This has been a much requested post, and one I’m excited to share in time for Mother’s Day. Each of the shops in this post are small, female-run businesses, and ones that I’ve personally had a great experience buying from in terms of communication, shipping, and personalize-able features. As someone with narrow wrists and a shorter neck & torso, I much prefer to order pieces where you can choose a length versus 1 size fits all pieces!
Since many of these shops also sell monogram, birthstone, or engrave-able pieces, there’s many gift ideas here for friends, new moms, and bridesmaids as well. This post got long so I’ve split it out between my necklaces and bracelets for Part 1, and some of my favorite rings and earrings will be in Part 2.
Gold Plated vs. Gold Vermeil, Gold Filled, or Solid Gold
First up, you’ll notice these options while browsing jewelry, so I wanted to point out some differences for those who aren’t familiar. As part of jewelry care, it’s advised to remove pieces when showering, working out, or swimming – but to be honest, I haven’t been!
- Gold plated: the thinnest layer of gold plated over another metal, and a typically inexpensive option. Compared to the below options, the outer color may not last as long, especially if not properly cared for.
- Gold vermeil: thicker layer of gold plated over sterling silver. In the US, this label requires the thickness of the gold plating to be at least 2.5 microns thick.
- Gold filled: compared to the above, this is an even thicker layer of gold plated over another metal. In the US, this label requires that the gold content be at least 5% of the total weight. Gold filled items tend to be much less likely to flake or wear off as a reuslt.
- Solid gold: not filled with another metal. Considered fine jewelry, and is usually substantially more in price point compared to the above options.
Personally I think “gold filled” items are a great value for my own use and purposes, so that’s what I buy most often. You can find any of the above options on Etsy, though, including lots of solid gold customizable pieces if you prefer fine jewelry.
Choosing Chain Types
When adding to my layering necklace & bracelet collection, I look for a mix of chain types, chain thicknesses, as well as the color tone of the metal. As you can see below, I like to have a varying mix of gold tones. Thicker chains are less tangle prone, but I love my thin delicate chains!
Small Female Run Jewelry Shops
Honestly there are SO many great female-run small shops both on and off Etsy, this list doesn’t even scratch the surface. As mentioned above, these are just a few shops that I’ve bought pieces from and had a good experience.
Based in NJ and ships internationally
Pieces are handmade by Victoria, who also sources her supplies from other small US-based businesses. She is such a pleasure to order from – super responsive to my questions and requests for custom lengths or features.
Since two of the items I bought from her shop are gold plated (instead of gold filled which I usually prefer), I asked her opinion on that and these were here thoughts: “Plated jewelry just has a bad reputation because so many of them have a minuscule layer of gold. Since the gold is barely even there to begin with, of course it doesn’t last. Gold plated can actually be quite durable if it’s just a thicker plating, and a little bit goes a long way. The other thing I do is use a higher karat gold for plating which makes the piece more yellow in color but also makes it more resistant to tarnish because it has less of the metal alloys that like to react in the first place.”
Pieces I own:
- Toggle chain necklace shown in photo #1, (also worn here). I got 15″ (18k gold plated), available in various lengths. One of my favorites!
- Chunky coin necklace shown in photo #1. I got 18″ (18k gold plated), available in various lengths. Note this is more yellow than pictured here, as I used a little sandpaper to remove some of the gold plating for an antiqued finish.
- Delicate build your own coin necklace pictured below as the longest necklace. I got 17″ in a “Y” lariat style with figaro chain (14k gold filled) and St. Christopher pendant. You can select necklace length, type of chain, and coin / charm type.
Quick note about this pearl cuff bracelet with glass pearls + 14k gold plated twist cable (better photos on me here). This is one of my all time favorite bracelets! The cuff is bendable and fits quite well on narrow wrists. I’ve had it for years now and it hasn’t shown signs of wear yet. This brand is made in New England and some of their other bracelets like this one actually come in sizes from XS – XL (I usually get Small, as their XS is quite tiny).
Based in NJ and ships internationally
Mel is very responsive with questions and has a lovely shop of dainty everyday pieces. Their packaging is also very pretty and gift-ready!
- Chain link bracelet shown in photo #1 in 6″ (gold filled), wide range of lengths available. Also available as a necklace. This is one of my favorite minimalist bracelets that I always get questions about! Super lightweight and comfortable to wear, even to bed.
- “N” circle pendant + beaded chain necklace set shown in photo above, in lengths 15 and 17″ (gold filled). A nice gift for mamas as you can select up to 4 monogrammed circles on the necklace, as well as the length of the two necklaces. I chose this as I wanted a beaded chain for a little added texture. I also like that this comes as 2 separate necklaces for versatility, unlike some sets where the strands are conjoined. Note: I did find the two necklaces to have a slightly different color, with the beaded chain being a little rose tinted.
3. Urban Carats
Based in TX and ships internationally
Pieces are handmade by Eshna and her small team. Although the piece I have from here is very simple, they actually specialize in gemstone jewelry, and offers a big range of choice in materials, from sterling silver to solid gold settings with price points varying accordingly.
- Mini cursive initial necklace shown in photo above, in 14″ with a gold filled chain. These are available in a 14″-24″ length with either a gold filled, sterling silver or rose gold chain.
4. CA Souls
Based in CA and ships internationally
This is the only shop here that I didn’t personally order from, as my bracelet was a thoughtful gift from my friend / IVF sister Anna after Nori was born! This shop specializes in handmade jewelry incorporating Morse code into minimalist designs, with the option to add a birthstone.
Based in TX and ships internationally
Erica also makes her minimalist pieces by hand and focuses on sustainable packaging – her pieces are sent in reusable, compostable or recycled packaging.
- Chain link necklace shown in photo #2 and packaging photo below. Mine is gold plated and 14″ with a 2″ extender. Available in 14″, 16″ 18″ or 20″. Note this is a larger sized chain than my chain bracelet above from TJS, as I wanted something slightly bolder for a necklace.
For any necklace or bracelet I would advise draping a piece of string, cutting it to the length you want, and measuring it with a ruler for reference before ordering. But I wouldn’t worry too much about the precise length, as you can always add a necklace extender or magnetic extender clasp if it’s too short. See my recent blog post on jewelry hacks for the extenders and clasps that I use!
I’d love to hear some small jewelry shops that you guys love as well! And check Part 2 for some of my favorite handmade rings (in custom sizes) & earrings.