Jewelry is special among other types of possessions because it has both a material worth and quality, as well a personal and emotional appeal. It is relatively easy to quantify a piece of jewelry’s value and quality based on the gemstone and metals used, the precision and quality of the cut, etc. By contrast, it is much more difficult, if not impossible, to place a personal or emotional value on a piece. A prime example is a cherished family heirloom that has been handed down from generation to generation, but which has little to moderate objective value. That is why in addition to value and quality, it is important to consider the following personal selection criteria:
Personal Taste Is Key
Perhaps the most important selection criterion of all is how well the piece will suit the owner’s taste. It is easy to downplay the role taste will play in overall satisfaction because it is a natural fallacy to assume that if the jewelry is objectively good quality, it will be enjoyed. This is not always the case, and it isn’t only a problem for people selecting jewelry for their friends and loved ones; often people make poor selections for themselves, failing to consider if or how much they will actually use and enjoy the jewelry. This is similar to how one might be an outfit and then seldom or never wear it, purchase an appliance or electronic and then rarely use it, or even pick up groceries that ultimately go uneaten. The simple truth is that unless we think about our decisions carefully we are often poor at predicting the outcome. This is even more true if we’re choosing something for someone else. A few personal taste factors to consider:
Jewelry Type – It might seem obvious, but buying a necklace for a woman who never wears necklaces might be a poor choice. Perhaps she doesn’t like the way feel on her neck; maybe she doesn’t have many outfits that compliment the piece; perhaps she works in a job or has hobbies that make necklaces a poor fit; maybe she just doesn’t like the way she looks in them. Whatever the case, it may seem like getting her a necklace is a great idea since she you never see her wearing one and thus she mustn’t already have too many; however, there could be a good reason you never see her wearing one: she can’t, won’t, or doesn’t want to. If she often gets compliments on her rings, shows off shiny new bangles, or raves about the earrings she just bought, then these are probably good indications of her preferred jewelry types.
Jewelry Style – Everyone has their own unique sense of style and it can vary quite considerably from individual to individual. Even if you select the correct jewelry type for the right person, you must also keep in mind their personal sense of style. An obvious example is that a 15-year-old will dress and express themselves much differently than a 60-year-old. However, it isn’t just about age, but also personality. Is the person vivacious and outgoing, often wearing bright, loud colors? Or is the person more subtle and understated? Trendy and cutting-edge, or classic and timeless? Antique and retro or contemporary? Again, resist the urge to make a section because you want the person to mix it up a little (or want to convince yourself to venture way outside your comfort zone). Unless you have a strong indication that a new style will actually work and be adapted, it’s probably best to play it safe.
Jewelry Trends – Trends can play a huge role in the basic selection of the piece. A jewelry trend can be a great opportunity to pick up stylish choices that suit a person’s overall preferences. Additionally, many people who wear jewelry will want to be at least tangentially connected to what’s hot, if not right in the mix. However, it is important not to get so fixated on a popular trend that you dismiss the wisdom about shopping to suit the recipient’s overall preferences.
Get Hints If Possible
The previous section about taste is important to consider when shopping for someone else, and for yourself. These new sections, however, will primarily assume that you are trying to select the best jewelry for someone other than yourself. Thus, you may not have all the information to work with and you may have to make some informed guesses. Going through this extra layer of effort can make the entire experience even more gratifying when you finally select the perfect piece and see that lucky someone’s big smile as they unwrap their gift. However, if the piece is very expensive or it is very important that they like it, then it may be worth it to just go ahead and talk with the person directly, or even take them shopping with you. We touched on this in a past article called “Pros and Cons of Ring Shopping Together, ” which of course related to couples shopping for an engagement ring; however, many of the same considerations would apply for deciding whether or not to involve the other person in the decision making process regardless of the particular piece, occasion, or your relationship to the person. Assuming you don’t talk to the person about the jewelry outright then:
Pay Attention – The best way to get a feel for what a close friend or loved one will like is to simply pay close attention, especially when the topic of jewelry comes up in general. Notice what they are wearing; listen for comments about what they like and what they don’t like; casually start a conversation about trends and styles and discover where they fall on these topics. In some instances the person may even be intentionally dropping hints about specific pieces or types of jewelry that they would like. If you’re window shopping with the lady in question and she starts raving about a particular pendant or set of earrings it’s probably a safe bet that she would like them. Similarly if it’s a few weeks until the holiday and a guy starts talking about how he lost his favorite cufflinks or his watch recently broke, then that could also be a strong indicator of what he wants.
Remember Context – On the flip side make sure that the facts you are paying attention to are actually facts. Just because a woman compliments her friend’s earrings or a guy listens attentively while his buddy talks about the features on his new watch, doesn’t mean that they necessarily want similar items for themselves. They might just be being polite, or they make like those pieces on or for someone else, but have no desire to own them. By the same token if a group conversation does turn to a certain type of jewelry, they might just be giving their opinion to be involved in the conversation, without actually having a strong preference. On the other hand, if their eyes light up, they bring the topic back up on their own later, or they intentionally steered the conversation in that direction, then that’s a good sign.