How-To: Shopping for Jewelry on Etsy

As you know, I’m in the midst of building my collection of awesome, unique jewelry. Unfortunately, I don’t have all of the money in the world, so buying jewelry is an exceptional luxury for me; thankfully, there’s Etsy.

Etsy, for those who don’t know (who are you?) is an online marketplace for handmade wares. You can find a lot of great pieces on Etsy for amazing prices, but man, it’s a little intimidating. It’s not the kind of place where you can just browse, like a small boutique you wandered into downtown. That said, I’ve had some incredible successes, and I’ve learned to cluster my technique into a few rules:

1. Have an idea in advance.

If you head to Etsy hoping to browse, you won’t have much luck. There are tens of thousands of items for sale there; unless you don’t have a job or any other commitments, you won’t have time to browse.

However, if you have a specific type of item you’re interested in, it’s a godsend. Type “delicate long gold necklace” into the search bar, and you’re treated to a bevy of options that specifically suit the item you’re hoping to find. That’s how I found this piece:

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2. Check seller reviews.

Just like shopping on eBay, you want to make sure you’re buying from a reputable seller. I’ve wasted a lot of money by overlooking due diligence. While I recommend only buying from sellers with over 99% positive ratings on eBay, Etsy sellers are a different barrel, because many of them are starting out. Just trust your gut. If it feels good, it’s worth trying out.

3. Contact the sellers.

One of the greatest thing about Etsy is that sellers are often willing to customize pieces for you. I loved this necklace, but thought it was a bit much in all-gold:

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So, I contacted the seller and asked if I could have a custom piece made with a silver disc and chain and the brass triangle. Within days I had an all-mine design in my mailbox!

4. Loyalty is key.

If you find a seller you like, keep buying from them! Often they’ll offer discount codes for you continuing to shop with them, and you can build a rapport that can result in some stunning custom work, because they KNOW your style. The worst thing that can happen is that nothing happens, and if that’s the case, you’re no worse off than when you started.

I’ve had some tremendous successes buying neat, unique jewelry on Etsy. What’s your biggest win?

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