How to set jewelry budget?

Mairaculi

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Sep 9, 2020
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543
For quite some time now I wanted to get more into fine jewelry. I haven't bought any cheap costume jewelry in years, I have a few pearl pieces, a beautiful, minimal watch, most of my jewelry is sterling silver with three good quality gold plated pieces. Some stones like rose quartz and blue topas but no precious stones or gold jewelry.
I don't need a list of things to start with, I know what I like and what styles I would get, but I find it difficult setting my budget.

A lot of advise I read says “Go for the best quality you can afford“, but I not necessarily agree with that. I'm quite happy where I am with my savings and investments and I like that I can put a big portion of my income towards my savings, on top of saving for retirement. Buying the best quality that I can afford would obviously strongly affect my savings negatively. And I'm not sure I'm ok with that.
I also don't need the pieces that I buy to be “heritage“ pieces, that I dream about gifting to my daughter or so. I'm quite happy to just enjoy them for myself, everything else is optional. I also don't have any external factors that would make me lean into one or the other direction: I work in a no-dress-code office environment (most of the time I wear something between smart casual & business casual, depending on the meetings I have), and none of my family / close friends is really big into expensive jewelry except engagement ring / wedding ring.

But I also feel like the advise “start small and upgrade“ is not always good, because of the low resale value of jewelry you loose quite a bit of money when upgrading and reselling the old pieces. For example: I don't want to get tiny diamond studs now, so that in two years they seem too small for me and I want bigger ones. I want to keep sustainability in mind and get many years of use out of the pieces I get.

So, I know everyone's different and you can't set my budget for me, but I'm really interested in the thought process that went into your decision to go for a certain price range of jewelry. How did you know which quality / price range to go for? And if you went for more expensive pieces: Was it just a decision concerning quality or do you feel any different wearing your more expensive pieces?
 

Pevi

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Jun 18, 2016
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535
I would say invest more in pieces that you wear every day. I would say the perfect piece would be something that you're thrilled to wear every day, it isn't about price or branding. Buy the ones that seem "perfect" and don't settle. Go the custom route if necessary. Hope this helps!
 
May 29, 2010
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The best way is to set up a separate fund for jewelry/luxury purchases. Put in a set budget a month- e.g. $100. This way you keep it separate from you investments and don’t feel “guilty” about spending it. Then you should use that to buy the best you can afford. When people use that phrase they don’t usually mean to touch investments- they are referring to what the budget allows.

I would also suggest checking out the preloved market. You get more “bang” for your dollar.

Another suggestion would be to go with classics and stay away from whatever is trendy. Classics include: diamond studs/huggie style earrings, diamond pendant (solitaire or heart shaped), gold bracelet (bangle, charm, etc), cocktail ring (larger semi-precious or precious stone)

You do not have to buy designer- just quality- only choose designer if you love the brand or a particular product the brand makes - e.g. Cartier Love Bracelet, VCA Vintage Alhambra, Tiffany and Co Peretti Open Heart
 

liliBuo

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Oct 14, 2016
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508
When people say the best you can afford, they (we) mean comfortably afford, as in the money you are left to play with once you have paid bills / invested / put in a savings account.. my end of the year bonus is what I concider play money. I dont play with my income or my investments as I tend to be very conservative with money. With my bonus I usually get one bigger item in the best quality I can afford. Before having a bonus I use to put 1% of my income as play money (bags / jewelry etc) its not a lot but I spent that without regret and felt good about my savings. You have to figure out what % or amount you are comfortable playing with. That amount will also vary, for exemple you can put 1% when you are in your 20s and building your assets and 5% in your 40s when you feel more comfortable with where you are at financially. Budgeting is a great exercise.

I agree with you on the start small thing, I dont like that either, I would say get only things that make your heart sing, and if its above your budget either wait for next year and combine both budgets or get it now and dont buy anything next year, thats personaly how I do it.

Good luck with finding what budget you are comfortable with and have fun with your purchases!
 

Tempo

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Jun 19, 2013
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Monaco
As I a have few years (well, actually decades) more under my belt, I allowed myself to share a few things I have learned about spending money on jewelry.

Budget: I don't think there is any rule. Absolutely depends on the value you give to jewelry in general. Also in relation to all the other things that are fun to you. In my case that's about 20% of my income. Not that I spend this money in every case, but I reserve this amount mentally so that I can strike quickly in the event of a tempting offer. Without this mental preparation, I would have missed some offers because I would have turned in circles for far too long.

Building a collection: nothing is forever. Taste changes over time (and also the financial possibilities). So you will part with parts of the collection and replace them with new ones. For that, it is better to have more valuable items in your collection.

Designer pieces vs. Nonames: Only jewelry from well-known brands keep a certain value. And first and foremost the classics - and of them only the coveted pieces. That means, the entry-level price range will be a bit higher. I have had the best experience with Rolex and Cartier. If you keep their products long enough, you may get the money back that you have paid originally. In any case, this is easier if you buy preloved.

Preloved: is definitely an option. However, the price has to be right. If it is more than 60% of the original price, it is probably better to buy new and save yourself all the uncertainty as to whether the piece you bought is okay.
Well reputed second-hand sellers in particular have now reached a price level where I would not think twice and would definitely buy new.

Savings: If you create such a valuable collection, you can definitely count it among the "savings". Even if the thought of having to part with loved ones hurts, it is a good feeling not to have to suffer a huge loss if the worst comes to the worst.

I hope these thoughts of an experienced (but never old lady) will help you a bit.
 

papertiger

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There are investment and there are investments.

If you think of jewellery as pure investment and want to your pieces to appreciate in value then as @AntiqueShopper said maybe go for pre-loved (and verifiably authentic) but also maybe rare and precious like natural pearls or untreated coloured diamonds, maybe jewellery with historic provenance. Specialist new jewellery designers and makers on the up can also make for good investment.

Investment in terms of what you wear is totally different. It can actually be better to buy from a boutique if you intend to become a regular customer and want to enjoy some of the possible the advantages of a single jewellery house or designer. Don't buy anything you wouldn't feel totally comfortable and confident wearing often. That tends to rule out gems/stones that scratch, shatter or fade (unless you don't mind) as well as things that are too 'flash' for your sartorial style or lifestyle. Fashionable status pieces have a shelf-life and can date so make sure you buy for personal reasons. Basically, don't buy anything you don't 100% love. If you're thinking about 'investment in style' then actually, I recommend of letting go of thinking so much of 'acquisition and return', instead think personal expression and longterm love.
 

JenJBS

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Sep 22, 2019
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I agree with 'Buy the best you can afford'. But if it doesn't fit in my budget, I can't afford it. (Though I have been bad about getting bags on my credit cards, when they aren't in my budget... :borg: They are my weakness.)

I agree that start small then upgrade is bad advice for jewelry. Works perfect for cars - but not jewelry.

@Pevi makes a great point about spending more of your budget on the pieces you're going to wear every day.

Whatever amount you decide on for your jewelry budget, instead of getting a planned/classic item as soon as you have the money, I'd keep some in reserve for when you happen upon that special piece that captures your heart - from a trunk show, vintage find, local jeweler, special piece found on vacation, etc.
 
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Mairaculi

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Sep 9, 2020
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543
Thank you for all your detailed suggestions! I have a few ideas on how to proceed, I need to sit down and write things down.
@AntiqueShopper I definitely have budget for all unnecessary things in life, but not broken down into categories. I probably need to set up a separate budget for jewelry, because when there's play money left, I usually buy a bigger item like a bag or tech stuff a few months earlier than I planned instead of setting money aside for jewelry. @JenJBS I love the suggestion of setting money aside for the special piece I might come across randomly, I love second-hand shopping so this is definitely a good idea. (But I definitely agree with @Tempo that not all preloved offers are worth taking)
@Pevi I'm also very intrigued to go the customary route with a small jeweller, and I'm definitely looking for pieces for every day, I don't have a lot of special occasions to go to especially at the moment. I have one necklace that I love but don't wear anymore because it's cheap quality and the coating chipped, I'm really tempted of having it re-made in gold by a local jeweler.
 

sneedonist

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Apr 26, 2016
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I spend 5% of my after-tax income on wardrobe, shoes, jewelry. Each year if I don’t spend it all, I bank to next year and usually end up splurging on a purse or jewelry. If I’m looking for diamond studs or some kind of simple jewelry, designer is not necessary. In my case I was lucky to get some of this kind of jewelry from my mom and her sisters. Any jewelry purchases I make now are designer.

If buying jewelry that is not designer I would buy second hand, for sure. The deals there are outrageous and incomparable from retail.

If buying jewelry that is designer, I’d buy in store or directly from retailer. The discount is never worth it for piece of mind about authenticity or condition. Only exceptions to this rule are when the designer piece is vintage (in which you can’t get it in store) or when the designer piece tends to be more rare/less common (in which case markdown tends to be around 30-50%). Like, I would never buy a Tiffany/Cartier/VCA piece that is marked down by $100 or something, which I think is really weird that it is a thing at TRR or fashionphile. I’m like WHY!!!??? ‍♀
 

880

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Basically, don't buy anything you don't 100% love. If you're thinking about 'investment in style' then actually, I recommend of letting go of thinking so much of 'acquisition and return', instead think personal expression and longterm love.
This ! There is a thread entitled something like does a high bag price make you nauseated?
don’t buy anything that remotely approaches that .
I agree with @sosauce when she says “This is my current point of view: I adjust my spending to accommodate my shopping list.”
(I believe most of us on TPF are referring strictly to money designated for fun items, not for expenses, charity, savings, homes or retirement) assume that’s clear :biggrin:
And, @Mairaculi, pls remember you don’t have to replace things all at once. (Although I’m buying more in 2020 perhaps in part bc of covid, I hadn’t bought any jewelry Of note since 2001) Your necklace seems like a great place to begin.
I agree with @Pevi to spend more on things you wear everyday. If the rose gold pendant is not something you wear every day (for a reason other try an repair) perhaps figure out if you should try something else. If the silver one is one that you would wear everyday, a longer chain is easy to remedy.
most importantly have fun! The journey is sometimes more important than the end result
 
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sosauce

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Jan 27, 2021
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Jewelry can be a form of investment, but it’s not a particularly good one (which you probably already know). However, unlike watches, bags, or cars, jewelry doesn’t need much upkeep to retain its condition. And it doesn’t go through huge trends like fashion, or expected obsolescence like technology.

No consumer products are going to be ideal mediums for investment. That being said, jewelry is at least a somewhat predictable purchase that you can wear and utilize on a day-to-day basis as an end user — unlike art or baseball cards. When the time comes that you need some extra cash, you can sell your jewelry and still get over 50% of what you paid if it’s by a designer. To me, I think that’s a fair tradeoff considering that you’ll get to enjoy the piece for (hopefully) many years.

On another note, if you buy a Rolex or a Birkin and leave it unused in a safe for several years, you’re probably going to need to repair the movement or the leather if you want to resell it. But if you buy a diamond ring and leave it at the bank for several years, the ring will retain its wearability. Jewelry just doesn’t face “decay” or entropy to the same degree. I have jewelry from the 1800s that I can still wear. I don’t see anyone selling hard-sided Louis Vuitton luggage from the 1800s.

Regarding the budget aspect, I also need help with creating a jewelry budget :’) Bags and fashion are bigger and more popular categories for most TPFers (and shoppers in general) so I’m definitely in the minority here, because jewelry overwhelmingly takes up the vast majority of my luxury purchases. I don’t really allocate a specific portion of my income to jewelry. If something is rare or limited, and it’s in a style I like, I plan out how I should adjust my spending so I can buy the piece to meet a certain deadline.

This is my current point of view: I adjust my spending to accommodate my shopping list, instead of adjusting my shopping list to conform to a budget I’ve come up with.
 
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Mairaculi

Member
Sep 9, 2020
179
543
Jewelry can be a form of investment, but it’s not a particularly good one (which you probably already know). However, unlike watches, bags, or cars, jewelry doesn’t need much upkeep to retain its condition. And it doesn’t go through huge trends like fashion, or expected obsolescence like technology.

No consumer products are going to be ideal mediums for investment. That being said, jewelry is at least a somewhat predictable purchase that you can wear and utilize on a day-to-day basis as an end user — unlike art or baseball cards. When the time comes that you need some extra cash, you can sell your jewelry and still get over 50% of what you paid if it’s by a designer. To me, I think that’s a fair tradeoff considering that you’ll get to enjoy the piece for (hopefully) many years.

On another note, if you buy a Rolex or a Birkin and leave it unused in a safe for several years, you’re probably going to need to repair the movement or the leather if you want to resell it. But if you buy a diamond ring and leave it at the bank for several years, the ring will retain its wearability. Jewelry just doesn’t face “decay” or entropy to the same degree. I have jewelry from the 1800s that I can still wear. I don’t see anyone selling hard-sided Louis Vuitton luggage from the 1800s.

Regarding the budget aspect, I also need help with creating a jewelry budget :’) Bags and fashion are bigger and more popular categories for most TPFers (and shoppers in general) so I’m definitely in the minority here, because jewelry overwhelmingly takes up the vast majority of my luxury purchases. I don’t really allocate a specific portion of my income to jewelry. If something is rare or limited, and it’s in a style I like, I plan out how I should adjust my spending so I can buy the piece to meet a certain deadline.

This is my current point of view: I adjust my spending to accommodate my shopping list, instead of adjusting my shopping list to conform to a budget I’ve come up with.
Thanks, I like your thoughts on this! Your approach to shopping for jewelry is completely different from mine. For me, I really want to prioritize jewelry over everything else wardrobe related, because it's the area my collection needs the most work, but every time I try to safe up for a piece, something else catches my eye in the meantime (coat, bag, etc) and the money is spent elsewhere. Which leads to me using my old stuff that I don't like anymore, settling for something not perfect for me and buying too cheap items which look bad after two years. And I don't like that.
So having sert up a separate budget for jewelry works great so far. I'm saving up with a sinking fund right now. I'm not really sure what I want to get first, but high on my list currently are:
- replacement necklaces: one for rosegold pendant which broke on me (I'm not sure yet if I want to go gold or if high quality gold plated silver is good enough. It's a piece that I don't wear daily, so gold plated could be enough) and one for a silver pendant which is slightly too short for my liking.
- a second watch; I love my watch (it's a minimalistic style, small, black & silver, feminine), I just want to change it up every now and then; I haven't decided on the style yet
- small diamond (probably lab diamonds or moissanite) studs: I have a pair of CZ in silver bezel setting that I don't like on me at all so I'm currently looking into yellow and rose gold prong settings. I'm really tempted to not go for a traditional brilliant cut, but another kind of round cut like rose cut or portuguese cut, old european, we'll see...
 
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txstats

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Jan 24, 2016
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I don’t have a budget per se. I usually do my research on how much people would spend on average on something that I’m considering buying, and I would sleep on it for some time (months or even years sometimes). I’m not a big fan of upgrades, so I generally buy stuff that’s not necessarily the best I could afford but definitely something I’m truly happy with. I only have one of each jewelry piece and am looking to add some pearls to my collection. I’m a minimalist, and I do buy items that I can pass on to my future daughter, so in my case, I’m okay with splurging a little on jewelry even if I won’t be wearing them every day.
 

Gourmetgal

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Nov 13, 2014
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Mairaculi, it sounds like you have your priorities in order because let’s face it, jewelry is neither important or necessary but your comfortable retirement is! I like the suggestion to set aside a portion of your monthly income earmarked for future jewelry purchases as long as it doesn’t hinder your overall savings and investment plan. Developing a relationship with a good jeweler is helpful as your collection grows. A good jeweler can alert you to quality designers that are unique as an alternative to the same old “it” brands”. A good jeweler can help you design custom pieces, repair pieces and set stones you may have purchased elsewhere and they may also deal with pre-owned items. And finally, a good jeweler can be especially flexible in pricing for a loyal customer. Have fun and good luck!
 

Mairaculi

Member
Sep 9, 2020
179
543
Mairaculi, it sounds like you have your priorities in order because let’s face it, jewelry is neither important or necessary but your comfortable retirement is! I like the suggestion to set aside a portion of your monthly income earmarked for future jewelry purchases as long as it doesn’t hinder your overall savings and investment plan. Developing a relationship with a good jeweler is helpful as your collection grows. A good jeweler can alert you to quality designers that are unique as an alternative to the same old “it” brands”. A good jeweler can help you design custom pieces, repair pieces and set stones you may have purchased elsewhere and they may also deal with pre-owned items. And finally, a good jeweler can be especially flexible in pricing for a loyal customer. Have fun and good luck!
Thank you!