Jewelry speaks volumes without saying a word, which is why it’s considered a highly personal gift to give. Not knowing a recipient’s interests or taste can backfire in a big way on well-intentioned givers; gift or not, nobody want to feel obligated to wear a piece that doesn’t reflect his or her personal style.
Thankfully, jewelry experts have some tips to avoid gifting mishaps. Start by pondering everything you know about the recipient before you set foot in a store. It sounds elementary—and it is—but too few gift givers truly consider the recipient before making a purchase.
Knowing a person’s birthday is a good first step. Knowledge of this paves the way for one of a jeweler’s most popular categories—birthstone jewelry. Merchants typically load up on these styles because they’re a strong seller, a point that both Ostbye and ODI/Original Designs know well.
“The birthstone collections can easily stack together so you can make a unique stackable ring that tells the story of those you love,” says Valerie Fletcher, vice president of design and product development at ODI/Original Designs.
Depending on the quality of stones used as well as the manufacturing process, birthstone jewels appeal equally to entry-level and high-end shoppers and every character on earth. “Our birthstone collection can fit any personality,” confirms Theresa Namie, merchandise manager, Ostbye.
Next in popularity are jewels with symbolism, messages, or engravable elements. Think signet rings, bracelets with engravable bars, medallions with religious icons, or beloved motifs like a person’s favorite flower. Charms fall into this arena as well, given they’re accessible and easy to add to year after year.
At Ostbye, Namie sees initials, animals, and starbursts as best sellers as well as diamond-accented message jewels from its Diamond Diva collection in sterling silver.
The Richline Group has a deep inventory of Hispanic-inspired jewels and charms for its big-box merchants, while Shah Luxury has built up an inventory in engravable offerings and has a wide capacity to accommodate total custom jobs.
Shah Luxury principal, Neil Shah, says that customers love to put their own ideas into finished jewelry forms. A case in point: the client who put the design of the back half of his Lamborghini on the shoulder of a ring. Others featured deceased pets on pendants, meaningful mountain ranges, and even the silhouette of a Stradivarius viola on an engagement ring.
“Consumers love making their mark in a design and picking elements that are significant to them,” he says.
At ODI/Original Designs, there are many ways to make jewels extra special and unique to recipients or wearers. Clients can laser engrave super-personalized looks like thumbprints or words and messages. Custom CAD designs are another option, as are styles from sentimental jewelry collections like its “I Love You to the Moon & Back.”
“It’s a universal expression of love that can be used in a variety of relationships, from romantic to familial to platonic,” says Fletcher. “Its versatility makes it a popular choice for gift giving.”
Its Enhanceables collection is another clever offering, featuring 3-in-1 pendants that can be shared between two people and worn three different ways on one person.
Finally, custom nameplates cut by custom numerical control, or CNC, machines can spell out a moniker or even an entire signature. Creating school sports jewelry, logos, or even beloved charitable references are another easy way to let wearers know that you know what they like.
“I wouldn’t say personalization is as important as self-expression,” says Fletcher. “But making a statement with symbols, colors, and textures is more prominent now.”