Valentine’s Day is less than two weeks away and consumers are spending only slightly more on the holiday this year than last, according to a recent report from the National Retail Federation. Yet, the report estimates $4.4 billion will be spent on jewelry for Feb. 14 festivities, including gold, silver and diamonds.
Despite the hefty price tag typically affixed to fine jewelry, you can find bargains on baubles in the most unusual places. In the spirit of saving a little dough on this popular Valentine’s Day present, here are eight unexpected places you can find bling for that special someone for less.
1. Websites for the Rejected
Sadly, there’s an entire online industry dedicated to people selling jewelry purchased for a former lover or received by one. Apparently, these items are simply a reminder of love gone cold and men and women alike are eager to get rid of them. Exboyfriendjewelry.com and IDoNowIDont.com represent great resources for used jewelry ranging from pricey engagement rings to designer earrings — you can expect to much less than you would at a retail location.
2. Struggling Department Stores
Gift cards to retailers struggling to stay afloat are understandably unpopular, making them a steal on the secondary market. Shoppers can find discount gift cards to JCPenney, for example, for up to 30-percent off at sites like GiftCardGranny.com. Savvy shoppers can collect these cards for the purpose of buying fine jewelry during sale time — around Valentine’s Day, for example — and purchase the good stuff for a fraction of the retail price.
3. Pawn Shop
Most people know pawn shops are great places to find real and vintage jewelry for less. However, you must be prepared for your purchase by researching prices and knowing what to look for. For savvy tips on navigating pawn shops, consider this expert advice from the stars of Hardcore Pawn as shared by ABC News.
As the recent seller of a $300 ring on eBay, I can say with confidence this popular auction site is a great resource for finding bling at a bargain. I parted with my ring for $60 because I really, really wanted to get rid of it. Though the purchaser got my ring for a steal, he or she may not know it. That’s why it’s important to do your research when buying jewelry and other pricey items from personal sellers.
5. Antique Stores
A friend of mine recently flaunted a beautiful ring on Facebook that she found in an antique store. Though these stores are packed to the brim with everything from books to clothing to furniture, you can also find unique jewelry for a steal. Antique shops are one of the few places you can score vintage or true antique pieces when you peruse with a critical eye, and some shops even specialize in jewelry picked up at estate sales. Don’t be afraid to negotiate if the initial price isn’t right.
If you’re looking for something a little less mainstream, consider the community of artisans on Etsy.com. You can find unique, one-of-a-kind jewelry like cuff bracelets, engagement rings, personalized pieces and more from creative people around the country and internationally. Sometimes you can even negotiate price with the seller, so don’t be afraid to banter when you find something you like.
7. Estate Sales
Thrift shops and antique stores often shop estate sales for their wares, and you can cancel out the middleman by doing the same. Unlike garage sales, estate sales are much larger affairs and typically the result of the homeowner’s passing. Though you likely won’t find the family diamonds for sale, jewelry that lacks high monetary or sentimental value will be yours for the choosing. Search newspaper listings, Craigslist or EstateSale.net to find local sales.
8. Discount Retailers
I wouldn’t recommend purchasing an engagement ring from TJMaxx; however, discount retailers stock designer jewelry for much less than MSRP. Hit up your local Ross or Marshall’s for great deals on designer watches, earrings, necklaces and pendants. Just be sure to separate the treasures from the trash and let the salesperson know you’re looking for quality pieces.
Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC’s Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.