These Diamonds Under $500 Have Been My Go-Tos For Over A Decade

As long as I can remember, I've had what the internet refers to as "Champagne taste on a beer budget." And as a person who has never thought, Wouldn't it be amazing if I owed thousands and thousands of dollars to various credit card companies?, I've had to make concessions. When I want to wear a designer item without refinancing my mortgage, I turn to clothing rental sites like Rent the Runway. When I want my nails done but don't feel like shelling out tons of cash, I do them myself. And when I want to dress up my outfits with some gold and diamond jewelry that doesn't require me to sell my plasma and/or hair to afford it, I turn to Zoe Lev.
Since this is the internet, a place where people will tell you that they absolutely love laxative tea with a straight face, I should preface what comes next by saying I have never received a free piece of jewelry from Zoe Lev. I'm not a shareholder in the company, I don't know its publicist, and nobody's going to cut me a check for saying positive things about the brand. It just happens to be a company I buy from regularly and have loved for more than a decade.

So, What Is Zoe Lev, Anyway?

Zoe Lev may not have the name recognition of big brands like Tiffany or Harry Winston, but if you're looking to support a smaller jewelry business whose pieces will have everyone asking, "Where did you get that?!," it's a banger. One of my favorite pieces has been the brand's simple asymmetrical double initial necklace; I own the piece in gold and have worn it nearly every day for many years.
The female-founded company opened for business in Los Angeles in 2011 —  around the time I started purchasing from the brand, too. I happened upon Zoe Lev jewelry for the first time via Etsy, but the company's wares are now available not only via its website but also at retailers like Bloomingdale's, Macy's, and Neiman Marcus.
The brand uses recycled gold and other precious metals to craft its unique pieces as well as gemstones like diamonds, emeralds, and other birthstones. Every piece I've ever owned from the brand — diamond styles included! — has cost under $500 and has stood up to the admittedly non-delicate manner of wear I've put it through. Sweat, soap, whatever that liquid that dripped on me from the subway ceiling was — you name it.

Which Zoe Lev Pieces Are The Most Worthwhile?

While I haven't tried every Zoe Lev item out there (always open to someone buying them for me, though! *hint*), every piece I do own from the brand has quickly become part of my regular rotation. Aside from the asymmetrical necklace above, here's what I wear the most:
I have two of these initial earrings and wear them multiple times a week. They're small enough to pair with a larger stud or hoop and as shiny as the more expensive diamonds I own.
Uncomfortable huggies that don't stay closed? Not here. These diamond huggie hoops have that Goldilocks appeal, as they're not too tight, not too loose, and close securely enough that I once got a hanger stuck in them and they didn't open up. How and why did I get a hanger stuck in my earring? That's a story for another article.
My Valentine's Day go-tos, these diamond heart earrings were one of the best gifts I've ever received — and a constant source of compliments.
Looking for more great Zoe Lev pieces? Keep scrolling for my other favorites.
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