Who doesn't love a bargain when it comes to updating your style? With so much bohemian inspired jewellery on the high street now, some even with semi-precious stones, we've forgotten what it's like to buy good quality handmade jewellery.
Growing up I had the massive advantage of my mum being a silver jeweller, so I could see how much nicer it is to have unique pieces rather than bumping into your friend whose ring is the same one you bought from Accessorize a week ago. I've shamelessly copied my Mum's quirky style of wearing as many rings as can be squeezed onto my tiny fingers and I've kept them all on for as long as I can remember. My rings are like the charms hanging on a charm bracelet, I look down at my hands and am reminded of so many lovely times associated with each one. It's easy to forget that I'm even wearing them sometimes, until I hear "Ooh! I love your rings!".
There are so many ways to buy and sell unique jewellery now, with the internet providing even more cost/time effective ways of trading compared to full days spent on a stall at a craft fair. This means that jewellers can afford to give you an even better deal! Naturally, the cost of materials and production is going to be higher with a handmade piece, but once you take this into account it is much easier to see the value. I also love that you can see the craftsmanship and individuality of a piece that you wouldn't get with a mass produced item. Etsy is a great option to explore handmade jewellery, with so many sellers all in one place. Many sellers also have instagram pages where you can view their work.
Another great option is to check out vintage fairs, charity shops, or any second hand sales for a complete bargain. This option is a little harder for finding rings due to sizing but if you hunt around you might just find the perfect fit! I picked up one of my favourites from a second hand jewellery stall, which admittedly was being run by my grandma, and bought it for only 50p. It has mostly empty spaces where small silver detailing used to be but it's not that noticeable and I quite like that it's not perfect. When searching for jewellery this way, a good tip is to look for markings. You generally want to be looking for a little stamp on the back, inside or somewhere discrete, which says 925. This means that the piece is real sterling sliver (as 92.5% is pure silver mixed with an alloy). My 50p ring doesn't have this 925 stamp but is printed with 'SILVER'. If you're still not sure, another test is to use a magnet, as sterling silver is not magnetic. Rings that my mum has made do not have stamps on, so it is worth noting that some handmade pieces will not be marked.
Other rings that I have are also from craft fairs. I know I said earlier that this is not always the most cost effective method for either party, however, the benefits of this are that you can see the pieces in front of you and try them on, whilst also being able to talk with the jeweller about it. My quirkiest ring was from a stall on a market where the woman explained that she designs all of the pieces and travels to Asia to get them produced, then sells them back in the UK. It was easy to see that her travels had inspired the designs and the time and money saved in production meant that she had so many more options and sizes to choose from.
I have also bought jewellery from the Oxford high street over the years, and yes, one is from Accessorize! But a great middle option are jewellery shops like Pia. They have some beautiful simple silver and gold pieces to choose from and regularly have great sales, so it's definitely worth looking if you're on a bit of a budget but still want something a bit special.
I hope this post inspires you to shop around and support small businesses or to hunt for some second hand bargains! Let me know in the comments below if you also love handmade pieces and if you know of any great silver jewellery companies.