Do You *Need* That Piece of Jewelry?

“Yes honey, it’s beautiful. But do you really need that ______?”

The above question, though almost exclusively used rhetorically, is possibly one of my least favorite customer habits. It’s taken years of practice with sarcastic students to maintain a neutral expression whenever I hear some version of this, mostly because we all know the answer:


It took me a while to come to terms with it myself, but the answer is no. A person does not need jewelry, at least not in the sense that he or she needs the basic necessities of life. Or even in the way we might need a job, a car, a cell phone or computer.

Jewelry is the frosting on the cake of life*. It’s there to make what you already have a little brighter, to serve as a symbol of whatever you want it to, and to mark momentous or even everyday occasions with something tangible (and, let’s be real, something beautiful).

Jewelry does not generally possess meaning, it is given meaning by you.

Merely for the sake of satisfying my internal former teacher, I’ll support my claim with a counterclaim (a.k.a. The Exception): I do own a piece of jewelry that is necessary. My medical ID bracelet is as frankly ugly as you could imagine, but I wear it every day. Its utilitarian stainless steel and practical, no-frills design could potentially save my life, in the event I’m unconscious or unable to communicate with a medical professional. I resisted owning — let alone wearing — this bracelet for many years because I feared the stigma that I felt came with wearing one. I am not ill, or infirm, or in need of any special attention. But this little piece of chain link and engraved bar could be the difference between coming home and not, and so I wear it. I need it. It will save my life whether it’s made of steel or platinum, whether the red enamel has been retouched or not. But it still has meaning (and lifesaving properties!) only if I wear it.

I encourage all of my clients and customers to consider their jewelry purchases in light of the sentiments they will attach to them, and frequently acknowledge that ours is a luxury industry in truth — even the smallest token can be assigned the greatest meaning.

*Ahem, the {karat} cake of life! 🙂

3 thoughts on “Do You *Need* That Piece of Jewelry?

  1. Ha ha ha I just asked myself this question – still am turning it over. Our 10-yr is coming up and Minimalist-Me actually went looking at rings this wk. I’m still caught between the rock of guilt and the hard place of “My gosh! 1o yrs! I need something to show for what I’ve put up.” =)


    1. Happy anniversary! Ten years is certainly worthy of celebration, in whatever form you choose. I like to think of milestone gifts as a way to mark the passage of good years and anticipate the coming good ones — you look down at the beautiful something special on your hand and think, “hey, this signifies something great we’ve done *and* something great we’re doing.” Celebrating your love should come guilt-free 🙂


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