SOURCE: Jewelers Mutual

December 14, 2011 13:47 ET

Holiday Treasures

Jewelry Buying Made Easy

MISSION, KS--(Marketwire - Dec 14, 2011) - (Family Features) Jewelry can be a great holiday gift to receive, but for many, buying jewelry to give is intimidating. What kind of jewelry should you buy? What size? Will it look good on her? Will he like it? For anyone facing these questions, this guide is for you.

To make sure you buy a quality piece that will last, you need to know a little about what jewelry is made of. The three most common metals used include:

-Gold. When you see the word "gold" by itself on a piece, it means all gold, or 24-karat gold. Twenty-four-karat gold is soft, so it's usually mixed with other metals to make it more durable. Fourteen-karat jewelry contains 14 parts gold mixed with 10 parts of a base metal. The higher the karat rating, the higher the proportion of gold.
-Sterling silver. This term describes a piece that contains 92.5 percent silver. Sometimes they are marked "925," which means 925 parts per thousand are pure silver. "Coin silver" is used for compounds that contain 90 percent silver.
-Platinum. Platinum is a natural, white-colored, precious metal that is often described as being strong, durable and corrosion resistant. It's usually mixed with other similar metals, such as iridium, palladium, ruthenium, rhodium and osmium.

Selecting the Perfect Piece
There are many gems and metals to pick from; let the recipient's personal style and preferences guide you when purchasing jewelry as a gift.

For example, does he only wear gold jewelry? Or does he prefer only silver? Is most of her jewelry made up of small, understated pieces, or bigger, bolder pieces? What types of jewelry does he or she wear most often -- necklaces, bracelets, earrings?

If you're nervous or unsure about buying jewelry for someone, consider bringing along a family member or friend who knows them well to help you pick something they would love.

Choosing Necklaces
Most necklaces come in one of these lengths: 16, 18, 20, 22, 24 and 28 inches. How do you choose the right one to buy? First, you need to know where the different lengths will fall on the wearer's body.
-16 inches - choker length
-18 inches - at collarbone
-20 inches - a few inches below collarbone
-22 inches - at or above neckline
-24 inches - below neckline
-28 inches - around the bustline

Long necklaces can help lengthen the look of a square or round face and add height to a shorter frame. Chokers look best on longer necks, because they tend to de-emphasize height.

Rings draw attention to the hands, so it's important to pick a flattering style.

The length of the fingers is an important factor when buying rings. People with long fingers can wear almost any style. If his or her long fingers are very thin, look for oval or round settings and wider bands. Short fingers look best with settings that don't extend past the knuckle -- that only accentuates the shortness of the fingers. Oval shaped stones make the hand look longer and are good choices for short fingers.

Getting ring-fit right can be tricky. To make choosing easier, use a ring-sizing chart. Take a ring that fits and place it over the nearest-sized circle. The inner edge of the ring should align with the outer edge of the circle. If the ring appears to fit between two sizes, buy the larger size.

Earrings for women should balance the shape of the face. Once you know her face shape, buying earrings is easy.
-Oval faces can wear almost any earring style. Hoops and triangles are especially flattering.
-Round faces beg for longer earrings with oblong or straight styles. Avoid round and chunky earrings that sit on the ear lobe.
-Square faces look best in hoops, ovals and small earrings. Avoid short and chunky earrings because they can make the face look wider.

Now that you have the basics, you can shop with confidence and pick out something that you know will be treasured.

Birthstones 101
Consider making your jewelry gift personal by including the recipient's birthstone:
January - Garnet
February - Amethyst
March - Aquamarine
April - Diamond
May - Emerald
June - Pearl
July - Ruby
August - Peridot
September - Sapphire
October - Opal
November - Topaz
December - Turquoise

Protecting Your Purchase
-Know exactly what you're purchasing, and get all estimates of gem quality and treatments in writing.
-Be sure to ask about your jeweler's return policy before purchasing. If shopping online, be sure to buy only from reputable and researched sources.
-Losing valuable jewelry is always disappointing, but if the piece was a gift it likely had emotional value as well, which can make it heartbreaking to lose. Plan ahead to preserve your precious memories by having valuable gifts appraised and insured by a company that specializes in jewelry insurance, such as Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company.
-If you need jewelry insurance or would like a free, no-obligation quote, visit

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