We explain the differences between American-made vs foreign-made jewelry
Many people wonder if products made in America are better or worse than products made in foreign countries. With America’s feel-good attitude when it comes to buying American products, many consumers wonder if this sentiment should apply to jewelry.
Additionally, since American-made products are usually considered to be heartier, stronger, and more durable, many people wonder if these attributes apply to jewelry, as well.
American-made vs foreign-made jewelry: Which is better?
The quick answer is: It depends. Sometimes American-made jewelry is better, other times it’s not. There is no uniquely American standard jewelry has to meet, meaning that jewelry made in America can be either high quality and durable, or low-quality junk.
One benefit to buying American made jewelry is that if there is any problem with it, there is usually a relatively easy process to get the item repaired, replaced, etc.
And of course, there is the patriotic factor in buying jewelry made in America. For at least 150 years, the United States had thriving regions where jewelry was manufactured, most notably in New York, New Jersey, and throughout New England. But over the years, as the gap between U.S. and overseas manufacturing wages widened, many American jewelry companies either went out of business or began having their items manufactured outside the United States.
Because many consumers shop with their wallets, however, they want the best price when comparing similar items. To choose to “buy American” is a personal choice that each consumer can make for him/herself. In the end, quality jewelry is available from all corners of the globe.
International jewelry standards that apply to all jewelry
The first thing to understand is that the purity of metal is the same anywhere in the world.
What I mean is that 14kt gold in the United States is 58.5% pure gold and 41.5% other alloys. This is the same in Europe, Asia, and the rest of the world. Often, however, foreign jewelry is marked with the metric stamp “585” (for 58.5% pure) instead of the American “14kt”. There may also be different alloys used, but even within the U.S. each manufacturer uses its own mix of gold and other metals. That alone is one reason a 14kt gold chain from one manufacturer or country might slightly differ in color from another.
Regional and cultural norms
In the United States, 14kt gold is the most common purity sold and bought, but our laws allow us to go as low as 10kt gold and still call the item “solid gold” or “real gold.” In several European countries, 18kt gold (or 75% pure, sometimes stamped “750”) is more commonly sold. Some Middle Eastern countries sell mostly 22kt gold jewelry (91.6% pure). Those norms are influenced by cultural factors in each region. Some countries allow purities lower than 10kt, but it will still be stamped with the “kt” purity or a metric equivalent.
Labor and jewelry quality
As you can imagine, there can also be a difference in the jewelry due to the labor that goes into making it. This can not only affect the item’s cost, but also its quality.
For example, a great deal of silver jewelry is manufactured in China and Thailand, where production costs are much lower. Generally, jewelry made in the United States or industrialized European nations such as Italy and Germany will be more expensive because wages in these countries are higher. To offset this, many manufacturers in those countries will strive to produce a better product to give better value for the higher price. Often these pieces will be better finished, with a nicer polish, better gemstones, and higher-end fittings such as clasps, earring posts, and prongs.
Jewelry made in the U.S.A. vs. foreign jewelry
As you can see, the difference between imported versus domestic jewelry can vary. There is no one way or the other about it; the fact of the matter is you can get great, high-quality jewelry from all across the planet.
To learn more about jewelry, and to browse some of our jewelry collections from various manufacturers, feel free to visit either of our New Jersey jewelry store locations in Morristown or New Providence to see for yourself and talk to any of our expert jewelers.
If you’d like to talk to someone directly about jewelry made in the U.S.A., contact us online anytime by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by simply filling out our contact form. We’ll answer your questions quickly.