Why buy pre-owned?
I purchased a brand new Balenciaga bag once and adored it so much that I put it on a shelf only to be looked at and never used. It seemed silly to spend so much money on a shelf ornament, so I sold it and used that money to buy from a reputable consigner instead (with enough leftover funds for other items). Since the consigned bag already had a little wear and tear, I had no qualms about using it (though very carefully and lovingly). And of course, can't forget that you can also get a very good price on a pre-owned item.
How do you shop pre-owned?
My go-to resource is the Purse Forum. They have an amazing wealth of information and even have Authentication threads that I highly recommend. The "Authenticate This" threads are manned by volunteers who themselves are avid collectors providing a free service. For a more official authentication (for use in eBay / PayPal disputes or simply for peace of mind), check with CarolDiva for a for-fee service. When satisfied of authenticity, don't forget to use Jean's helpful tip of politely asking for a lower price.
PayPal and eBay both have buyer protection policies and take claims against authenticity very seriously. I once purchased a Burberry bag (authenticated via tPF) and then was sent a completely different bag (different tags, different font, different serial number). The seller ignored my emails but responded promptly once I put a claim through PayPal (PayPal will freeze the seller's account for the amount in question until resolved). Using a credit card also allows you the protection of a chargeback if the item received is significantly different from its description (i.e. is fake when advertised as authentic).
How did I buy this particular bracelet?
I don't foresee myself being able to buy a $10K+ Hermes Birkin in this lifetime but a little bauble seemed like a fun piece of luxury. Finding this was actually a little difficult as tPF no longer authenticates Clic H bracelets due to the high number of very good counterfeits being produced and sold. This was worrying, to say the least, so I approached this backwards. I researched reputable eBay sellers with a history of authentic Hermes items and then familiarized myself with date codes, markings, and common complaints with Clic bracelets (not foolproof, but gave me enough confidence in this case).
Complaints are good to look at so you know what to expect / look out for in a given item. In this case, I knew that they scratch easily, the enamel can sometimes come loose or break off (nearly always noticed within the first few wears so can be attributed to a defect rather than wear), and the hardware can sometimes develop spots. When browsing, I made sure to look closely at the enamel and hardware for those flaws.
So without further ado, here is my new acquisition:
Beautifully packaged with Hermes box and ribbon
Hermes Clic H, PM
I can't rave enough about how much better a hinged bangle fits versus a typical slip over your hand type.
Paired with other bracelets in an "arm party"
Hope you found this post interesting / helpful - it's definitely a departure from my usual subject matter. Happy shopping!