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We've all received unfortunate jewelry from someone we know and love. And if we're completely honest with ourselves, most of us have probably given someone a necklace or ring that wasn't altogether becoming. Why is it so hard to buy jewelry as a gift? What traps should you avoid when selecting a piece? To get to the bottom of this quandary, we quizzed Margaret Elizabeth designer Meg Galligan for her tips on buying baubles for your friends.
It's pretty obvious when a friend doesn't dig an accessory because—unlike your mother—your friend just won't wear it. Meg says that you can avoid that bad-gifting awkwardness by turning to your friend's wardrobe for hints as to what type of jewelry she might like.
"I always say think about the friend's lifestyle," Galligan told us. "If she's the type of woman who's in the corporate world and wearing more conservative clothes, you want to pick something she can wear with her work attire. Don't pick a pair of earrings that are so huge that she can't wear them to work. Pick something smaller in scale. If your friend's a mom, think about the fact that she's around kids. A dangly earring may not be the best piece since kids can tug on it."
So you're set on buying jewelry for a friend, but don't know what kind of piece to buy? Meg recommends bangles. "I always love the idea of bangles as gifts. They are so great because they can easily be stacked. You might have a friend who wears one piece at a time, so that could be her signature piece. You might have another friend who wears ten bracelets at once. Even if you just do one bangle as a gift, that's something she can add to her look." The $88 Margaret Elizabeth two-stone bangle is an easy option because it's adjustable.
Whether or not you go with a bangle, remember that you're shopping for your friend, not for yourself. "I see a lot of people buy pieces that they want, and not necessarily a piece that would fit the receiver. The biggest area I see that with is color. Think about the color palette that the friend wears, and incorporate that into the gift." (And if you're still confused about what color stones to get your friend, Meg suggests labradorite and moonstone because they pick up other colors in a wardrobe and are easy to mix and match.)
Still worried that you might have missed the mark? Give your friend an easy out for exchanging the gift. Meg offers the incredibly diplomatic line, "I picked this out, but there were so many pieces that I thought you would like. Feel free to visit the studio and exchange it." Whew. Friendship saved. Crisis averted.
· Margaret Elizabeth [Official Site]
· 10 Gifts Even the Coolest Girl on Your List Will Love [Racked}
· 6 Gifts for the Girl Who Has No Space for Gifts [Racked]