Stone: Buying Jewelry as a Gift

Although I don’t do it often, I’m pretty good at buying jewelry for people. I have helped two friends pick out engagement rings (which were big hits) and have advised numerous others on holiday and birthday gifts. But I do understand that figuring out what someone would like is a proposition that fills many with dread–especially if a significant amount of cash is at stake.

So now that we’re going into the holiday season, I decide to write this service-oriented post based on one simple tip: Figure out what they like beforehand. Then you can figure out the best store to go to (more on that below) and isolate the kind of pieces your giftee will like. By doing this prep work, you narrow down your choices before you even get into the store.

But how do you know what they like? Easy. Look at the type of jewelry they wear. Not that they own, but what they actually wear.

Does he/she wear:

  • Beads, metal, pearls, gems, natural materials (wood, bone, horn, leather), or other materials (Bakelite, rubber, plastics)?
  • Silver or gold? (Are they allergic to any metals?)
  • Big, bold designs (e.g., chunky necklaces, long earrings) or smaller, more traditional pieces (e.g., stud earrings, simple rings, small pendant necklaces)?
  • Earrings, necklaces, bracelets, or rings? Or all of the above?
  • If they prefer non-metallic jewelry, what colors do they favor? Neutrals (brown, black, white) or brighter colors (red, purple, blue)?
  • Unusual and striking designs or more traditional designs, such as a locket or a small pendant or religious symbol?
  • Long necklaces or chokers?
  • Intricate or ethnic designs (like the lacy ornate designs of Indian jewelry) or simple ones (hoop earrings or plain bangles)?
necklace

Don’t buy something like this for someone who only wears simple jewelry.

  •  If they like gems or minerals, do they like pieces with one big gem or lots of little ones?
  • What color gems or rocks? Clear/white (diamonds, clear crystals), red (ruby, garnet), blue (turquoise), green (peridot, emerald), black (hematite), etc.

If you’re not sure of your choice even after that, buy jewelry someplace that takes returns (department stores and chain stores). However, keep in mind that the designs tend to be either very trendy or traditional at these places. If your giftee prefers more unusual and unique jewelry, you will likely have more luck at specialty boutiques and holiday fairs where jewelry designers show and sell their work—but those sellers may only offer store credit or no returns at all. Ask about the return and exchange policy. And of course you can always take a fashionable friend who knows about these things. Finally, knowing the answers to the above questions can make it easier for a salesperson to help you out.

 It’s the thought that counts—and if you take some time to think about your giftee’s style and preferences, it will show in your gift, and they will appreciate it. Good luck!

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