How to buy jewelry for your gal's gift

Give your gal jewelry

The queen's jewels
Jewelry can be a great gift all on its own, but beware...just because something looks pretty, that doesn't make it good. The biggest red flag to watch out for is an inexpensive price. If you buy cheap stuff, expect it to bend, break, or feel like it came from a quarter machine. Jewelry like this has a name. It's called "costume jewelry" and it's what you buy for little girls to play with. Avoid this junk.

What follows are the qualities that you should look for instead.

Base materials
Gold and silver (or sterling silver) are the most common metals in the jewelry game. There are more expensive metals (like platinum), but that's something you buy your gal only if you can afford it...and even then, only once in a while. Most of the time, stick with gold and silver.

Guys like a good deal when we come across one, so you may be tempted to get her one of those dirt cheap "gold plated" or "silver plated" jobbers that seem to be sold everywhere, but stay away from them. The plating tends to rub off after a while, which renders the jewelry unwearable.

A guy might say, "Hey, for 30 bucks that bracelet lasted a whole three years. That's a lot of bang for your buck." To a gal though, jewelry is supposed to last for a lifetime, because each piece is a reminder of the moment you gave it to her. Bottom line...you need to avoid the plated garbage like the plague.

If gold and silver are out of your price range, then stainless steel is a good alternative. Stainless steel is also found in a lot of textile-based jewelry, like leather or woven-thread bracelets. These steel-textile combinations tend to be the most colorful and creative pieces out there, which makes them perfect for mixing things up...so feel free to work these into your gal's gift rotation, even if you can afford the more expensive stuff.

Diamonds are the top gem you can get a gal. In fact, any jewelry with a diamond in it is an instant winner. Fortunately for us, they come in different sizes and have various qualities, so no matter how much or how little you want to spend, there's a diamond option somewhere out there for you. And if your gal was born in April, a diamond is twice as nice, because it's also her birthstone.

Birthstone jewelry works for almost every gal. It's unique and personal, and that makes it special. Here's the official list of birthstones from the American Gem Society.

*   January   Garnet
February    Amethyst
March    Aquamarine and bloodstone
April   Diamond
May    Emerald
June   Pearl, alexandrite, and moonstone
July   Ruby
August   Peridot, sardonyx, and spinel
September    Sapphire
October   Opal and tourmaline
November   Topaz and citrine
December    Tanzanite, turquoise, and zircon

There seem to be certain historical connections behind some of these choices, and some astrology is mixed in there too. Really, though, it's a lot of marketing hoopla, as pushing the idea of birthstones helps with sales of the lesser known gems. I'm not complaining though, because this provides us guys with another free gift idea (or three of them if you've got a June, August, or December gal).

Be sparing with this gift though. A gal doesn't want twenty pieces of birthstone jewelry. Two or three pieces are all she probably wants. And honestly...some birthstones aren't all that impressive.

Also, the birthstones themselves don't need to be giant-sized. Just a small gem two placed within a piece to add a bit of color will do the trick. Spread these gifts out over a period of years and you're all set.

Other gems
You can certainly get her jewelry that features a different gem if you happen to come across a particularly nice piece, but don't waste time trying to hunt down some exotic rock for the sake of variety. You may think you'll be impressing her by going through the trouble to search out some particular gem, but you'd be wrong. Sure, she'll appreciate your effort, but in the end...if she doesn't dig the look, she won't want to wear it. Diamonds and birthstones are really the only gems you ever need to get your gal.

I have to mention one troublesome item before wrapping this up...pearls. These are generally associated with old ladies. Some young gals can get away with wearing pearls, and your gal may be one of them, but only she can determine that for herself.

So, if she points out a particular piece to you that she likes, then go ahead and get it for her. Otherwise, avoid pearls...unless of course, they're your gal's birthstone. In that case, you can them for her, but keep it simple with maybe just a simple bracelet.

Gals like wearing jewelry on a lot of different areas of the body. Necklaces, earrings, and bracelets are the big three of course, and these should be your staple items. Rings are also great, but only if you're married or engaged. (Even a non-engagement ring implies that you two are on the road to marriage, so unless this is your intention, get her something else.) Anklets, belly chains, studs (for piercings), and the like aren't quite as universal, but they may work for your gal. Use your best judgement on these.

Now within these categories of jewelry, there are a million different specific pieces out there, and your gal would hate most of them. There are a few designs though that tend to work for a lot of gals.

Tennis bracelets
Stacked bracelets
Heart designs
Jewelry in the shape of her initial
Personal engraved messages
Personalized charm bracelets
A favorite animal

No one can guess which designs your gal is into without knowing her personally. (Although, a tennis bracelet full of gemstones is pretty stunning for almost any gal...and it's a lock if those gemstones are diamonds.) For example, some gals think charm bracelets are wonderful, and others think they're just for little girls.

So instead of blindly buying up every one of these suggestions, use them as a starting point. Note which designs would seem to fit in with the jewelry your gal already has, and take it from there.

You can try out one of these designs to see how it goes. Now she'll act like she loves it at first, no matter what she actually thinks about it. (She'll want you to feel pleased with a job well done.)

Sometime down the road though, you'll notice if she's worn it much and what comments she's made about it...if she's made any comments at all. And that should give you a decent idea of whether or not you should get her more pieces like that in the future. Try out some of the other suggested designs and you should be able to find a few that she really latches on to. These will be your bread and butter designs that you can return to repeatedly for many years to come.

Last thought
A good piece of jewelry can bring your gal a lot of joy for a long time, so it's worth it to get her quality stuff. Keep in mind that it's better to buy her a small sized, but high-quality piece, than to give her a large sized, low-quality piece. Also, if you can't afford something, you should skip the jewelry for now and save up for it instead.

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Alec, James, Richard
and our army of gals