1. Shop outlets
If you’re looking to bring on the bling, the first place you’ll probably check out is the jewelry store. Although jewelry stores offer large selections, they also offer higher markups. After taking stock of what the jewelry stores have to offer, head to the outlet shops to do a little comparison shopping. Many outlets including Last Call by Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue’s outlet Off 5th sell fine jewelry at up to 50 percent off of the retail price and carry such high-end designers as Roberto Coin, David Yurman and Stephen Dweck. One of my favorite perks of these outlet stores is that they often email coupons for up to 40 percent off, which can translate into huge savings on pricey items. One year for Mother’s Day I managed to score a David Yurman bracelet at Last Call for $195, marked down from $495! Needless to say, my mother was quite thrilled with her gift that year!
2. Check clearance
Clearance shopping may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to fine jewelry, but many department stores do mark their jewelry down, and you can find some serious scores. One of my favorite places to find markdown jewelry is Macy's, which always has a huge selection of clearance jewelry. In fact, with just a quick search online I found a gorgeous 14K diamond bracelet marked down to $2645 from $5000, plus an additional 20 percent off! I also found an impressive diamond heart pendant marked from $600 to $248 along with numerous other items—many of which were marked well over 50 percent off. Another perk to Macy's is that they often have coupons that are good on sale and clearance items! Other department stores that often have a good selection of clearance jewelry are Dillard's, Sears and JCPenney.
3. Don’t just shop at jewelry stores
Once you’ve been to the jewelry and department stores you may think you’re ready to make a decision, but hold on! Before you bring home the bling, check out a few unlikely places first. One of the best (and yet unlikeliest) spots to shop for fine jewelry is at a warehouse club such as Costco or Sam’s Club. Both of these warehouse clubs offer high-quality fine jewelry such as engagement rings, bracelets, earrings and watches from designers such as Bulova, Movado and Tag Heuer. In fact, the quality of the diamonds sold at Costco versus those sold at Tiffany’s was put to the test by Good Morning America. The Costco diamonds were not only almost the exact same quality, but priced thousands of dollars less. If you’re not a member of a warehouse club, most will allow you to pick up a one-day pass to come in and browse. You can also shop for fine jewelry on both the Costco website as well as Sam’s Club and BJ’s.
4. Shop online
Although you may be skeptical of purchasing jewelry without being able to physically touch the item, the pros of shopping online may just change your mind. Many online jewelry stores offer huge selections, good return policies and much lower costs than traditional jewelry stores. Some of the top-rated online jewelry stores include Blue Nile, Szul, Jared, and Super Jeweler, which offers an amazing $5.99 deal every week as well as a daily deal. I’ve found some amazing deals on these sites including a men’s titanium wedding band with a retail price of $79.99 marked at $14.97 and a one-carat diamond bracelet priced at $99.99 down from $499. Another advantage to shopping online for fine jewelry is that many of these stores offer free shipping, and some have no sales tax, which can add a hefty sum to an already pricey purchase.
5. Buy loose stones
If you’re purchasing a diamond ring, pendant or other item with a large stone, consider purchasing loose stones and having them placed in a setting. Buying a loose stone from a wholesaler can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. If you’re unsure of where to look for loose stones, check out Diamond Review’s diamond finder, which allows you to search for stones based on color, cut, clarity, price and more.
6. Know what you’re willing to compromise on
Although we would all like to be able to buy the highest quality piece of jewelry with flawless clarity and the largest stones, unfortunately, that isn’t realistic for most of us. Before you go shopping, do your research and decide what is most important to you. Is 18K gold a must-have or are you willing to look at items made with 14K or silver? When it comes to the cut of a stone, are you set on a round, brilliant cut (which is the most expensive), or are you willing to look at less expensive pear-shaped or maquis-cut stones? Whether you’re shopping for gemstones or diamonds, pearls or metals, start by educating yourself on the essential properties so you can make an informed decision about what you really want and where you can save. If you’re unsure of where to start, check out the education center on Blue Nile, which details the characteristics of diamonds, metals and much more.