Many people buy brand-name or higher priced items under the belief that you get what you pay for. While this saying is valid in many situations, it's just as often invalid. Unfortunately, you usually can't tell if you're getting what you paid for until, well, you've already paid for it. This is definitely the case with jewelry.
I don't buy expensive jewelry because it's too easy to lose it, have it stolen, or get sick of it. It doesn't matter if a necklace I buy will still look as good fifty years later as it did the day I bought it if I'm unlikely to still own and like that necklace in fifty years. I also don't want to give anyone a flashy reason to mug me. So I buy cheap jewelry.
I used to buy my jewelry at Claire's, where jewelry is priced for teenage allowances, until I started feeling embarrassed about being the oldest person in the store. I don't have much use for neon pink hoops and frog earrings, anyway. I was also tired of my jewelry falling apart or turning my ears green.
So now I buy department store jewelry, but only the stuff that hangs on the display racks--nothing that's expensive enough to lock up in a case. I also get some jewelry from Target, Old Navy, and Etsy. Instead of paying about $6 for a pair of earrings, I pay about $15. Unfortunately, I'm still having to stop wearing my jewelry long before I get sick of it because it is changing color or losing its sheen. I have a jewelry polishing cloth that does a brilliant job of removing tarnish, but it can't fix cheap construction. A few of my "silver" earrings have started turning copper, which I'm guessing is because the "silver" coating has worn off. I'm surprised that using copper saves the jewelry companies any money, though, since last time I checked, thieves were still going into abandoned buildings to steal the copper wires and pipes and the metal in a penny was worth more than the penny's face value.
It's disappointing to find a pair of earrings I like only to have them become unwearable after as little as a year. I guess if I want my jewelry to last, I will have to pay enough to get real silver. Of course, I have other jewelry that looks just fine after several years that I spent very little money on, so it's not a cut-and-dry situation, which makes it hard to choose how to spend my money. Do I spend $10 on a bracelet and hope that it will still look nice after a year or two, or do I spend $50 or more and hope that I still like it enough after a year or two to make the extra money I spent worth it?
For now, the only clear solution I have is to stop buying "silver" jewelry made by Guess, because I don't have anything made by them that hasn't turned copper. (If I end up writing them a letter, I'll let you know what happens.) I could also try to buy more beaded jewelry, since it doesn't seem to have the same color-changing issues. For special occasions when nothing but elegance will do, maybe I'll ask for some sterling silver jewelry next Christmas.
Photo by eek the cat