Getting Married? Read on to see our article in the upcoming Perfect Wedding Planner and how to save big on the very important little gifts you need to give the bridal party.
Tricks & Tips:
1. Try to avoid the mall. Not that I have anything against the mall, I just know that a number traditional retailers can (and will) markup jewelry and gifts 300% or more (not to mention add on hidden fees like warranties, “free” sizings, etc.). Of course you can get great deals on occasion, but it takes a lot of patience and persistent monitoring of sales counters.
2. Check out small, independent jewelers and gift shops that specialize in consignment or local talent. Many jewelers enjoy working out their designs in sterling before casting them in platinum or gold and you can pick up unique designs known as “samples” during trunk shows. For consignment, you may have a hard time picking up 5 of the same item, but keep in mind: someone already paid full price, so you don’t have to (prices usually run 30-80% below retail).
3. Pawn shops. These are one of my favorite places to shop and you can almost always find items at or even below wholesale prices.
4. Online retailers like Etsy, Ross-Simons, Amazon, or eBay. Etsy.com is a huge collection of independent merchants specializing in vintage or handmade items. I’m always surprised at how well the items are priced, and the merchants are usually very happy to accommodate special requests or provide discounts when ordering multiples. Ross-Simons is a big online jeweler and the clearance section can be a boon for discontinued designs. Amazon and eBay are both great for finding even more discontinued designs and products in large quantities called “lots”- many jewelers use these sites as clearing houses to move older inventory at cost or even below.
Ideas for Bridesmaid and Mother of the Bride/Groom Gifts
1. Pearl stud earrings in your bridal colors. With the huge advancements in growing cultured pearls, we can now purchase nicely sized (8-10mm) pearls for about $30 to $50. You can get them in just about any color from white to pink, lavender, blue, green, or even black. Bonus points for the bridesmaids that have metal sensitivity: sterling shouldn’t contain nickel. If you want to spend a little more, you can get a matching necklace with a sterling clasp for around $100- $150.
2. Simple Sterling Silver bands plain, finished, and/or set with semiprecious gemstones. These are so much fun worn alone or stacked. You can up the romance factor by finding bands that are similarly designed to yours, or create something just for them. Ask for a sand blasted finish for a beach wedding, or hammered for a rustic event. You can individualize each by adding their birthstone or keep them uniform with your wedding colors. Simple bands start around $20 depending on the retailer, and you can get them finished with the stones for less than $100 if you shop smart.
3. Vintage Gold Bands: I personally collect vintage wedding bands and these make a really interesting and thought provoking gift. A simple thin 10k or 14k band should only cost about $75-$195 at a consignment or pawn shop (insider tip: look for consignment shops that also purchase scrap gold as vintage wedding bands come in by the handful). If you’re worried about ring size, turn it into a pendant by stringing it along a piece of ribbon to match your colors or on a simple 16-18” sterling chain (you can find these for about $30 at local consignment shops).
4. Other “fine jewelry” options you can find for under $100 each include simple Gemstone Earrings or Pendants in sterling or 10k gold, Silver Cuff or Bangle Bracelets, and Spoon Rings (I love these because they’re almost always adjustable, and you can save even more if you pick up some sterling flatware at antique stores or flea markets). Shop sales counters and make friends with the bench jeweler at your local shop- they are almost always willing to accommodate your needs (so long as it’s reasonable).
For the Guys:
1. Vintage Watches. Nothing says old school class like looking at a sleek watch instead of your cellphone when someone asks for the time. Omega, Bulova, American Waltham, Elgin, Hamilton, and Longines are all big names known for their long term quality and precision time keeping and each company dates back to the 1800’s. Visit or call consignment stores and pawn shops to let them know that’s what you’re looking for (and make sure you tell them you want them in working condition). Keep the original leather strap for an heirloom look, or update them with something new. Pocket watches are a fun option too- and you can find older models for under $100.
2. Vintage Barware. Okay, this isn’t jewelry- but it’s a personal favorite. You can find complete sets starting around $30 at local antique dealers. A mid century decanter and rocks glasses makes an impressive gift for groomsmen and fathers of the bride alike, not only because it says to your future father in law: “I think you are cool enough to drink from something James Bond would,” but it also implies “I think you are enough of an adult that you can be trusted with actual glass,” to your groomsmen.
3. Sterling Cuff Links. Depending where you shop, you can find these for less than $50 a pair. Get them engraved with their initials, or keep them plain: after all- simplicity is always in style. Tie tacks/bars have fallen out of style in recent years, but you can still find these pretty easily with a quick search. Remember that the weight of sterling/gold directly correlates with the price, so think thin and save tons.
4. Sterling I.D. Tags. This is a fun option for any guy who tends to wake up on occasion without knowing exactly how he got there. Have them stamped or engraved with their name, address, and phone number. These are guaranteed to get a laugh. You can find these online or ask your jeweler to order them- but shop around because prices can and will vary.
In closing, weddings usually require months of meticulous and expensive planning. If fortune is on your side, your lives together will be long and prosperous, and the friends and family who stand next to you on your big day will stand next to you through the years to come. Put some thought into your gifts, and remember you needn’t spend a fortune. Enjoy the celebration of friends, family, and love. Mazel Tov!
Sara K. Graves lives in the Cape Fear Region, and has been a jewelry obsessive since 1977. She's has worked with PGAJ since 2005 and is Founder and Creative Director of TidePool Marketing. Most days, you can find her researching, writing, designing advertisements or getting distracted by sparkly things.