When it comes to finding the perfect wedding bands, it’s easy to hop online and find A LOT of options. It can be quite overwhelming scrolling through the spectrum of styles at every price point to find YOUR perfect ring. But wait, before we get too deep into this topic, this article (rant) is for the consumers who strive to support small, US-based businesses who employ a family of artisans who truly make a high-quality item from start to finish! If that sounds like you, please read on and we’ll help you discern them from those that falsely claim to “handcraft” jewelry when, in fact, they are resellers of mass-produced, usually far lower-quality wedding bands.

Being a small business with mostly made-to-order items created in our own design and manufacturing center, it has become increasingly frustrating…infuriating really…with the dramatic increase in wedding band sellers that claim their rings are handmade. In reality, the bulk of them are resellers of low-quality, mass-produced rings made by overseas, sometimes domestic, suppliers. They keep a large stock of rings on hand or have a drop-ship arrangement with the supplier, which is why many can ship quickly. A key indicator of a reseller, but there are many more.

Where can you find REAL handmade rings?

Obviously, from jewelrybyjohan.com, but we totally respect your need to shop around and encourage you to do so! Many who seek out handmade rings turn to Etsy and Amazon Handmade. Or, hop online and search “handmade wedding bands” and are bombarded with options. Have no fear, once you know what to look for, it’s easy to spot the fake makers vs. real craftsmen (and craftswomen) who take pride in every item they hand create.

Resellers on Etsy

Buyers beware of Etsy and Amazon Handmade.

 Despite touting themselves as places to find only handmade goods, which they do have a good selection of, both are highly saturated with resellers of mass-produced, low-quality jewelry, particularly wedding bands. On Etsy, this is a current topic of contention. Earlier this month, there was a week-long Etsy strike by 100s of shops who went on vacation mode in an attempt to protest their frustrations with Etsy, including beliefs that Etsy doesn’t make a concerted effort to crack down on resellers of mass-produced items across a lot of categories and not just jewelry.

Fake “handmade” resellers get creative with stand-alone websites, too.

Some build impressive brands with elaborate websites that include “about us” pages with stock photos of ring equipment and “employees” manufacturing. Or, they have bio photos of staff, which are also stock photos of models, next to cleverly written backstories about how Hanna the accountant is a cat-lover who would never miss an episode of This is Us. Ugh.

Fake CEO Stock Photo

A simple reverse image search reveals this "CEO" is a stock photo model.

How to Spot the Fake Makers Online

We don’t want you to be sus of every business claiming to sell handmade wedding bands, but here’s a list of 🚩 red flags that should make you raise an eyebrow, especially if a business has many of the characteristics listed below.

🚩 If their rings are very low cost, they're probably not handmade.

Or, way cheaper than most other sellers offering the same or similar ring. Higher quality, made to order rings generally come at a premium price.

Mass-Produced, Extremely Inexpensive Rings

If the price looks too good to be true, it probably is.

🚩 If they offer the same rings as those offered by a lot of other sellers, too.

This gets tricky. Just because another store offers it, doesn’t always mean it’s mass-produced. There are a lot of the same and similar designs among both mass-producers and true makers. One thing to keep an eye out for is a mix of photography styles and images. Shady resellers steal product imagery from reputable sellers.

Similar Ring Designs

These rings have a similar design, but only one is handmade and not mass-produced (top left).

🚩 If their rings are made of an alternative metal, they may be mass-produced.

(e.g. Tungsten) vs. precious metals (e.g. solid gold and platinum). Tungsten rings are THE most commonly mass-produced wedding bands. Especially the plated varieties, which include blue, black, grey and rose gold.

Cheap, Plated Metal Rings

This ring isn't really gold. It is tungsten with a micron-thick layer of gold plating.

🚩 If their rings are plated, they're not handmade.

Most real wedding band artisans consider plated rings (with the exception of rhodium plated white gold, which is a common practice in jewelry making) to be very low quality. We’d much rather work with non-plated alternative metals or solid precious metals. Learn more about why plated rings are a bad choice in our blog.

Plated rings are usually mass-produced.

🚩 If the materials in the ring are not genuine, it wasn't crafted just for you.

For example, there are many wedding band resellers who sell very cheap meteorite wedding bands that are made from fake meteorite inlays. Learn how to tell if it’s real meteorite jewelry in our blog.

Rings with Fake Materials

The "meteorite" in this ring isn't real: it's thin metal foil.

🚩 If they offer quick shipping on a variety of ring styles and sizes, it’s probably not handmade.

Many makers don’t have the resources to build a substantial stock for rings in a variety of ring sizes. It also isn’t cost effective to do so, if they are a small shop. But resellers buy in bulk for cheap and simply ship from stock.

Fast Shipping

It takes more than 48 hours to handcraft a wedding ring.

🚩 If they don’t offer a large range of ring sizes, they're not crafting them themselves.

For example, if you can only order whole ring sizes such as 7-10, which is the most popular range of men’s ring sizes. If a ring is truly made to order, it’s not difficult to make it in a variety of sizes, including ¼, ½, ¾ and plus sizes. Real makers can and will strive to get you the perfect ring fit!

Limited Size Availability

Only sizes 7 to 14 in full-size increments?

🚩 If they don’t allow you to customize ring designs, then they aren't made-to-order.

(e.g. change the ring metal, finish, width, profile, materials etc). Ordering one-off, personalized items isn’t cost-effective for resellers. They’d prefer to order styles in bulk that are popular to the masses. On that note, some may offer “custom designs” that take longer to ship, but don’t be fooled. This means it’s a special order from a supplier that takes longer to get from the supplier. It’s not because they require the extra time to personally make it just for you.

Jewelry by Johan lets you customize any ring design with any of our unique materials!

🚩 If they don’t allow you to supply your own materials.

(e.g. gemstones). Not every true maker will offer this option because it’s a significant liability. For example, at Jewelry by Johan, we will use your supplied gemstones, but you must sign a liability waiver.

Customer Supplied Gemstones

Reputable makers will allow you to use an old gemstone for your new jewelry.

🚩 If they don’t offer completely custom or bespoke designs.

Most makers welcome and find the most joy in working with someone to create a one-of-a-kind ring design. At a minimum, a real jeweler would be willing and able to listen to your idea. Then, tell you if it’s viable with their skills and resources.

This trophy ring was customized with customer-supplied deer antler for an added personal touch.

🚩 If they only have positive customer reviews on their website.

Not a tried and true indicator of a reseller or fake business, but should make you leery of the product quality. It’s REALLY easy to delete the negative product reviews from one's own proprietary website. Ideally, product reviews would be found outside of their personal website. The sad reality is, it’s really easy to purchase and/or falsify positive reviews across the web and reviews are getting less and less credible.

Suspicious Reviews

All 24 product reviews gave 5 stars? Really?

🚩 If the business doesn’t have a presence on social media.

Most legit makers love showing off their rings on Pinterest, Instagram, etc. and they’ll take the time to do it even if it’s not on the regular! Search the site for social icons and, if they are nowhere to be found, that is a red flag.

Social Media Platforms

Reputable brands have a presence on at least some social media platforms.

🚩 If they don’t have customer support or contact information readily available.

This one is specific to the fake makers with fancy websites. If there’s no live chat, contact form, email address, address, phone number, etc. that’s suspicious. If they have a preferred contact method listed, but don’t respond to an inquiry within a reasonable timeframe, that’s not a good sign.

Customer Support Staff

A real business should be easy to reach; sketchy companies that sell mass-produced rings can be hard to contact.

🚩 If they don’t have a brick and mortar storefront for in-person shopping.

Keep in mind, however, that many legit Etsy shop owners and ring makers operate solely out of their homes. In fact, that’s how Jewelry by Johan got its start. Johan made simple wood rings in his dirty garage and opened an Etsy shop in 2008.

Jewelry by Johan Storefront

Come visit our storefront - it's a real place!

Since its humble beginnings in 2008, we still get dirty, but have moved out of the garage into our own design and manufacturing facility. Jewelry by Johan has grown substantially, but it is still a small, family-owned business. We wouldn’t be here today without all of those who truly value and appreciate the craftsmanship and love behind every piece of jewelry we make. To you, we are forever grateful.

For those still in search of the perfect rings, we encourage you to seek out handmade artisans like us to keep the craft alive. We’d be honored to personally create rings that perfectly represent your love story.

Find YOUR Perfect Wedding Ring at Jewelry by Johan

At JBJ, we take pride in handcrafting jewelry for you that can withstand the tests of time. We will always do our best to help you find a ring that fits your style and stays within your budget. Keep in mind, layaway and financing options are available to you, too. And, remember, if you can’t find your perfect ring, we can likely create it for you!