When you're shopping for jewelry online, it can be hard to assess whether you're getting a quality piece or something that will grow dull after a few wears. Fortunately, the best-selling jewelry on Amazon tends to use fine jewelry materials at shockingly affordable price points. From dainty stacking rings to gorgeous everyday earrings, the pieces below offer accessible, high-quality style.
A Materials Guide From A To CZ
- Gold: You’ll probably encounter the word karat in your search — which, maddeningly, means something completely different from carat (the measure of gemstone weight). Karat is a measure of gold’s purity, since it’s a very soft metal that is usually blended with stronger metals for durability. "24 karat" refers to pure gold; however, 14-karat gold is popular for its ability to hold up against daily wear (many engagement rings are made with it). It's made of 58% pure gold and the rest a metal alloy blend.
- Silver: Pure silver is similar to pure gold in that it is very soft: You usually see it blended to increase its relative hardness. Sterling silver — aka 0.925 silver — is so called because it is 92.5% pure silver blended with a small amount of another metal (usually copper). If you see jewelry marked with “925,” that indicates quality — just be advised that silver oxidizes and turns dark over time. Proper care and storage will go a long way towards keeping it bright.
- Plating: Certain metals are more prone to tarnishing than others (like silver), which is why they are often plated. Platinum and rhodium are common options for plating jewelry. Both are durable and tarnish-resistant, but platinum is considered more premium.
- Cubic zirconia: In terms of sparkle, cubic zirconia — a popular substitute for diamonds — is often graded in three tiers of quality. The most common CZ grades are A, AAA, and AAAAA — with AAAAA indicating top-shelf zirconia.
- Steel: You might be surprised to see this one make the list. 316L surgical stainless steel is used in jewelry (especially for body piercings) because it's durable, affordable, and scratch-resistant. Many people with sensitive skin can wear it, but those who are allergic to nickel may want to steer clear since it might contain contain a small percentage.
With that in mind, it's time to shop for some sparkle. All of the pieces below come highly rated on Amazon and cost less than $25.