There’s no shortage of jewelry brands on Instagram, many of them heavily advertising some variation of classic hoop/stud/ring and fine layering necklace combination. The Instagram photos make it hard not to click-to-shop, and each design somehow looks so dainty, delicate, and oh-so-perfectly made.
The reality is that many of these e-commerce jewelry sites are style over substance. Some brands genuinely care about their product and product quality, but others are far more interested in making a quick buck. (And then there are also the brands that really care about their product, but cost upwards of half a month’s rent...but that’s another story)
To take the plunge and hit “Complete Checkout” only to receive a necklace with a chain so flimsy that it breaks after a week; earrings that start rusting after a few wears; or rings that just seem, well, cheap is incredibly frustrating, to say the least. So, how do you decide who to buy from? Here are some tips below:
Look for material composition in the product description
If a brand truly prides itself on high quality products, they’re likely to (and should be) up front about what they’re putting in their products! That doesn’t mean all brands that don’t list product compositions should be excluded. After all, it takes time to physically add this to every product page and many independent artists as well as “minimal” style sites may not provide this information. If it’s not on the site, reach out and ask via email or social media. If they’re not willing to answer, don’t buy.
Remember that expensive does not always mean high quality, but too cheap does many poor quality
Unfortunately there are tons of expensive jewelry brands that charge upwards of $200-300 on products but still choose to use unplated brass or other tarnishable/low-quality metals. While a high price tag does not guarantee quality, it’s also true that a $4 pair of earrings is not likely to be well-made (or ethically made, for that matter).
Find a Stockist/Pop Up/Showroom
While Mejuri products are available exclusively on their site (and to try in their showrooms), many e-commerce jewelry sellers organize pop ups or have brick-and-mortar retailers that carry their products. This information should be readily available on the brand’s site and/or social media channels. If it isn’t, it never hurts to shoot a quick email to ask.
Buy it to try it!
This is by far the most foolproof method. Try it for yourself! Check what the store’s return policy is before you go down this route. If returns are free and easy (i.e. the store provides a prepaid label), this is a no-brainer. If you have to pay for return shipping or can only receive a refund in the form of store credit, make sure you would be ok with paying the shipping fee and/or buying something else from the site.
When available reviews (blog or video) can be immensely helpful. Of course, do this with a grain of salt. Many reviews that show up immediately through a quick Google search are sponsored by the brand itself (because of how SEO and the blogging business works). Just because a person has received product and/or payment in exchange for a review doesn’t mean what they’ve written is dishonest, but they are very likely to leave out any negative details. There are many people who write reviews without receiving any type of compensation, but it can be more difficult to find their articles through a search engine.
Check the brand’s social media channels
Are there a lot of complaints about delivery/customer service/quality issues? How does the company respond? Do customers seem happy with their purchases? While some brand’s Instagrams can be flooded with influencer posts, I find Twitter and Facebook to be prime platforms for checking out customer complaints.
Ask others on social media or secondhand clothing apps!
Reach out to people who have tagged the brand. Often times people are extremely receptive to these questions and I’ve had people ask me about the quality of certain products. Keep it short and be polite but direct about what you want to know. You can also give a shot on Depop/Poshmark/similar apps and ask people that are selling the brand’s products.
Do you have any other ideas for how to choose between online jewelry retailers? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!