The best places to buy affordable fine jewelry

  • Fine jewelry will nearly always cost a bit more than the costume variety, but that doesn't you have to go bankrupt for the ring or necklace of your dreams.
  • Brands and retailers like Catbird, Mejuri, AUrate New York, The Last Line, and Vrai & Oro are changing the game with hip, affordable, and high-quality pieces. These are truly not your grandmothers' jewels.

The phrase "fine jewelry" makes me think of super-wealthy women draped head-to-toe in diamonds or over-the-top family heirlooms. But sometimes, you want a really special piece, whether it's to commemorate a special occasion or simply to stand up to daily wear and look good with everything in your closet.

Well, the internet is disrupting everything, the fine jewelry market included. Not only are there many affordable fine jewelry brands cropping up, to offer quality pieces in cool silhouettes, but the products are also often made with an emphasis on sustainable materials. The ethical concerns when buying real jewels, especially diamonds, are very real. Many newer brands claim to have made responsible sourcing a top priority and focus on transparency in their business models.

Of course, "affordable" is relative, but it's absolutely possible to get quality gold and silver jewelry for less than $1,000 these days, as well as sustainable diamonds that are reasonably priced. You just have to know where to look. These direct-to-consumer brands minimize markup to keep prices down and pay close attention to design. Many of them have pieces that cost less than $100, if you're willing to skip the fancy stones. Happy jewelry shopping!

The best places to buy affordable fine jewelry:

Keep scrolling to read more about our favorite places to buy affordable fine jewelry.

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The best overall

The best overall
Catbird carries a wide selection of cool brands as well as in-house designs, with prices ranging from less than $100 to upward of $1,000 and higher.

Catbird, the Brooklyn, New York-based company best known for dainty stackable rings, carries pieces from trendy brands like Bittersweets NY and WWAKE alongside its namesake collection. The selection is great for minimalists, maximalists, and everyone in between.

Prices are wide-ranging — everything from $35 for a tiny pearl ring to $4,480 for the Three Cosmos Ring. While rings are Catbird's bread and butter, you can also find necklaces, earrings, bracelets, anklets, and lifestyle items like candles and paper goods. Quirky-cool couples will love the selection of unconventional engagement rings and wedding bands made with materials like black or grey diamonds.

Catbird has a few locations in Brooklyn, but most of us will shop at its impressive website. According to the retailer, all the brands Catbird stocks with claim to use recycled gold and conflict-free gemstones.

Pros: Wide selection, conflict-free stones, recycled gold, wide price range

Cons: More ring options than other types of jewelry

Shop fine jewelry from Catbird

The best for minimalists

The best for minimalists
Mejuri offers simple, dainty pieces designed to be worn daily but affordable enough to mix and match.

If you follow a bunch of influencers on Instagram, you've probably seen jewelry from Mejuri. The brand specializes in blink-and-you'll-miss-it pieces that won't get in the way of your daily life — whisper-thin necklaces and vintage-looking signet rings that you'll never want to take off.

I know it's cool to compare every millennial-friendly company with Everlane, but these two brands really do have quite a bit in common, including pitch-perfect basics, razor-sharp design focus, and transparent pricing. Mejuri lists the estimated traditional retail price of each piece next to the price you'll pay. It makes you feel like you're getting a discount even though you're technically not.

But you won't need a discount at these prices. Think gold vermeil hoop earrings for $60, a pavé diamond heart necklace for $295, and a topaz ring for $155. I have my eye on the Bound Chain Ear Cuff, which is only $35. The brand recently launched a collection of unique engagement rings and coordinating wedding bands.

Mejuri uses ethically-sourced diamonds and durable metals. Care instructions for all of the materials are found online at the brand's website. The selection regularly updates with new offerings, and you can often get a sneak peek of upcoming launches at the "Coming Soon" tab.

Writers at Elle, Vox, and The Zoe Report are also fans of the brand's clean staples, occasional statement pieces, and reasonable prices.

Pros: Minimalist pieces that go with everything, ethically sourced diamonds, transparent pricing

Cons: Only sold online (but you can try things on at the NYC showroom)

Shop fine jewelry from Mejuri

The best for sustainable diamonds

The best for sustainable diamonds
The people behind AUrate New York have rigorous standards when it comes to the materials they use — splurge on that diamond necklace, guilt-free.

Diamonds are not traditionally the best choice as far as sustainability or ethics goes. While most of the companies on this list focus on ethical sourcing, AUrate New York has a particular focus on diamonds that makes it unique.

"We're fastidious about our diamonds," the company says on its website. AUrate claims to pay close attention to the production of its gemstones, "adhere strictly to the Kimberly Process (the international system certifying conflict-free diamonds)," and "insist that the mines [they] deal with have decent working conditions, offer fair pay, respect local indigenous communities, and protect the environment."

Style-wise, you can't go wrong here either. Whether you're searching for timeless diamond studs, a simple diamond bracelet, or an edgy evil eye ring, you can find it at AUrate. The brand also carries non-diamond styles if stones aren't really your thing.

AUrate pieces come with a lifetime warranty and a try-on option called Curate by AUrate for guilt-free purchasing. As Elle explains, "Take a style quiz and AUrate will send you five pieces free of charge." You then have seven days to test-drive the items and decide which to keep (yes, you do have to pay for those!).

Prices don't run as low as some of the other brands here, but that's in part because the focus is more on diamonds and other gemstones. There are fewer metal-only pieces.

Pros: Sustainable diamonds, classic styles, lifetime warranty, transparent pricing

Cons: Selection is small

Shop fine jewelry from AUrate New York

The best for maximalists

The best for maximalists
The Last Line takes the bright, colorful approach to fine jewelry with rings, bracelets, anklets, and more, rendered in a rainbow of stones.

Minimalist jewelry is certainly having a moment, but what if you're all about bold accessories? Los Angeles-based The Last Line specializes in bright, colorful pieces. You can truly wear the rainbow when you shop the collection of earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and anklets.

The best-selling tennis bracelets are a great place to start. Opt for a simple row of white diamonds for $3,750 or choose from an array of colorful options, including the multicolored Perfect Tennis Bracelet for $1,450. Less expensive options include the Perfect Gold Ear Cuff for $185 and the Rainbow Zodiac Ring for $515.

"Consider these the start of your very own heirloom collection," writes The Zoe Report's Gina Marinelli. According to Elle, The Last Line has amassed quite a celebrity following, appearing on the likes of Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry.

The Last Line offers a financing program that allows you to pay off your baubles for low interest over a period of time in case those price tags really sting. Exchanges and returns for store credit are allowed, but only up to seven days after receipt.

Pros: Large selection, unique and colorful designs

Cons: Prices on the higher end

Shop fine jewelry from The Last Line

The best for wedding jewelry

The best for wedding jewelry
Vrai & Oro has a modern take on classic engagement and wedding ring styles, made in Los Angeles and using sustainable methods.

Looking for a sustainable take on the classic diamond engagement ring, at reasonable prices? Vrai & Oro offers a selection in recognizable styles like The Solitaire, The Emerald, and The Round Bezel. The diamonds are stunning, and guilt-free, as each is lab grown in Silicon Valley by a company called Diamond Foundry.

These are "real diamonds with the same beautiful characteristics as mined diamonds," per the website, but minus the negative ethical implications.

Vrai & Oro also has a number of wedding bands made with or without stones. Though it is an online-only retailer, the brand has an at-home try-on program. It allows you to sample three ring designs to determine your ideal style and size. The rings are also reasonably priced.

Not getting married anytime soon? The brand has a stunning collection of rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets for casual wear.

Pros: Lab-grown diamonds, classic engagement rings at reasonable prices, at home try-on

Cons: Online only

Shop fine jewelry from Vrai & Oro
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