Buying jewelry for a special lady in your life can be daunting. Considering you know as much about jewelry as Christine O’Donnell knows about witchcraft, wait… Well, let’s just say, you’ve probably stumbled on this page because you’re looking for some practical advice on picking a beautiful piece of jewelry that the woman in your life won’t return, perhaps even love.
Level of difficulty: Medium.
Equate jewelry buying to buying a car. The same way you wouldn’t buy the first car you see on the lot, you’ll have to do some research beforehand, compare specs and prices, and choose something that matches her needs and her personality. You’re not buying a 2-door sports car if you have a family of four; you’re not buying your girlfriend a Peridot birthstone if she was born in November. When it comes to buying gifts, it’s the thought that counts. That means putting in real thought and effort into buying something she’ll truly love.
Step 1: Define Her Style & Look For Clues
Is she a Lamborghini (chic and high maintenance) or a Mini (trendy but subtle)? Your first task is to define who your girlfriend is. That means assessing her style and personality and noticing the jewelry she wears on a day to day basis. Is she conservative in a dress? Edgy? Does she wear lots of jewelry? Big jewelry? Small jewelry? Gold? Silver? Hemp? Wood? Does she have a favorite piece of jewelry that she wears every day or perhaps reserves for special occasions only? You may have to do a little jewelry box digging to find out.
Is comfort important to her? (Note: If she wears big, heavy jewelry, it is probably not that important.)
Does she have allergies to certain metals? Believe it or not, around 15 percent of the population is allergic to nickel. Nickel is used in most jewelry because it’s cheap and strong, (used as a hardener for other metals) but if she does have a nickel allergy, you’ll have to make sure you get items labeled as hypoallergenic or nickel free.
Once you have settled some of these questions, you can move on to your next task…
Step 2: Choose a Piece Appropriate for the Occasion
If it’s her birthday, a birthstone is both beautiful and thoughtful. If you’re proposing, a diamond engagement ring is the traditional gift of choice. An insider’s tip: try avoiding rings unless you’re popping the question. The argument is that rings can cause confusion and she may be a little disappointed if she opens the plush, velvety box and doesn’t find a sparkly diamond inside. Another debatable move is trying to merge two occasions into one, such as a birthday and an anniversary. If the gift is really going to set you back a few months, it may be a good idea to get something extravagant now, and more modest the next occasion. Otherwise, reserve something special for each separate occasion without blowing your budget.
The best way to do that…
Step 3: Know Your Jewels (Not those jewels!)
In your jewelry hunt, you’ll have got to get with the words, literally. It’s helpful to know some of the basics about metals and gemstones because you may decide to invest in more a precious gemstone rather than a precious metal, or vice versa, or indulge for both, depending on your budget.
There are several metals used in the creation of fine jewelry. The most commonly used are gold, platinum, titanium, silver and stainless steel. Rhodium and palladium are also used.
- Gold: There are two things to consider when looking at gold: Carat & Colour. If you see a 24kt engraving, you’re looking at pure gold. 18kt gold contains 75% pure gold. 14kt contains 58.33% pure gold. Anything below 10kt cannot legally be called gold.
Gold is available in several different colors. The most popular is yellow gold, followed by white gold and rose gold. Other gold colors are sometimes also available such as bronze, red and lime gold. These all vary in prices.
Gold-filled means the metal has been topped with a gold layer. Gold plated means the metal has been coated with a thin layer of gold.
- Silver: Silver jewelry is usually made from sterling silver. Genuine sterling silver will always be marked/stamped with (.925), often on the clasp of the piece. Only an alloy consisting of at least 92.5% fine silver can be marketed as “silver” (thus frequently stamped 925). Silver plated, like gold plated, means the metal has been coated with a thin layer of silver. Plated metal is more likely to bend, crack, or rub off.
- Platinum: Platinum finds use in jewelry usually as a 90–95% alloy due to its inertness and shine. It is even more rare than gold. As compared to gold, platinum falls between the 18-karat and 24-karat range.
- Titanium: Titanium is probably the strongest of all metals used in jewelry, very low maintenance and very robust. It is extremely light and used mostly for piercings or men’s jewelry.
- Stainless Steel: Stainless steel looks almost identical to silver but is much harder and will not tarnish the way silver does. Stainless jewelry does not have the same luster or shine as other metals.
Gemstones are often classified as precious or semi-precious. Precious gemstones are considered the more prestigious of the two.
The precious family includes:
- Pearl (strictly speaking not a gemstone)
- and for Gollum and Middle-Earth: The One Ring
The semiprecious family includes:
Everything Else. (Here is a list of all semiprecious stones with informative descriptions)
Step 4: Make a Budget
Browsing for jewelry with the millions of options we have thanks to the Internet can become very overwhelming. Making a budget will not only benefit your bank account but also help narrow down your search. Depending on the occasion, you may want to go all out, or you may want to take the more economic route. Just make sure that if you do try and shop for jewelry on a lower budget, that you aren’t forgoing quality. The last thing you want is to have pay for repairs in the future. If you do decide to spend a little more, find out about different payment methods as retailers often provide a customized payment plan to ease the brunt.
Step 5: Ask for HELP!
Nothing beats a little help from her friends. Now that you have a hold on the basics of jewelry, her style, and browsed some different jewelry options, it’s time for opinions. And, the best people to ask are girlfriends. Her girlfriends, your girlfriends… Girlfriends will be able to tell you what’s hot and the best places to go. Her girlfriends will also let you know if she already has a lot of one particular type of jewelry, for instance, earrings. In this case, you may want to hunt for a necklace or bracelet. You could also ask her mother but only if you’re quite certain they like each other’s tastes.
Step 6: Close the Deal
Buy the jewelry piece that best suits your girlfriend and don’t look back. Make sure with whatever you buy you get some type of warranty or guarantee in writing. This is to guarantee that this item will last a long time and be replaced if ever lost. Also, under no circumstance should you mention price…ever. Chances are she’ll go research it anyway…