Christmas is the greatest gift-giving season of the year. No other holiday comes close; weddings are personally scheduled, graduations may be busy shopping occasions, but Christmas/Hannukkah/Kwanzaa/Winter Solstice/New Year’s is the apex of giving and gifting.
In Japan, Christmas is the time of year when romances are declared. Not so many Japanese are Christian, but they have adopted the holiday as time for declaring love and proposing marriage—rather like Valentine’s Day in western countries. In the west it’s also a time for marriage proposals and engagements (which is also why marriages are so commonly scheduled in June, six months after Christmas. By June, school is out, the weather is warming, flowers blooming, and winter proposals turn into public commitments).
All of which contributes to Christmas being a boom time for jewelry sales. Tokens of love run the gamut from Elizabeth Taylor-size rocks to sweet little earrings, but there’s no fonder sign of commitment than a pretty piece of rock crystal.
An elaborate system of symbolism has grown up around love and jewelry. Some of this is an outgrowth of ancient beliefs in the spiritual and magical properties of jewels (carry an amethyst to ward of drunkenness!) but with a hefty does on modern salesmanship. Diamonds are universally regarded as de rigueur for engagement rings, a belief the diamond industry gladly promotes. My parents, who married in the late 1940s, used simple gold bands, no jewels at all.
Truth is, any token of love is probably welcome if the feeling is reciprocated. Estate jewelry offers an excellent combination of value and old fashioned craftsmanship too. It goes without saying if the end of year holidays are a popular time to buy jewelry, they’re also a great time to sell some. While the price of fine stones seem to have stabilized, precious metals continue to show some volatility, generally rising in value over time. Old rings, pins, brooches, earrings, and necklaces sold can put cash in your pocket and brighten the lives of another couple on the threshold of a new life together.