I don't wear costume jewelry. I'd much rather own a few good pieces of the real thing — even if it's just inexpensive sterling silver, or a simple gold chain — over having a dresser drawer full of designer, sometimes more costly costume jewelry.
And I hope everybody has the experience of receiving classic jewelry like 14k gold earrings for a 21st birthday, or a bracelet with precious stones to celebrate a graduation, given to you by someone who matters in your life. That's why it's the worst feeling in the world to lose a piece of jewelry. Often there's a story and sentimental value behind that neckless, so it can't easily be replaced.
Once in a while I'm even good to myself. I notice that with jewelry I'm a more modest spender and not quite as generous with myself, as I am when buying for another person. But it all works out, because that's how special people in my life are with me also.
I have a pair of cultured pearl earrings that I bought on sale at Macy's department store for $80. They may not be flawless Akoya pearls, but they are nice. They are classic ... real ... and a thing of beauty. They dress up any outfit -- and with care, they will last for decades.
So here's a pearl of wisdom. Every so often when you reach a milestone, or overcome a hardship, let yourself have one nice thing. Reward yourself for meeting a challenge with a strength and resilience you didn't know you had. It doesn't have to be a top of the line purchase, necessarily; just factor into your budget a little something you are hankering to buy. Make sure it's something that brings you happiness ... and enjoy it, because the reality is, it doesn't take long to live a life.