You see a piece of jewelry that someone is wearing, and it looks like nothing you have ever seen. The stones are a rare color and shape, the chain length is irregular, or the design is something far outside the cookie cutter designs that are easily replicated. If you are able to hold the piece in your hands, your primary concern will be to see how durable the piece is. This will dictate the types of occasions for which you can wear the jewelry and help determine if it is worth your investment.
If you are able to hold the jewelry in your hands, check to see how stones and embellishments are attached. If they are merely placed with craft glue, they are more delicate for wear. While craft glued can hold out for a while if used properly, it is not always reliable against water, extreme weather or intense temperatures. If the stones are set in prongs or suspended in a channel setting, these are more durable jewelry-making methods.
You should also check the durability of all the other materials used to make the jewelry. Some metal For example, pure sterling silver jewelry is far better than sterling silver plated jewelry. Many buyers look only at the sterling silver details found in the item description and assume the metal in the jewelry is reliable. Plated jewelry means there is only a thin coat of sterling silver on top on another metal. After a few times in water or after long wear, the plated layer wears off and the jewelry will turn colors or start to break down.
Discovering great workmanship is key to finding a piece of handmade jewelry that will last. It matters where you find handmade jewelry. Although street vendors are required to have a business license in most cities, there is no other agency to endorse the quality of what these small businesses sell. It is best to find handmade jewelry in reputable venues whose trustworthy owners and managers can vouch for the artists and their work.
Art galleries are a great place to start looking for quality unique pieces. They host exhibitions and events around artists and their work. Some of those artists could be jewelry artists. Often, is a museum or gallery has a store on-site, they will sell quality handmade jewelry to patrons. Fine craft shows also have great handmade jewelry finds. These large scale exhibitions feature the works of many artists who have had to be approved by a panel in order to set up a trade booth. Consignment shops and online showrooms are another good place to find these pieces.
Although you are taking a risk when you run into jewelry vendors at art festivals, concerts and city-sponsored events, these are also good places to start looking for new pieces to add to your own collection. Some of the most creative designs come from independent artists who offer their wares when there is an opportunity for them to reach mass crowds. Just be sure you can see the jewelry up close and examine it for good workmanship.