How to buy jewellery for a woman

Almost all my life I’ve worked in the jewellery and fine arts industry. I’m a former director of Mappin and Webb, ex-president of Aspreys in the US and a former Head of the jewellery department in Harrods. I was even the Crown Jeweller – the Head of Garrard and Company; helping the royals purchase new pieces and looking after the large royal jewellery collection.

So I know a thing or two about buying and selling jewellery. And my best advice to men thinking about buying jewellery for ladies is…just don’t! Over the years I’ve seen the way hundreds of different men, of all ages, approach buying jewellery for women and it’s incredibly rare for a man to buy the right piece of jewellery for a woman. I’ve seen men pay everything from less than ten pounds to, literally, millions of pounds on individual pieces of jewellery and – believe me – no matter what you pay for a ring or bracelet or necklace, no matter how large the stones or fine the metal, there is absolutely no guarantee that you’re making the right choice! Paying a million pounds does not mean, deep down, that it’s what she would have chosen for herself. She will be flattered and possibly shocked – but it doesn’t mean it’s the perfect choice.

The problem with buying jewellery for someone else is that however well you think you know their personality, style and taste, they will always surprise you. I think I’m quite a good judge of what my wife likes in terms of jewellery but even now she still surprises me. You can never really know what might have influenced a person’s decisions this month or year. People’s tastes change and evolve based on what they see, read, watch and what their friends and family are wearing.

The other major problem with buying jewellery, especially for a woman, is that something that looks fantastic on a young woman of 21 does not, generally, look good on a mature woman of 50. And fashions change. What you bought for your wife 20 years ago is probably no longer fashionable or appealing – and possibly doesn’t even exist anymore! So you are faced with a shop full of designs you don’t understand with no reference point – because it’s not for you – it’s for someone else.

So, my advice is not to buy the piece yourself. The very best way to buy jewellery for a woman is to let her choose it. Take her out for a lovely lunch and then go to a good jewellery shop. On arrival say: ‘I want to buy you a piece of jewellery, chose something you like’. She will be thrilled. But more than this, she will choose something she wants to wear forever and you will be saved the horror of a poor choice.

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