Wednesday, November 6, 2013

High / Low: Trendy Jewelry

image from In Dramatic Fashion
Go low end.

A few years ago, a friend of a friend had one of those gold parties, where people bring in their unwanted gold jewelry and are paid in cash for it. These parties are well known as being fraught with scams and not being a great deal for those selling their gold, but to be a good sport, I brought along a small mismatched earring.

Another friend brought a huge pile of old gold jewelry. This friend always looks beautiful and is always very stylish, so I was not surprised that she had a large amount of jewelry she no longer wanted -- what is stylish changes too quickly, and she had determined these items were no longer her style. I recognized a few as items I had seen at boutiques for what I thought were rather high prices. (You know the kind: The pretty jewelry that ranges from $25 for a necklace to around $80 for another at a boutique that carries stylish and trendy pieces.)

Several of her large necklaces, a brooch or two, earrings, bracelets, and rings were all piled on the table. One by one the woman weighing the gold went through each item checking the karat of each. And one by one, she broke the news to my friend that these pieces were all gold-plated, and would not be worth their weight.

Having recently been laid-off, my friend was disappointed that the jewelry she was willing to give up was not worth anything near what she paid for each item. For her large pile of jewelry, she was offered $6.

After seeing this, I told her to add my small earring into her pile. What could my little earring be worth by comparison to her large pile of jewelry? Then again, it was mismatched, and therefore not worth anything to me in my drawer, so I might as well add it to my friend's total.

I was surprised when the woman weighing the items said she would pay $7 for my little earring. Unlike my friend's jewelry, mine was not plated gold, and worth more.

That moment reinforced my belief that buying stylish jewelry is not worth the cost. Not only does it become useless after it has gone out of style, but this experience proved just how much the prices of those trendy pieces are marked up.

Now I am even more careful about my jewelry purchases. Yes, I still buy trendy pieces, but I am careful to spend small amounts on them because they are the equivalent of driving a new car off the lot... As soon as the purchaser tires of them, their value is virtually gone. So be sure trendy items are going to be worn enough times to justify the cost -- when it comes to buying trendy jewelry, it does not pay to be optimistic.

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