jewelry gift

Jewelry as the perfect gift.

Every Christmas, holiday, birthday, and, especially, Valentine’s Day, men and women flock to jewelry stores on a mission to buy the perfect gift. Well, not necessarily the perfect gift but at least an easy one.

Gifting jewelry is among the oldest human traditions, supported by culture and fashion for millennia. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that it’s been reinforced by  sophisticated and catchy advertising campaigns–targeted largely to men–that ensure that we all know that “every kiss begins with K” and “diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” The outcome is an accepted truism that jewelry is the best gift–and men buy it. Right?

Not so fast!

First of all, nearly 60% of jewelry is purchased by women for women. To be accurate, for themselves! Women buying themselves jewelry had been trending worldwide since the 1980s. Women buy what they like, purchasing jewelry that makes them happy, that is an expression of themselves. Men consistently buy jewelry, mostly for women, but for different reasons. Sure, they want to make the recipient happy, but it’s very often a “safe” gift. 67% of men admit to buying jewelry for a loved one simply because they could not think of another gift. 

So, a trip to a jewelry store (a ritual much less common in the post-COVID world) during the holidays or, say, for a birthday or anniversary, is very often a pro forma act of gift-buying. Get him or her something gold, something shiny, something pretty. That will do!

But WILL it do?

I would argue that commercial jewelry, by and large, is an adequate but rarely perfect gift. After all, how can a diamond tennis bracelet be the perfect gift for every middle class soccer mom? How can a gold chain be exactly right for every young man?

Most of us, when we receive a piece of jewelry as a gift, are appreciative. Jewelry is, more or less, expensive, so that in itself is worthy of appreciation. Then there was the effort to go out and buy it (or order it online). If nothing else, the thought does count.

But how many of us receive jewelry that really clicks with us on a visceral level? When we open the jewelry box, does the piece scream “I am perfect for you!” or simply “I am pretty good…and probably expensive.“

Sadly, the latter is true probably more often than not. There is nothing unique or special about jewelry found in the mall, where every piece in the glass cases is designed to appeal to the broadest, least discerning market.

None of us want to be un-thankful, and it’s certainly bad form to not appreciate a gift. But, let’s be honest. Is that 18 karat gold necklace with a heart pendant really what you wanted? Did it really touch you? Did it grab your heart strings the way the handmade card that your four-year-old daughter made, complete with misspelled words and backwards letters and some roundish crayon-drawn character that awkwardly straddles the slightly crooked fold that may be you or your spouse or possibly Santa? I bet not.

You won’t find meaningful in the mall

One truism of American retail is that there is nothing unique about anything found in a shopping mall. Unique does not work in a giant building where 200 stores compete for the attention of holiday shoppers, flirting high schoolers, and quick-footed mall walkers zipping by with impossibly clean and pristine running shoes.

The name of the game in retail is mass market sales. To get that, one must stock only what appeals to the most people to give the store the best chance of moving inventory. However, the name of the game in meaningful gifts is finding – or, in this case, commissioning – something that is truly unique.. This unquestionably requires some thought beyond simply knowing when the mall closes. Nothing is more complimentary than letting someone know you not only thought OF them but also ABOUT them

How can jewelry be more meaningful? 

With so little variety to choose from in stores combined with the manufacturer’s  requirement to make pieces that appeal to as broad as possible a swath of the population, it’s no wonder jewelry makes such a spiritually unsatisfying gift. It’s expensive, that’s about it.

But what if — just what if — the piece inside the jewelry box is not what you expected but rather is exactly what you wanted? What if the colors remind you of that wonderful vacation in New Hampshire or the reef you and your significant other snorkeled in the Bahamas? Instead of a sleek, modern, highly engineered clasp of shiny gold that looks like every other one on the market there was a clever antique device that elegantly closed the circle of a bracelet that is undeniably made just for you.

larimar pendant

Custom jewelry is a game changer

Anyone who’s been able to buy a custom anything can attest to how it exceeds one’s expectations for that category of item. No matter if it’s shoes, tennis rackets, or countertops, custom can make a mere object into something passionately treasured. A friend of mine paid a ridiculous amount of money for custom speed skates. I didn’t know there was such a thing! There is, and he swears they are the best purchase he’s ever made. Molded by hand and sewn by a craftsman, they fit like a second skin, and feel like they are part of his body and not just a piece of clothing that covers his feet. Jewelry is the same.

Made by a craftsman

It’s not about the gold or precious stones, it’s about the design, the colors, the shape, the indescribable but palpable sense of an object having been fashioned by human hands. A necklace can be created to perfectly match a wedding dress, making an inherently special event even more unforgettable.

A bracelet with semi-precious stones the color of your daughters green and sons blue eyes is so much more than a simple adornment. You’re carrying your family on your wrist.

Given all that, it’s no wonder that sales of custom jewelry has increased by nearly 40% since 2020.

What’s your story?

Jewelry tells a story. It could tell the tale of how you met, where you went to school, and even incorporate elements – charms, beads,

coins, even – that represent important details in the narrative. Or, as we’ve seen, the story could be that it was Christmas Eve and someone [knowing glance] was running out of time to buy the right gift so he went to the mall and got the sure-fire next best thing.

Off-the-shelf is okay when you don’t know the recipient well

To buy off the shelf is easy. To make something custom takes a little more effort on the part of the buyer. To make a custom item that is meaningful to someone you must know enough about him or her to get at their core feelings, beliefs, memories, aspirations…whatever makes them tick. In our experience, if you’ve been dating for just three months, it might be a little early—despite the hours-long late-night phone calls and endless emails and texts—to have truly plumbed the depths of your new significant other. (I know, I know, everyone who is in a new relationship will say they know the other person intimately as only a true soulmate can. You may have found the ying to your yang or it might be the endorphins talking. We will leave it up to you to sort that out.)

If you don’t know the gift recipient all that well and feel jewelry is the right gift, off the shelf choices are not a bad idea. There is always a generic, tasteful bracelet or necklace that will do the job. That said, a custom piece can be made that is unique to the situation or event even if you don’t know that person intimately. It’s your choice. The biggest thing to try to get right with custom jewelry is style. Fortunately, it’s relatively easy to figure out someone’s preferred jewelry style: just look at them! They’re probably wearing it. Often. Whatever they have on the most is probably what they prefer. So, match that look and feel but add your own twist to make a safe bet a real keepsake.

How expensive is custom jewelry ?

That is a little bit like asking how much a car costs. With so many variables it is impossible to make a sweeping generalization that includes an actual price. However, in the case of Nile Jewels Boutique, each piece that we make is crafted by hand, anyway, so you can hop in and accelerate from zero to a one-of-kind in no time! Nothing here is shipped in from China, and none of our pieces are fabricated offsite. Many of the raw materials are handmade, milled, or mined in Egypt, however, as you might expect given that Nile is in our name!. It’s no more work for us to make a beautiful object with the colors and design that you want than it is to make some thing with the colors and design that we dream up. In fact, it’s a little bit easier! At least we have a target to aim for when we start.


How long does it take?

Most custom jewelry transactions take about 30 days from when we get the order and you receive your item. That includes a consultation, a rough drawing, and photos of elements and materials that will go into the final piece. Add a little time if you are sending us your own materials.

It’s worth the wait. And it lasts forever. That beats a trip to the mall any day!

tourmaline earrings
Richard Williamson author

About the author

Richard Williamson is an award winning copywriter with more than two decades of experience. Find out more about him at