I like my jewelry to be unique and typically hand-made. That way, I really feel I get my money's worth and feel good supporting a local or small artist. It's typically better quality, and really not more expensive than mass produced jewelry. I felt like I should share some of my favorite places to get jewelry like this. I also linked at the bottom to a lot of great one-of-a-kind jewelry!
1. Art Fairs
I'm obsessed with art fairs. Even if I'm not there to shop, I love just seeing what people are able to do and how talented people there are - yes, sometimes I'm a bit jealous. ;) When I was in 5th grade, I remember job shadowing a jewelry maker for a day and she showed me how she mixes and makes glass pendants (I even got to make some!). Ever since then, I've just been in love. There are so many great options and so many different styles that it's a great way to find unique jewelry.
2. Etsy and Local Boutiques
Etsy is basically a place where you have thousands of boutiques at your fingertips from all over the world. Honestly, you can get basically anything from Etsy, but I use it mainly for jewelry. There are so many handmade items it's a jewelry lover's dream. You can also find local boutiques in your area that sell handmade jewelry. One of my favorite stores is Mad Eagle in East Lansing. They have many jewelry makers source to their store great quality items. The easiest way to find these stores is to either google for them or ask around. But it's worth it!
Quite a few of my jewelry is from local vendors as I've been traveling. I like to get jewelry with local stones or material, so I know I couldn't get it anywhere else. For example, that pink ring in the above photo is from Argentina and the stone is rhodochrosite, which is Argentina's stone. I've gotten pearl necklaces from China, that wooden necklace above is from Jamaica, and cheap jewelry from Mexico. Even just traveling to another state you can find great unique items. It's a great perk to traveling.
4. Fair Trade Stores
Fair trade shops are a great place to get exotic jewelry without actually having to go abroad. The great thing about fair trade is that the money goes back to the makers of the jewelry. And the jewelry is typically inexpensive as well. You can find great fair trade shops locally, but there are also many online. Some of my favorites are Novica (through National Geographic), Ten Thousand Villages, Serrv, and One World Fair Trade.
5. Antique stores
Antique stores are a hit or miss sometimes, but I have gotten some great pieces from antique stores. In addition, I have gotten hand-me-downs from my grandparents which I love, because it's jewelry with some meaning. I actually wore my grandma's bracelet at my wedding because she wasn't able to be there. While there are great options in physical antique stores, Etsy has antique shops or you can go to eBay or similar to find jewelry for sale.
6. Make Your Own
When all else fails, you can always make your own jewelry. I used to spend hours in middle school making my own jewelry and I once dreamed of opening a jewelry shop. Go to Michael's or a similar store and you can find anything you can possibly need to make jewelry. There are some great unique beads, and there are shops on Etsy and online specifically for selling beads and pieces for jewelry making. There are great tutorials online for making jewelry, or you can get books or wing it. I've gotten some great inspiration for jewelry to make, and can be much cheaper than buying handmade. While it may not be perfect, it's awesome knowing that it's personal and unique to you.