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Graduation Jewelry Gift Guide

Keep in mind the age and style of your graduate, and you’ll be sure to choose a gift that will provide a meaningful and lasting keepsake of the occasion.

Is someone in your life getting ready to don a cap and gown? High school and college graduations are momentous and celebratory occasions. Elementary school and advanced-degree graduates also deserve recognition of their achievements as they enter the next phase of their lives. No graduate is too young or too old to receive a gift.

When considering a graduation gift, keep in mind the age and life stage — not to mention personal style — of the graduate. The two things any graduation gift should have? Make it both meaningful and lasting. The right piece of jewelry does both.

Kid graduates

For the youngest set of graduates, or those being promoted from elementary, middle or junior high school, a fun but meaningful gift is best.

Young girl graduates would love a small pendant necklace to remind them of the occasion. A heart-shaped pendant or small locket will go over especially well with this age, and girls leaving elementary school may still have a penchant for a favorite character, like Hello Kitty.

Does your young graduate already have a charm bracelet? If not, think about getting her one along with a special charm to signify the occasion. If she already has one, give her a charm that will remind her of her promotion as she enters the next phase of childhood.

Most young girls will also adore a small, personalized pendant, engraved with their name or a meaningful saying, to place on either a necklace or a charm bracelet. Keep in mind you’ll want to steer clear of anything with the year engraved, as class year is usually reserved for high school and college graduations.

Now that your child is moving up in the world, consider a starter watch. Pick something classy that suits his or her style: a young athlete or explorer will appreciate a nice sports watch or one with the logo of a favorite team, whereas a fashion-forward girl might prefer a watch with a colorful band.

High school graduates

High school graduation is perhaps the single biggest milestone in a young person’s life. For some it will also be their final graduation, and even for those who continue onto college, vocational school or eventually graduate school, little will match the emotional significance of this celebratory bridge into adulthood.

It makes sense to match the magnitude of the occasion with a gift that will last.

For girls, a personalized pendant necklace offers plenty of options. Choose one engraved with her initials, name or graduation year, or combine the year with her name or initials. Depending on what moves her, consider adding an inspirational saying such as “Let the journey begin” or gifting her a pendant with the saying alone.

You don’t need engravings to have the jewelry openly celebrate the occasion. A pendant necklace or charm in the shape of a graduate’s cap will also do just that.

If your graduate prefers more subtlety, drop the graduation theme altogether and gift her a piece of classic jewelry that will help kick-start her jewelry wardrobe. A pair of timeless stud earrings, a solitaire birthstone necklace or even a simple, elegant birthstone ring would be fitting and treasured for years to come.

For girls and boys alike, a common high school graduation gift is a class ring engraved with the school and graduation year, and sometimes a picture of the school mascot.

For either gender, high school graduation is a great time to move beyond fad watches of the teenage years and gift a watch with some weight. The right watch makes a statement and anchors a look. See our Watch Buying Guide for pointers on finding the perfect piece for the occasion.

College graduates

When choosing a gift for a college grad, consider something that will last as she or he embarks on the path of independent adulthood.

College graduation is an ideal occasion to start or enhance a young woman’s classic jewelry wardrobe. A graduate planning to immediately enter the professional workforce would appreciate work-worthy basics like sophisticated stud earrings, a diamond solitaire necklace or a strand of pearls.

Most young women would love a birthstone piece either to start or complement their birthstone collection. Or does your graduate prefer a little flair? Choose a striking gemstone necklace or ring that fits her personal style.

Most college graduates will benefit from a well-made, professional-looking watch. Consider a mid-range brand such as Citizen or Bulova. An American History major might appreciate the significance of a Hamilton — a historic American make.

Advanced degree graduates

Here’s the short answer to “What jewelry should I give to a recent professional or grad school graduate?” It depends.

A new doctor will usually be older than a newly minted lawyer. A recent MBA grad may have spent several pre-business school years in the workforce. And this is for students who follow the traditional path. When considering what jewelry to gift an advanced degree grad, take your celebrant’s life stage into consideration along with his or her new career path.

For a woman entering a professional career with the likes of a law or business degree, opt for jewelry she can wear on the job. A classic pearl strand, a necklace or stud earrings with a solitaire diamond or other gemstone, or a delicate pendant necklace are all good picks.

Professional men and women alike will benefit from a look-defining watch such as a TAG Heuer or Raymond Weil.

A new doctor or nurse will likely want something small and unobtrusive — and not on fingers or wrists — like simple stud earrings or a delicate pendant necklace. And a vet may enjoy something whimsical like a paw-print necklace.

As with kid graduates, once you reach the realm of graduate and professional school you’ll want to steer clear of anything stating the year. Class years typically signify high school and college graduations.

If you keep in mind the age, life stage and personal style of your graduate, you’re sure to choose a jewelry gift that provides a meaningful and lasting memento of the occasion.

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