Buying jewelry as a gift can be nerve wracking. How do you know where to begin? What should you buy? And when you get to the store, what do you look for? We asked jewelry design majors at a fashion school to share their expertise, and they’ve come up with these practical tips on how to find the perfect piece for your special someone.
1. Notice what she already wears. The first step is to figure out what she likes. Keep a mental note of what she wears every day, and what she wears for a night on the town. Buy only those pieces. Don’t think that she doesn’t wear bracelets because she has been waiting for you to buy the perfect one for her.
2. Notice her style preferences. Jewelry is like fashion design: every woman has her personal style. So suppose you know she’s an earring person. Does she tend to wear hoops or studs? If she’s into necklaces, does she like simplicity or layers of baubles? Your best bet is to buy her a variation on what she already wears, but perhaps with a twist, like a different gemstone.
3. Ask your female friends for help. Once you know the general direction of the type of jewelry you’re buying, ask your female friends at work what they would purchase. Your female friends can also tell you what are hot “must have” pieces, and the best places to shop. Be careful about asking her friends. They might spill the beans.
4. Avoid buying a ring. That is, unless you’re going to pop the question. Our fashion college experts agree that any other ring, no matter how beautiful, only says you’re not ready to commit. Who needs to step on that land mine?
5. Know her size. If you are buying a ring, find out what size she wears. To do this, you’ll have to snoop a little. Look through her dresser or jewelry box to find a ring she might already wear, and trace the inside on a piece of paper. It might not be perfect, but it can be adjusted later.
6. Set a budget. Decide how much you want to spend on your gift, and try not to be swayed in the jewelry store to exceed it. Again, your female friends might have some insight on this matter. The price level should be appropriate to your stage in the relationship. Spending too much early on might make her uncomfortable.
7. Do some homework on metals and gems. At the jewelry store, the salesperson will use a lot of terminology that could be confusing, so know some basic facts. For example, solid gold doesn’t mean 24 karat gold. It only means it isn’t hollow. And not all gemstones are created equal. They can be natural, laboratory-created, or imitation.
8. Check the craftsmanship. Make sure that clasps are solid and work properly. Examine the settings for uniformity. If you’re buying jewelry made with precious metals, look for karat marks that define the metal’s purity. There should also be a hallmark, showing that the manufacturer stands behind the accuracy of the karat mark.
9. Ask about the store’s refund or exchange policy. As perfect as you think the jewelry is, it might need to be taken back for some reason. Also pay particular attention to the valid time period. There’s a big difference between 24 hours and 30 days.
10. Get the product details in writing. If your purchase involves precious metals or stones, make sure the salesperson writes down all information about the jewelry on the receipt, such as the gem’s weight or size.
By doing a little research and being a smart shopper, you’re sure to make someone very happy when she opens that gift box.