Teen jewelry for the long haul?

By Mir
November 2, 2010

The very pretty Jessica writes:

My niece turned 13 this summer. I want to get her something to commemorate the “turning into a teenager” year, something that she can hopefully keep and continue to use throughout the years, perhaps something that will “grow” with her. I keep thinking jewelry of some kind, but the only problem I can see is changing fashion senses as she gets older AND just the general fickleness that is a teenager anyway. I know your daughter is getting closer to this age, so I was wondering if you might have any gift ideas that won’t break the bank but also might be something a teen would be willing to keep throughout the years.

Any ideas? Am I just thinking wishfully that a 13-year-old might connect with something and realize its potential value as she gets older? (I received special jewelry when I was 16 that I still have and still wear today. Should I wait for this extra special gift until she’s older?) I’ve asked her, my mom (her grandma), my sister (her mom), and other friends and family, but so far I’ve only struck out. No one has any idea what a 13-year-old might want to keep around. I’m thinking it’s a pipe dream. 🙁

I feel for you on this, because my own not-quite-13-year-old would lose her own head if it wasn’t attached, and so I’m very reluctant to get her anything of value at this point. At the same time, it’s definitely the I-want-more-grown-up-things age.

One solution springs to mind, for me: A charm bracelet.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. A charm bracelet?? Does anyone even wear those anymore?

The answer is yes. And also no.

Here’s the thing: The charm bracelets that were ubiquitous when we were kids have fallen out of fashion over the years, sure. (Although with the “everything old is new again” mentality, I see them cycling back into favor once more.) But there are other options, and maybe one of them will appeal?

The conventional style of charm bracelet is something like this medium-size double link silver bracelet, and then the charms you buy attach via little loops and dangle down. Like I said, they’re sort of coming back into style, so if your niece likes “dangly” jewelry, that’s a possibility.

Italian-style charm bracelets are made of interlocking squares, like this stainless steel version. You can also find them in silver or gold, if you want to go high-end. The “charms” are just squares embellished with words or symbols (like this one), and can easily be swapped out to create a custom assortment.

And finally, there’s the Pandora-style charm bracelet, which utilizes a silver snake chain, and then the charms are “beads” that get threaded onto the chain (like this one).

For all three options, what you spend is truly a matter of your own preference; you can get any of them on the cheap or buy the very expensive versions, and that goes double for the charms.

In terms of being a piece of jewelry that’s fairly versatile and can grow with her interests, I can’t think of anything that would beat a charm bracelet, but I’m open to other suggestions. Readers?


  1. A charm bracelet is what first comes to mind. Then you have an automatic “Charming” gift to give for special occasions.

  2. Check out http://secure.jamesavery.com/index.jsp . James Avery jewelry is quality without breaking the bank in many cases and you can find something that will suit her now and in the future (particularly if you are a religious family, though there are MANY options if you aren’t).

    I’ve had these earrings for 15 years (http://secure.jamesavery.com/jewelry/search/product/EH-860/Domed-Teardrop-Ear-Hooks/) and I wear them all the time. They never go out of style.

  3. If she’s got pierced ears, pearl earrings are nice — they say “I’m a grown up” (because they’re “classic”), but they don’t have to be super expensive. AND, pierced earrings are harder to lose, in my experience. 🙂

    The other thing I can think of is possibly something with some sentimental value — even costume jewelry is special if it came from your grandmother (or even a special aunt).

    My daughter is 6, btw, so I know nothing. 🙂

  4. I agree with Mir. In fact, before I even finished reading Jessica’s question, I was saying “Pandora bracelet!” inside my head. I feel sure that my nearly-13-year-old niece would wear one…and my 32-year-old self would wear one, too! 🙂

    I got a simple, very small gold locket from some friends when I was in my early teens. I still wear it sometimes, but I know I would wear a Pandora-style bracelet more frequently.

  5. I think a necklace from Lisa Leonard or something similar (name, family crest, etc) would be perfect. In the South, James Avery necklaces and rings are very common for tween and teen birthdays. I still have a little gold ring I got for my 15th birthday.

  6. My daughter (almost 13) has a bracelet made by a friend of a friend. It’s got crystals and pink sparkly butterflies and is totally HER – if she lost it, it would be more of a sentimental punch than a monetary punch. The designer does a great job of working with you to create just the right piece, and she’s on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jewelry-By-Andrea/136657781417

    I’ve worked with her a few times in making additional strands to clip on to my daughter’s medic alert bracelet, and other jewelry items for myself or for gifts.

    Good luck – I still don’t know what I’m getting my kiddo for her 13th and February LOOMS on the horizon!

  7. My 13 year old daughter has voiced her wish to get a Pandora bracelet for Christmas. I like the fact that the beads can be taken off or rearranged, so you can get different looks for different occasions, and in this case, for different different styles as she ages.

  8. Me again…my other comment is that other relatives could get different beads for your niece’s bracelet as well. That way it becomes a gift that many can contribute to, and her bead collection can grow as she does.

  9. I’ll second James Avery – it’s very popular here for all ages (kids and adults). There are storefronts across the south but you can order everything online. Just about everything they sell comes in sterling silver (not going to turn her green) or 14K gold, and they tend to keep their designs available for a long time – I got a rose ring from my close friends for my 21st birthday, and over the years added matching earrings and a necklace. The design is still available 15 years later. Much of their stuff is christian-influenced, if she’s into that, but there’s plenty of pretty non-religious stuff too.

  10. I bought a friend of mine’s daughter tiny diamond stud earrings – they were her first “grown up” jewelry item. They are small and she may upgrade in the future but they would be perfectly acceptable even on an adult woman esp. in a 2nd earring hole. I bought them when Kohls had their 75% off sale going on + used a coupon for 20% (cardholder coupon). Ended up paying somewhere around $15 for a $100+ pair of earrings and she was BEYOND tickled! She has kept up with them and wears them religiously. My friend said she was a little jealous I didn’t get her a pair!

    I also think the charm bracelet is a wonderful idea. Even if she gets to the point she doesn’t wear it, it will be full of special memories from her life.

  11. Why didn’t I think of a charm bracelet? (Probably because when I was her age, charm bracelets were those plastic chains with all the plastic charms. Well, they were for the kids anyway…) I have one of the Italian-style ones that my mother gave me several years ago (although I don’t wear bracelets very often), and I know that she got one for my niece as well back then. However, I’ve never seen the Pandora bracelets before, so I’m going to check into those as well as the James Avery items. I love the idea of the Pandora, as it can grow with her and her ever-changing favorite color. 😀

    The diamond earrings are a wonderful idea, but that’s the traditional gift that my mom gets the girls on their 16th birthday, so I’ll leave that one for her. 🙂 I also have an ID bracelet that my mother gave me when I was 12 or 13, but I don’t think those are the rage anymore.

    I’m glad I asked, because this is a great idea that hadn’t crossed my mind!

  12. I’ll throw in the idea of something with her birthstone. AND, to combat the worry of her not liking it, take her shopping with you. I still remember going to pick out a nice birthstone ring (though earrings or a necklace would have been lovely, too) for my 13th birthday- it was very special. Her birth month will never change 🙂 Good luck!

  13. One of the nice things about James Avery earrings is, if you lose one, they will replace it for half the cost of the pair. Who else does that? And their stuff is classic.

    My daughter got a JA charm bracelet at age 6 and I add at least one charm every year. I will admit that I still keep her bracelet in my jewelry box and I don’t let her wear it to school. It will be an heirloom that she can pass on to her daughter or goddaughter, or niece one day. But she can’t wear it on her own till she’s 30. (Kidding! Well…maybe not)

  14. I second the idea of checking out http://www.lisaleonardonline.com. Her stuff is simple and lovely. I have been gifting it to family (& to myself) for a couple of years now and folks LOVE her pieces. I read her blog every day because she is always having deals and giveaways, not to mention she is just so cool!

  15. My inlaws always gave their daughters a pearl necklace with just one pearl and they add a pearl for each special occasion with the idea they would have a full set when they were 18. They looked nice with one pearl and with any number. Maybe it isn’t “cool” but I always thought it looked classic.

  16. Our daughter turned 13 last year, I also wanted to give her something “sentimental” and “grown up”. I chose a hand stamped sterling silver necklace on Etsy- it has her name on the front of it, then on the back, a quote- the one she has hanging in her room- “She thought she could, so she did.” I hope it’s something she’ll remember forever.

  17. From my perspective, a ring or earrings has more staying power at that age, and then at 16 I got a pearl necklace.

  18. This may sound extremely old fashioned, but my grandmother started a pearl necklace for me. She started me out with a handful of pearls and each year added to it. I still have it and treasure it.

  19. When my niece turned six, I picked up an 18″ silver-plate necklace from the jewelry counter for her. It fit around her neck twice, and was a big hit. When I gave it to her, I asked her if it was all right, because I got it from the adult jewelry section. She said, “Well, after all, I *am* six.”

    So old. 🙂

    A charm bracelet is a great idea, especially if you can make the charms mean something. My friend had one from her aunt, who traveled the world, sending her charms from all different countries. It was very special.

  20. My parents were great at giving jewelry that stood up to the test of time and was not too expensive. The trick was…they gave me a locking jewelry case that was stitched inside my sports bag so I always had a place to put my jewelry when I changed for gym glass, after school sports, etc. I still have all of the jewelry I list below and I’m 33 and would still lose my head if it wasn’t attached!

    At 13 it was a double loop sterling silver charm bracelet and they would give me a charm with a date imprinted on the back for special occaisions. At 14 I received a small sapphire (my birthstone) cross that I still wear. At 15 I received pearl earrings (which…by the way…you can buy 1 pearl earring at a time from a jeweler if you lose one). At 16 a small sapphire ring…at 17 a pair of small gold loops…and at 18 a strand of pearls. They added to the strand throughout college with a few pearls everyyear. It was a great way to give thoughtful jewelry without spending too much since there were three of us in college at once!

  21. My first thought was a Pandora bracelet too! I just bought my 16 year old step-daughter one for her birthday & she LOVED it! I’m almost positive she would have loved it just as much at 13 as she did at 16. I went with the black leather bracelet rather than the silver one though just because I thought it was more her. And the Pandora is perfect because then you can add to her bracelet at various holidays. 😉

  22. My 6yr old wants a pandora bracelet. I won’t do it yet because she’s still growing a lot. But I like the idea that you can get a good quality bracelet. She can add and remove beads to suit her age and personality as she grows. I know they’re a newer “fad” but I do think they have some staying power because of they are easy to add and remove beads, unlike the charm bracelets or our youth that were sautered (sp??) on.

  23. I definitely would take her shopping with me, but we live several states apart, and I won’t see her this year for Christmas, unfortunately. I did that a few years back when she went through a very picky phase (only certain colors and styles of certain things), but now she’s at the phase where she appreciates everything she gets (and the things that she wants a specific color/kind of are things like electronics, which I’m not buying anyway. I’ll leave that to my sister and mom!) I know that she isn’t very partial to her birth stone, however, as she doesn’t like the color or look of either the old one or the new one. I’m leaning heavily toward a Pandora-style bracelet. I’ve asked a few people at work who have daughters close to this age about the bracelets, and they all think it’s a good idea. (Many of them wear the bracelets themselves and exchange beads with their daughters.)

  24. I happened to stumble across your article and you happened to be talking about jewelry for a teenage girl. not only do i make jewelry, but i have 3 daughters one of which is a teenager! yikes!

    I made this hand stamped bracelet for MY daughter http://studiojewel.com/b340_layered_leather_sentiment.html with a message customized for her and it is so meaningful. she loves that it’s trendy and leather and sized to her…but she loves that i customized the message for her too!

    just a thought. so glad to have found your site!!


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