Elena Adams Designs

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Buying Jewelry as a Gift



Buying jewelry can be a tricky process even when you're purchasing for yourself; more so when buying online. Impulse buying is quickly becoming a thing of the past, since with internet shopping you have the luxury of thinking over the purchase without the pressure of a salesperson, or the immediate sense that if you don't grab it now someone else will.

So now that you have a little time to think, here are some things that will help you select the perfect gift every time, no matter where you shop.

Firstly comes your budget. You probably have a budget in mind before you even start looking for something, and unless you find a piece of jewelry that is simply amazing, not much is going to shake you from it. Of course there's nothing wrong with that, but take a moment to consider how long you want the gift to last. Costume jewelry is a fun, cost-effective gift, but chances are it will break or discolor pretty quickly. Not to sound like a used car salesman, but paying a little extra now will certainly mean no disappointment on the receiver's behalf and no embarrassing conversation about what happened to your gift. In addition to the basic cost, find out whether there is any kind of repair or warranty arrangement. Some sites (such as this one) may offer a no-strings repair service for up to a year, while others may let you buy additional service time. If you do manage to make your purchase from a website with a warranty, be sure to pass the information over to the recipient of the jewelry, so they know just what to do if something unfortunate happens.

The next thing to consider is the basic type of jewelry you would like to give. A ring usually carries the intention of a promise and is pretty risky when exchanged between a man and a woman, as it may imply more than you would like. In some cultures a bracelet can be considered collar-like, and giving one can imply ownership of the recipient. A similar issue goes for bracelets and anklets in other cultures, as they may represent slave shackles. Naturally, most people don't think about this at all when it comes to necklaces and bracelets, but its worth noting if you a shopping for someone from another culture.
Sterling Silver Slave Bracelet with Lavender Beads
I love them, but maybe her retirement party
isn't the time to introduce the idea.


Body jewelry, while fun and exciting for most, can be a bit of a shock to more conservative dressers. You may love the look of slave earrings, but many jewelry wearers will either have no clue how to wear them, or would never consider wearing them outside. Again, think about your "audience" and remember that ultimately you're shopping for their pleasure and not your own.

Now that you've selected the basic type of jewelry and your budget, it's time to think about things like length, design and gemstones.

For a birthday gift, birthstone jewelry is always popular. If you would like to branch out from birthstone jewelry there are easy ways to start. Think about the color of the clothes the recipient usually wears. Do they wear a lot of brown? Then onyx and obsidian may be too dark, while blue topaz may clash. It might help to look at a color wheel for paletting inspiration. Find the color they tend to stick to and choose jewelry either in that tone, or one of the neighboring colors. Opposing colors, while they can be vibrant and perfectly natural when paired, may be a little too glaring for some tastes. If you're not sure, keep it simple. Additionally you can consider the recipient's "season". This is an old method, brought to popular conscience by Carole Jackson in 1987. The basic idea is to find the colors based on seasons that suit a person. Individuals each have their own season, and their clothing, jewelry and make-up "should" reflect that. (I use "should" liberally as there's nothing wrong with breaking rules when it comes to fashion). For instance, I am an Autumn or Fall, so the colors that suit me best are browns, bronzes, deep reds and so on. I can't easily pull off Spring colors, such as pinks, pale oranges, light greens etc as they look somehow wrong on me ("mutton dressed as lamb" springs to mind). There's all sorts of details on how to discover your true season, but most people are easy to pick, and the recipient tends to stick to one color set, or looks good in one in particular, chances are that's their season.

The seasons are:

Spring is vibrant and refreshing like new growth and blossoms. Rosy cheeks and bright eyes with blonde or light hair tones are usually an indicator, and they look best in pastel tones of the following: Green, Pink, Beige, Teal, Blue, Gold.

Summer is delicate and understated. Unlike the bright colors of early spring, it's a little more mature with blue or pink undertones. Muted tones and neutrals are best. Colors include: Blue, Lavender, Beige, Pink, Orange.

Fall is fiery and earthy with spicy and warm colors. Brunettes and redheads with warm skin tone are often Falls. Colors include: Bronze, Brown, Garnet or Deep Red, Toned-Down Green.

Winter is crisp and deep with dark tones to match dark hair, and deep eye color and pale skin. Colors include: Dark Red, Purple, Black, Navy, Hot Pink.

These aren't hard and fast rules, but they may point you in the right direction when it comes to picking a palette.

Another thing to consider when selecting the gems and coloring of the jewelry is to think about your purpose. If it's a birthday gift gemstones associate with good fortune may be appropriate. If the jewelry is for a friend trying to fall pregnant fertility gemstones may be in order.

The design is a tricky one to figure out. Bracelets are easy to pick. Just decide whether a gold, silver or mixed metals bracelet would suit them best by thinking about their current wardrobe. The best guidelines for necklaces are as follows:
Sterling Silver Queen's Link Necklace
A simple chain maille necklace suits high rounded necklines and V-necks.

If the recipient wears primarily blouses and collared shirts, a long layered necklace will be nice over the top. Same goes for people who wear turtle necks and tight, rounded neck lines. Round necklines may also look good with short (16"-17") necklaces in simple styles like plain chain maille with minimal drops and embellishments which may get caught under their shirts. V-neck work wonderfully with pendants and longer, more detailed jewelry designs, although the simple styles will also suit. Now of course most people wear a mix a different shirt style, but this may help you out if you're stuck.

Think about the jewelry the recipient already has. If you tend to see them with pendants, a beautiful pendant on a necklace will probably be just the thing for them. If they usually wear very understated jewelry like plain chains and cords, a basic chain or slightly thicker chain maille necklace with little embellishment will probably suit. Unless you know they're looking to shake up their image, a gift probably isn't the thing to do it with. It will almost certainly end up in a draw.

Finally it's time to work out the length of the jewelry. For bracelets, the average wrist is about 6"-6.5", so a 7" bracelet will fit most people. If they like to wear their bracelets drooping down their hand, an extra half inch may be in order. It might help to think about their wrist and hand size relative to your own. If you're roughly the same size, measure the length of one of your own bracelets and you have your answer. If they're a little thicker or narrower than your, add or subtract about half an inch. If you're completely stumped, pick a design with an extender chain so it will be sure to fit no matter their size, or contact the designer to see if the design you like can have an extender chain added.

For necklaces, the average neck is around 14.5"-15". For a necklace to hang right on the dip in the collarbone, you'll want approximately 16"-17". Of course, if the recipient is particularly thin or hefty around the neck, you'll need to make an adjustment. 18" will hang about an inch bellow the collarbone dip, and 20" another inch beyond that. Pendants will usually add length in addition to that, so unless the recipient wears a lot of cleavage showing shirts or you intend them to wear the necklace over a blouse, a 20" necklace with a pendant might be a little extreme. Once again, if you're really not sure an extender chain may be the answer. An extender will usually be able to make 2" adjustments, but if you're not sure ask the designer.

Now you have everything you need. Get shopping! Scared to take the plunge? Buy a Gift Certificate and take out all the guess work.