lucky enough to have a family that loves to give jewelry, and a mom who loves to pass me her unwanted pieces. I also love james avery jewelry, though it can get pricey.

  11. Theresa

    Thanks! This is great. I was just thinking I wish you’d post links to some of your Etsy favs.

  12. sarah

    oooh, so glad that I get to be the one to mention Kate Szabone, whose jewelry is just exquisite! We had her do our wedding bands; I have a grey diamond set in rose gold, my husband wears a hammered white gold band that gets insane amounts of compliments. Now I’m whimpering for one of her wreath rings for valentine’s (silver, though – valentine’s is not an investment for us)

    check out her beyoootiful designs at:


  13. sarah

    (but really, I make 90% of my jewelry. The rest is gifts from foreign locales – big ethnic pieces from Cairo, when my Egyptian friend goes home on school breaks, from Mexico when my mother-in-law travels down there, and from my sister-in-law’s many travels: rwanda, afghanistan, morocco. Since both the SIL and I are still in school, I actually have started sending her a bit of money via paypal before she leaves and letting her know what inspires me. She enjoys the shopping, I enjoy the surprise, and it doesn’t have to be a burden on her that way. And you should see the amazing pieces I’ve started to acquire!)

  14. KL

    I can’t wear copper against my skin or non-precious metals through my ears (sterling silver still makes them act up, but tolerably; base metal is a big NO), so I’ve shopped mostly on Etsy and recently learned to replace ear hooks myself using pliers. That said, the only seller/artist that I’m loyal to is Kythryne Aisling from Wyrding Studios. Hers is the only silver-plated stuff I’ll buy, because it’s just that gorgeous and also holds up well. I also commissioned sterling silver wirework from her to turn a large stone that was gifted to me into a pendant, and was very pleased with the outcome (although her custom work waiting list is of indeterminate time).

  15. Val C-MN

    Jewelry is my absolute favorite thing to buy 🙂

    I buy 85% of my jewelry from QVC ( – 15 yr shopper and 11 yr worker when it was at the Mall of America. I love their silver, stainless steel, Diamonique, and the designer lines Honora, Judith Ripka, Michael Dawkins, Robert Lee Morris, Kenneth Jay Lane, Artisan, Nolan Miller, Lee Sands, Arte d’ Argento, and Joan Rivers (yes, that one…she has been a seller on there for at least 12 years – has great watches and bead necklaces). If you don’t want to watch their shows on cable, you can search to your delight…they have videos (per item) which are good for viewing the piece on a person and listening to the presentation of the item. Jewelry from $19 and on up can be found.

    The other 15% I have purchased from JCPenney stores (sales/clearance), TJMaxx stores (gemstones, crystal jewelry), (Jay King gems) and a few items from (gems set in 14k Clad or Platinum Clad).

    Another good place is – especially check out the clearance section….his price range goes from very reasonable sale prices on up to spendy – something for everyone.


  16. shannon p.

    love the local roundup! I hadn’t seen Karen Jacobson’s stuff before–very pretty! I have to give a shout out to one more local (though they’re on the finer end of the jewelry spectrum)…Waldeland down in Eagan does AMAZING custom work (I have 3 pieces they’ve done with me and am deliriously happy with all! You come in with an idea and they will help you turn it into a finished object…local family business, very creative team, and good at meeting your price points, to boot!). I don’t think they have a website, but I do know they’re on FB. Anyhow, that’s my two cents!