It's highly likely that you'll be either receiving or giving jewellery as a gift at Christmas.

Necklaces, earrings, rings, bracelets, lockets, chokers - all manner of items are already glistening away in shop windows and under glass cabinets, vying for your attention and winking under the bright display lights.

They look superb - highly polished items without a blemish because they've barely been touched by human hands.

But with such a glittering array from which to choose, what item is going to be suitable for you, as a wearer, or your friend or family member as a recipient?

Think about the circumstances in which each item will be worn, and if you're buying for others, consider their style and taste in clothes.

Personal attitude will be a consideration as well. For example, if they are bold and adventurous you might like to buy something slightly different, but if they know what they like and are reluctant to experiment then it might be best to stick to items that will blend well with their existing collection.

What to buy?

Bracelets are feminine, fun and sexy. And wearing more than one is really cool. Skinny bangles in either gold or silver look good in great numbers. Chain-link bracelets can look stylish if mixed with narrow bangles, whereas ivory beads and wood beads look good with silver and gold.

Earrings are the accessory closest to the face, so you need to choose very carefully, considering the proportion of the item and the shape of the face for which you're buying. Gold or pearl buttons are perfect for daytime use. Dangling earrings are good for evening, weekend or evenings at home.

For an oval-shaped face a round, medium-sized earring such as a big circle with pearl in the middle will be complementary. For a round face or wide jaw use flat, slender drops or oval button earrings. A pear shape, wider at the bottom, will be flattering to a triangular face. A clip earring can be used if the ears are not pierced.

Rings come in different settings. When you are buying a diamond ring you can tell if it's real or not by looking through the back of the cut stone while holding it above newsprint. If you can see even small letters, then it is fake. Real diamonds distort the print.

Jewellery care and maintenance


Mix a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid in a small bowl of warm water.

Immerse for 10 to 15 minutes and then gently clean with a soft bristle brush.

Rinse with lukewarm water, then dry and buff with a soft cloth.

For quick fix, dip in rubbing alcohol. Rinse and then dry.

The best way to store gold jewellery is to wrap individually to avoid scratches.

To maintain the lustre, remove item before you shower or do housework.

Soap makes it dull. Chlorinated water eats up the metal, so avoid wearing in chlorinated water.


A proprietory cleaner should be used if the silver is tarnished.

You can use a paste cleaner for jewellery with intricate design and then wipe with a cleanm, soft cloth.

When storing silver it should be place in a dry box, keeping it away from light, air and dampness.

You can keep items in a small bag or cloth.

The best way to prevent tarnishing is using the items frequently and avoiding chlorinated water.


A mixture of equal parts of water and ammonia or rubbing alcohol can be used in cleaning diamonds.

Immerse for a few minutes and clean it with a soft bristle brush.

To prevent form scratching during storage, wrap them individually.

Bleach, chlorinated water or other household products can damage and discolour the mounting.

It should be taken off before working.


After wearing, wipe with a soft water-moistened cloth to remove residue.

If you are wearing the pearls several times a week, then once a year you need to moisten a soft, clean cloth in a solution of one part mild dishwashing liquid to 20 parts lukewarm water, and rub each pearl individually.

Wipe off with a damp, clean cloth and buff dry. Let the pearls air dry overnight.

In storing they should be stored separately to avoid scratches.

Don't put them in a plastic bag. Pearls need air to maintain lustre.

Use a chamois cloth, satin bag or wrap in tissue.

Put on pearls after applying cosmetics, perfumes, and hair spray.

Wearing them frequently will maintain the lustre of the pearl, because natural skin oil can be absorbed.


Immerse stones in mixed mild dishwashing liquid and lukewarm water for a few minutes.

Clean with a soft bristle brush and then pat dry with soft cloth.

Store separately to avoid scratching.

Don't expose to saltwater, chlorine, or detergents, which may slowly erode the finish and polish of the gems.

If your gems are set in metal follow the cleaning method recommended for metals.


Silver and gold jewellery used together looks contemporary. If both metals are mixed with pearl it breaks up the overly feminine look. For formal dinnerwear use crystals or rhinestone. It will look perfect for the night.

For casual look, you can combine a short choker with long strands.

With a turtleneck, dangling earrings look fabulous, but for work never use dangling jewellery. It doesn't work with an office look.

Chokers are nice and elegant but they don't usually work on short, thick necks. They look good on long faces and neck.

Necklaces that go down as far as the breastbone look good on women with big busts. For tall women, a necklace with 34 to 36 inches gives them a good balance.

By Graham Harris