How to Shop Smart for Jewelry
It’s a common sight in many stores this time of year: a confused man sulking about the jewelry counter looking alternately terrified and hopeful. Shopping for jewelry can be intimidating for anyone, but especially for men who have no idea what they are looking for. Check out some basic tips to shop smarter for the gift that will make her holiday season merry and bright…
Pay Attention to What She Needs
Just like with electronics or tools, smart shopping for the right piece of jewelry starts with research. A few weeks before going to the store, gather clues by paying attention to what the lady in your life wears.
- Does she typically wear silver or gold? Look for pieces that match the metal she wears most often.
- Does she always wear a watch? If so, a bracelet may be less desirable than earrings or a necklace.
- Is her current jewelry small and understated, or large and sparkling? A large cocktail ring isn’t a good present for someone who only wears pearl studs, and a small pendant won’t be exciting to someone who wears statement pieces.
- And finally, avoid the rookie mistake of purchasing post earrings for someone who doesn’t have her ears pierced!
Differences between Precious Metals
The three most common metals used in fine jewelry are sterling silver, gold (and white gold) and platinum. Sterling silver is the least expensive of the three and is also the least durable. It is a beautiful metal, but can scratch and tarnish easily. Sterling is a better option for earrings and necklaces than rings for this reason.
Gold is more durable, and also more expensive. Yellow gold is perhaps the most classic precious metal for fine jewelry. White gold is actually yellow gold plated with rhodium, which means if the piece is worn daily it may need to be re-plated occasionally to maintain its luster. White gold is an excellent choice for a gift of fine jewelry for a woman who wants a durable piece but prefers the color silver to gold.
Platinum is usually the most expensive of these precious metals. It is also the most durable and requires the least amount of maintenance (making it a popular choice for wedding rings). Platinum is also very “pure,” meaning it is usually 95 percent platinum, with only five percent of the composition made up of other metals. This makes it very hypoallergenic and an ideal choice for someone with sensitive skin.
There are essentially two options for acquiring the gift once you decide what to look for: shopping in person or online. Both have advantages and disadvantages.
Shopping in person allows you to see how a piece sparkles or changes color in the light. You can also get a better sense of scale to avoid the surprise of a piece being much bigger or smaller than it appears in a picture. However, shopping anywhere during the holiday season can be an ordeal with crowds, traffic and pushy salespeople steering you towards more expensive items.
Online jewelry shopping provides a huge selection of choices. It is also convenient if you have a particular stone or style in mind, as you can simply search for “sapphire ring” or “gold circle pendant” and find hundreds of options at your fingertips. Respected online jewelry sites will have a 30-day satisfaction guarantee and offer free shipping on returns. Shopping online can have disadvantages however, for someone who is very unfamiliar with jewelry as there is not a salesperson on hand to provide suggestions and information.
Consider all of these points before braving the jewelry counter or making a hasty online purchase. Armed with research and knowledge, you can be more confident about choosing a gift that will make her grin!
-Philip J Reed, on behalf of Aston Royal