Men: How to Buy That Special Present She’ll Love

Wednesday, November 25, 2015 | 4:46 am

When it comes to buying that special present for the special women in their lives, it’s amazing how many decisive men are reduced to states of overwhelmed confusion — quivering, like bowls of cranberry jelly.

The stakes are high, of course. There’s nothing worse for a man than dreaming up an incredible pièce de résistance gift only to watch her face deflate from joyful expectation to disappointment after the box is opened.

Determined to do this year right, we went to an expert who’s spent his professional career ensuring women are thrilled with the gifts they get.

“First of all,” says the dapper Vartan Kazanjian, owner and general manager of Estate Jewelers in South Pasadena, “men need to know what their wives, spouses, girlfriends or partners would like, and then take into consideration the budget that they have allocated. Most men are, well, ‘clueless’ is probably the right word.”

Kazanjian suggests men start the process with a “little mind reading” while the two of you are walking through malls and shops together.

“Maybe walk by a jeweler and say, ‘You think that earrings like those would look good on you, honey?’” he offers. Then point to a necklace and ask her thoughts. She may raise an eyebrow. Look quizzical. And offer you suggestions. You’re halfway there.

Avoid rings, Kazanjian says.

“First of all, says Kazanjian, “nobody wants to deal with the sizing aspect of rings. I think pendants and earrings are probably the best choices, and they have been for a long time.”

Vintage jewelry is an especially good choice, Kazanjian says, because each piece has likely been hand-crafted using techniques not practiced today and thus is unique and special. Like she is.

One can be pretty comfortable in the knowledge that if you choose a piece of vintage jewelry, the piece you select is truly one-of-a-kind.

“In the 20’s and the 30’s when these pieces were made, they were not mass-produced,” Kazanjian explained. “In other words, we didn’t have Hong Kong and China and India making 40,000 of each piece such as what happens in the larger stores today.”

Kazanjian is an expert in vintage pieces. As an estate jeweler, his store is able to offer truly unique jewelry, often with a story attached. Among their specialties are gold lockets and and necklaces from the 1920’s, even classics from the late 1800’s.

“If you want to buy something that most likely three days later you’ll see on somebody else,” he continued, “then we are not your store. The reason why you come to our store is to buy something that’s one-of-a-kind and that will become a conversation piece. And it will be hand crafted, not mass produced. And it will have a history, which is very important to a lot of our customers.”

It’s that uniqueness of product Kazanjian is most proud of.

“Each and every item we have in the store is one-of-a-kind,” he emphasized. “Oftentimes somebody comes in maybe six months later, after dropping in and seeing something attractive, and says, ‘I saw an item here, do you still have it?’”

‘I tell him ‘no’ and that I don’t think I can even make that piece for you again. And they get so disappointed!” he says.

Which brings us back to “unique.”

“A few very skilled people can reproduce vintage pieces,” Kazanjian continued, “but they’re not going to be the same, and they’re not going to be from the 20’s. You can really only call that ‘vintage-inspired.’ Not vintage, period. And there’s a huge difference. That’s what we specialize in, honest vintage, and that’s what differentiates us from everyone else in this area.”

Along with the quality and craftsmanship is the history of the jewelry, he repeated.

“A lot of times when an actual item walks in over the counter from the actual family, we try to get as much information as we can and the story that goes along with it,” he said. “And if it sounds believable, then we hold on to that story!” he said with a laugh.

Lest one think Kazanjian’s museum-quality pieces come with museum prices, he counters by saying his pieces are “surprisingly affordable.”

“A lot of our customers would like to spend between $1,500 to $3,000, when it comes to the holiday shopping season,” he says. “And we do have a huge selection of items that fall into their category and that price mark.”

Estate Jewelry continues to grow as well. According to Kazanjian, the shop probably has 350 to 400 more items in stock than last year. This includes vintage, which is 85 percent of the store’s inventory, to modern and mid-century modern, along with more recent modern items.

“Coming to our store is almost like going to eight or maybe ten different stores,” said Kazanjian. “That’s how huge our inventory is.”

The holidays are are on their way like red rockets. Now we’ve done our part, so you can do yours.

Estate Jewelers are at 700 Fair Oaks Avenue, South Pasadena. For more, call (626) 441-0621 or visit





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