Jewelry Guide

Buying jewelry for your girlfriend – a bloke’s guide

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As Jewelry Shopping Guide editors, we write about things that we love and we think you’ll like too. We often have affiliate partnerships, and may generate some revenue from these links at no cost to you.

Jewelry is a very personal gift, and something best kept for more serious relationships. It can be a suggestion that you’re in it for the long run. Depending on the jewelry you choose to give, you would be making a statement about how much you value her and are committed to her.

But buying jewelry for someone else is no mean feat.

Remember Richard Gere’s extravagant ruby necklace in Pretty Woman or Chris North’s massive five-carat black diamond engagement ring in Sex and the City? These fictional men (and countless others!) have set the bar impossibly high when it comes to gifting that bling!

But here’s the thing.

You don’t have to fork out all your money over the largest jewelry pieces you see nor do you have to go the beaten path.

If you follow the fundamental guidelines we outline below, you will definitely get it right.

Is It Really the Thought That Counts?

man-thinking-what-jewelry-to-buy-for-girl friend

If you want to really surprise her with a piece of jewelry she will love and treasure, then this rests on your ability to translate your careful observations into the selection.

Lost in translation?

Fear not! This isn’t a skill everyone is expected to be adept on. Granting that most of us generally miss and/or interpret things differently, start by observing your partner closely.

Look for clues in her fashion choices:

  • What type of clothes does she wear?
  • What colors does she gravitate towards?
  • Is she into maximalist or minimalist styles?
  • Perhaps you may want to go all Sherlock mode and tryto find hints on her current jewelry collection, if she has one.

Once you have noted these, pick a piece that matches and compliments that. You could end up buying her an item that is a jewelry staple or getting her the piece that’s missing from her collection. And even if you swing the bat and miss, she’ll know you’ve put a lot of thought into it and you still win!

Remember:

While the bling says a lot in itself, cliché as it sounds, what makes it more special is the thought and attention that’s been put into it. The right gift will show her that you recognize and understand her more than you show! Having said that, while the thought counts, if you get the gift right too, you’ll have a winner for sure!

Now, if you’re thinking what piece to buy her, remember that each piece of jewelry comes with its own symbolism. You may choose to disregard this aspect totally, but you’ll probably score brownie points by knowing these!

Meaningful Jewelry – (Most) Girls Love Symbolism and Meaning in Gifts

Choosing to Give Her a Necklace

Happy girl with necklace

A necklace represents a strong connection between individuals and a willingness to strengthen this connection even more.

Symbolized by the chain around the neck and a pendant resting on the chest, the necklace touches the two central driving forces people associate with love – the mind and the heart.

Gifting a Bracelet

Visible at a glance, a bracelet says the same thing about you as the giver: available in times both dire and not.

Often placed close or parallel to a watch, it shows your partner that you are capable of flexible time and attention when it comes to her.

Buying Her Earrings

sterling-sliver-pendant

Citrine earrings by Delarah. See more earrings here, use code “SAVE6DJ” for 25% off.  

A pair of earrings not only gives a pop of magic on the basic facial features but it also tells your partner, more importantly, that you are keen on lending an ear to listen.

Choosing a Ring

A ring is a symbol of promise, of a deep commitment and an understanding that the relationship is honored and taken seriously.

To show the firmness of your vow, a ring is the perfect thing to bind your partner and you on an unfathomable link that is sacred to the both of you. Choose this carefully and for the right occasion. You don’t want to give the wrong message!

Match the gift to the occasion

Think of what occasions you might need to celebrate – birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, engagements, weddings and coming-of age events among others.

Birthstone gifts are a great idea for birthdays. Which month is your girl born in? There’s a gemstone corresponding to that month.

Garnet pendant for girlfriend

Minimalist January birthstone garnet pendant. See it here

Birthstone make for very thoughtful and meaningful gifts. Most retailers carry birthstone collections so finding a piece will not be difficult. We recommend Blue Nile’s excellent range of birthstone jewelry.

Birthstones by month guide

  • Anniversaries

These represent all the ‘firsts’ in your relationship. When you first met, the date you got engaged, married… whatever it is that is meaningful to you. It’s best to go all out for the really important dates like turning 40 or super important anniversaries like the silver and golden ones.

Vintage ruby stud

Ruby is the gemstone given as 40th wedding anniversary gifts. See these vintage ruby earrings here.

For these events, if you choose to buy jewelry, it is preferable to choose a necklace, an earring or a bracelet and give extra thought on the design (more on this on Symbols, Designs, and Meaning). You may want to be more sophisticated in your choices so you’ll be sure to impress. For example, branch out from usual birthstone purchases to other lesser known but unique and special colored gems. For example, instead of a topaz for a December baby, why not opt for a gorgeous blue zircon or lapis lazuli?

  • Engagements/weddings

Often represented by rings. You can give a different piece of jewelry but it just won’t have the same impact.

engagement ring for girlfriend

Giving an engagement ring is making a big commitment. Are you ready for that? See this ring here.

Promise ring for girlfriend

A beautiful promise ring. See it here

If you aren’t ready for such a commitment, choose a promise ring. Think of it like a pre-engagement ring. It shows a level of commitment with no hint of marriage.

Choosing Your Metal and Your Stone

how to choose metal for engagement ring

Choosing the metal for jewelry is a whole subject in itself, so read our article how to choosing the right metal for detailed information.

But let’s keep it brief here.

When it comes to metal color there are three main types

  • silver/White gold
  • Yellow gold
  • Rose gold

The color you choose depends on her preferences as well as what looks best on her.

For example, certain skin tones look better with certain metals. A good indication is to check out what jewelry she normally wears.

 

If she leans heavily towards silver-colored metals, then you can choose white gold, platinum or silver. While platinum is the most expensive of the three, it is the most durable and therefore generally a better investment.

yellow gold locket

A yellow gold floral locket. See it here

Yellow gold is prized for its classy and timeless look. It can look dressier than white gold and has always been connected with being valuable.

rose gold hoops

Rose gold hoop earrings. See them here

An emerging favorite type of gold, especially for the millennial generation, is rose gold, also known as pink gold or red gold. It is differs from other gold varieties in terms of its copper content but reflects an indescribably alluring charm for the wearer.

Thinking about a gemstone?

Diamonds are not necessarily a girl’s best friend (major marketing campaign alert) but their main plus is that they are extremely durable and can add effortless class to any outfit.

Personally, we believe that diamonds are overrated. If you must have a diamond but it is beyond your budget, try a moissanite for an amazing diamond-look alike option.

We recommend Charles and Colvard moissanite as they are the undisputed leaders in moissanite creation and were the first to create moissanite.

Another diamond simulant is cubic zirconia but it may be best not to go with a cubic zirconia as it is likely you will come across as being cheap (I could be wrong and maybe your girl will admire your ethical, sustainable and monetary sensibilities and if so, she’s a keeper!).

Diamonds, or their look-alikes, however, do not cover all the beautiful options available. You can choose to invest in other gems that are as naturally brilliant and eye-catching.

Rather than the top-tier gemstones such as diamonds, emeralds, sapphires or rubies, you can choose what we call mid-range gemstones such as lapis lazuli, aquamarine, amethyst, opal or citrine. These add a pop of color to an outfit and they also have a lot of personality, meaning and symbolism.

Read our article on Top 10 engagement ring alternatives if you are considering an engagement ring without a diamond.

Symbols, Designs and Meaning

As prestigious as jewelry is, it will still come across as an empty package if it doesn’t capture your message appropriately. Rather than accentuate extensively on the glitz and glam, it is sensible for you to redirect the priority on the meaning you are trying to create.

Here are some top symbols often used in jewelry:

  • Anchors symbolize hope and give a message of steadfast, undying love and a safe grip on the soul.
  • Arrows reveal that romance is all wonderful and captivating but at times also capable of wounding. It’s best to avoid a symbol such as this. 
  • Crescent shapes/moon designs are often popular for new relationships, mirroring the giver’s anticipation of it “waxing” into matrimony.

crescent pendant

The half-moon are ideal for new relationships. See this here. 

  • The Figure 8 and The Lover’s Knot suggest eternity and the perpetually sweet idea of forever.
  • The crucifix represents a relationship centered on Christ
  • The Horseshoe and 4-Leafed Clover signifies good luck
  • Ivy and Evergreens emphasizes fidelity and wedded love
  • Keys are a metaphor for the power to unlock the heart and a Padlock represents protection, faithfulness and loyalty.

Another really good way to go about this is to customize the piece of jewelry to be truly original.

Take cues from inside jokes, secret endearments, and personal codes and languages. Bank on those little quirks to be your gift’s highlight, like icing on a cake. This would definitely make more of an impression than any other common symbol.

Picking Out the Right Size

When making your selection, think about how the jewelry will look on your partner. Basically, its size should be in proportion to her physique. A grand ring will dwarf a small finger. A large earring on a small ear will make the ear look even smaller. Disproportions will only cause discomfort to the wearer however beautiful your present may be.

So how do you choose size?

Generally, size charts should be available on specialty jewelry stores. Others even have special measurement tools for more accurate sizing.

If you plan to keep the gift a secret, it becomes a more difficult task. You may have to take comparison from the jewelry she’s already wearing, by stealthily measuring these.

Check out our article on how to find her ring size discreetly.

Choose Quality

Quality isn’t necessarily correlated to paying top-dollar or buying from a high-end jewelry brand. Just because you’re buying a jewelry product made by a credible and established designer does not make it automatically better than others.

When shopping for jewelry, follow the steps below to ensure that you pick out a top-quality piece without having to break the bank for it.

  • Check for any damage, scratches or stains prior to purchase.
  • For gemstones – request a certificate of authenticity (if applicable), check for inclusions and other flaws, ask for information about treatments/enhancements done on the stone.
  • For metals – check the karatage by looking for the hallmark and examine the craftsmanship of the piece
  • If keeping costs down is a priority OR if you want a sustainable and ethical stone, consider laboratory-created or synthetic stones. These are identical to natural stones but do not have their rarity and cost. However, these are less valuable.
  • Imitation or assembled stones may look natural at first glance, but may be purely glass or plastic. Check that the gemstone is authentic by having it appraised if that’s what you’re going for.
  • Read all warranties and guarantees before buying. Ask for a certificate of replacement cost or appraisal listing the special qualities of your gemstone to accompany your receipt.
  • Check the returns policy.

Where to Shop – The Online Vs. Physical Store Conundrum

Once you already have a semi-concrete picture of the item in mind, go back to your proverbial workstation and assess available options.

Should you shop online or at a physical store? This is one of the questions many readers ask us.

Shopping online

This obviously has its many benefits. First and foremost, you will have the entire world of jewelry at your fingertips. This gives you the chance to compare and contrast price and quality and narrow down your search. The downside is that this exhaustive range of choices can cause decision fatigue and confusion making it more difficult to make a selection.

Another benefit of online shopping is that there are no pushy salespeople to influence your choice or breathe down your neck. Instead some sites offer 24/7 chat services where you can ask all your questions. Often, the online customer service is excellent and there is lots of support.

Online jewelry giants such as James Allen allow you the opportunity to design your own jewelry. Without having to even leave your room, you can choose your item and have it gift wrapped and sent straight to your loved one.

Shopping in store

Shopping at a physical store comes with the benefit of being able to see the product before you buy. For some of us, having an overly attentive salesperson can be an advantage as it can take some of the hassle out of the job. They may be able to provide you with options or suggestions as to what your girlfriend may prefer and this can help in taking some of the guesswork out of the task. Returns will also be quick and easy. 

Our Recommendations for Online Retailers

Not every online jeweler is created equal. In choosing our list, we always look at the quality of products, customer recommendations, after sales policies and customer service. The following are our favorite retailers and we would recommend them to anyone.

  • If you’re looking for luxury jewelry online, check out Links of London, Swarovksi or Fossil. Their jewelry is classy and modern, ideal for every occasion.

 

  • For diamond jewelry, James Allen are easily the best. They have streamlined the shopping experience and made it very easy to purchase of their site. They even have diamond experts who will walk you through the process and help you find the right diamond for you.

 

  • For birthstone, diamond and fine jewelry at competitive prices, choose the online jewelry giant Blue Nile

 

  • For colored diamond jewelry, we recommend Leibish and Co. Although their prices are high, the quality of their jewelry settings is impeccable as is their service.

 

  • For moissanite jewelryCharles and Colvard rank number one, with high quality jewelry and loose moissanite stones on offer.

 

  • And for anything else, you will find it at Amazon. Most of the top jewelry retailers also trade through Amazon so you will be able to compare and contrast all their products easily.

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