The confused man's guide to buying jewellery
Are you one of the many guys we encounter who needs a jewellery guide for men?
You’re not alone.
Lots of us guys go through life with little thought of jewellery.
Many men wear a wedding or partnership ring and maybe have some special-occasion cufflinks in the corner of a drawer.
We can help. So that when it comes to buying – for yourself or someone else – you’re an informed and thoughtful buyer who’ll pick out gifts that will be loved, and pieces that will make you look and feel fantastic.
Jewellery is a wonderful way to express yourself. And to show appreciation and love for someone else.
Buying it can be a rewarding process. Owning it can be enriching. And wearing it is a great way to stand out and feel special.
This is how to buy jewellery.
Who are you buying jewellery for?
This delicate gold and moissanite ring is a wonderful gift
If you’re buying for yourself that makes things easy. Or easier. But we’ll come back to this.
Our experience is that most men make most of their jewellery purchases for other people.
Overwhelmingly it’s for partners – or potential partners.
Whoever you’re buying for make sure you’re buying with them front and centre in your mind.
Not you. Not your mother. Or theirs. Not the sales person in the jewellery shop who’s kind and professional enough to offer you some advice.
If this isn’t a surprise purchase and it’s appropriate then how about, you know, asking them what they’d like?
If your gift needs to be secret then you’ll need to do some research. A friend or relative is a good starting place. As is any jewellery they have themselves bought, or that they treasure, or wear regularly.
Who are their style heroes? Even the most tone-deaf sitcom cliché of a male partner has heard their loved one speak about a woman she admires.
Look at edits and ads in the magazines and websites that she looks at.
If you want to test the ground try talking about jewellery via someone in the public eye. Or a friend.
“What do you think of those earrings – a bit much?”
While we don’t want to encourage you to cyberstalk, a browse of social media likes, follows, and shares is a great way to get an insight into someone’s taste.
The right store to buy jewellery from
How much choice is too much choice? You need to direct your search.
If I were shopping for someone I would go to the stores they use.
Or try somewhere – like JewelStreet – that brings together a lot of disparate sellers and styles.
Most of us aren’t walking down a picture-book high street these days. Often “shopping in town” means we’re sitting in a coffee shop on a tablet or phone.
That brings you lots of choice.
Which can cause paralysis.
The paradox of choice is that faced with what amounts to an infinity of options you end up able to pick nothing.
So find a site you like that does some pre-selecting for you.
Look for good reviews, and good privacy, data protection, and customer service policies as a minimum.
Good navigation – menus, collections, and so on – will save you time.
What piece of jewellery should you buy?
Necklaces, bangles and bracelets, earrings, rings... Where do you start?
A quick way to cut down your options is to look for a particular piece of jewellery.
Again, let what your partner or relative wears already be your guide.
Do they regularly rock earrings? If they do, do they have pierced ears? Do they wear hoops or drop earrings? Studs?
Rings need to be correctly sized. A measurement that it’s hard to take discretely. It’s best to borrow a ring that fits and size from that. Or ask.
Necklaces come in a variety of sizes, from tight-fitting chokers to long pieces with chains that are nearly 30’ long. You need to know what size your partner suits, and what they feel comfortable wearing.
Bangles and bracelets should fit most hands unless your partner is sized well-outside of standard sizes.
Check out what bracelet and necklace sizes actually mean with a piece of string of the same length.
Consider weight too (it should be included somewhere in the item description).
What style of jewellery should a man buy?
Taste in jewellery is personal, intimate even.
You give jewellery because it has meaning. And it’s personal. Intimate even.
Taste in jewellery is part of someone’s personality.
Some people don’t like the feel of jewellery on certain parts of their body.
A particular necklace length is a joy to some. An annoyance to others.
Long earrings drive some people to distraction.
Special occasion jewellery is a rule unto itself.
To an extent.
These are the times when we banish some of our inhibitions and habits to push the boat out.
But no-one wants to dress or decorate themselves in a way that contradicts their own self-image or makes them feel uncomfortable.
How to give unique jewellery gifts
This sand-textured ring can never be reproduced
Look around for inspiration as we've suggested. But you can transcend it, and really make an impact, by going for something unique.
You might even want to commission an item.
Many small, artisan jewellers make items in extremely limited numbers. Your partner gets something no-one else they know has.
Artisan, independent designers work by hand, using time-honoured techniques, on their own or in small teams.
You’ll pay for their expertise, their eye, and their skills.
But you’ll get unique or nearly unique items as a result.
Some techniques produce one-offs as standard. Precious stones are all one-of-a-kind snapshots of geological time.
Engraving or other personalisation makes things even more special.
How to give jewellery with meaning
These raw gemstones really show the power of the earth
A precious stone said to have meaning – like birth stones linked to astrological signs – is something many will appreciate.
Precious materials are often heavy with legends and myths. Most people like jewellery – which is usually expensive and special – to have a story of some sort.
Designers often use symbols and signs from folklore or religion in jewellery. An initial or a personally shared symbol - an animal you both love - might make a gift even more special.
Love the sea? Share it with these stunning marine charms
Stones should be considered as expressions of place, emotion, and personality as well as checked for colour, cut, clarity and carat weight (the famous 4 cs).
Precious stones and precious metals explained
Silver? No, this bracelet is 18kt white gold. The stones are baguette cut sapphires - a regular rectangular shape
Gold is always special, but comes in many grades and colours: yellow, rose, white....
Higher quality gold has a higher karat rating up to a possible total of 24.
The same is true of most precious metals.
Sterling silver is rated for purity as a percentage with 925 silver the way 92.5% pure metal is marked.
But metals can be coated with others – rhodium to add shine and longevity – or used as platings or finishes. Vermeil is a technical term for a very high quality gold plating.
Finishing Techniques can change colours - have you looked at black silver?
Stones are cut in a variety of ways, most of which are designed to maximise the light the stone reflects (its brilliance).
You don't need to become an expert diamond grader, but you do need to learn to read a jewellery description.
You can also look for ethically sourced and Fairtrade materials.
Fortunately, the majority of precious metals are now recycled. Pearl jewellery should be labelled with the origin of the pearls.
Ethical standards in the precious stones world are slightly more complex. Lab grown stones – which look perfect – shortcut the whole issue, while finding sellers you trust is key to meeting your own standards.
How to get jewellery gifts on time
Handmade jewellery takes time
If you do go for handmade and unique items then you need to know where it’s coming from.
And how long it will take to get to you.
Perhaps how long it will take to make.
Liaise with the maker if you need reassurance. A wedding gift that arrives during the honeymoon loses some of its lustre no matter how considered the choice.
How to buy jewellery online safely
This sapphire and diamond bracelet is precious and valuable
Most of us feel pretty confident shopping online. But it never hurts to check some details.
There's a reason why scams you read about in your newspaper often involve high-value items.
So do click through to check the site you’re using can be contacted. That it has a real postal address. And its contact details work. Read up on the returns policy and how your item will be shipped.
Some payment methods come with protections attached, so use your most secure card or account.
How to buy men's jewellery for yourself
Men have been wearing jewellery for all recorded history. It's both modern and traditional
And what if you’re a man buying for yourself?
Or a man buying for a man?
Or a woman buying for a man?
Or a woman buying for a woman?
The good news is that everything above applies.
After all, this is a gift to yourself - you deserve to show yourself some appreciation too.
The real secret of successful jewellery buying
This diamond ring is as beautiful as when it was originally made, probably in the 1930s
Be thoughtful. Do some research. Have some courage and imagination.
What do you want your jewellery to say?
How do you want it to make you feel?
Any gift selected and given in good spirit and with the right intentions is perfect in all the most important ways.
And that’s true if you’re buying for yourself too.
The jewellery industry is very open and very imaginative.
There’s never been a better, more exciting time to buy expressive, honest works of jewellery art from makers who really care about their craft.