In times of rapid change, constants lend comfort to our lives. Since ancient times, jewelry has been one of the most popular gifts to give and to receive, and it still ranks among the top gifts as a universal, particularly pearls and birthstones. Jewellery ranks just beneath flowers as the gift that says “I love you,” and it ranks just above flowers as a gift to convey that the recipient is someone special. A gift of jewellery delights the recipient and evokes a genuine smile.

It’s the Style…

It’s not the price; it’s the style that determines whether your gift of jewellery is received in the same spirit in which it is given. To give jewellery that delights, match the gift to the recipient’s style. Jewellery is one area where you cannot give a gift that you would love to own. Your idea of a fashionable bauble may be another’s idea of junk. Is the intended’s style casual or more formal, traditional or contemporary? You wouldn’t give a Swatch watch to your great-grandmother any more than you would give a diamond tennis bracelet to your Goth niece. Select a compatible style and your gift will stand out among the recipient’s favorites and ensure that the gift never finds its way to the regifting closet.

The Many Faces of Pearls

Any woman over the age of 30 appreciates a fine strand of pearls. They’re elegant, timeless, and suitable for most occasions. Think back to your favorite old movies; most leading ladies wore pearls at some point during the movie.

Pearls are the only gemstone created within another living organism. Natural pearls are grown without any human intervention when a speck of sand or other irritant lodges itself inside an oyster. Deteriorating environmental conditions have rendered natural pearls all but obsolete.

Cultured pearls have quickly filled the void. The only difference between a natural pearl and a cultured pearl is that human intervention is required to place the irritant inside the oyster shell. By controlling the size and shape of the irritant as well as the environmental factors, cultured pearls guarantee greater quality control. You’ll find pearls in many hues ranging from white South Sea pearls to black Tahitian pearls, and covering a lot of territory in between: pink, green, blue and ivory.

Freshwater pearls sport a combination of interesting shapes and hues not usually found in saltwater varieties. Freshwater pearls come from Chinese rivers and lakes where the Hyriopsis cumingi mussels can produce 50 pearls at once. They are usually less expensive than saltwater pearls, but no less elegant than their saltwater counterpart.

Birthstones

Precious and semi-precious gems linked to birthdays date as far back as the 15th century. Unlike today, early birthstones were linked to the signs of the Zodiac instead of to calendar months. Almost everyone appreciates a birthstone, and it shows that you actually put some thought into the gift. Many people believe that wearing their birthstone protects them and brings them good luck. When giving a birthstone as a gift, think beyond rings to bracelets, pendants, earrings, pins and chokers.

The chart below contains the official modern birthstones, as established in 1912 by the National Association of Jewelers. Some birthstones have many legends associated with them; you’ll find a brief summary below. This official list applies only to the United States. Several other birthstone lists exist, such as the mystical birthstones, which originated in Tibet and the Ayurvedic birthstones, which originated in India.

Month – Birthstone

January – Garnet
-Associated with blood, garnet provides victory, protection from injury and health and brings constancy.

February – Amethyst
-Said to have been worn by St. Valentine, amethyst signifies spirituality and sincerity.

March – Aquamarine
-The stone of serenity and courage, also associated with water.

April – Diamond
-Banishes evil, promotes goodness, improves financial situations – the world’s favorite precious gem also signifies pure and eternal love, innocence.

May – Emerald
-Brings harmony, the stone of life and renewal, love and success

June – Pearl
-Purity, chastity and modesty, health and longevity.

July – Ruby
-Devotion, integrity and success – contentment.

August – Peridot
-Dignity, success and fame – married happiness.

September – Sapphire
-Clears the mind and brings prosperity and clear thinking.

October – Opal
-Happiness, beauty, love, magic – hope

November – Topaz
-Brings wisdom and strength of mind, fidelity.

December – Turquoise
-Good fortune and prosperity.

Enclose a card with the gift explaining the meaning of the birthstone. While most people know their birthstone, few know the significance attached to it.

If you want to give jewellery as a gift, but you’re at a loss for what to give, pearls and birthstones provide two safe options that are sure to please and make a lasting impression.