How To Buy Jewelry For Someone Else

Sterling silver round byzantine chain arranged in a heart shape on a red shirt


Welp, it’s February. Which means some of you have just been reminded it’s two weeks from Valentines Day and are going to be panic-buying jewelry in the next few days.

This isn’t a ‘Jewelry Gift Guide’. I’m not going to tell you where to shop or what to buy. But I am going to suggest some things you should think about before you pay for that rush shipping:

It’s the thought that counts.

Not your thought, THEIR thought.

Part of what you’re giving is the thought the recipient will have every time they choose to wear the jewelry you bought for them, maybe for years to come. Gifted jewelry doesn’t have to make a big statement, but it should be at least a little reminder:

'This particular person chose this particular piece of jewelry particularly for me.'

Make it specific and personal!

How to choose something they’ll actually like

Type of Jewelry

Some kinds of jewelry make a statement, while some have no more meaning than being a pretty object. Be aware of culturally specific meanings of certain shapes and materials!

For example: rings of any kind should be given carefully, avoiding anything that could be construed as an engagement ring… unless that’s what you meant to do!

If you don’t know the person very well (such as a new romantic partner) simple earrings are often a great choice as they are not strongly associated with any particular meaning or occasion.

Personal style

What sort of jewelry do you already see them wearing? If you want to be cautious, get them something similar.

Think about the clothing you’ve seen them wear, and choose something that matches that palette both in terms of color and style. For example, someone who wears simple lines and solid color clothing is likely to appreciate the same in their jewelry. Conversely, if there’s a lot of textures and prints in their wardrobe, you might be better off with something a bit on the ‘louder’ side!

Some people will have very specific tastes when it comes to jewelry, such as ethical production or hypoallergenic materials. While some of these can be easy to guess (perhaps avoid the braided leather cord for the vegan) asking is the safest bet. If you want it to be a surprise, try asking the person for advice on  buying jewelry for a third person you both know! Their own preferences may come up in conversation. 


Think practicality. No matter how much a person likes the look of an earring, if they spend all day using over-ear headphones they aren’t going to wear it much. If they care for a small child, think durable and too big to swallow.

If they work in or around the ocean… just get them something else. Saltwater is impressively corrosive!

Perceived value

The ideal amount of money to spend on a piece of gift jewelry is an amount that does not effect the emotions of the recipient. Put another way, it’s best if it’s not obviously a budget option or obviously expensive… whatever that means to your specific situation.  

Practical Concerns 


Take a minute to familiarize yourself with industry terms when they are used. For example ‘gold-filled', which does not in fact mean filled with gold. A quick google can save you or your gift recipient some real disappointment!


Price can of course limit your choices. When shopping, remember that jewelry price can be loosely derived from three things: the amount and kind of materials involved, the complexity of construction, and the overhead of the business selling the jewelry.

Economy of scale is a real thing, but if you are on a budget and want a piece that isn't mass produced, buying from a small single-person business without a physical storefront (cough cough) can be an economical choice.

Time Limits

If you’re really tight on time or just nervous about it, reach out to the maker! What is posted on a website may not be the whole of the story.

For example, normally I suggest allowing two weeks for delivery, but that allows for customization like sizing. If you choose an item with no customization needs (like a pendant or pierced earring) I can usually halve that estimate.

If you want something from my store and you’re working with a deadline, email me at to confirm I can get it to you in time!

 Happy shopping!

- E


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