If you're a man, you're probably not much into jewelry. Most men, by and large, aren't. Nevertheless, maybe it's your girlfriend's birthday or it's Christmas or (heaven forbid!) it's Valentine's Day and you've decided you want to give your special girl the gift of jewelry. Good for you! It's a wonderful choice, assuming, of course, that you already know that your girlfriend loves and appreciates nice jewelry. Okay, so now what?
Step One: Decide how much you can comfortably spend. Or, if you're rolling in money, decide how much you're willing to spend. If you're barely scraping by, don't beat yourself over a lack of funds or get the idea that unless you put yourself into dire financial straights over this purchase, you aren't loving her enough. That's nonsense, and any woman worth her salt will tell you so. When it comes to jewelry, we gals know that it's not a guy's cup of tea, that they are out of their depth and probably afraid they've made the wrong choice. We get it. And we appreciate the fact that you're willing to try.
Step Two: Once you've got an idea of your budget, decide what form this jewelry gift will take. Will it be earrings? A necklace? A bracelet? A ring? If money's a concern, earrings or a pendant necklace, especially if we're talking about fine jewelry, are probably the most affordable pieces of jewelry. For the uninitiated, you can translate ‘fine jewelry' to mean anything that has a K in it – as in 10k gold, 12k gold, 14k gold, etc. Earrings are pretty self-explanatory. A pendant necklace usually means a precious or semi-precious stone or two in a gold or silver setting, suspended by a chain of the same metal.
By the way, there is absolutely nothing wrong with opting for a piece of fine jewelry that's 12k gold or even 10k. The gold content is distributed throughout the jewelry piece, so put aside any fears you may have that the gold will ‘wear off.' If it's all you can comfortably afford, it's fine. And it will look good, too. This is supposed to be a token of affection and thoughtfulness, not a test of how much you care nor a measure of how much she's valued. We've got to lose this notion that someone who receives an 18k gold ring is more loved than someone who receives a 10k ring. It's ridiculous.
If the budget can't accommodate a gift of fine jewelry, then consider Sterling silver jewelry. There are many beautiful Sterling silver pieces available, many with gorgeous semiprecious gemstones. Or you can stick with straight Sterling, no gemstones, and find your dollar will go quite far. For the same amount of money you'll pay for a pair of, say, diamond stud earrings, you can probably buy your girl a completely new wardrobe of Sterling silver jewelry.
When you deciding on what kind of jewelry to buy, please take your girlfriend's style into consideration. If she runs around in pretty, feminine dresses and delicate clothes, a big, chunky hammered silver and turquoise bracelet probably won't go over well. And if you know she hates dangling earrings, for Pete's sake, don't get her any! It doesn't matter if she wore dangling earrings one time and you loved it. She's got to love it. The gift is for her enjoyment, not yours.
Caution: How to say this nicely? Stay away from giving rings unless you mean business. Women get gifts of jewelry a lot throughout their lifetimes – it comes from friends (both male and female), family, co-workers, bosses – all sorts of ways. And it's all fine and acceptable because most of what we receive is along the lines of ‘impersonal' jewelry – the earrings, the pins and brooches, the necklaces, the bracelets – none of which conveys anything beyond, “Hey I like you and I think this'll look good on you.” Rings are an entirely different matter – especially gold rings. And when you shove that little ring box under our noses, our hearts start to pound. Either with dread (if we don't like you much) or with excitement (if we like you a whole lot). But it pounds. Because a ring, for whatever reason, is a vastly personal piece of jewelry coming from a man. It sends a message. Believe me, even in this day and age of enlightened communication between the sexes, it sends a message. Unless you're up for it, stick with earrings or a nice bracelet.
Now let me complicate things a bit: The whole previous paragraph admonishing against giving rings goes out the window if your girlfriend is the type that's into sterling silver and semiprecious stones. Sterling silver jewelry is more casual (picture silver and turquoise or silver and coral jewelry for example) and doesn't tend to convey any hidden message. If your girlfriend likes Sterling silver and likes a variety of semiprecious stones, it's perfectly fine to add another ring to her collection.
Step Three: Shop, shop, shop! Drag yourself out to a jewelry store and do some looking. Doing the actual purchase online is a great idea and will probably save you money, too, as online jewelry stores allow you to comparison shop easily and don't usually have the overhead associated with a brick and mortar store, but honestly, nothing beats actually seeing a few jewelry pieces in person. If the idea of setting foot in a jewelry store is unnerving, then try a department store. If you see a style you like, ask what it's called. “What kind of setting is that? What kind of stone is that? How big is that stone?” are all very good questions. Pay special attention to the quoted gemstone size. It's hard to envision a 4mm stone or a 1 carat stone when you're staring at a computer screen. Seeing one in person is an entirely different matter. Take your mental notes on what you've seen, then hightail it back to your computer and do some serious comparison shopping. This applies whether you're shopping for silver or gold, precious or semiprecious gemstones.
Lastly, when you're ready to buy, read the fine print! What's the return policy on the jewelry? What does the website (or store) say about the gemstone quality? Can the ring (if you decide to buy a ring) be resized easily?
And that's it! With a little forethought and planning, you'll be able to pick an affordable jewelry gift for your girlfriend that will suit her personality and style and that she's sure to love. And if she does't, you know the store's return policy. Happy shopping!
Get our secret Tips and Tricks to your inbox.