7 Reasons Why Handmade Jewelry Is Better Than Machine-Made Jewelry
Understanding the difference between handmade jewelry and mass-manufactured jewelry is like comparing a McRib to ribs prepared by a Michelin star chef.
Global trends indicate that consumers are spending 51% less on apparel and accessories.
Consumers are noticing the difference that quality ingredients and skilled preparation makes to everything from their lunch to their rings.
But, why is handmade jewelry better? We break it down below.
Exposing a Lost Art
Understanding the "benefits" of handmade jewelry comes down to appreciating why jewelry was made and worn in the first place. Modern culture might dehumanize ancient humans, the original artisans of handmade jewelry, but they were creatures of emotion who needed to feel loved and important, just like their descendants (a.k.a. us).
These emotional needs of love and belonging motivated our ancestral creatives to make jewelry that could be worn as a trophy, a symbol of status, or as a deeply personal gift to express something words quite couldn't.
Jewelry was coveted because it was rare. It was difficult to collect, carry, and craft materials. Casting made jewelry slightly more accessible, but it wasn't until the industrialization of the world and the invention of synthetic materials that jewelry really became available for everyone.
The idea of less expensive jewelry, conceptually, seems logical and fair. But, the practice of mass-manufactured jewelry and the fast-fashion attitudes has stripped jewelry of artistry and meaning.
When you consider that machines have only been around for (generously) 200 years or so, they really haven't been around for very long when we look at jewelry's long history. So far, the oldest piece of jewelry is dated to be about 25,000 years old!
1. Jewelry's "Je ne Sais Quoi"
There's something about a custom design, of anything, that makes it more attractive and interesting. Handmade jewelry is more detailed and thoughtful. The intent of the designer results in an undefinable personality that's unique to handmade pieces.
"Personality" is difficult to define in art and design. But for reference, consider the feeling you get when entering a boxed, mass-manufactured home or building versus an architecturally significant one. Attention to detail, intention, and general thoughtfulness usually make for a more memorable and impressive experience.
Handmade jewelry has the same effect. The meticulous craftsmanship and thought process of a jewelry maker makes a noticeable difference in the end result.
Handmade jewelry is also not reliant on a brand name to confirm its authority. There's no shortage of overpriced "brand name" jewelry that lacks quality and imagination. Handmade jewelers work independently and rely on the craftsmanship and personality of their work to speak for themselves.
Over time most brand status wears away. Few brands are able to transcend decades and styles (like Chanel, for example). When trends come and go the quality of a piece of jewelry will determine its staying power.
2. Creative Customization
Handmade jewelry offers unparalleled opportunities for creativity and customization. Imagination and skillset are really the only limits when designing a custom piece (as long as you have the budget to support it).
For example, handmade jewelry can usually accomplish more delicate designs and finer bands without the use of casting. It also invites more unique materials and mixing metals.
Imaginative and thoughtful types can request original designs or customizations to existing designs. When you work with someone who makes handmade jewelry, there is usually an open line of communication, which creates a much higher level of customer service.
Non-creative types benefit too. If they want to create something meaningful or modify heirloom jewelry, working with a skilled artist will give them the confidence to put the design in the creator's hands.
There's really no comparison to made when you're seeking out jewelry for the sake of sentiment. The customizability of handmade jewelry creates the opportunity to make a piece of jewelry deeply personal.
Handmade modern heirlooms and gifts will tell a deeper story. The quality of them will enable them to thrive through generations of owners.
3. Excellence in Quality and Craftsmanship
Aside from what's already been mentioned, the quality and craftsmanship of handmade jewelry is unparalleled. For example, it's usually denser which makes it more durable.
Aside from craftsmanship materials are one of the biggest quality differentiators in handmade jewelry. A person who takes pride in their work wants to use the best materials possible.
Professional jewelers will seek out credentials and certifications from industry organizations to maintain a high status. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA), American Gem Society, World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO), and The Jewelers Board of Trade are just a few of the governing bodies a handmade jeweler may seek credentials from.
Artisans care about where materials come from and it's quality because it's really at the core of the integrity of their work. Jewelry makers see their work as art, and they want to be the best they can be.
Most jewelers have a genuine interest in minerals and artistry and won't settle for second best. They will go the extra mile to find the best quality materials and have the knowledge and resources to find them.
You also don't have to worry as much about allergic reactions to metals or turning your skin green when you choose high-quality, pure materials.
The American Chemical Society estimates that 17% of women and 3% of men are allergic to metals like nickel. Nickel is used often to fill plated jewelry to create a cheaper alternative.
4. Cutting Edge Design and Innovation
Handmade jewelers have the advantage of total design and technique control. There are constantly new styles of jewelry and new techniques for making it entering the marketplace.
A mass manufacturer doesn't have the creative freedom to experiment. Since mass manufacturers are more concerned with profits, they typically only focus on designs that can be made fast and in large quantities. This limits the capabilities of commercial jewelers.
Some jewelry styles and details can only be achieved with specific tools or handmade processes. Some jewelry simply can't be mass-produced. For example, wire wrapped jewelry (although not cutting edge) is a style that can only be achieved by hand.
Handmade jewelers are consistently seeking out ways to differentiate themselves. Their genuine interest in the art and craft of jewelry-making typically makes them more aware of changing trends and styles. They'll be more likely to attempt a new design or technique.
Most artisans take pride in their work and will go the distance to produce and help you maintain a top-tier piece of jewelry.
Becoming a skilled handmade jewelry maker requires a lot of time and experience to develop your abilities. Lots of uncommon and expensive tools are needed to produce handmade jewelry. Most people aren't willing to make that kind of investment if they don't genuinely enjoy it.
5. Ethics and Sustainability
Ethics is also a concern in the material selection process. Ethical concerns come into play when it comes to sourcing materials. From both human rights and environmental perspectives.
There is a massive grey area in the collection of gemstones and minerals from countries without ethical labor laws. There are also concerns with the fabrication of jewelry and the use of sweatshops and environmentally harmful factories.
Mining can also be a harmful environmental practice when sustainability is not considered. Most gems, metals, and minerals are limited resources, and the equipment used to mine releases many toxic chemicals.
A mass manufacturer is more concerned with profit margins. Typically ethics and sustainability concerns don't make the budget cuts. The reality is that it's not sustainable for people or the planet to mass manufacture anything.
Many mass manufacturers will attempt to greenwash their product and claim that their jewelry is more ethically concerned than it actually is. But, a little bit of research will show the cracks in the appearance they are trying to make for themselves.
Where you spend money is like voting for values in a capitalistic society. If you opt to spend money with a smaller business that makes an effort to adhere to a strong moral code, you're communicating to the market what values you're willing to spend top-dollar on. This act changes market behavior.
Using handmade jewelers also supports local economies and businesses. It gives money 100% back to the makers. It put more money back into communities which enables them to grow and thrive.
From a practical standpoint, handmade jewelers are much more concerned with conserving every last resource. Since their materials are usually more expensive and of better quality, they find creative ways to use every last gram of material.
6. Superior Customer Service
Handmade jewelers typically provide unparalleled customer service experiences. They aren't only concerned about making a one-time sale. They care about making lasting relationships and caring for their artwork throughout its lifetime.
Handmade jewelers are not making thousands of sales per month. They have a much smaller client pool they work with. So, they want to make sure the customers they have are happy.
They provide a more open line of communication throughout the creation process. Since many handmade jewelers take pride in their work, they'll usually be concerned with maintaining its quality over time.
They're much more transparent about their practices and sourcing. They'll be more direct about their deadlines and capabilities. They're much more concerned about the long game than a quick dollar.
It's common for handmade jewelers to maintain contact with their customers. They usually offer repair services and even alterations of time. Their work is their best form of advertising.
Handmade jewelers are typically not backed by expensive marketing campaigns. They rely a lot on referrals and repeat business. This creates even more motivation to keep customers happy and their products looking their best when they're on display.
7. Is Handmade Jewelry Better for Investing?
There are two routes you can go with looking at jewelry as an investment. First, you can view buying jewelry like collecting artwork. Second, you can look at jewelry as an investment from a materials perspective.
Selecting jewelry with the intention to resell like fine art requires a keen eye or some knowledge about design and fashion. There is a difference between vintage, antique, retro, and estate jewelry. Each of these types has different resale potentials.
There are five key things to look for when determining if vintage jewelry is valuable. Age and condition are paramount. The older and more pristine an item is the better. Next, you'll want to understand the rarity of the item and if there is a high or low demand for that particular piece or style of jewelry.
Jewelry with historical significance is also more valuable. Pieces owned or designed by notable people with a (verifiable) colorful history will be of more value.
The quality of the material used in jewelry is essential to its resale value. Whether you consider it like a piece of art, or purely for its stripping potential. Extremely rare gemstones will (likely) be worth even more money in 20 years. Gold is never a bad investment.
One of a Kind Jewelry
Few people regret purchasing a well-crafted handmade necklace, ring, bracelet, or brooch. This blog only touches the surface of the question, "why is handmade jewelry better?"
If you still have questions about handmade jewelry or are considering purchasing a new piece of jewelry, don't hesitate to reach out.
Whether you're looking for a meaningful gift or a future heirloom and investment piece, Philophrosyne has the quality and selection you'll love. Get in touch with us today to find the perfect piece of jewelry.