Jewelry gift buying guide - how to pick the best jewelry for her style and personality

8 min read

It's that time of year again. 

I just spent 5 hours online, searching through kids books, wondering which ones my young nephews would like best. 

Did I mention I'm not around kids that often and I only see them a few times a year? 
SOoooo freaking hard to know what they'll like! 

Especially since each kid is so different in age and personality.

I'm guessing you may have a similar problem for someone (or someones) in your life? 

If it's a woman, let me help you...
80% of the time, jewelry is the answer. 

The other 20%?
Shoes, kitchen aide mixer, a partner who does the dishes for eternity, and a glass of wine with a foot rub at the end of the day. 

After working with hundreds of women (and their partners), here are my top jewelry shopping tips based on experience helping them pick out, try on, purchase, and love wearing my jewelry. 

I hope this helps in your search!

one of a kind, artist made, sterling silver, gemstone and pearl necklaces, handmade in Seattle USA

Side note: I don't believe in stereotypes or living inside a box. Every person is different and complicated and full of surprises. Body types and tastes change and grow so these are general guidelines only. My work mostly appeals to the female gender identity, so I refer to women a lot here. But, I do not judge, and support equality for all! And occasionally outfit the sparkling man.
So use this as a starting point, but trust your gut!


Steps to picking the right jewelry:

  1. Pay attention - what kind of clothes and jewelry does she already wear?
  2. Ask her open ended questions to get a sense of her likes and preferences
  3. Describe her to the jeweler to get a sense of what might work best.
  4. Know the return policy! She will probably love what you pick, but just in case, make sure she can return or exchange it. 


The general lowdown on primary jewelry types:

80-90% of women in America have their ears pierced.
If you are confident she's in that camp (and she most likely is) - earrings are an easy choice. Many women wear earrings daily (part fashion, part ensure the holes don't close up), and appreciate having new options to go with different outfits and outings.

A longer earring is perfect for dressing up and a smaller drop or post earring can be worn and enjoyed any time. Smaller stud earrings are great for primary, 2nd or 3rd holes. 

If you're not sure about piercings, necklaces are a fantastic choice. Especially meaningful necklaces that will remind her of you.

If you know her well, a bold and artistic statement necklace will definitely spark joy, but most women want to to have a say in something like that, so if you aren’t sure, let her pick.

Dripping, dangling, colorful gemstones are almost always beloved, and make women smile so big it seems their face will crack. On the other hand, a smaller and/or simple design can be worn all the time and goes with anything. These can also be turned into a statement piece by layering it with other necklaces and are versatile with different kinds of tops.  

In general, 18" is the most popular necklace length.

But don’t assume anything about necklace size/lengths based on body size. Petite women can be built like line backers and large women can imitate giraffes. Varying neck diameter, chest angles, and shoulder widths all play an unexpected part. 

Be sure to choose a necklace with adjustable lengths to minimize this issue. 
I make many that are 17" - 19" so there's some wiggle room. 

Rings and Bracelets
Both are fun choices, but size does matter. Unless it's an open cuff or adjustable style - sizing can be very particular and some art jewelry can not be resized easily. For this reason, rings and bracelets are often best given to someone you know so well, you already know her finger or wrist size.

Size issues aside, simple stacking rings are trendy and easy to combine with her other rings to make a bold statement or be enjoyed solo.

There are very few women who will turn their nose up at a colored gemstone or unique diamond ring, as long as the overall style suits her personality. 

 one of a kind tourmaline, 14k yellow gold, and sterling silver ring inspired by nature, rocks and plant life, handmade in Seattle, made in USA 

We are all self conscientious about something.
And even though we think she's gorgeous, there is something that will make her feel better and more confident over something else.
Who doesn't want to feel confident and great in their skin?! Everyone deserves that. 

So... Here are some tips to consider based on body features and personality types:

asymmetrical pearl necklace and pearl chandelier dangle earrings, handmade in Seattle

Let's talk earrings...

She's got long hair and always wears it down?
Earrings might tangle or get lost, so consider a necklace first. She'll never have to worry about her new jewelry being hidden in her luscious locks of hair. 

Long hair and always wears earrings? 
Consider a metal type that will pop against her hair color. She may wear her hair up or down, but either way, color contrast goes a long way.
Long, dangling, darkened silver is striking against blond hair, while bright polished silver or yellow gold pops in a nest of dark hair. 

Short hair? 
The color contrast concept works well with short hair too. But long earrings can be particularly striking. 

Consider her lifestyle - if she's very active, short dangles or studs are the ticket. If she likes jewelry best for a night out on the town, long chandelier style earrings will make her feel extra fancy. 


 one of a kind sterling silver and recycled diamond rock necklace, inspired by nature, rocks to symbolize strength and secret flower bloom for inner beauty, handmade in USA Seattle

Necklaces are worn close to the heart...

She's a voluptuous curvy type?
Bigger women are lucky in that, there's more innate confidence in wearing any size jewelry. Cleavage and neck size are a consideration. Make sure necklaces have some length variability - no one wants to feel strangled or like her necklace is being swallowed alive. 

She's thin and petite?
Many women in this category don't think they can pull off big jewelry. So the safe answer is to buy a simple and small necklace - something she can wear everyday. But, a large statement necklace can be an expression of a woman's big or adventurous personality and look great. There are plenty who love big jewelry so this one comes down to style preference.

In either case, the chest is a classy billboard - whatever is shown off there should reflect a woman's character, tastes, and lifestyle. 

When age is a consideration...

Youth is on her side
Most likely she'll want what is trending or something simple. But if she's got independent style, be sure to follow the 4 steps listed above and surprise her with something unique.  

She's hit that 'neck conscious' or hand spot age?
Personally, I say embrace it! But, if she's really worried and doesn't want to draw attention to her neckline or hands, earrings are the way to go. If she likes to feel fancy, long, dangle style earrings will make her feel seen and appreciated. If she leans shy or conservative, keep them short and sweet.

Most women in this category have established their favorite color of metal - yellow or white. So choose according to her preference. 

But don't put baby in a corner!
Women of all ages like to spice it up sometimes and getting a gift of a different color than she normally wears, might be the motivation needed to change things up. 


one of a kind sterling silver necklace inspired by nature, handmade in Seattle by artist

She loves art? 
Don't assume all art lovers & artists love all art (or jewelry)!
It's unlikely grandma loves grandson's death metal poster art, or he, her embroidered flower landscape pillows. Just like the woman in your life who loves art - she likely has a particular style of art she is most drawn to.

If she loves paintings with bold geometric shapes and color blocks, she'd probably like a modern angular necklace. But if she's smitten with rainforest photography or mushroom ceramics, she'd probably prefer loose, organic forms in her jewelry.  

 polished and darkened sterling silver rock cascade earring with tiny succulent silver earring in second hole

She's into farmer's markets and checking out the new small restaurant or boutique in town?
Chances are, supporting small businesses and living a conscientious life are very important to her. Not to mention a love for things unique and meaningful.

You can show her you get her, by buying ethical and sustainably sourced jewelry directly from the jeweler who made it. She'll love to hear the artist's story who made her gift. 

If a jeweler is focused on sourcing materials in a way that's good for people and the planet - they will be up front and transparent about it. Pick one who is happy to provide info about where their work is made and how/where they source metal and gemstones. If that info is hidden or vague, there may be a reason. 

 darkened sterling silver rock with 14k yellow gold flower burst, handmade one of a kind post earrings, made in USA, Seattle

She has small children or works with them? 
Don't get her long dangle earrings! Or if you do, make sure they come with a babysitter and date night or girls night out attached. 
Small hands are grabby and if they catch those sparkling delights, they can rip her lobe right off. Ouch! 

In this case, a fancy teething necklace (there are many stylish ones on the market now) is a great option. Or if you want to remind her she’s still an independent human and not solely a snack bar - special artistic studs or a pretty necklace will make her feel cherished. 


Still not sure? Ask her questions!

Here are some questions/conversation starters to help you get a better idea of her preferences: 

"Your necklace/ring/bracelet/etc just caught my eye. Tell me more about it..."

If she's married, the ring story often carries more emotional weight. But any kind of jewelry she's already wearing will provide insight. 
"Your ring just caught my eye... can I see it? What kind of metal is it? Interesting!"
"Why'd you pick {insert her metal type answer}? Would you still pick this today or do you think your tastes have changed?" 

This will tell you the color of metal she prefers. Most likely, she'll expand on the reasoning and story if you ask a lot of Why's. 


"What's your favorite color to wear?" 
Obvious insight into her color preferences if colored gemstones or enamel are involved in the gift you’re considering. 


"If you had to pick a view, which do you prefer (A, B, or C):
A - a quiet and pale, softly lit, layered mountainscape at sunrise
B - a dark and richly detailed, mossy, old growth forest
C - a bright sunny beach with colorful beach balls and dolphins swimming by?"

Based on her answer, this might give you the following insight: 
A - she likes lighter colors and soothing, minimal design
B - she likes darker colors and detailed textures
C - she likes bright colors and playful design

If it doesn’t lead to her style preferences, you'll still get to know her better so not much is lost.

large angled pearl necklace and large drop yellow gold earrings, handmade in seattle made in USA 

Women want to feel confident and attractive, inside and out.

And while most of that comes from within, the right jewelry can enhance this feeling. 

Your gift of jewelry will maker her think of you every time she wears it!

It's a reminder of how much you care and want her to feel good. 

But don't take it personally if it's not the right fit for her. It's hard to tell until you try it on and see how it looks and feels. 

Make sure the jeweler you purchase from has a clear return and/or exchange policy. If you're not sure, ask! Small companies, especially independent jewelers like myself, are happy to work with you to ensure she loves your gift.  


I'd love to help you pick out the perfect jewelry gift, contact me for help!

Catherine Grisez

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