Couples all over the world will be celebrating their relationships on Valentine's Day, and men line up at jewelry counters to find something special for the women in their lives.
It can be colored gemstones, diamonds, pearls, or gold, but jewelry is almost always a sure-fire hit, especially if it is an item she can wear every day to complement her wardrobe.
But a fair number of those guys will be unsure of just what kind of sparkly stuff their loved ones will like the best.
How do you find the perfect piece for your lady's taste? Base your choice on something she already owns and loves, say the experts at the Gemological Institute of America.
The institute suggests beginning with your wife or girlfriend's favorite color. Look for clues in her current wardrobe and jewelry, as well as her skin tone and eye color. There's a gemstone to correlate with every hue in the rainbow.
Does she prefer red? Try rubies or garnets, or perhaps spinel or rubellite. Does blue complement the color of her eyes? Deep-blue tanzanite is trendy. Does she fancy purple? Amethyst is an ever-popular choice in this color. She loves orange or yellow? Try amber, citrine, or spinel at moderate price levels; yellow sapphires or a fancy yellow or orange diamond for more important occasions.
You might also seek opinions from other family members and her friends, and consider her lifestyle. If she works outside the home, what colors does she wear to work? If it's a business suit or uniform, keep it simple, yet elegant, with a choker necklace, a couture pin, or a classic tennis bracelet. All are available from simple to sleek.
And before you take out your wallet, do some research. When you bought your last car, you probably took some time to learn about the special features to compare prices. Likewise, you can ensure a wise purchase by learning about the metals used to make jewelry, the ins and outs of diamonds, the variety of colored gemstones and their individual characteristics, and the manufacturing processes that produce the longest-lasting jewelry.
It sounds like a big task, but there are resources to help. The Federal Trade Commission has a consumer guide that tells you what to look for no matter what type of jewelry catches your eye.
A Jewelry Shopper's Checklist
When you're in the market for a piece of jewelry for yourself or someone you love, shop around. The Federal Trade Commission encourages consumers to compare quality, price, and service. If you're not familiar with any jewelers in your area, ask family members, friends, and co-workers for recommendations. You also should:
- Ask for the store's refund and return policy before you buy.
- Check for the appropriate markings on metal jewelry.
- Ask whether the pearls are natural, cultured, or imitation.
- Ask whether a gemstone is natural, laboratory-created, or imitation.
- Ask whether the gemstone has been treated. Is the change permanent? Is special care required?
- Make sure the jeweler writes on the sales receipt any information you relied on when making your purchase, such as the gem's weight or size. Some jewelers also may supply a grading report from a gemological laboratory.
And if you're jewelry shopping online, follow these tips:
- Shop with companies you know or do some homework before buying to make sure a company is legitimate before doing business with it.
- Get the details about the product, as well as the merchant's refund and return policies, before you buy.
- Look for an address to write to or a phone number to call if you have a question, a problem or need help.