When Is the Best Time to Buy Fine Jewelry?

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Thinking of adding fine jewelry to your holiday shopping list? Think again. Here's when you should and shouldn't buy fine jewelry, according to the experts.

Whether you’re shopping for yourself or a loved one, jewelry can be a worthy investment. A showstopping cocktail ring or elegant necklace can upgrade your style, and these affordable jewelry finds can make you feel like a million bucks without draining your savings. But fine jewelry is in a league of its own. These are the pieces that can mark a life-changing event, symbolize your love or go on to become treasured family heirlooms. In other words, we’re talking about the good stuff, which doesn’t come cheap. However, there is, a best time to buy anything and everything. That being said, it is possible to purchase quality jewelry that doesn’t break the bank, as long as you know the best time of year to buy fine jewelry.

“Diamonds might be a girl’s best friend, but money and time are close runner-ups,” says Maya Brenner, founder and CEO of Maya Brenner. So whether you’re in the market for an engagement ring or looking to treat yourself to a new pair of earrings, follow these guidelines to ensure you get the best price possible. Just remember that fine jewelry isn’t something you want to leave lying around, so be sure to protect your investment with these jewelry storage ideas.

What is fine jewelry?

Fine jewelry, which Brenner notes can also be referred to as high-end or luxury jewelry, is jewelry that is made with precious metals like yellow gold, white gold and platinum. These pieces may also include diamonds and other precious stones such as emeralds, rubies and sapphires, adds Dustin Lemick, a third-generation jeweler and founder and CEO of BriteCo. Lemick also notes that while some fine jewelry pieces can be made with semi-precious stones, jewelry that is made with any type of imitation stones or base metals is not fine jewelry.

How much does jewelry typically cost?

When it comes to jewelry, the price range can vary from a few bucks to tens of thousands of dollars. Low-end jewelry, which Brenner describes as pieces that are typically made from brass or other alloy metals, should cost under $100. Mid-range jewelry, on the other hand, is typically made with sterling silver or vermeil [gold-plated jewelry over sterling silver]. “The prices will vary based on the piece, but you can expect to pay around $200 for a layering chain,” says Brenner.

And finally, we have high-end, or fine jewelry. According to Brenner, “It really comes down to current gold prices and weight of the piece. A delicate 14k gold jewelry piece should run you approximately $200 to $500.”

What affects jewelry pricing?

There are several factors at play when it comes to jewelry pricing. Gold prices, which fluctuate daily, materials such as metals and stones, the amount of labor that goes into making each piece and even where the jewelry is made all help to determine how much you’ll pay for that special addition to your jewelry organizer.

When is the best time of year to buy fine jewelry?

According to Lemick, you’re likely to find the best prices on fine jewelry in March, April and early May. Jewelers will have just wrapped up the holiday season and are typically quiet before engagement ring season starts. “September and October, you’re hitting it at a downtime,” adds Lemick. “Jewelers are gearing up for the holiday season, but it hasn’t started yet.”

Best time to buy fine jewelry
March, April and early May

When is the worst time of year to buy fine jewelry?

If you can, you’ll want to avoid shopping for fine jewelry during the holidays. Jewelers are well stocked and move the most product between November and February, but you won’t often find discounts, says Lemick. Brenner agrees. “Many jewelry companies will have large sales around the holidays, but beware of brands that often offer promotions or large discounts. They’re probably over-pricing their items just to slash them,” she cautions. So bear in mind that if you do come across a great holiday sale, chances are it’s too good to be true.

Should you insure your fine jewelry?

We’ve all heard horror stories about jewelry being lost down a drain, into a dog’s stomach or just mysteriously disappearing. While replacing a $200 bracelet may not seem like a big deal, having to replace a $5,000 to $10,000 wedding ring is likely going to hurt. According to Lemick, you should purchase an insurance policy on any fine jewelry that costs $1,000 or more. “Don’t rely on your homeowner’s insurance,” he cautions, “as those policies are limited and typically only cover you up to $1,500.” If you’re not sure how much your jewelry is worth, Lemick advises bringing it into your local jeweler, who can give you an appraisal as well as clean it and check to make sure any precious stones are secure.

Tips for buying fine jewelry

  • Come up with a budget before you shop.
  • Stagger purchases either right before or right after the holidays.
  • Don’t be fooled by bargain prices. Brenner cautions that some companies will list something as gold, but in the fine print you’ll see that it’s actually gold plated.
  • If you want a piece of jewelry that will last, stick to solid 14k gold or platinum.
  • Tell your jeweler you’d like to see their finished goods. These are a jeweler’s in-stock items that they have already bought and paid for, as opposed to jewelry they have on consignment for manufacturers. Jewelers are more incentivized to sell in-stock items, which means you could get more generous discounts on them.
  • Pay attention to the gold market, and don’t buy when the market is super high.

Where can you buy fine jewelry?

When it comes to buying fine jewelry, high-end retailers like Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, are great places to start. And if you’re looking for more budget-friendly options, you can find quality pieces at stores such as Macy’s and, yes, even T.J. Maxx! Not only will you find quality jewelry at these retailers, but you can stumble across some great sales throughout the year. However, if you prefer custom pieces and personalized service, Lemick suggests finding a reputable, family-owned jeweler in your area.

3 best pieces of fine jewelry to buy right now

FAQ

Is buying fine jewelry worth it?

According to Brenner, fine jewelry is an investment that you and your family will be able to enjoy for decades to come. She recommends having at least one or two special pieces that can be worn with less luxury jewelry.

How do you find a reputable jeweler?

Since jewelry can be such a large investment, you don’t want to just walk into any old jewelry store without doing your homework. Lemick recommends finding a multi-generational jewelry store that has been around for a while, has consistently good reviews and whose custom work and repairs are done in-house as opposed to being sent out. Another thing to look for? How are you treated when you walk in the door? “Really good jewelers will have the best service,” says Lemick. He adds that if you find the jeweler to be snooty or unwilling to treat you with the utmost respect, take your business elsewhere.

Are designer pieces necessarily better than what your local jeweler carries, or are you just paying for a name?

Drooling over the thought of a Tiffany engagement ring or a Cartier Love bracelet? It’s no secret that those pieces will cost you a pretty penny. And while Brenner acknowledges that there is an artistry that goes into designer pieces that you may not see at the mall, you should probably save your money if you are looking for something simple and straightforward. “If you are looking for a simple gold band or a straightforward diamond necklace, those are not items that need to be designer, and you can probably find a better price somewhere else,” she says.

Are jewelry prices ever negotiable?

According to Brenner, prices are often non-negotiable. However, there are adjustments that can be made to help lower your cost. She suggests swapping a diamond for a white sapphire or moissanite, which is a diamond simulant and can also be referred to as a lab-grown diamond. Moissanites are nearly as strong and shiny as diamonds but cost a lot less. Don’t be afraid to ask your jeweler for even more cost-saving options.

What should you look for when purchasing jewelry insurance?

Lemick advises finding a reputable insurance company with a variety of coverage options including loss, theft and damage. However, there’s another coverage option you’ll want to consider, and that’s mysterious disappearance. What is mysterious disappearance? Well, it’s exactly what it sounds like. You put your ring down on top of your dresser and the next thing you know, it’s gone. “About 70% of our claims are mysterious disappearance,” says Lemick. That’s a huge percentage!

Sources:

  • Maya Brenner, founder and CEO of Maya Brenner
  • Dustin Lemick, third-generation jeweler, founder and CEO of BriteCo

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Marisa Hillman
Marisa is a freelance writer and product expert covering product reviews, gift guides, and sales for RD.com. She is a former educator turned professional shopper dedicated to finding the best sales and products on the market. When she's not on deadline, she can be found exploring the East Coast or curled up at home with her nose in a book. She lives in New England with her husband, three children, and two dogs.