For my birthday this year, I asked for a Pandora charm bracelet because I see them everywhere, they are adorable, and it had become a “must have” item for my jewelry box.
My mother begrudgingly bought it. She also pointed out that Chamilia and Kay Jewelers had better deals on snap bracelets and Murano charms, leading to the conclusion that because those bracelets resembled the Pandora line but lacked the Pandora brand recognition, what I was buying was just a name (guilty as charged!).
From that point on, I decided to do my own research to see if I was getting the best deal I could possibly get before I shelled out the dough for additional charms.
Here’s how I’ve learned to findi the best deals on Pandora products (and their knockoffs):
Oh, snap! Similar snap bracelets, different prices…
Snap bracelets securely snap over a lock to keep charms in place. But Pandora bracelets and lookalikes are also available with other clasp options, including the classic lobster clasp, a magnetic clasp and other styles. The price of the bracelet is influenced by the clasp style. While some styles can be found for as low as $40 (for lobster clasps and other styles), prices can also go up to $65 and above for snap bracelets.
Priorities will determine the budget for this bracelet. If the first priority is the Pandora name, forget about the snap style and opt for the lobster clasp instead. This will save up to $20 on the bracelet alone. Does the look of the snap style override the need for the Pandora name? If so, go for a knockoff brand and keep the price at $45 or even lower, depending on where it is purchased (more on that below).
Aside from the name, there isn’t much difference between the snap bracelet found at Chamilia and Kay Jewelers and Pandora itself.
One of the best reasons to choose a Pandora bracelet is because of the warranty that comes with the purchase.
Charm bracelets have a sentimental appeal: A suitcase charm reminds us of a special vacation, while a running shoe is a reminder of a favorite 10K race. That sentimental value means there’s extra incentive to take care of these charms and make sure they last as long as those memories.
Pandora offers a one-year warranty on all bracelets and charms. This covers any manufacturer defects (damages caused by other actions, such as dropping the bracelet, are not included under the warranty). When there is a problem with the bracelet, it should be returned to the store where it was first purchased. The store then sends it to Pandora to be evaluated, and then it will be repaired or replaced (or returned as-is if the warranty cannot be applied). Be sure to keep your receipt in case there is a problem.
Chamilia bracelets are also covered by a warranty (24 months), but the bracelet at Kay Jewelers does not include warranty coverage.
For those not concerned about the added security that comes with a warranty, perhaps this is another reason to choose a Pandora knockoff instead of the real deal.
Buying from eBay and Etsy
I hesitate to purchase jewelry and name-brand items from sites like eBay and Etsy simply because it is difficult to ensure the item being purchased is authentic. When I am searching for a specific brand, like Pandora, I follow these guidelines:
- Look at the picture of the product to see if it shows the hallmark. The hallmark is an engraving on a product that verifies its authentiicty (ALE 925 for silver or ALE 585 for gold). These marks are found on most products in the Pandora line.
- Make sure that there is an authentic box and receipt included with the sale. Some sellers say they will send a copy of the receipt, but that will not be sufficient if a warranty evaluation is ever needed. If the charm you are buying has been retired, it is still helpful to have the original receipt because even when a piece is out of warranty, Pandora can fix charms for a small fee.
- As with any purchases from sites like eBay and Etsy, always purchase items from reputable sellers. In addition, look for sellers with positive feedback.
Murano glass charms
These popular charms can be found at any store that sells Pandora products or the lookalikes. While the average price at major retailers can be around $30, they can also be found online (sites like eBay and Etsy for under $10). Beads that don’t contain the Pandora brand can still be worn with that bracelet (or others) if it is indicated that they fit most Pandora and similar style bracelets.
This is a guest post by Juliana from Ashburnham, MA
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