Picking out a big-ticket -- and perhaps highly symbolic -- piece of jewelry for your significant other can be stressful. Minimize your risk of bungling it with these tips.
Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson likely speaks for most men when he says jewelry shopping for a significant other fills him with dread.
Let’s face it, many people — traditionally men — view both shopping and jewelry as foreign territories filled with expensive landmines. Combining the two seems like a recipe for personal anxiety and financial disaster. But Stacy has arrived at this starting point to avoid jewelry buying mistakes: “Go with your eyes.” That is, do not listen uncritically to what the clerk is telling you that you need.
You know what you find appealing and should trust your judgment as you begin to browse. Of course, if you’re like most of us, you likely don’t have the money to choose some of the pieces that you find appealing. That’s OK. You can still buy gorgeous jewelry your loved one will cherish without sabotaging your budget. Just follow these guidelines to avoid common stumbles:
Set a realistic budget
There is a wide variety of fine jewelry, including many lovely pieces that costs less than $100, according to jewelry.com. Of course, you can spend more as long as you realize there are plentiful options at various price points. The trick is to realize that karatage of precious metals, such as gold, can boost prices as much as the carat weight of certain gemstones.
You can begin to learn about jewelry by perusing the numerous websites that offer detailed information about gemstones, metals, settings, carats and other variables before shopping. Not only do those specifics impact the look and cost of jewelry but also tell you what it will require to care for it. Sterling needs regular polishing, for instance, and gemstone settings should be examined by a jeweler occasionally to ensure they remain secure. What you learn will likely save you time, money and frustration.
Separate fact from fiction
You’ve likely heard some of the conventional wisdom and lore about jewelry: Opals bring bad luck (it depends on which historical reference you choose); diamonds are indestructible (not quite); vinegar destroys pearls (sorta); and biting gold will allow you to determine if it’s genuine (maybe, but it’s not a good idea). Do a little myth-busting research on the piece you are eyeing. It could be fun and may save you from sending an unintended message.
Don’t guesstimate ring sizes
Sure, rings can be resized, but it’s fairly easy to secretly determine someone’s ring size and look like a hero when it easily slips onto your love’s finger. If you can get a ring she or he is not wearing (one worn on the same finger as the one for which you’re shopping) you can match it to a ring sizing chart like this one from Zales. Or just trace around the ring on a piece of paper and bring it to a jeweler to help you determine the correct size. Another way to get close — at least a step above guessing — is to consider the average size of rings (7 for women and 10 for men) and go up or down a size from there, accordingly.
Study the recipient’s tastes
The most common jewelry shopping mistakes are made when the giver wings it without knowing the recipient’s preferences. Sure, we told you to start with what you like, but as you winnow your choices you’ll naturally make the final selection based on what you believe your significant other would most enjoy. Some general rules of thumb: A hopeless romantic will likely enjoy heart-shaped jewelry, while conservative and casual types might enjoy basic hoop earrings, diamond stud earrings, or link chains, recommends jewelry.com. In general it’s best to stay away from glitzy and unusual designs unless you’re confident that is your significant other’s preference. Want to know more about what your significant other might like? Look carefully. If the intended recipient never wears earrings, there is likely little point in giving them, noted AskMen.com.
Become an online sleuth
Sure you regularly peruse your loved one’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest accounts but consider scouring them for likes or follows of any certain types of jewelry brands, recommends brilliantearth.com. Beware though: Your research may well lead to online advertisements that will be emailed to or displayed on your computer. Clear your browser history and block the site from collecting cookies on your computer so the surprise isn’t unearthed.
Choose your jeweler carefully
True, you don’t want to blindly follow a sales consultant’s advice, but you should consider his or her expertise. And, of course, the expertise – like the jewelry – hinges in large part on the ethics and mastery of the jeweler. Overpriced and fake gems are impossible for untrained shoppers to spot. The best way to ensure you buy from a reputable source is to find those recommended by The American Gem Society and the Jeweler’s Vigilance Committee. Both have information on certified jewelers from which you can start to choose.
Read the fine print
What if your gift is something that, despite your best efforts, just doesn’t work? What if a stone falls out or a clasp breaks? Can you get your money back? Can you exchange it for a different piece of jewelry? What about a store credit? Make sure you understand the jeweler’s return, refund and exchange policies before you walk out the door. Some jewelers will prompt you to buy a high-priced extended warranty. Before you agree to that, consider the likelihood of needing to repair the piece versus the cost of doing so. And check to see if your credit card offers extended-warranty coverage on this type of purchase. Many do, and can save you from forking over even more money to the jeweler.
What lessons have you learned while shopping for jewelry? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.