The comparisons are not between identical items, but between price points for big-brand and artisanal pieces. (Prices shown exclusive of taxes and shipping, and exact items shown may be unavailable by now.)
Earrings: How would you rather spend $300? Drop it on silver Return to Tiffany buttons? You do get that blue box, but I encourage you to shift to a pair that shows the hand of the artisan, not a corporate logo.
If you choose the Sudha Irwin etched sterling with pink pearls, price, $175, you'd have $125 left!
Fancy a pearl bracelet?
Left: 8-9mm multi-coloured Tahitian bracelet, set in 18k gold from Blue Nile; price, $1,190. (There is some surface spotting.)
Right: 9.2-9.7mm multi-coloured Tahitian bracelet with gold-tone clasp, $369 from Kojima Company. (There is slight banding on some of the pearls.)
Even if you wanted to upgrade the clasp, you'd have hundreds left!
One more. At a holiday dinner party, I met a man who told me he buys his wife a piece of Yurman every year; he wanted a lot of credit for his largesse and taste. (His wife did not look that pleased.)
Some women adore this stuff, but he could do so much better for the price, and if she already has a collection, why not branch out? (Answer: Men often use the Stick With What Works strategy; they need help.)
Left: David Yurman Cable Classics silver bracelet with pearls; price at Neiman Marcus, $775. You get the status brand (for some), a smidge of gold, and a design that has not changed since Cadillacs had fins.
Right: Oxidized silver bangle with pearls from Kimyajoyas on Etsy; price, $63. Definitely a more contemporary look. Even if he buys two bangles from the Spanish artisan, hubs could make a sizeable donation to her cherished cause, PEN International, and wouldn't that feel good?
I'm not unreservedly against mass brands, but so much of it is anodyne and soulless, besides carrying that brand tax. Nor am I averse to iconic pieces; however, if you long for a Cartier rolling ring, shop the vintage market.
Some artisans overprice work too, so the best strategy is to look and learn. When I'm assessing their jewelry, I look at every element. For necklaces, the telling detail is the clasp. When I find one like that on Serafino's keshi necklace, a handmade gold "pearl", I am in the realm of workmanship that brings joy for decades.
Please give your business to artisans when you can; they are the ones who can repair, restyle or help you or yours make the next choice. Why pay for a company's full-page ads in Vogue and freebies for Taylor Swift when you can support a talented person and receive far better value?