It's that time of year, and whether you were planning on buying from me, another small business, a cheapy import from the Far East, or an over-priced shop in the mall, or even making it yourself, the same question arises, what would she like?
Sometimes it's really hard. I've been making jewellery for over 20 years now, and I am no closer to reading minds than I was before I began. Tastes vary.
Not only that, people change. What was eagerly received ten years ago might not be now. Fashions change, obviously, but people are just at a different stage in their life. The student who loved hippy beads is now a businesswoman and would prefer something more classic.
So where do you start?
First things first. There are two fundamental things you need to know before anything else:
Is she allergic to any base metals? You may be able to tell simply because she never wears any. This doesn't mean you are restricted to silver and gold, read on.
Does she have pierced ears? If so are they regular piercings? There is no point buying standard 20 or 22 gauge wires if she has stretched holes.
If she has no piercings, don't just assume you can buy clip-on earrings as many women find them uncomfortable.
So far so good. Most women with no allergies and pierced ears like jewellery.
Let's consider a few guidelines here.
Is she conservative in her overall look?
If so, you will not go far wrong with a string of semi-precious gemstone beads, not too large.
Oval beads around 15mm in length, alone or in combination with other, smaller beads, are extremely useful as well as attractive, and will work for business clothing as well as more casual.
Is she a very girly girl?
Then buy crystals, and stick to pastel colours.
Is she artistic herself?
Don't be afraid to choose for her, in fact she'll probably value funky choices even more than the average person. And she'll definitely prefer handmade.
Is her appearance important in her job?
Then buy a matching set rather than random items, to help her with her "put together" look.
Is she very fashion conscious, keeping up with all trends - and you are not?
Don't worry. Sellers do keep up with trends. If you buy from anyone's most prominent position, it will be a popular item.
Does she already have a lot of jewellery?
That means she likes it.
Does she work with her hands?
In general avoid bracelets and rings.
Does she work with children or animals?
In general avoid very long necklaces, or very dangly earrings.
What about older people?
Even old ladies in nursing homes still like to look pretty. Get her something with an easy clasp for old hands.
What about colours?
When in doubt buy for the season. Sparkly cheers up Winter and works for holiday parties etc. Once Spring comes around people are looking for fresh, natural colours. Come Summer they want a bit more colour, possibly even tropical colours if their personality is fairly extrovert. As summer ends, earthy and Fall colours appeal.
Should I choose her birthstone?
It usually goes down well, but she may already have enough. Try that colour in other materials or the same stone in less obvious ways, such as rough tumbled beads on a bracelet, rather than the usual cut stone.
I know her favourite colour, that's safe isn't it?
Fairly but not certain. There are many shades of blue, for example and a lover of turquoise may not necessarly be into cobalt. Unless the favourite shade is known, that's an easy rabbit hole to fall down. Consider style first.
What do you mean by style?
Let's consider several girls.
Susan wears jeans and t-shirts a lot, works with horses, like to cycle, and usually keeps her hair tied back. You know she likes jewellery, but she seems to be quite understated with it, to avoid fuss.
She will probably be thrilled to bits with a simple necklace, a gemstone or other pendant, on a light chain, which can just dress her up without a lot of effort. Go for unusual and interesting without being outrageous.
Karla works in an office and has a very busy life. She doesn't have time to mess around with matching things.
Buy her neutrals, pearl beads, or clear crystals, fairly classic and simple, and make sure the clasps are easy to do.
Helen has a hectic social life and is out several nights a week. Bit of a party girl. Buy her bright, bold colours that make a statement. Watch what celebrities are wearing, but don't copy it slavishly.
Linda is a redhead. Buy her denim blue or sage green jewellery.
Gina has been having hard times for a while. She can't afford to dress up or go out. A pretty bracelet will make her day, and she can enjoy it anywhere. Any woman who is short on jewellery will value it, but she may be afraid to wear expensive looking items as it will highlight old/worn/cheap clothing. Stick to casual, fun styles.
Your sister. She's a pain to chose anything for. She's very fussy and seems to change her mind a lot. Buy her the classic "two round gemstone beads on a wire" earrings. They look good on anyone, in any situation, and often become favourites. Make a note of the colours of clothes she wears.
If she likes blue, buy lapis, blue goldstone or turquoise.
If she like pink buy rose quartz.
If she likes purple buy amethyst.
If she likes neutrals buy tiger's eye or jasper.
If in doubt buy black onyx.
Your mother. She already has boxes of jewellery she never wears.
Go with personal. Find something with her initial on it, or something which will trigger happy memories. If you once had a fantastic holiday at the sea together, buy her seashell earrings and remind her of those days.
Your daughter. Impossible. She buys new things and tires of them quickly.
Buy something of medium value (sterling silver, gemstones) and include a sincere note. She'll wear it forever.
Your best friend. You know her tastes, but what would be different? Try chainmail. It comes in all colours and there really is something for anything there.
I mentioned earlier about metals. In my next blog I'm going to go into great detail about this, but meantime I just want to remind everyone to think outside the box. Jewellery can be metal free. Consider leather, hemp, silk, and cotton. They need a bit of care not to get dirty, but these are perfectly acceptable as jewellery.