As minute as it may be, one of my biggest grievances is when jewelry I’ve just bought begins to tarnish or irritates my skin, creating a not-so-cute rash. But what’s a girl to do when she’s not ready to splurge on fine jewelry but is over cheap jewelry? The solution lies in the industry’s budding demi-fine market. For the past few years, there’s been an explosion of demi-fine brands creating pieces that bridge the gap between costume and high-end jewelry.
What exactly classifies a jewelry brand as demi-fine? Typically with fine jewelry, you see pieces made out of precious stones and metals with larger price tags, while costume jewelry uses metal alloys and has prices below $100. Demi-fine jewelry merges these two mediums by creating pieces made with gold (below 18 karats) and silver or plated pieces paired with semi-precious stones, hitting that sweet spot under $400. The result? A rising class of demi-fine jewelry brands that have taken over our Instagram feeds.
If you haven’t seen the demi-fine jewelry brands in your feed yet, don’t fret, because we’ve rounded up 18 that have been leading the charge in making finer jewelry far more accessible. Keep reading to find some hidden gems.
When I think of brands that carved out the demi-fine jewelry space in the industry, I think of Missoma. While it may seem this brand is new to the scene, as it’s gained popularity on Instagram recently, don’t be fooled. Marisa Hordern actually founded Missoma in London back in 2008. The brand’s rise in the cultural zeitgeist can be attributed in part to fans like Meghan Markle and Kaia Gerber, but what really makes this brand one to watch (and shop) is the fact that it creates 18-karat-gold and silver-plated pieces that are perfect for stacking and mixing and matching with your other favorite jewelry pieces for everyday wear.
The first time I saw a pair of Maria Black earrings, I audibly gasped. Founded by Copenhagen-born Black, this jewelry brand specializes in sculptural jewelry pieces both in the demi-fine and fine markets. So wherever you are in your jewelry collection phase— whether you only have $50 dollars to spend or $500—you can find a well-crafted piece of jewelry that can leave you just as breathless as I was.
Fine jewelry isn’t the only way you can get unique pieces that tell a story. In fact, the demi-fine jewelry brand Alighieri’s story originates in founder Rosh Mahtani’s love for literature. Instead of taking the “typical” route of getting into the jewelry world, Mahtani studied literature at Oxford, where she became enamored with Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy.
This infatuation is what led her to create her demi-fine jewelry brand in 2014. Not only does every piece embody the imperfections and wanderlust of Dante’s story, but this award-winning jewelry brand’s pieces are thoughtfully made with ethically sourced metals produced by craftsmen in London.
When thinking about jewelry, affordability is an important aspect, but it’s not the only thing we should be focusing on as consumers. While fine jewelry may last a lifetime, the implications from the mining industry can be alarming—which is a big part of the thought process behind Vancouver-based brand Wolf Circus. Founded by Fiona Morrison, the brand utilizes recycled sterling silver and bronze pieces that are triple plated in 14-karat gold as a more sustainable demi-fine jewelry option. Not can you feel good about where your jewelry piece comes from, but with prices starting under $100, the brand is the epitome of attainable and sustainable luxury.
Who said that demi-fine jewelry had to focus on gold and silver pieces primarily? In fact, one of the things that distinguish demi-fine jewelry definitively from costume and fine jewelry is its ability to meld different materials to create out-of-this-world pieces—and no other brand is doing that quite like Ejing Zhang. The brand was founded in 2015 by London-based Chinese designer Zhang, and her work has become lauded by fashion girls for its quirky incorporation of resin into the designs. The result is pieces any jewelry collector would be ecstatic to own.
What happens when two sisters of Trinidadian and Mauritian lineage living in East London decide to start a business? You get the demi-fine jewelry brand Stellar 79. What makes this jewelry brand unique is that the two founders bring their life experiences to the jewelry-making process. Each piece adheres to ethical guidelines around sourcing gemstones and metals and is handmade by artisans in Jaipur, India. In addition to putting tremendous thought into the production process, Stellar 79 also donates to Educate Girls, a nonprofit organization helping underprivileged girls in rural India gain an education.
Great jewelry can come from anywhere, but it just so happens that F+H Jewellry is produced in small batches in Australia’s Byron Bay. Jewelry has long been a boys’ club, but Byron-based female founder Sharona Harris set out to change the jewelry space in 2014. The brand is female-owned and -designed, and the pieces are meant to strike the perfect balance between traditionally “feminine” and “masculine” design aspects. The results? Minimal yet edgy pieces that can be worn every day.
What began as a commerce platform to curate lifestyle brands for Wald Berlin founders Dana Roski and Joyce Binneboese morphed into their very own demi-fine jewelry collection. But this isn’t just another jewelry brand. From ensuring every piece is handmade by a collective of women who formerly struggled with employment to partnering with German biologists to ensure the pearls and corals used in each piece are not on the protected-species list, every jewelry piece created by Wald Berlin is crafted with the utmost thought.
Forge & Finish
By now you’re probably wondering, Are most demi-fine brands internationally based? And while a lot of the jewelry brands that lead the charge in creating the demi-fine market are abroad, there are some U.S.-based jewelry companies worth putting on your radar—such as Forge & Finish. Founded by Desiree Casimiro, Emily Kane, and Carly Mayer in Philadelphia, these women are putting their love for jewelry and metalworking skills to good use by using jewelry to bring awareness to community issues.
For example, with the launch of their most recent collection, they’ve partnered with Clean Water Action to raise awareness and funds around supplying clean-water accessibility to generations to come.
If you’re a Nordstrom fanatic, then you’re going to want to put Argento Vivo on your radar. Not only does the brand partner with one of our favorite retailers to create accessible finer jewelry at affordable prices, but it also prides itself on its ability to create trend-forward pieces made out of the best-sourced sterling silver to help you curate a collection you can love for a lifetime.
Stella and Bow
Whoever said great jewelry had to be expensive never knew about Stella and Bow. Founded in 2014 by former stylist Lauren Brokaw, Stella and Bow has become a favorite among celebrities like Meghan Markle and Chrissy Teigen because of its easy-to-style, dainty pieces ranging from demi-fine to fine in terms of the karat count and stones used. But beyond creating fashion-forward finer pieces, what makes Stella and Bow so special is its commitment to philanthropy. The brand regularly collaborates with nonprofit organizations to donate a portion of its proceeds. Basically, investing in a piece from Stella and Bow is something you can feel good about in all senses.
While the materials that make a Laura Lombardi jewelry piece may be precious, recycled metals, the pieces themselves are anything but dainty. Founded in 2010, the Brooklyn-based demi-fine jewelry brand melds founder Lombardi’s Italian and New York roots into bold ’80s-inspired chunky pieces. Since its inception, the brand has been a favorite among fashion girls and even the likes of Tracee Ellis Ross—so that should tell you everything you need to know.
I’ve professed my love for Éliou before, and I’ll do it once again. Founded by Cristina Mantilla and Duda Teixeira, this contemporary and kitschy demi-fine jewelry brand specializes in creating pieces with cowrie shells, freshwater pearls, and glass beads. Since every Éliou piece is made to order, you get one-of-a-kind pieces. Basically, it’s the same feeling as investing in a piece of fine jewelry without the hefty price tag.
Costume jewelry is in many ways seen as accessible not only because of its price point but also because of its ability to adapt to current trends. But there are ways to stay trendy and still invest in great jewelry. Enter Martha Calvo. Founded in Miami in 2006, the demi-fine jewelry brand specializes in fun, 14-karat-gold-plated jewelry with unique designs featuring fruit charms, freshwater pearls, and personalized elements. The result is a collection that melds contemporary style with timeless metals.
The best jewelry tends to have an air of magic to it, and the demi-fine jewelry brand Pamela Love fits the bill. Founded in 2006, it draws inspiration from early Mexican and American silverwork, along with mysticism, folklore, astronomy, astrology, and alchemy. To make each piece even more magical, they’re manufactured in the founder’s Brooklyn-based studio, unless a piece requires a specific skill set, which she tentatively outsources with thought. Basically, every Pamela Love piece is made with a little bit of precious metal, a little bit of magic, and a little bit of love.
The fine-jewelry space has long had its issues with sourcing ethically made materials, but the demi-fine, Black-owned jewelry brand Omi Woods is aiming to change that. Founded by Ashley Alexis McFarlane, the brand has a mission to create handmade pieces ranging from vermeil to 24-karat with fair-trade African gold and globally sourced, conflict-free fine metals. With each collection, McFarlane not only taps into her Jamaican Ashanti Maroon heritage to inspire the pieces but also ensures the artists receive fair wages. Basically, you can rest assured that an Omi Woods piece supports Black artistry now and will last for generations to come.
If you’ve made it this far, you’re well aware of the fact that the demi-fine jewelry market has been booming, and there are so many more jewelry brands to look forward to, such as Uncommon James, which is set to launch its first-ever demi-fine collection on September 10 with real, ethically sourced, round-cut diamonds around the $200 price point.
Adapted from whowhatwear.com