How To Save Money on Sterling Silver, Gold and Semi Precious Expensive Looking Jewellery

I’ve written a previous post on buying investment pieces and items that I do spend more money on, always buying the best quality I can reasonably justify such as leather handbags and shoes as I find they save me lots of money in the long run. As I have fairly sensitive skin and have never liked large showy accessories jewellery also falls in this category for me.

I’ve been buying sterling silver jewellery for over 10 years and still wear the very first few items I bought. The pieces weren’t expensive to begin with but better quality than lots of cheap jewellery I see on the high street. I got fed up of mild skin irritations, fingers turning green and the lowest quality of metal I can wear as earrings is sterling silver so I made the switch for all my jewellery to be 925 silver or hypoallergenic. Read on for some tips on how I buy long lasting semi-precious jewellery without breaking the bank.

Accessorize Sales For 925 Silver and “Gold”

My first silver necklace was from Accessorize 10 years ago, I paid £9 for it and it’s still going strong all these years later even after me sleeping and showering in it countless times. I have a lot of 925 rings and a few necklaces from this shop and always take advantage of their 70% off sales. I never pay full price. They now have a few items of gold plated sterling silver too. use Swarovski crystals and some semi precious gemstones so items look far more expensive than prices you can pick them up for. In July I bought this ring with an RRP of £17 for £4.20. It was in the sale, then I signed up to their loyalty club and got a voucher for a further 20% off. I find their 925 range to be really good quality and its easy to pick up items very cheaply on clearance.

Other Shops For 925 Silver, “Gold” and “Rose Gold”

I own one silver ring from Sainsbury which I paid for half using my Nectar points so it cost me around £5. I’ve had it 1 year and worn it virtually every day since buying it with no issues and I wear it in the shower and when sleeping. I’ve previously bought bracelets around the £10 mark from Debenhams Simply Silver range as they also have rose gold and gold plated delicate items. Again I’ve found these wear really after having them for several years, rarely taking them off and they’re often heavily discounted in the sales. I’ve bought 925 earrings from Claire’s Accessories before back when it was really hard to find silver items on the high street and I wasn’t hugely impressed with the quality finding a few items broke quickly. I’m aware of Lovisa having quite a wide range of 925 items but have yet to purchase anything from there as I only tend to buy jewellery now for special occasions or if there’s a very specific item I want.

Buy Second Hand

I’ve bought a few silver rings in the past from car boot sales after checking they were stamped with hallmarks. The red multi stone ring shown below came from a car boot sale for £10.

Necklace and centre ring: Accessories clearance sales,
Cubic zirconia trinity ring: Sainsbury (half paid with Nectar points)
Red / clear ring £10 from a car boot sale

“Gold” Earrings & Faux Opals

Most of my earrings look like small gold studs and I’ve had them over 5 years but they are in fact gold anodised titanium barbells from body jewellery sites like JoBananas and Serenity Jewellery. I’ve had 1 tiny gold stud with a green gem in one of my piercings for 5 1/2 years, the plating hasn’t worn away, the gem is still in tact, it looks as good as the day I bought it. The full stud cost me under £5 which with over 5 years of wear I think is brilliant value for money. The gems individually are £1.75 which is all I’d have to pay if I decided I wanted another colour as it would attach to the existing stud I have.

Lots of titanium body jewellery now comes in gold and rose gold plating with faux opals which look beautiful and are far cheaper than the real thing. I’ve again been wearing some of these constantly for between 3-5 years and they look as good as the day I bought them. I’ve never paid more than £12 for one gold titanium anodised hoop or stud despite the jewellery looking far more expensive. As all the ones I’ve purchased have lasted so well it’s very rare that I buy new replacements, especially as I find the screw closures more secure than butterfly studs and they’re more comfortable to wear. I choose titanium as I have particularly sensitive skin but if you don’t anodised surgical steel is an even cheaper option. A quick Google shows me that 3mm 9ct gold ball studs cost upwards of £20. Buying anodised titanium studs like I wear can cost under £6 yet look virtually identical when worn.

I’ve accumulated quite a collection buying sale items or making the most of promotions over the years and things lasting so well. I think I’ve had 2 rings break from Accessorize after heavy wear over a 6+ year period when I paid under £3 each for them. Otherwise all are going strong so this has never put me off buying from them. I love my jewellery collection as it holds such sentimental value as I started only buying items for big occasions like birthdays, holiday’s abroad or receiving items as gifts.

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How To Shop Pre Loved: Tips For Thrifting, Charity Shopping & Buying Second Hand.

There definitely seems to be a generation shift in attitude towards buying second hand which I think is fantastic. I’ve seen many savvy blogs and Instagram accounts I follow run by people who embrace buying preloved saying its something their parents or grandparents would never consider. My parents are much the same, however my Nan whom I sadly lost recently, was the biggest charity shop lover I knew and she got me hooked at a young age. I can safely say that if it weren’t for her I probably would never have set foot in a charity shop let alone consider buying preloved online leading to my wardrobe being 1/3rd second hand since I made to decision to turn my back on fast fashion as much as possible.

If you can embrace second hand shopping there are some incredible savings to be made. Being unable to always find what I wanted in charity shops or thrift stores led me to buying preloved clothes on eBay enabling me to own £85 dresses for £9. Buying second hand is now my go-to way to shop and it has been for nearly 2 years. It isn’t dirty or scruffy at all as some people think. I’ve thrifted Ted Baker, Emma Bridgewater and Cath Kidston items all in great condition for absolute fractions of their RRPs. I still get compliments on my wardrobe and frankly, people will never know your item was worn by someone before you unless you tell them. Buying second hand has the bonus that it’s better for the planet, your wallet and charity shops are obviously raising money for good causes. Preloved purchases mean I now own brands previously out of my price range.

Advice For Charity Shopping

Embrace The Random. Charity shops are a like TK Maxx but of the preloved variety meaning you never know what you might find. Don’t go in expecting to see certain things, just have a browse and prepare to be surprised.

Check Every Section. I always skim round the clothing, homeware and book sections just to see if anything grabs my attention as when you succeed in grabbing a brilliant thrifty find it is so rewarding. One of my best charity shop finds was an Emma Bridgewater cup and saucer set which looked new. I paid £1.75 for it and they retail new around £25.

£1.75 Emma Bridgewater cup and saucer from a charity shop

Look Out For Gifts. In the last week in my local charity shop I’ve seen a brand new boxed Yankee Candle set so don’t always assume everything is second hand, I’ve picked up some great “new” gifts for people in the past in charity shops very cheaply.

Browse Beyond Your Typical Size Range for example if you’re typically a 10-12 I’d say browse from an 8-14 as you’ll find a wide range of brands all with varying sizes as well as vintage pieces whose sizing doesn’t quite correlate to sizing nowadays. As changing rooms are now out I often take a tape measure with me to quick check the waist of a skirt etc to see if it matches ones I have at home that fit so my buys are less of a gamble.

Basic Homeware always features in charity shops. They’re a great way to kit out a kitchen on a budget. You can often find entire full crockery sets really well priced. If you’re a new student leaving home for the first time looking to get kitchenware or a budget I’d definitely recommend trying local charity shops before trekking to IKEA or Wilko.

Check For High End Fashion Labels. Don’t shop just for the label but it is worth baring in mind. For example you’re getting better quality for less if you spot a Hobbs, Zara or Ted Baker label as opposed to Primark or BooHoo. One of my favourite dresses is a classic little black shift in great condition from Ted Baker and it set me back £16 in a charity shop in London. An LBD is such a great wardrobe staple that I was happy to pay that price, especially as I’d never be able to justify buying a dress from this brand new. A quick Google helped me find a brand new Ted dress similar to mine with an RRP of £169. Another long term favourite is a vintage M&S, St Michael, red tailored shift dress that set me back £9 and is the perfect dress for any “I don’t know what to wear” occasion. I don’t mind paying a bit more for quality labels but am less fussed about paying charity shop prices for high street items that are almost as cheap new.

My £16 Ted Baker LBD

Visit Charity Shops In Posh Areas. In the past I’ve found Karen Millen, Massimo Dutti, Seasalt and Ralph Lauren all under one roof for between £10-20. Whilst the prices tend to be higher than your average thrift shop you’re scoring a designer item so it’s to be expected and still a bargain compared to the RRP.

Give Clothes A Thorough Once Over. Its always worth checking if items have all their buttons, zips work, lining fabric is ok, there are no marks or holes etc.

Books. I’m a huge reader and estimate that of all the books I own only 3 were bought new and the rest were picked up preloved. I’ve found some charity shops which sell paperbacks as cheap as 50p or 3 for £1. If you’re keen to read series like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Fifty Shades, Me Before You or others that have been hugely popular in recent years don’t bother buying them new as a good 50% + of charity shops seem to have copies!

I tend to give any preloved items a wash once home which seems sensible given the current climate.

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What To Do When Having A Clear Out To Avoid Items Ending Up In Landfill & Make Some Extra Cash

Like a lot of us during lockdown I’ve had a bit of a tidy up, rearrange and organise of my house which prompted me to write this post of how to easily and safely get rid of generic items without them ending up in landfill. Please note this post will be the very basic edition of this, I have lots of tips for more niche, bespoke items but am unsure what services are available given the global pandemic so I’ve only included options that can be covid-safe.

Selling Online

I’ve previously written a post including my best selling on eBay advice which can be found here.

Ask Your Friends and Family

This is my number one port of call when getting rid of a huge range of things that I can’t see myself turning a profit for selling them. For example when tidying I recently came across colour depositing hair products that I wouldn’t use again as I didn’t fancy red / pink toned hair anymore. They were 3/4 full and remembered a friend within my social bubble had mentioned colouring theirs so I offered and passed them along to her. Whilst asking another friend for houseplant advice I realised I had some small empty plastic plant pots and one decorative one that I’d planned to donate to charity but asked if she’d like them instead. We’re trading the pots for a tiny plant cutting so both win from this. I’ve done this in the past with so many things including beauty freebies I’ve claimed and realised I won’t use, bottles of lightly used nail varnish or items of clothing if I’ve decided not to sell them on eBay – if you do decide to sell them a post on my best tips for eBay can be found here. Book swaps can be really handy if you’re after new reading material without spending any money. Sometimes giving unwanted items to friends and friendly can result in trades which can be a plus beyond just clearing some space in your home.

Local Charity Shops and Freecycle

Worth checking in advance which ones are accepting donations as I’m sure many have been flooded with goods after being closed for so long. Anything either given to these shops or advertised on their website you obviously won’t receive any money for but they’ll either help out good causes or locals whilst saving your items being dumped so it’s still a bonus.

Gumtree and Facebook Market Place

Both can be really handy for local selling of items, particularly bigger things like furniture. Sellers can easily leave items on front lawns when viewers or collectors come to keep with social distancing. The Paypal app is so easy and speedy that it’s possible to do cashless transactions too. That or posting the money through the letter box works to keep with social distancing.

H&M Textiles Recycling Scheme For Worn Out Fabrics, Clothes and Textiles

In all H&M stores there are collections for bags of unwanted clothing and a system for all items donated. Some are sold for charity and really old unwearable items are recycled into loft insulation or cleaning cloths etc. I’ve filled at least 5 bags in the last 6 months with old paint stained t shirts, socks with holes in, bobbled jumpers or faded bed sheets. In exchange you will be given a £5 off your next £25 spend voucher with usually a long use by date on. I gift these to friends after vowing in 2018 to buy as many of my clothes preloved as possible. I like this scheme for being really easily accessible but I know it doesn’t solve the fast fashion problem as the voucher gives an incentive to buy more cheap clothing. But on a personal level it’s saved the equivalent for 3 bin bags of textiles going to landfill with no further purchases from me which is better than nothing.

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My Recent Pre-Loved Additions To My Wardrobe & Why I Reject Fast Fashion Favouring Second Hand.

I recently visited a shopping centre for the first time since lockdown and ended up browsing a few clothes shops which I’d hadn’t done in at least 6 months. I honestly felt like I’d become a bit of a fast fashion snob somewhat by accident. Yes, there were lots of sales on reducing items but nothing at all wowed me. I was largely unimpressed with the fabrics or quality of how things were made such as trailing threads etc. It made me realise that my go-to has well and truly become buying brands previously out of my price range preloved as opposed to relying on the high street. I made this switch a couple of years back but still purchased fast fashion items but not any more. I’m happier spending £20 on a preloved dress with an RRP of £60 in good condition than buying a new RRP £20 dress from stores like New Look, Top Shop or H&M. I truly believe I am getting better quality for my money as clothes are better made, often with 100% cotton fabrics and my purchases have more longevity as a result. I’ve recently also felt uncomfortable with the idea of buying in stores that have made the headlines for refusing to pay for orders leaving workers overseas jobless. Pre-loved is the way forward for me – better clothes, better value, saving money and saving the planet.

My Recent Wardrobe Additions

First up is a Fat Face long chunky knit cardigan which I already own in 2 others colours and completely love. They’re both go-to staples for me as I’ve always struggled with knitwear for cooler weather often finding it itchy but these cardigans are perfect. I bought my first one prior to making the second hand switch for £45 after spending a year looking for everything that this dusky pale pink cardigan was. After owning it for 18 months and realising just how well they held up I bought a second preloved in dark grey for around £12 which showed up in great condition and had my eye on the mustard version from thereon as yellow is my favourite colour. Fat Face no longer sell them which I noticed definitely boosted their popularity on second hand sites! I watched one yellow cardi sell in used condition for close to £30 on eBay which was too much for me and then last week found a seller with one on auction starting at £3. I asked for further photos to confirm it hadn’t bobbled and it looked great so I made an initial low ball offer of £10 which was much to my surprise and joy was accepted. It arrived in the post in great condition with no bobbling what-so-ever as promised so I couldn’t be happier. The colour is everything I wanted it to be and matches all the items I’d lined it up for too.

Secondly is a Seasalt printed cotton beach dress which typically retail for around £60 new. I have a real weakness for quirky patterned cotton summer dresses that border on vintage styles as I find they’re so easy to wear and are really comfy. I first found this style, the Boskerris dress, about 2 years ago in a fair ground print but couldn’t justify it’s high price tag new. Unfortunately for me I began digging online for it and then fell in love with their 2016 print of the same dress which made coming by this particular one even harder. I’ve probably been hunting this exact dress on and off now for around 18 months. From experience cotton dresses from brands like Seasalt or Cath Kidston typically sell in my size for around £25 on eBay but I managed to exchange offers / counter offers with a seller to secure this dress for £19 including delivery.

So my “new” cardigan saved me £35 compared to the RRP and my “new” dress saved me £41 compared to its £60 new price tag adding up to a grand total of a £76 saving whilst being better for the planet.

But it doesn’t stop there! I recently sold a couple of items on eBay after having a clear out, like many people during lockdown, and made myself £17.50 which sat in my PayPal and was used against my purchases making my spend total £11.50 for the 2 items. I always leave any eBay sales money in PayPal and then use this to offset preloved clothing purchases to ensure I treat myself from time to time.

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Things I Do Spend More Money On – The Importance of Investment Pieces & How To Save Money When Buying Them.

As per my blog heading I live a thrifty lifestyle but for me this doesn’t always mean buying the cheapest option available. I gave up large shopping hauls many years ago so now am far more considerate and selective with my purchases this means I own a lot less but have very hard working items. I’d always rather have fewer quality pieces that stand the test of time as opposed to a huge collection of cheap items that aren’t built to last. With that in mind below are some of the items I’ll happily pay a bit more for and how I save money when purchasing them. Investment pieces really can save you money in the long run. Note – I buy almost all my clothing 2nd hand now to enable me to afford better quality brands previously out of my price range.

Sterling Silver Jewellery – I started buying minimalist 925 silver jewellery about 10 years ago because I can’t wear cheap earrings without having a bad reaction and I don’t like the faux gold effect of cheaper items. I find silver items last so much longer than their cheap metal counterparts, can be slept in and worn in the shower with less fear of breakage – I regularly forget to take necklaces and rings off so for me this is a massive plus. Buying silver doesn’t have to be an expensive as people might think – I’ve picked up many items over the years with 70% off from Accessorize and used Nectar card points to get a 925 ring for less than £10 in Sainsbury (!). I value my smaller jewellery collection a lot more and it has a much higher sentimental value as I now only buy pieces for special occasions. My most expensive silver item cost £30, I’ve had it 8 years and its as good as new but most items I stick around a £10 spend.

Leather Hand Bags – I gave up buying “plastic” hand bags around 7 years ago after finding they didn’t wear very well and needed replacing much more quickly than the first leather bag I ever bought. It was a classic black leather grab bag for around £50 instead of £225 from TK Maxx. Last year I had someone ask if it was new so it really has stood the test of time! For those of you that like a bit of maths – £50 divided by the 7 years I’ve had it means my bag has cost me just over £7 a year and it has so much life left in it still so for me its 100% worth every penny!

By buying well made, timeless, non-fad styles I find they save me money in the long run and I haven’t needed to buy a new bag in 2 years now. I love browsing the O2 Icon Outlet as they have Osprey and Radley outlets and offer further 20% discount for O2 customers during certain times. TK Maxx stores and their website are a much more accessible option with great savings too. I once picked up a small leather evening bag for £15 on clearance with no defects. I find it helpful to think about what I really want a bag for before buying e.g. if it needs an over the shoulder strap, space for my sunglasses and purse, secure zip closure etc so I’m not disappointed later.

A bag similar to my £50 TK Maxx bargain find

Leather Shoes – for the same reasons as bags. For me they’re better quality, last longer and are far better for my feet than cheap high street offerings. I also find half sizes a better fit which are easier to find in leather shoes. I prioritise comfort and versatility by buying staples that match lots of outfits to avoid wasting money on something I won’t get a lot of wear out of. For example I own one perfect pair of black basic winter boots from Doc Martens which I bought in “worn once” condition on eBay for £50 instead of closer to £150. I knew they’d fit perfectly after trying on the most similar pair in a store and owning others pairs from this brand so I knew what size I needed. I particularly love these as the stitching isn’t yellow so they can be dressed up more if needed. The DM soles are really comfy and indestructible – I’ve had one pair 10 years that I bought for a similar price and they don’t show their age at all.

If your feet are small enough browsing the children’s section can be a great way to save on popular brands, especially for trainers. Some stores go all the way up to a UK 5.5 in the kids’ section and the styles are identical to adult’s pairs for a fraction of the price. Otherwise I tend to go for outlets some of which are available online like Clarks who also offer 10% off your first order and guarantee at least 30% off savings but most are generally even better. eBay has some genuine outlets for stores like Skechers.

A Good Winter Coat is something I opted to invest in this year after waiting incredibly patiently for online sales and doing a lot of browsing to ensure I’d found “the one”. By waiting it out for discounts I saved over £100. Signing up for the stores’ emails helped me to keep an eye on it as I was alerted to promotions and discounts. In the past I picked up a black, double breasted United Colours Of Benneton wool coat for less than £40 in TK Maxx by buying out of season in the summer and I’ve had it about 5 years. Making sure you really love an item and buying a classic style is a good way to ensure an investment piece is worth it.

Technology – I kept my old laptop going for over 6 years and it was barely clinging onto life before finally I finally upgraded this year. I sought advice from a reliable colleague who was hugely into computers and tech to see what I’d need before consulting the John Lewis website as they offer 2 year guarantees on all technology items and will price match other stores. I was able to buy a laptop when on promotion saving myself £100. It’s always worth checking with workplaces to see if you’re able to get discounted or even free software.

Belts – Admittedly I only own one but buying a thin black leather one covers all eventualities and so far has been with me about 3 years. I used to just buy cheap offerings from New Look or Accessorize but found that these fell apart pretty quickly so it was worth paying that bit more for leather. Marks and Spencers or Next are my go-to for these where you can pick some up for around £10.

Designer Watch – I own one designer watch which is kept for weekends or “best”. I purchased it through Groupon for around £22 – it had an RRP of £85. I opted for one with a feature face that I love and a plain black leather strap that would be easily replaceable with any brand when it wears out.

Little Black Dress – is a great place to start with investment items as these can be used for countless occasions and by avoiding fad styles they never date. I got really lucky by finding a Ted Baker LBD in great condition in a charity shop for £16.

If you have any stories of buying more expensive items to save in the long run or investment pieces I’d love to hear in the comments.

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