When buying jewelery for a young child, there are many things to consider besides pleasing the child and how good he or she will look. This does not mean that children should not wear jewelry. As a matter of fact, there are many occasions in a child’s life that lend themselves to offering this as a gift. Also, children often associate jewelry with grown ups. This is why it makes an especially remarkable gift when it comes time to mark a milestone or achievement, for example.
Jewelry, as you know, carries a meaning of its own. A ring, bracelet or locket from a beloved sibling or parent seals a lasting connection between the child and the adult. In many cases, these adults are role models; they are instrumental in the child’s journey. The piece of jewelry that marks this connection does not have to be fancy or expensive, but it must be safe.
Age appropriateness is a first consideration. If the child is still at the stage when part of the discovery process involves putting everything and anything in the mouth, then jewelry may be a serious hazard. Consider the size of the item and also observe the child’s relationship to it. Be very mindful of choking hazards. A bracelet may be a safe option for a young child. One of Silvio’s customers had a very special bracelet made for her daughter, remember? Use your judgement and do not leave it on when the child is not supervised.
Also consider fabrication. Old, re-purposed costume jewelry may be tempting because it looks impressive and may be inexpensive, but keep in mind that many have a very high lead content. This is not recommended for children, especially if there is any chance it might end up in their mouth or in the mouth of a younger sibling. Nickel, present is such jewelry as well, can cause allergic reactions. Pay attention. Look for rash or skin discoloration. Better yet, make sure you know what components were used in the fabrication of the jewelry you select for your child.
Above all, choose well-made jewelry, with sturdy links and soundly secured pieces that will not fall off or come apart easily. Consider the child’s play habits. Is the piece of jewelry you selected likely to get hit and to break or to get caught in something while the child is at play? Perhaps it should be worn only for special occasions, until the child is old enough to be mindful of his or her movements and to act safely while wearing the necklace, earrings or bracelet, for example.
Other children in your entourage are a consideration as well. Kids want what other kids have. Again, this suggests that a very meaningful piece of jewelry may be worn on special occasions, substituting fun, attractive, strictly ornamental pieces for daily social activities. If if gets lost or stolen, not much harm will come of it and a broken heart may be avoided altogether.
Finally, occasions to consider jewelry for a child are many, beginning with the obvious: their birthday. Next come graduations, personal academic and athletic achievements or as a token of appreciation for helping a neighbor. In fact, it is said that jewelry (or other gifts) received to mark an event where the child was of service to someone outside of their immediate family has a significant impact on self-esteem and on future social behavior.
Like that special doll or stuffed animal, jewelry also marks the stages of life and provides a note of comfort, somehow. This, of course, is the realm of the lucky charm. It does not matter if we, as adults, believe in luck or in the charm. All that matters is the ability of the perceived meaning to affect the child’s confidence to face the little and big challenges that surface here and there, inevitably. It can be very simple, such as the bullied child who feels less fearful when wearing the pendant received from grandma. Being less fearful, she is more confident. Being more confident, she does not appear as vulnerable. Being less vulnerable, she is of less interest to the bullies.
Perhaps this is the true significance of jewelry. It gives us permission to shine. In the mind’s eye and in the heart, a simple ring can have the weight of a crown.