Customer Watch: Face Shapes – Part 1

Some jewelers may mistakenly hold the view that an assessment of a customer’s face shape is sufficient to enable the jeweler to guide the customer as to what jewelry will be flattering. The shape of the customer’s face is a great place to start an assessment of the physical features of a customer. Moreover, and no doubt about it, individuals love the attention they get when you can tell them something about themselves, and characterizing a face shape can be a fun exercise.

 
    

 [Illustration from Jewelry Savvy: What Every Jewelry Wearer Should Know,
by Cynthia A. Sliwa and Caroline Stanley]

The exercise may be fun, but don’t be surprised if you have not found it to be easy. Most faces do not fit into a clear-cut category. Characterizing the shape of a face is rather more complicated than choosing one of eight or nine or twelve or some other finite number of shapes. How round is a round face? How square is a square face?

 

In fact, the process is sufficiently complicated that, even among image consultants, whose business it is to assess the physical features of their clients, there is no consensus as to how many face shapes exist. After being a practicing image consultant for five years, I find that my views on this subject continue to evolve.

 

I attended one class for image professionals in which the instructor mandated that one pull up any bangs to determine the face shape. That is all well and good, and it’s certainly necessary to obtain a valid assessment of shape, but what does it really prove if the customer always wears bangs? Bangs may make the customer look better, even as they effectively shorten the face and make it look wider. An oval face becomes something closer to a round face. Is this bad? Of course not. And straight bangs create a straight horizontal design element across the top of the face. An oval face becomes more akin to a hexagon.

 

Moreover, in assessing your customers, you may find you weight your conclusions in favor of an oval shape, since that is considered the ideal face shape. When I can assess a face shape as oval, I inevitably receive a pleased reaction. In contrast, most customers and clients aren’t as excited to hear they have a round face or a long, narrow face, even if that characterization is factually honest.

 

Next week, I’ll share what my image consulting experience has taught me about the most important elements of face shape relative to the selection of jewelry. Stay tuned!