Giving Appropriate
Compliments on Jewelry

Complimenting Jewelry

When given genuinely, compliments are a kind of music, playing back to our own ears the response of another’s pleasure, teaching us then and there, that our social skills are indeed intact. 

Sometimes compliments are how things get started; that is, on a date or at a party, and noticing an item of jewelry might be the perfect conversation starter.

Showing appreciation for what someone is wearing can be particularly meaningful.  Especially when it relates to jewelry.  When a person chooses to accessorize with jewelry, they have privately, and perhaps subconsciously, made a decision about what complements their style.

A Gem of a Compliment

Jewelry has the power to be the one little thing that makes you feel unique. 

~ Elizabeth Taylor

Truth be told, we are all a little sensitive about what we wear.  Our clothes and accessories say something about us and give others a chance to notice us.  We wouldn’t purposely wear what wouldn’t be compliment-worthy.

For this reason, when you admire a piece of jewelry someone has chosen to wear, your admiration is better received if your compliment is worded appropriately.

  • A genuine compliment on a piece of jewelry opens a conversation in a safe and non-invasive way.
  • Think of jewelry as an artistic expression.  If you compliment an item, it is a thing unto itself. 
  • Give a compliment on a piece of jewelry itself, not on the person wearing it.
    Questionable compliment: “Georgia, you look so nice wearing that necklace.”
    Appropriate compliment: “Georgia, your necklace is so beautiful. It complements everything else you’re wearing.” 
  • Compliment a pin of an organization, especially if the person is a new member of a group.  “I notice your P.E.O. pin, Mary.  It looks so official.”
  • Always know your intention for extending a compliment.  Fewer adjectives are better.
  • Skip asking or making any reference to value, cost, or where the item was purchased.

The reciprocal “Thank you,” is usually a starting place to continue the conversation.  “Yes, and I love the opportunity to wear something that my auntie gave to me for a congratulations gift after I got my first job . . .”  or, “. . . My sister and I love going to antique shops and I found this pendant and added a new chain . . .”

Inappropriate Compliments

When mentioning something as personal as jewelry, thoughtfulness and sincerity are necessary. 

Avoid taking your compliment in these directions:

  • Mixing it up with another message.
    “Crystal, your necklace is stunning, and reminds me that we have some stellar work to accomplish today in our meeting.”
  • Sexual references.
    “Mary, I love where you have that gorgeous pin placed close to your neck.”
  • Being inappropriately familiar.
    A district manager compliments a lapel pin that a new employee is wearing.
  • When attention will be drawn away from the important event taking place.
    “Bahar, your earrings look so pretty!” as the bride is readying for the processional on her wedding day.
  • When discussion of personal qualities or accomplishments outweighs excellent accessorizing.
    “Adrienne, I couldn't help but notice that your sparkling bracelet really complements your suit,” after your colleague has just been recognized for leading sales numbers at a management meeting.
  • When envy is involved.
    "Wow, Jill, your ring is gorgeous--must be nice to be engaged."
  • When the compliment is shared more than once.
  • Any time your compliment might create an awkward situation or jeopardize a future relationship.

A Sensitive Subject

The jewelry people wear often has a story behind it.  It might have been inherited from a beloved relative, given to mark a special occasion, purchased to mark a personal milestone, or found in a grandmother’s attic. 

Stories behind a piece of jewelry are usually not long and complicated and can make for an interesting conversation.  However, when you engage in conversation about someone’s jewelry, it is important to remain agreeable. 

Most jewelry, no matter the retail value of it, is priceless when it comes to sentimental value.  And sentiments are deserving of our respect.

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