Nearly every year for almost 17 years, the length of my employment at JCK, I’ve gifted jewelry to family and friends. I had access to all different types, so it seemed like a decent idea. Plus, female friends and family members wore it, and the years that I gave other kinds of gifts (lotions or scarves) for fear of boring folks with jewelry, my husband told me to stop overthinking it. “What woman doesn’t love jewelry?” he asked. I suppose not many.
So I’ve kept gifting jewels. Early on, I gave simple pieces such as gemstone studs, stretch bracelets of gemstones and cloisonné beads, lots of chunky gemstone bracelets found walking the outer shows in Tucson, and even musical jewelry boxes ordered from a manufacturer at an IJO show. I also gifted simple pearl strands or multistrands of freshwater pearls.
The more I bought, the more confident I became in buying more thoughtful jewelry gifts. For my mother-in-law, Gretchen, I’ve bought several pairs of silver and stone clip-on earrings from Echo of the Dreamer (designer Margaret Thurman makes the most comfortable styles) because she doesn’t doesn’t have pierced ears. I also bought Gretchen an 18k gold Retriever pin for Christmas one year when gold prices were really good, and we had Bonnie the golden retriever as a family pet. (Side story: Bonnie actually picked up that small wrapped gift box under the tree on Christmas eve and brought it out to Gretchen, who opened it immediately and burst into tears.) That was a good gift year.
Then as I got to know designers better and some became my friends, I started buying gifts from them. I adore down-to-earth Steven Lagos and Ann King (when Ann was making a line for QVC) and have bought pieces from both and given them to family and friends. I bought a tiny lock from Marla Aaron last year to gift, I’ve bought pearl necklaces and bracelets from Tara Pearls at its annual sample sale (I love the Sethi family!), and this year I’m buying something from dear friend Judi Powers for another relative.
Eventually, I got into some custom work and even dabbled in jewelry-making myself. I’ve taken classes and made myriad knotted pearl and bead necklaces for folks (JCK publisher Mark Smelzer and former editor-in-chief Hedda Schupak, among others, were kind enough to buy several pieces from me years ago when I was going through this creative kick). In Tucson a few years ago, I bought some loose silver, sapphire, and ruby pendants from an AGTA dealer and enlisted a local jeweler to set them into a chain and laser-solder them in place, gifting one to my hairstylist, who wears it frequently. (They were so cute that I kept one for me, too!) And the year after my father-in-law died, I selected a few of the seashells he had collected from the beaches of Sanibel, Fla., and enlisted Mazza Co. to turn them into pendants for Gretchen and my sister-in-law, Karyn. That was another good gift year.
This year, I’m giving fabulous silver chains with black rhodium from Silver Planet to some, a pair of pearl and silver kitty cat studs from an Etsy vendor to a friend, pins from Diamondoodles, and whatever I decide to buy from Judi.
Silver chains with black rhodium from Silver Planet
Kitty cat pearl and sterling silver earrings from an Etsy vendor
I give jewelry not only because I work in this industry but also because I believe in it as a gift for someone you love. I know I’ve forgotten more jewels given than I can remember, but all of these pieces are permanent reminders to the owner of someone or some occasion and speak to what jewelry is about—memories and keeping them close. I also want to support the folks whom I call friends and who share their time with me. And in jewelry, we know the way to show support is partly through a purchase, if possible. How are you showing your love for jewelry this year?
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