Valentine's Day and jewelry seem to be inexorably linked. Do you give in or give up?
A recent retail report estimates that over $4 billion will be spent on jewelry for February 14th festivities. Wow.
But Andrea Woroch, a nationally recognized money-saving expert who has appeared on programs including Good Morning America, NBC's Today, MSNBC, the New York Times, and Kiplinger's, offers savvy shoppers 8 Unique Places to Find Jewelry for Less.
But before we explore her tips, do a little window shopping on jewlery sites to check out their Valentine's Day options. We love Freida Rothman's antique looking designs which is why we tapped her for tips on wearing gold jewelry. And the Mirror Mirror ring ($145) above is a great example in silver.
Woroch says you can find bargains on baubles in all kinds of unexpected spots; here are her suggestions on where to save money buying bling for that special someone (maybe it's you!).
1. Websites for the Rejected - there's an entire online industry dedicated to people selling jewelry purchased for a former lover or received by one. Since these items are simply a reminder of love gone cold, men and women are eager to get rid of them. Exboyfriendjewelry.com and IDoNowIDont.com are great resources for used jewelry, from pricey engagement rings to designer earrings, and Woroch says you can expect to pay much less than you would at a retail location. [You might want to do a cleansing process to remove any bad juju though.]
2. Struggling Department Stores - Gift cards from struggling retailers are not in high demand, which makes them a steal on the secondary market. Shoppers can find discount gift cards to JCPenney, for example, for up to 30% off, at sites like GiftCardGranny.com. Smart shoppers can collect these cards, then utilize them to buy fine jewelry at sale time — around Valentine's Day, for example — and grab the good stuff for a fraction of the retail price.
3. Pawn Shops - Most people know pawn shops are great places to find real and vintage jewelry for less. However, you must be prepared for your purchase by researching prices and knowing what to look for. For savvy tips on navigating pawn shops, consider this expert advice from the stars of Hardcore Pawn as shared by ABC News. [See the above juju suggestion, and think about buying something from someone's hardship.]
4. eBay - As the recent seller of a $300 ring on eBay, I can say with confidence this popular auction site is a great resource for finding bling at a bargain. I parted with my ring for $60 because I really, really wanted to get rid of it. Though the purchaser got my ring for a steal, he or she may not know it. That's why it's important to do your research when buying jewelry and other pricey items from personal sellers.
5. Antique Stores - A friend of mine recently flaunted a beautiful ring on Facebook that she found in an antique store. Though these stores are packed to the brim with everything from books to clothing to furniture, you can also find unique jewelry for a steal. Antique shops are one of the few places you can score vintage or true antique pieces when you peruse with a critical eye; some shops even specialize in jewelry picked up at estate sales. Don't be afraid to negotiate.
6. Etsy - If you're looking for something less mainstream, consider the community of artisans on Etsy.com. You can find unique, one-of-a-kind jewelry from creative people around the country and internationally. Sometimes you can even negotiate price with the seller, so don't be afraid to banter when you find something you like.
7. Estate Sales - Thrift shops and antique stores often find their wares at estate sales — and you can skip the middleman by doing the same. Unlike garage sales, estate sales are much larger affairs typically the result of the homeowner's passing. Though you likely won't find the family diamonds for sale, jewelry that lacks high monetary or sentimental value will be yours for the choosing. Search newspaper listings, Craigslist or EstateSale.net for local sales.
8. Discount Retailers - I wouldn't recommend purchasing an engagement ring from TJMaxx; however, discount retailers stock designer jewelry for much less than MSRP. Hit up your local Ross or Marshall's for great deals on designer watches, earrings, necklaces and pendants. Just be sure to separate the treasures from the trash and let the salesperson know you're looking for quality pieces.
You can follow Andrea Woroch on Twitter for more tips and daily savings advice.
More unique jewlery ideas: