Gift giving should be fun: ‘tis better to give than to receive, after all. And yet, figuring out what to give to whom can be a real challenge. Especially around the holidays, when it seems there is no end to the list of family, friends, and colleagues you want to acknowledge — many of us feel overwhelmed. There’s no need for that! Especially for the jewelry maker.
ABOVE: Michael Cheatham’s Silver Dust Granulation Applique Earrings would go with anything and definitely say handmade; Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, September/October 2017. | Photo: Jim Lawson
If you know what someone wants and that item is within your reach, there you are. As for the rest, take heart. Here are my thoughts on what a gift should be. I hope they will help return a full sense of joy to your gift giving and jewelry making during the holiday season. They’re hardly original ideas, and they’re good for any occasion throughout the year, but this is a particularly good time to remind ourselves of them.
1. It’s the Thought That Counts
Cliché, certainly, but most important of all and always worth repeating. The truth is I love the idea of presents more than any gift I can think of. Somebody took the time and effort to pick something out for me and wrap it up. I feel special before I’ve opened a gift just because it’s there. Your giftees will, too: you remembered them!
We don’t want people feeling obligated to us—we want them to feel special.
2. Comfort Is Important
I’m not talking about how comfortable your earrings are to wear or if that ring stays upright on your finger. I think it’s very important that we give gifts that people feel comfortable accepting from us. If we hold someone dear enough to give them a present, we want it to be nice, but it’s not only unnecessary to give things that are very costly in time, effort, or dollars, often (but not always) it’s better not to. We don’t want people feeling obligated to us—we want them to feel special.
3. Is It of Interest?
If you know this person well enough to find a gift that is of special interest and is not something she would prefer to pick out herself, that’s great. If you know what interests him (such as, for the jewelry maker) but not how to translate that into a suitable gift, try another approach. There are much better things to consider than something sort of like what they want.
4. A Little Indulgence
Once in a while it’s great to be indulged, and if your giftees aren’t already indulging themselves, a holiday gift can be a special treat. Think about what a colleague or cousin hankers after, but also be sure it isn’t something they need to avoid—or be sure it’s just a smidge of what they’re trying hard to limit. An upgrade from their usual fare is another possibility.
The famous jeweler Fabergé is famous for more than those incredibly indulgent, expensive, loss-leading, gift Imperial Eggs. He is also famous for including “surprises” on his more bread-and-butter items, the ones he sold to the upper classes but not to the Czar.
For the jewelry maker, an interesting design on the back of a pendant or inside a ring makes a secret, delicious extra that only the wearer ever sees or knows about. If you’re making jewelry as a gift, including such an element is truly lovely—but just giving something a friend would not have expected can make even the simplest gift really special.
6. Useful Is Good
Whether or not you know what your acquaintance needs or would love to have, giving a widely functional item is always a good bet. A silver safety pin or an attractive spoon rest looks good and can keep a shawl in place or your counter top clean.
7. Consumable Makes Sense
Related to useful is something that gets used up, so you always can use another or more. That’s why homemade jams and festive bottles of wine are so popular as gifts . . . or for a jewelry maker, how about a bottle of patina [affiliate link]?
8. Can They Use More Than One?
Something you can always use another or more of is good even if you’re not going to use it up. Earrings are the perfect jewelry item for that: you can always use another pair, even assuming you’ll never lose one earring!
9. What’s Their Style?
Whatever it may be, if it’s an object, it’s going to look like something. If you know your acquaintances’ tastes, look for that. If that won’t work, pick out something neutral. They can always fit it into their own style, and maybe even personalize it.
10. Made by Hand
Handmade items are always appreciated and turn any item into a special gift. If you’ve made it yourself, that’s best of all.
It is the thought that counts. First thinking to include people on your gift list, and then thinking about what might please them—that’s plenty good enough!
Merle White is the former Editor-in-Chief of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist
What are your tried-and-true ways to pick out gifts for jewelry makers? Please leave your comments below.
Originally published 12/6/2017. Updated 12/14/2022.