11 Tips For Picking The Perfect Engagement Ring

Maybe you're the bride, helping choose your own ring, or maybe you're the groom, hoping to surprise your fiancée with the perfect rock. Either way, you could use a few tips before you take the diamond plunge.

How much should you spend?

1. Tradition says to spend about two month's salary, but you can go higher or lower as it suits you both. If you want more to spend on the honeymoon, the wedding or your new home, go for a smaller diamond Shameless plug: We offer top-quality engagement rings at less than half the retail cost. Hint, hint.

How do you choose the right metal/stone/setting?

2. Do you prefer yellow gold or white gold? If you prefer white, consider platinum as an alternative. Platinum is more expensive, but it is also more durable.

3. Check out our previous post on how to choose a diamond like an expert.

4. A stone that sits high on the band is gorgeous, but you may risk catching the stone on something or even losing it. A careful lady can go for the high setting, but if you are rough on your hands consider a stone setting with a lower profile.

How do you protect your investment?

5. Buy from a well-established jeweler, perhaps recommended by friends or family (like us).

6. For more expensive pieces, ask for a certificate of authenticity from a trusted issuer like the GIA or the AGS (many of our pieces are certified by the GIA: all our pieces are authenticated and refurbished by the Cash America Trading Company).

7. Get a warranty (every piece we sell comes with a 30-Day Satisfaction Guarantee; you can return the piece within 30 days for a full refund, an exchange or store credit).

8. Insure it! Check with your homeowner's or rental insurance to see how much is covered. If the ring appraises for more than your policy covers, consider getting it insured separately.

Just for the guys: How to surprise her

If you want to surprise her with the proposal, but you're nervous about finding a ring she'll love on your own, try one of these savvy tips:

9. Ask her friends to help out. If you trust her friends not to spill the beans, ask them to stop in a jewelry store when they're out shopping, and, "just for fun," point out their favorite rings and ask her to point out hers. They'll covertly report back to you later.

10. Propose with a temporary ring. Pop the question with something as simple as a plastic Cracker Jack ring, and then explain that you'll take her shopping for a real one.

11. Propose in the store. You could always do what Patrick Dempsey did in Sweet Home Alabama—lure her into a jewelry store, drop to one knee and say "Pick one"—though you'll have to keep your budget in mind.


You’re Engaged, Now What?

Photo by National Jewelry Liquidation Center

Names and images shown are registered copyright/trademarks of their respective owners.


He’s just slipped the ring on your finger and you’ve said yes. Now what? This joyous occasion can be eclipsed by the sudden realization of the work ahead of you. Don’t let this happen to you. Take a deep breath, follow these simple steps and you’ll be on your way to wedding bliss in no time. 


This should be a time for celebration, so try to relax and celebrate the engagement before you get caught up in the planning. Take a second before you post your news all over social media and give your parents, close friends and relatives a call. The time spent on the phone will be worth being able to share the good news personally. 

The Ring

You’ll be showing your ring off to everyone after you announce, so make sure the ring fits just right. Get the ring sized as soon as possible, especially if it’s too big. There would be nothing worse than losing your engagement ring, nothing! Your next thought should be on ring insurance. Some women chose to insure and others don’t. If your ring is extremely expensive, a family heirloom or you’re sentimental, we suggest insuring.  If it’s a starter ring and not too expensive you may opt not to. 

The Date

The first thing everyone is going to ask is WHEN the big day is. Do yourself a favor and pick a time frame – we like the idea of a spring wedding or we’re shooting for the beginning of the year. This will get them off the subject while you’re figuring it out.


Hire a photographer, pick your favorite background, whether it’s a cityscape or country landscape, and take some engagement pictures. Bring a ‘Save the Date’ sign to take pictures with and use those for your wedding date announcements. 


Get your closest friends and family together and celebrate the engagement. This group will be spending a lot of time together with your wedding activities. So, the engagement party should serve as a no-pressure setting to have everyone meet. 


Now the engagement celebration is over and it’s time to get to work. First step is budget. Weddings can get expensive fast. So you’ll need to set realistic expectations. How much will you as a couple contribute? How much will your parents help out? All this should be laid out at the very beginning. 

Sit down with your family and friends, make sure some of them are married – experience helps, and make a to-do list – invitations, venues, etc. Getting everyone involved in the very beginning will keep them in tune with your wedding-day desires. It also helps you pull from more resources. Maybe your sister knows a fabulous, inexpensive caterer or works with a graphics designer that can help with invitations. From this meeting you should be able to create clear steps on how to make your wedding the envy of all your friends. 


There you have it, simple really. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.

How to Set Places at a Table

dinner party
Photo by Dinner Series

Have you taken it upon yourself to throw a dinner party or fancy brunch? Is the thought of setting the table daunting? Maybe you have trouble just remembering what fork to use for the salad course. Well, we’re here to help, with some easy-to-remember guidelines.

Only What You Need
The first rule: don’t lay out dishes or utensils that won’t be used. A simple setting is fine for a one- or two-course meal.

The dinner plate is the basis for the rest of the setting. Just make sure you leave enough elbowroom for your guests, with about two feet of space from the center of one plate to the next.

Guests will use the outer utensils first, then work their way inward with each course:

  • Forks on the left (how to remember this: “fork” and “left” both have four letters).
  • Exception: cocktail forks go on the farthest right.
  • Knives and spoons on the right (remember: “knife,” “spoon” and “right” all have five letters).
  • The sharp edge of the knife should face the plate.
  • The dessert spoon and/or fork should be placed above the plate (fork should point right, spoon should point left).
  • Set silverware about one inch from the edge of the table (two inches if you’re using placemats).

dinner party
Photo by Dinner Series

There are plenty of acceptable ways to place the napkin. It can go on the plate, under the forks or to the left of the forks. It can be folded, rolled in a ring, or if you’re really ambitious, maybe try some napkin origami.

Glasses and bread plates
Glasses go on the right above the knife; bread plate on the left above the forks. There’s a hand trick to remember this: make a circle with the thumb and fingers of each hand, then extend your index fingers. Your left hand will look like a lowercase ‘b’ (for bread) and your right will look like a lowercase ‘d’ (for drink).

  • Place the water glass just above the point of the knife, wine glasses (larger for red, smaller for white, fluted for sparkling) slanting downwards to the right from the water glass.
  • A coffee mug would go to the right of the knives and spoons, handle pointed out (or you may wait until the dessert course to bring it out).
  • Lay the butter knife across the bread plate.

dinner party
Photo by DinnerSeries

Flower arrangements or other centerpieces should be below eye level, or they’ll make cross-table conversations difficult. To measure the right height, rest your elbow on the table with your fist pointed up. Make sure the arrangement is not taller than your fist.


Need more dinner part tips? We’ve got you covered:

8 Destination Wedding Pros and Cons (and How to Turn the Cons Around)

Destination Weddings
Image by David Laporte


You have this image in your mind. You and your soul mate stand barefoot in the sand against the backdrop of a fiery sunset. Your white silk dress billows in the salty breeze as he whispers his vows and slips a ring onto your finger.

That dream might be more practical than you think. Here are some pros and cons to planning a destination wedding – and how to work past the cons.


Pro: Affordable for you.

Many resorts or cruise lines offer wedding packages that include the florist, catering, and accommodations at a discounted rate. That also means you don’t have to worry about as many details.

Con: Expensive for guests.

Airfare, accommodations, food, time off from work – the wedding package may cover or reduce some of your guests’ expenses, but not all. 

The fix: Forego gifts, or host an extra dinner or brunch to thank your guests.


Pro: More casual and intimate. 

You only want your closest family and friends with you that day – but everyone you’ve ever met expects to be invited. It’s easy to politely explain you are eloping to a distant place with only immediate family.

Con: Some loved ones won’t make it.

Poor health, tight finances, too much work – all reasons the people you actually want to be there could miss your wedding. And they might hold it against you. 

The fix: Plan a reception at home later for all the guests who couldn’t make it, or ask the coordinator at your venue if they can set up web-casting for the ceremony. 


Pro: Getting away from it all.

Planning any wedding is guaranteed to be stressful – but getting to escape to a beach or the mountains can definitely take the edge off.

Con: Planning from afar.

There may be problems communicating with your vendors, or acquiring the right marriage license, especially in a foreign country. 

The fix: Do your research, and talk with the coordinator at your venue to make sure you have the right documentation – or consider a destination like Las Vegas: licenses are easy to acquire, and marriages performed in Nevada are recognized worldwide.


Pro: Instant honeymoon.

You’re already in paradise – no need to worry about catching a flight right after you tie the knot. 

Con: Your guests are on your honeymoon, too.

The reception is over, and now you want privacy. Unfortunately, your guests have spent a lot to get here, and by golly, they’re going to enjoy it!

The fix: Move to a different hotel post-wedding to avoid running into your guests.



Need more help? Here’s our top 10 wedding basics and our guide to building a guest list

Choosing Las Vegas as your wedding destination? Get the most out of your trip.

10 Ways to Be a Better Best Man

Image by Vadim Lavrusik


You know all the basic best man duties: plan the bachelor party, go to tux fittings, stand next to the groom, make a toast and decorate the getaway car. But to ensure you avert disaster with secret-agent swagger, make sure you cover these 10 points.

  1. Corral the groomsmen.
    Make sure all the other groomsmen have the proper attire and are on time for fittings, the rehearsal dinner and the ceremony (and any other events).
  2. Throw the bachelor party early.
    Don’t have it the night before the wedding: it’s not cool to show up at the church with an exhausted groom. Have it a few days (or weeks) in advance.
  3. Make sure the party’s what he really wants.
    Think of this as guy time, rather than a singles’ last hurrah – remember he hasn’t been single for a while now. A paintball war or weekend fishing trip might be more fitting than the clichéd stripper debauchery.
  4. Get your crude jokes out of the way.
    Go ahead and roast him at the bachelor party – get it out of your system so you’re left with clean and heartwarming stuff for the mixed-company wedding toast.
  5. Get him ready.
    Make sure the groom has what he needs for the ceremony and the honeymoon: marriage license, luggage, tickets and passport. Make sure he looks good (check socks, tie, teeth and hair). And for heaven’s sake, get him to the church on time!
  6. Keep the rings safe.
    If you’re carrying the rings, make sure they can’t fall out of your pocket. If there’s a ring bearer, make sure he knows what he’s doing and keep an eye out to give him some direction if he forgets.
  7. Keep the groom’s feet warm.
    He’s going to be nervous. Remind him why he loves this girl and why they’re perfect for each other – if the bride’s acting crazy, remind him how stressful planning a wedding is. Crack a few jokes and tell him to breathe. 
  8. Don’t lock your knees.
    Locking your knees for long periods of time (like during the ceremony) can make you pass out. Keep one knee slightly bent and surreptitiously shift your weight from one foot to the other every few minutes.
  9. Secure the getaway car
    Make sure the car isn’t damaged during the decorating process, and make sure the driver can still see out. Make sure whoever’s driving (you, the groom, or whoever) – is sober. If a limo is the getaway car, make sure the driver is where he needs to be on time.
  10. Return the tux
    The groom’s out of town, so when you return your own tux (or take it to be cleaned), take his, too.


Need help with that wedding toast? Here are 6 secrets to making it awesome.

Weddings – Through the Maid Of Honor’s Eyes

We’re all excited when our best friend calls to tell us they’re engaged. And so begins the months of planning, parties and tasks. Here’s a look at the glorious day from a different perspective, the Maid Of Honor. 


Once you’ve been tasked with the wonderful honor of Maid of Honor, your free time is a thing of the past. You are officially hired as a secondary wedding planner. Your job – to look after the bride and take care of anything she needs. 


Bridesmaid Duty


Photo by: Social Innovation Camp

  •  When it comes to bridesmaids, you are their go-to person. Whether it’s making sure they all get their dresses, show up for fittings, get the right jewelry, arrive on time to rehearsal, arrange their lodging, schedule hair, make-up, etc. -  the brunt of the details fall to you. So get ready to plan, plan, plan. The bride will truly appreciate it. 

Wedding Dress Shopping


Photo by: Timothy Horrigan

  • Here’s the fun part. Grab a relaxing beverage, some glasses and make a day of it. Help the bride look for the perfect gown and find tolerable bridesmaid dresses. Remember, you’re there for moral support, not to make the decision. She’ll know when she finds it. 

Day-To-Day Wedding Tasks

Photo by: Whitney In Chicago

  • You’re really going to be needed for the day-to-day wedding tasks. She needs help addressing invitations, maintaining the guest list, keeping track of the gift registry, choosing wedding colors, wedding cake, and the list goes on. The tasks are endless and the more you can help, the calmer (and happier) the bride will be. 

Bridal Shower/Bachelorette Party

Photo by:  A Forest Frolic

  • That’s right. The shower and bachelorette party (if she wants one) are your responsibilities. Talk to the bride and find out what she truly wants, not the group. It’s easy to get carried away on both festivities, so focus on the bride’s top-of-the-list desires for each party.



Photo By:  Clyde Robinson


  • She needs you to be her rock, to stand up for her, to be the peacemaker. So, be a trusted friend, good listener, overall advisor, drama regulator, etc. Protect her from the nonsense that should never come her way. 


Photo by: Nima Sareh

  • It’s time to share your thoughts on the happy couple. Prepare a few words to describe the woman who has put so much trust in you to help make this day everything she has ever wanted it to be and the bright future they have ahead of them. 


You made it! Now enjoy yourself at the reception, talk to that cute guy you’ve been eyeing all night, and relax. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done. 

6 Secrets to Making an Awesome Wedding Toast

Image by Tricia

Not only do you have to wear uncomfortable (potentially hideous) clothing while keeping the bride or groom from going insane, they expect you to stand up in front of a crowd and be eloquent.

Here’s your secret guide to doing just that.

  1. Plan it beforehand
    Don’t think you’re going to come up with something pithy and heartwarming out of the blue. Give yourself a couple of weeks to write, edit and practice it. If you’re not used to public speaking, use notecards – nerves can easily make you forget what you memorized.
  2. Don’t use a cliché
    There are a few dozen jokes, quotes and proverbs everybody uses. The handful of people who’ve never heard them before may think you’re brilliant, but everyone else will be groaning. Also avoid “ball and chain” lines or winking allusions to the honeymoon.
  3. Use a personal story
    Share a funny or heartwarming story that illustrates what a great person the bride or groom is, or why they are so perfect for each other. Avoid embarrassing stories or anything that would make the grandparents blush. Your ultimate goal should be to make the couple look good.
  4. Keep it short
    No one wants to listen to endless rambling – and other people need to make toasts, too. Time yourself and make sure your speech only takes one or two minutes.
  5. Run it by someone else
    If you only know one half of the couple well, run it by a friend of the other person. For instance, if you’re the best man and not sure if that opening joke will sit well with the bride, ask the maid of honor what she thinks.
  6. End with the actual toast
    Raise your glass and say the closing line. Bonus points if you can refer back to the story you told, but if you can’t think of a good connection, something like “to a lifetime of happiness,” “to [name] and [name],” or classic “cheers!” “salute!” or “la chaim!” will do nicely.

How did your toast go? Tell us in the comments!

Date Ideas from First Date through Marriage

Date Ideas from First Date through Marriage
Photo by Kevin Dooley

Where’s the best place to go on a date? That might depend on what stage of the relationship you’re in. Here’s a quick guide.


First Date


Third Date

Engaged Date

(Here’s some wedding-planning help for when you’re not out on a date.)


Married Date


Need more help? Here’s 10 unforgettable date ideas.

Date Ideas for Every Life Stage!

Regardless of your current life stage, we’re always looking for fun and refreshing date ideas. If you’re tired of the dinner and movie scenario, we’ve got the perfect list of dates for you. 

date ideas

Photo by David Blaikie


Single Date Ideas

Look online for meteor showers sightings. Pick up your date late at night and head out to somewhere there is little to no light. Bring along a blanket, cuddle up underneath the stars and enjoy the view. 

Attend an art party or pottery painting class. It’s a really fun, creative activity where the two of you can let loose and have some fun. Plus, how often do you get to create art for your own house? 

Go to a theme park and snuggle close on those scary, death-defying rides. In the downtime, grab some snacks, play some games and win some prizes! Walk away with souvenirs of a great night together. 


date ideas

Photo by Jim G


Just Married Date Ideas

Wine and dine at a local winery. Buy a few glasses, pack a lunch and catch up on each other’s day-to-day happenings. Exploring new tastes together is not only delicious, but can also be very romantic. 

Volunteer together. You’ll spend quality time together, but you’ll also make a difference and give back. Be sure to choose an activity that is meaningful to both of you, and watch how heart-warming the eventful day will be.


date ideas

Photo by Bhanu Tadinada


Proud Parents Date Ideas

Drop off the kids with their grandparents and find a room at an expensive hotel. Bring a cooler of adult beverages and a bag of your favorite snacks to eat in bed. Have dinner in bed with all the yummy goodies you now don’t have to share with the little ones.

Take foil dinners, your drink of choice and s’mores to a secluded camping ground. Camp out and kiss under the stars, roast marshmallows and enjoy the quiet, relaxing, romantic atmosphere. 


date ideas

Photo by Abhisawa


Post-Kids Date Ideas

Take a class together. Whatever it is you want to learn, there is probably a class for it. Expand your horizons and get into those hobbies you always wanted to try. 

Visit your local thrift, vintage or dollar store. Set a price and time limit. Split up and find the perfect item for your significant other. Over lunch, exchange your gifts and explain why you chose the item. 

Pick a small town, attraction, or tourist trap, and make a day of it. Make sure to get the road trip essentials prior to leaving – directions, photo opportunities must-stops, favorite snacks, must-eat local restaurant and a road trip playlist. 


date ideas

Photo by Elliott Brown


Retirement Date Ideas

Create a time capsule together. Gather your favorite items symbolizing your love for each other – an old wedding invitation, love letters, photos and more – and place them in the capsule. Be sure to leave a note with your words of wisdom for the future lucky finder of your capsule. 

Visit your local museums. Spend the afternoon checking out weird exhibits and learning about history and art. Download the new knowledge over coffee or drinks afterwards.



So get out there and enjoy each other’s company in this vast world of ours. There is still so much to see and do. Don’t miss out!



10 Steps to Build Your Wedding Guest List (Without Making Enemies)

Image by Stephanie Chapman

If there's any part of wedding planning that will make you pull your hair out, it's putting together the guest list. So, here's a step-by-step guide to help you avoid any disasters – and to fight premature baldness.

1. Manage expectations
As soon as the ring appears on your finger, everyone starts asking when the wedding will be—usually thinking they're invited. Even if you haven't built your guest list yet, manage expectations by telling them "We're aiming for X month, just a small, intimate celebration." That way, you're covered if you can't invite them, but if you discover later that you can, they'll feel extra special.

2. Decide on budget and venue
These are two hard and fast factors that decide your target number. The average indoor venue will hold around 200 people.

3. Create your dream list
Sit down with your fiancé and write down everyone you can think of: immediate and extended family; close friends, friends from high school, college, work, church, clubs, organizations; old family friends and neighbors. Then give yourselves a few days to think of any you've forgotten.

4. Divide and narrow your list
Split the list into categories – definite invites like family and close friends go on your A-list, hopeful invites like distant cousins and acquaintances go on your B-list. Need help narrowing that A-list down to the limit? Try cutting:

5. Sit down with your parents and in-laws
Explain your guest limit based on budget and venue. Then, show them both the A- and B-lists you and your fiancé have built. Typically, 10-30 percent of invitees will decline, so you have some wiggle room. If your guest limit is 200, you can safely invite about 40 more people. Split that number evenly between both sets of parents and ask them who else they would most like to invite, from the B-list or otherwise.

6. Determine which guests you know won't attend
Chances are, there are a few friends or relatives who warrant invitations but who, due to age, health or location, definitely can't attend. Invite as many of these as you like.

7. If you don't know them, don't invite them
Your parents or in-laws may want to invite some of their own friends – people you and your groom don't know well. Be firm about your number limits; make it clear they'll have to cough up the cash for the additional catering (and possibly a bigger venue) themselves if they want to invite more people (but phrase it more politely).

8. Send your save the dates
Send save-the-date cards to your A-list about six months before the wedding – eight months for a destination wedding.

9. Send your invitations
Send invitations two months before the wedding:

10. Send the second round
If you receive more than your wiggle-room's worth of regretful declines, you can start sending invites to your B-list. So if your target number was 200, you invited 240, and you have received 50 declines, you can invite the top 10 people on your B-list. If time is getting short before the wedding, don't hesitate to call them.

Any other special tips you learned while building your list? Any issues you need advice on? Let us know in the comments!

11 Tips to Help You Choose the Perfect Wedding Dress

wedding dress

Image by Steve A. Johnson

Choosing your gown is probably the most fun part of the entire planning experience. Here are a few tips to help you find the perfect one.

1. Establish your budget

If you're planning on a budget, set the cost of your dress before shopping. Initial prices range from a mere $100 to well in the thousands – and keep in mind alterations usually cost extra on top of the dress price.

2. Allow plenty of time

Between shopping around, trying dresses on, making a decision, ordering the dress from the designer, and having it altered over a series of two to three fittings, allow yourself six to eight months total for getting your dress.

3. Do your research

Do your research beforehand. Look through wedding blogs or wedding dress websites to narrow down what you like. Some basic questions to consider:

4. Call ahead

Make an appointment at a few bridal salons. When you call to make the appointment, don't be afraid to tell them what your budget is and ask if they have gowns that will fit within your budget. Don't tempt yourself by going to a place that does not cater to your budget.

5. Only bring a few people with you

The bigger the group, the more opinions you'll have to sift through. Instead, pick one to three people who are close to you and whose style opinions you trust – like your mother, sister or best friend.

6. Speak up

Value the expertise of the salespeople, but don't let them push you around. Be upfront about what you're looking for, and be candid if you don't like something.

7. Keep an open mind

Even though you should start with an idea of what you want, don't be afraid to try on something a little different. Even something that doesn't look good on the hanger may look amazing on you.

8. Test the dress

You'll be wearing this dress for several hours – will you feel comfortable and beautiful the entire time? Try sitting down, standing back up and dancing in the dress. Is it too heavy, restricting or revealing? Ask your saleswoman if these problems can be resolved during alteration. If not, opt for something else.

9. Don't make hasty decisions

Use your phone to take pictures of each dress you try on for review later, and never make same-day decisions. Get at least one good night's sleep before you settle on a dress.

10. Find ways to save

You don't have to spend thousands of dollars on a dress you'll only wear once. Shop off-season sample sales (call the boutique to find out when they are) or at a chain boutique – or choose a pre-owned dress to rent, borrow or buy.

11. Make time for accessories

Include time during your fittings to choose accessories – or schedule a separate appointment. Schedule it right after your pre-wedding hairdresser appointment so you know how the accessories – especially a veil – will look with your wedding hairdo. Need more help? Read our 9 tips on choosing the perfect wedding jewelry.

Tell us what your ideal wedding style would look like, budget aside. Show off what you found! Share a bridal photo on our Facebook page.

8 Tips for Choosing Your Wedding Rings

Wedding Rings

Image by Comell Mare

You – or at least your fiancé – probably put a lot of thought into the engagement ring. But what about your wedding bands? Here are a few tips to help you find just the right symbols of your love.

1. Establish a budget

Simple silver bands can run around $20, while platinum can run from $300 to more than $1,000. Remember, it's important that you wear the rings, not how much you spent on them. If your fiancé splurged on the engagement ring, you're having a big wedding, you're planning an extra long honeymoon, or you're buying a house, you might want to scale down the cost of the wedding bands.

2. Start early, shop around

Give yourself a few months to look at different rings. After choosing the bands, wait at least one night before buying, just to make sure. Allow at least one month for sizing—especially if it is spring or winter, as jewelers are extra busy during these times due to weddings, Christmas and Valentine's Day.

3. Choosing your metal

There are pros and cons to every type of metal. Here are the five most popular wedding band metals, from least expensive to most:

• Silver

Pros: inexpensive, easy to resize and repair

Cons: easily scratched, bent or tarnished


Pros: lightweight, durable, hypoallergenic and doesn't require rhodium plating

Cons: cannot be soldered or resized (your fingers are likely to change size throughout the years)


Pros: extremely durable; won't scratch and doesn't need polishing

Cons: heavy and can't be resized

• Gold

Pros: popular and easy to work with

Cons: expensive, and easily scratched or bent


Pros: longwearing, easy to work with

Cons: very expensive, heavy and dents easily

4. Style and practicality

This is an always and forever ring – you'll wear it dressed up and dressed down for years to come, so:

Make sure it is versatile enough to fit every occasion

Pick something timeless: the latest trend in stones or metals may be dated within five years

Beware of sharp edges or points that could easily catch on clothing

5. Matching rings

Your rings don't have to match each other perfectly, but they should be the same color metal – if you go with yellow gold, he might choose gold-tinted tungsten. If you choose platinum, he might prefer titanium. Your ring doesn't have to mirror your engagement ring, either, but it should have complimentary features.

6. Engraving

Engraving is a great way to make a simple wedding band more personal, or to forge a connection between you and your husband's rings even if the styles don't match. Choose a favorite phrase, scripture or quote, but give yourself plenty of time to change your mind before you have it done. Remember to figure in about a month for the engraving to be completed.

7. What about heirloom or antique rings?

Save a lot of money and add a uniquely personal touch by using a family ring. You'll have a piece of history with you on your wedding day – the proverbial "something old." If you don't have a family ring, consider a ring from National Jewelry Liquidation Center – you can find designer pieces for less than half the retail cost, and fall in love with something that will itself become an heirloom in the years to come.

8. Upgrade later

If you're struggling with how big or how expensive your bands should be, remember – you can always upgrade your rings to more expensive metals or larger gems later to celebrate a special anniversary.

Tell us about your ideal wedding band. Did you get your rings at the National Jewelry Liquidation Center? Share a photo on our Facebook page!

6 steps for choosing – and managing – your wedding party

Wedding Bridal Party

Image by Brooke Anderson

Choosing the people who will stand at the altar with you can be difficult. You want everyone to share your special day, but you're also on a budget – and you need to depend on these people to be calm and supportive when you start to panic under pressure.

Here are a few tips to help you manage it all.

1. How to choose your flower girl and ring bearer

Choose relatives' or friends' children, age four or older, who are neither too shy nor too rambunctious. Let younger children sit down with their parents after the procession so they don't have to stand through the entire ceremony.

Be savvy: You don't have to have a flower girl and ring bearer. The best man can always keep the rings, and a procession of bridesmaids will be quite enough.

2. How to choose your bridesmaids

Between sisters, future sisters-in-law, cousins, old friends and new friends, there are dozens of women you could ask to be bridesmaids. Narrow down your list by asking yourself: is this person passing through your life or will they still be important to you 10 years from now? If so, that's a lifelong friend who belongs in your party. But if your list is still too long, limit it to immediate family. Friends will understand.

Be savvy: Don't freak out if your fiancé chooses fewer – or more – attendants than you do. A groomsmen can always walk out with two bridesmaids on his arm, or vice versa.

3. When the bridesmaid slots run out

For the friends you just can't fit in as bridesmaids, consider alternate roles for them – like as a reader during the ceremony or the DJ at the reception. Or you could organize a house party; a group of friends who will help plan the bridal shower, put up decorations, etc. They get the church and reception hall ready while your bridesmaids are helping you get ready.

Be savvy: While the house party won't wear bridesmaid's dresses or stand at the altar with you, you should invite them to pre-wedding events, give them corsages at the wedding, and thank them publically at the reception.

4. How to ask your bridesmaids and house party

Let them know how much you want them to be involved, but be upfront about what you expect from them in terms of time and expense: buying dresses, paying for airfare and hotel rooms, planning showers and bachelor/bachelorette parties, running errands, etc.

Be savvy: Phrase the question in a way that allows them to politely decline, if necessary; "I would love to have you as a bridesmaid, but I know your schedule is really hectic, and that I'm asking a lot. Would you be able to do it?"

5. How to choose the dresses

There's a logical reason for the ugly bridesmaid dress cliché: it's next to impossible to find one style and color that looks good on multiple women. So…

Be savvy: Take cost into consideration – Be aware of any friends in financial difficulty. Choose an affordable dress, and if necessary, privately offer to help pay for it.

6. How to thank your wedding party

Keep in mind everything they are doing for you, and let them know how important they are to you every step of the way. You don't have to get gifts for your wedding party, but it's a definite plus. Thank you notes are a must. Taking them out to a thank-you lunch is even better.

Be savvy: If you hold the thank-you lunch before the wedding, when you first ask them to be in in the party, you can use that time explain who is doing what, when, etc.

Tell us about your wedding party; how many in your wedding party, what are they wearing and what advice do you have?

Share some pictures on our Facebook page!

Bridal 101 – The Basics

13% of weddings take place in June, making it the second most popular month for weddings. So, in the spirit of summer weddings, we felt it beneficial to provide some basic tips for planning a wedding and all the moving pieces involved – something we'd like to call Bridal 101. Below are the top 10 things you should focus on first.

  1. Start A Planning Checklist
    Whether you're using one of the wedding websites, a planning book, or building your own, you'll need to create a checklist specific to you – one that will allow you to add and remove steps and events that are ever-changing.
  2. Establish Your Wedding Budget
    This can be tricky and somewhat stressful. You just need to establish who's paying for what, how much you need for the wedding you want, and how much you must save out of your monthly income. Of course, the longer the engagement, the more time to save.
  3. Choose Your Date
    It's a good rule of thumb to wait approximately one year to allow time to decide on a dress, a reception site, and all the other details. There are many different reasons to pick your specific date – season, price, symbolism – as there is one perfect day for everyone. Discuss with your soon-to-be spouse and pick a date that is both sensible and personal. One that suits you both.
  4. Start Creating Your Guest List
    Since the majority of your wedding planning will be based on how many people you plan to invite, it is a good idea to get a grasp on the number early. Keep it electronically so it's easy to filter. There are tons of guest list organizers on the web to choose from! Check out sites like WeddingWire.com and TheKnot.com for templates.
  5. Interview Potential Wedding Planners
    Wedding planners are usually worth the money you invest. They're there to coordinate the details, answer questions and combat family drama. If nothing else, they'll help relieve some of the stress on your big day, leaving you to just relax and enjoy it.
  6. Research & Visit Wedding / Reception Sites
    Whether you have a venue in mind or are starting from scratch, research online and keep your budget in mind. Even if you cannot afford one of the more extravagant hotel or reception halls, with the right design and décor, any location can be transformed into the wedding venue of your dreams.
  7. Research photographers
    Each wedding photographer brings their own something special to the table. Make sure your vision of the perfect wedding portfolio matches theirs. Never again will you be photographed so much; so make sure they're a perfect fit.
  8. Start Your Registry
    What's your style – are you a chef, entertainer, renovator or a little bit of everything? Determine what suits your style as a couple and register accordingly. There are tons of registry sites eager to help you narrow down your selection. Visit Brides.com or TheWeddingSource.com for registry templates.
  9. Choose Your Bridal Party
    Although it's not set in stone, the basic rule of thumb is to have one bridesmaid and one groomsman for every 50 guests. So, if planning a small, less-formal gathering, opt for the smaller bridal party. More isn't always best.
  10. Select Your Wedding Colors
    Decide on your wedding style. Whether you're having a formal affair or beach gathering, the scene you choose will have a lot to do with the wedding colors you choose.

Planning a wedding can be overwhelming. Use these 10 simple tips as a starting point and coordinate from here. This should be a joyous occasion, not a painful one. So, go forth, make decisions, and celebrate!

9 Signs It’s Time to Propose

Image by keizie

What happens when things get serious? How do you know when it's time to take the next big step and commit to this person forever? Here are a few signs to look for before you pop the question (or start dropping hints for him to ask).

  1. You've known each other for a couple of years, at least.

    Even if it was love at first site, wait awhile. Get over that early-relationship excitement before you make any big decisions – after all, falling in love is like being drunk: your judgment is not exactly sound. Make sure you know the other person better than anyone else knows them.
  2. You've met each other's friends and family – and you get along with them.

    If several of your close friends or family members have serious objections to the relationship, slow down and consider why. Remember that love is blind, and sometimes the people close to us know us better than we do.
  3. You're going in the same direction.

    Make sure you both know what the other person wants in life, and that those goals are harmonious. If you plan to travel the world, but they never want to leave the house, there may be some problems.
  4. You've talked about your future together.

    If you've talked about major life decisions together – like where you'll buy a house or how many kids you'll have – that's a sign it's time to go to the next level.
  5. You've reconciled any political or religious differences.

    Voting for different candidates or going to different churches doesn't mean you're incompatible, but you'll have to do more than avoid the subject to make your marriage work – especially when it comes down to kids. If you plan to start a family, you also need to plan how you'll explain your convictions (and differences) to your kids.
  6. You're in a good place in life for marriage.

    You may want to wait until you graduate college or get a certain promotion at work. Don't wait forever – because conditions will never be perfect – but make sure you'll have the time and money to take care of a spouse.
  7. You're open about your finances.

    You should be open with each other about any debts or major expenses. If you're still paying off a student loan, or you spend a few hundred dollars every month to support your video game habit, your partner needs to know about it.
  8. You know about the skeletons in each other's closets.

    You should know about all of each other's major life struggles and past serious relationships (especially previous marriages or engagements) – so there are no ugly surprises a few years down the road.
  9. You are best friends.

    The romantic, newlywed feelings will eventually wear off if that's all that's between you. But, if you know each other better than anyone else does and you still enjoy doing everyday things together – even without being romantic – the forecast looks good for a lifetime of happiness together.

Now that you've decided to pop the question – how do you choose the right ring? Check out our engagement ring tips here.

7 Tips for Great First Date Conversations

Image by Christopher Cornelius

First dates are right up there with high school reunions for uncomfortable-ness. The pressure. The unfamiliarity. The awkward silences. Your sudden inability to say anything clever. Fail to get a conversation going, and you can ruin a potentially great relationship – so better go in armed with these chit-chat pointers.

  1. The preliminaries

    Choose an activity that encourages conversation (not a movie) and that's not too intimidating (not an expensive restaurant). Meet for coffee or drinks, grab some pizza and go bowling, or get ice cream after a round of mini golf. Let the other person know what you're planning (or ask them what they're planning) so you both know what to wear and what to expect.
  2. Compliment them, but not excessively

    Two or three compliments in one night are plenty – otherwise you may seem too eager to please. Make sure at least one of these compliments is not related to their appearance. Compliment them on something they said, did or talked about.
  3. Have some conversation starters in mind

    Ask the other person questions that require more than a one-word answer, like how they got into their line of work, or what they do for fun. Ask about the highs and lows of their week. Ask their opinion of random, non-controversial beliefs, like whether they agree that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
  4. Be a good listener

    Listen for things you have in common. If you don't find much in common, use the opportunity to ask them for their unique perspective on something. Ask them to explain something you don't know much about, or to help you understand an opinion that differs from your own. Don't let your eyes wander while they're talking.
  5. Turn off your cell phone

    There are few things more annoying than trying to have a conversation with someone who is checking their phone every few minutes.
  6. Don't talk about yourself too much

    This is a date, not a therapy session: don't pour out your whole tearful life story.

    Be open, but don't talk about your medical problems or your exes. If you're telling a funny, anecdotal story – like what happened to you at the laundromat last week – keep it short (that's the point of an anecdote). Then, move the conversation forward by asking them something about themselves.
  7. Mirror the other person's body language

    When two people get along really well, they'll often unconsciously mirror each other's body language, folding their arms at the same time, or putting the same elbow on the table. You can help your date feel more comfortable by purposely mirroring some of their body language – like leaning forward when they lean forward.

How did your first date go? Let us know in the comments! Need a great idea for the second date? Check out a few unforgettable date ideas here.

9 of the Best Vegas Shows on Any Budget

Coming to Las Vegas and not seeing a few shows is like going shopping without trying anything on. So take it from us – jewelry experts and Las Vegas residents – these entertainment deals are the perfect way to finish off a day on the Strip (after you've been to National Jewelry Liquidation Center, of course).

Under $120

Celine Dion at Caesars Palace
Starting at $117

Celine Dion is back, with a 31-piece orchestra helping her perform her greatest hits, as well as covers of some of her favorite artists, including Billy Joel, Michael Jackson and Ella Fitzgerald. Runs June – August 2012.

Donnie & Marie at the Flamingo
Starting at $108.12

Even if you're not familiar with Donny & Marie, this show will soon turn you into a fan. The brother-sister duo is incredibly talented, funny and all-around entertaining.

Blue Man Group at the Venetian
Starting at $101.85

Three silent blue-faced men combine humor, music and theatrics to create an unforgettable interactive experience that appeals to people from all backgrounds and languages. Runs through September 2012.

Under $85

Phantom: The Las Vegas Spectacular at the Venetian
Starting at $81

The music you love from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera, plus pyrotechnics, an elaborate $40 million theater and a Broadway-caliber cast. Runs through August 2012.

Criss Angel "Believe" with Cirque du Soleil at the Luxor
Starting at $73.85

Combine Criss Angel's brain-bending illusions made famous in his A&E show "MindFreak," with the visually-stunning theatricality of Cirque du Soleil, and you might just walk away believing in magic.

Mystère Cirque du Soleil at Treasure Island
Starting at $69.73

Possibly the best Cirque du Soleil price you can find, Mystère is also the longest-running Cirque show in Vegas. The show explores the origins of the universe with a combination of beauty, humor and mind-blowing acrobatics.

Under $60

Penn & Teller at the Rio
Starting at $56.48

First, they get you thinking by showing you the secrets behind some popular illusions. Then, they put you in awe by performing a trick you can't possibly explain. They'll also keep you laughing the whole time.

V – The Ultimate Variety Show at Planet Hollywood
Starting at $44.99

Music, acrobatics, magic, impersonation, comedy – it's all in V, and it's all entertaining. Hilarious host (and fastest juggler in the world) Wally Eastwood pulls it all together.

Recycled Percussion at the Tropicana
Starting at $44

These guys started at a high school talent show, went on to place third on NBC's "America's Got Talent," and have now brought their loud – but very entertaining – act to Vegas. From buckets to power tools, with plenty of acrobatics thrown in, Recycled Percussion's "junk rock" is sure to get your head banging. Runs through June 2012.

9 Best Wine and Dine Deals in Vegas

We're not just your jewelry insiders – we're your Las Vegas insiders, too. Here are some of your National Jewelry Liquidation Center experts' favorite deal-icious places to grab a bite or sip a cocktail.

Tracie's Faves

Vintner Grill

Tracie loves how Vintner Grill's unique architecture and modern décor creates the perfect atmosphere for enjoying a few drinks. The menu changes daily – to offer the best seasonal foods and to keep chef-owner Matt Silverman's creative juices flowing – and features American dishes with Mediterranean flavors. The Summerlin location offers high class dining for lower prices than you'll find on the Strip. And yes, there are happy hour deals.

Yelp reviews


Bachi Burger

Bachi Burger, on the south side of town, puts a great, Asian-inspired hibachi spin on the American tradition of burgers and milkshakes. Tracie appreciates its low-key, casual atmosphere, combined with its unique gourmet cuisine at incredibly reasonable prices.

Yelp reviews


Ernie's Faves

Mon Ami Gabi

At this classic French bistro located in the Paris Hotel, food, wine and culture is the daily creed. The chef and owner, Gabino Sotelino, keeps up a menu of old favorites as well as new tastes. Ernie recommends their brunch menu, featuring eggs Benedict, French toast with blueberries, a variety of coffee choices and more.

Yelp reviews

Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill

Ernie also loves the way Iron Chef Bobby Flay marries the flavors of the Southwest with his love of grilling in this desert version of the New York City favorite. Located in the bustling Caesar's Palace, Mesa Grill features a menu full of unique dishes, from rough cut tuna nachos and tiger shrimp with roasted garlic corn tamales to the grilled swordfish club and coffee rubbed filet mignon.

Yelp reviews


Tanya's Fave


Jaleo, at the Cosmopolitan, is a tapas bar by Jose Andres, who has been credited with introducing tapas cuisine to America. The menu also offers paellas, sangrias, wines and sherries. Tanya warns it's a bit pricey, but says the experience is totally worth it. From croquetas de pollo served in a shoe, to delicious lobster paella and an unforgettable flan, Jaleo will satisfy your every craving.

Yelp reviews

Raul's Fave

Steiner's Pub

A true sports fan, Raul loves Steiner's for both its food and its atmosphere. Half old-fashioned pub, half hi-def sports bar, Steiner's serves sophisticated American comfort food 24 hours a day – from their Kobe (not Bryant) burger to their award-winning sirloin black bean chili. Steiner's offers happy hour specials, including a menu full of $3-6-9 appetizers, as well as 1 – 7 a.m. graveyard specials, with $2 draft beers and more.

Yelp reviews


Jerry's Faves

T-Bones Chophouse & Lounge

T-Bones at Red Rock Casino offers the best steak in Vegas, according to Jerry – and the 2011 Las Vegas Review Journal agrees. Their happy hour "T-Time" menu includes appetizers, beers, wines and spirits starting at just $5. The giant roaring fireplace and outdoor bar make for a larger-than-life atmosphere that perfectly complements the quality of the food.

Yelp reviews

Feast Buffet

Vegas just wouldn't be Vegas without the buffets, and the Feast is one of Sin City's best. Jerry likes this Red Rock Casino gem because it's far less touristy and less pricey since it's off the Strip. In fact, Feast prices start as low as $4.99 (if you have a boarding pass card). Six live cooking stations turn out everything from sushi to barbeque while you watch. There's also a huge, ever-fresh salad bar, an endless selection of desserts (including multiple gelato flavors), and a full bar (for a little extra).

Yelp reviews

Promenade Cafe

Jerry's third pick, the Promenade Café at Rampart Casino, offers great food at very reasonable prices 24 hours a day. Their best deal is probably the Sizzling Three-Course Special; appetizer, entrée, desert and soft drink for $9.99 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day – though their late night menu is a definite competitor.

Urban Spoon reviews

9 Easy Tips for Picking the Perfect Wedding Jewelry

You've got your dress all picked out and it's time to accessorize! Here are a few surefire tips that will make choosing wedding jewelry easy.

1. Choose metal based on dress color

If your dress is pure white, go for silver, platinum or white gold. For Champagne or off-white fabric, choose yellow or rose gold. You can wear either color with a dress that's just slightly off-white.

2. Choose jewels based on bodice detail

If your bodice is extra elaborate, go for simpler jewelry. Match jewel type to the detailing on the bodice – for instance, pearls to match beading, or diamonds to match sequins or crystals.

3. Choose shape based on neckline

Chokers look great with strapless dresses; pendant necklaces accent V-necks or sweetheart cuts beautifully; and for a high neckline, you can skip the necklace and choose bolder earrings.

4. Complement your wedding and engagement rings

It doesn't have to be a perfect match, but be sure the metals don't clash.

Be savvy – have your wedding rings sized well in advance of the ceremony.

5. Consider wearing family jewelry

For that "something old" or "something borrowed," your grandmother's pearls or mother's diamond studs can add a touch of sentiment to your ensemble.

6. Beware of bracelets

The last thing you want is for your tennis bracelet to snag or scratch that delicate fabric. Be sure the bracelet is free of sharp points before you decide to wear it.

7. Tone down if wearing a tiara

If you opt for a tiara or other elaborate headpiece, go for a simpler necklace, or skip it altogether.

8. Consider the time of your wedding

Your dress and jewelry should reflect the formality of the occasion. Morning or early afternoon weddings are less formal, so go with simpler jewelry. But for late afternoon or evening weddings, feel free to dress it up!

9. Try on all jewelry with your dress

All rules aside, the most important thing is that you love the look. Bring several jewelry options with you to your dress fitting, and style your hair as you will on your wedding day (it doesn't have to be exact; just be sure the shape is the same). Experiment and have fun!

Be savvy – be sure any new jewelry you buy has a reasonable return policy – in case at the fitting you decide it's not quite right (National Jewelry Liquidation Center has a 30-Day Satisfaction Guarantee).

Be sure to check out our post on how to choose earrings based on face shape and hairstyle.

What jewelry did you choose for your wedding? Send us a picture!


Photo by Meagan Jean

10 Unforgettable Date Ideas

Dating is about having fun and getting to know each other. And let's face it, no matter how many amazing restaurants you try, dinner and a movie gets old. It's time to get creative, reconnect with your inner child and find your sense of adventure.

1. Live show

Go listen to a local band, find a comedy club or dress up for the theater. There's something about being in the same room with the performers that makes the experience more interesting. Even open mic night at a coffee shop can be fun.

2. Wine tasting

This one's high class and fun. For a small charge, you can take a tour at a winery, brewery or distillery, learn the craft and try some samples.

3. Kite flying

There's something both innocent and romantic about kites. Find kite-making instructions online [http://www.wikihow.com/Make-a-Kite-Out-of-a-Plastic-Bag] or buy some ready-made at a toy store, then head to a nearby field and see how long you can keep your kites in the air.

4. Stargazing

Drive out into the country with a blanket, a telescope and a thermos full of hot chocolate and find constellations together. The local planetarium can be pretty romantic too.

5. Take a class

Sign up for a fun class at your local library, museum or community college—like pottery, cooking or film appreciation. You'll get to know each other, get more connected to the community and maybe even find a new hobby.

6. Geocaching

Geocaching is a real-life, modern-day treasure hunt. You get coordinates online at a site like geocaching.com, [http://www.geocaching.com/] use a GPS to find the spot, then look around until you find the cache. Inside there'll be a logbook to sign. There are often small items for trade—take one item with you as a souvenir and leave another for the next person.

7. Local sightseeing

You may have lived in the same town for years and never visited half the attractions it's famous for, so check out the visitor's bureau website and plan out a touristy weekend itinerary. For extra laughs, buy disposable cameras, fake some foreign accents and tell everybody you're from some made-up country.

8. Booklovers' dream

This is a great one for getting to know each other. Go to a bookstore (preferably one with a coffee shop), split up and each find your three favorite books. Meet in the coffee shop and tell each other why you love each book and read your favorite excerpts. Make it more fun by throwing in a book you hated, and see if the other person can guess which one it is.

9. Video scavenger hunt

This one works best with two or more couples. Create a list of 10 goofy activities to do, like trying on hats at a clothing store, interviewing a stranger about American history, doing the Macarena in a self-serve car wash—the sillier the better. (Here are some ideas to help you start your list) [http://www.videojester.com/video-scavenger-hunt-lists.html] Each couple drives off with a video camera (smart phones work fine) and has to film themselves completing each item on the list. Last couple back has to buy dinner for the winning couple.

10. Restaurant roulette

A twist on the usual dinner date. Write ten or twenty different restaurants on slips of paper and throw them into a hat. Draw one restaurant and go there for drinks. Draw a second for appetizers, a third for the main course and a fourth for dessert.

What was your best date ever? Tell us about it.

10 Foolproof Valentine's Day Gifts for Guys

Flowers. Chocolates. Diamonds, of course. Classic Valentine's Day gifts are all great for us girls—but what are we supposed to get the guys? Somehow, I don't think he appreciated last year's his-and-hers coffee mugs quite as much as you did.

Here are some Valentine's gift ideas your man is sure to love.



Cook him dinner

The way to man's heart is through his stomach, right? Cook him a hearty meal like steak or meatloaf, with pretty much any kind of potatoes and lots of gravy.

Check out these healthy comfort food recipes men love.

You can even make the meal extra-special with a personalized steak branding iron.


Take him to a game

Tickets to see his favorite sports team or his favorite band mean you're not just giving him a gift—you're giving him a memory.


Buy him a drink

Buy him some liquor he might not normally spring for on his own; something manly like whiskey, scotch or tequila.

Add in some Grand Marnier and limes and make your own margaritas.

Some whiskey stones will ensure his drinks will never be watered down.

A beer connoisseur will love the Beer of the Month Club.


Cufflinks, rings or a Rolex

You can't go wrong with the classic gift of some simple, masculine jewelry—whether it's cufflinks, a ring, or one of these winners:

A Rolex is not just a watch—it's a lifetime of bragging rights. Yes you can afford a real one.

Give all his watches a home with a monogrammed watch box:

Give his favorite cufflinks the respect they deserve with a cufflink box.


Define his space

Personalize his garage, workshop or man-cave with a totally customizable, retro shop sign.

How to Dress for a Job Interview: 8 Jewelry Dos and Don’ts

We all know plunging necklines and mini skirts are no-nos when trying to land that dream job. But, what about jewelry? Here are eight dos and don'ts to help you avoid a "don't call us, we'll call you," and earn a "when can you start?"

Do wear small, conservative pieces. Pendant necklaces should be smaller than one inch in diameter and rings should be inconspicuous.

Don't wear statement jewelry. Avoid pieces that are large, multicolored or noisy. Leave the bangle bracelets and chandelier earrings at home.

Do wear only one or two pieces. Like a necklace and a pair of earrings, or a necklace and a bracelet. Less is good; more is pushing it.

Don't wear more than one ring per hand (with the exception of an engagement and wedding ring combo).

Do wear silver, gold or pearls. These classic pieces will always communicate sophistication.

Don't wear anything but the basic piercings; one classic piece in each earlobe would be best.

Do wear coordinated sets. Wear silver with silver, and gold with gold.

Don't wear jewelry with political statements or insignias. This is a job interview, not a rally.

Interviewing for a job in the creative sector? Or looking to accessorize an outfit for a less formal event? Check out our tips on When to Wear Statement Jewelry.

The Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide 2011

Wouldn't it be great if you knew exactly what to get everyone for Christmas or Hanukkah this year? Don't worry, we are here to help. We've created a list of the newest and most popular gifts for this holiday season. From tech to toys and entertainment to romance, our list Will make you the savvy giver everyone loves.



The Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook™ are both under $100; or think about upgrading last year's iPad® with a keyboard.

Amazon Kindle Barnes & Noble Nook™ Bluetooth® Keyboard Case
for iPad®



Crack open some of the top fiction and nonfiction books, straight from the New York Times Bestseller list.

Zero Day, by David Baldacci Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson  



Pair some popcorn and movie candy with one of these popular new DVDs to create a cool movie-night gift basket.

Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows Part 2 The Help Captain America



Got a music lover on your list? Choose from the top albums on Amazon's Most Wished For list.

Adele - 21 Michael Buble - Christmas Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto



For the gamer in your life, one of these recently released (or about-to-be released) games is sure to be a hit. Make sure you check the rating and get the right version for the recipient's gaming console.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Batman: Arkham City The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword



The kids won't wait to tear these out of their boxes: top toys and games from Amazon's Most Wished For list.

Angry Birds Knock on Wood Game – ages 5 + LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet – ages 4 - 8 Rory's Story Cube – ages 8 +



Shopping for a chef? A coffee lover? Or just someone who loves a home-cooked meal, but doesn't have time to make it? Check out these kitchen items from Amazon's Most Wished For list.

Cuisinart SmartStick Immersion Hand Blender Keurig Special Edition Gourmet Single-Cup Home-Brewing System Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker



Sure, it's a shameless plug, but it's also a no-brainer! Nothing says "I love you" like a piece of fine jewelry, and at less than half the retail cost, ruby earrings or a diamond ring won't break your budget.

What's on your list this year?

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Birthstone

A ruby is actually a red sapphire. Different traditions associate rubies with the months of July and December, the Zodiac sign Capricorn, and children born on Tuesdays.

Think you know your birthstone? Think you hate it? Think again! There are actually several different birthstone lists, of several different origins, and many of them include multiple options for each month. Here are some surprising facts about birthstone traditions from around the world.

1. The traditional birthstone list is said to come from the Bible.

Exodus 28:17-20 talks about the 12 stones set into Aaron's priestly breastplate to represent the tribes of Israel. The King James Version lists:

Judah   Sardius
Issachar   Topaz
Zebulon   Carbuncle
Reuben   Emerald
Simeon   Sapphire
Gad   Diamond
Ephraim   Ligure
Manasseh   Agate
Benjamin   Amethyst
Dan   Beryl
Asher   Onyx
Naphtali   Jasper

2. Western birthstone tradition became popular in 15th century Poland.

Rather than wearing their personal birthstones all year round, people believed the gems were most powerful when alternated monthly—each stone worn in its corresponding month:

January   Garnet
February   Amethyst, Hyacinth, Pearl
March   Bloodstone, Jasper
April   Diamond, Sapphire
May   Emerald, Agate
June   Cat's Eye, Turquoise, Agate
July   Turquoise, Onyx
August   Sardonyx, Carnelian, Moonstone, Topaz
September   Chrysolite
October   Opal, Aquamarine
November   Topaz, Pearl
December   Bloodstone, Ruby

3. The mystical birthstone list comes from 11th century Tibet and may have origins in Buddhism:

January   Emerald
February   Bloodstone
March   Jade
April   Opal
May   Sapphire
June   Moonstone
July   Ruby
August   Diamond
September   Agate
October   Jasper
November   Pearl
December   Onyx

Emeralds are associated with the months of January and May, the Zodiac sign Cancer, and the tribe of Reuben. Traditionally a symbol of rebirth, it is believed to grant luck and youth.

4. The Ayurvedic birthstone list comes from ancient Indian medicine and may be as old as 3500 years.

Known as the "science of life," Ayurvedic medicine taught healing through massage, aromatherapy—and gemstones

January   Garnet
February   Amethyst
March   Bloodstone
April   Diamond
May   Agate
June   Pearl
July   Ruby
August   Sapphire
September   Moonstone
October   Opal
November   Topaz
December   Ruby

5. The Zodiac birthstones were named by Astrologers before our modern calendar existed:

Aquarius   Garnet
Pisces   Amethyst
Aries   Bloodstone
Taurus   Sapphire
Gemini   Agate
Cancer   Emerald
Leo   Onyx
Virgo   Carnelian
Libra   Peridot
Scorpio   Beryl
Sagittarius   Topaz
Capricorn   Ruby

6. In 1912, the Jewelers of America settled on this modern birthstone list:

January   Garnet
February   Amethyst
March   Aquamarine, Bloodstone
April   Diamond
May   Emerald
June   Pearl, Moonstone
July   Ruby
August   Peridot
September   Sapphire
October   Tourmaline, Opal
November   Topaz, Citrine
December   Tanzanite, Zircon, Turquoise

7. There are also birthstones based on days of the week:

Sunday   Topaz
Monday   Pearl
Tuesday   Ruby
Wednesday   Amethyst
Thursday   Sapphire
Friday   Carnelian
Saturday   Turquoise

Want to know more? Read what the American Gem Society says your modern birthstone represents. Then stop by the store to check out some jewelry with your favorite birthstone—whichever list it might be from.

Diamonds, Pearls and Paper Sneakers

When is paper more precious than silver, platinum or gold? When it helps support a fantastic cause like the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF).

Each fall, for the past seven years, the National Jewelry Liquidation Center adds paper sneakers to their display case to shine the spotlight on JDRF. Over the past several weeks, National Jewelry customers have generously purchased these paper sneakers - and the bright blue, red, yellow and green sneakers have stylishly lined the store's walls. Though these are simply paper to some, to the children and families JDRF serves, they're worth so much more!

Interested in learning what you can do to help continue fundraising efforts for JDRF? Lace up your own sneakers along with the National Jewelry team and join them in the Walk to Cure Diabetes on Saturday, November 19.

Every sneaker counts in JDRF's search for ways to cure, better treat and prevent type 1 diabetes! Thank you to each and every customer who has helped support this worthy cause.

8 Awesome Ways to Propose

Photo is from myluckyfortune.com

Ladies: don't read this. Just shut one eye and send the link to your man.

Guys: if you're reading this, it's time to take the next step in your relationship. Pondering how to pop the question? Check out these creative ways to propose; adapt one for your own purposes or just let it inspire your own idea.

Custom fortune cookies
Write your own "marry me" fortune and have it placed in her favorite flavor of cookie; you can order any flavor, from cappuccino to raspberry.

Get her friends to help
You text-messaging the question isn't cool. Getting her friends to do it for you while you stand by with the ring is. Coordinate with her friends to send her one-word texts in quick succession at a time when you'll be hanging out with your girlfriend. She'll get a text from her coworker saying "will," then one from her sister saying "you," from her best friend saying "marry," and from her dad saying "Steve" (or whatever your name is). She'll go from puzzled to ecstatic.

The classic approach
Take her back to a place significant to your relationship – like where you first met, where you went on your first date, or where you shared your first kiss. The classic down-on-one-knee approach never gets old.

And here are some of our favorite proposal ideas from around the web:

Via Wedding Proposal Ideas

Cyber proposal
Perfect for couples who met online; create a web page all about your life together—photos of major relationship milestones, and of places that mean a lot to you both—with a picture of you holding the ring and a "Will you marry me?" headline. Send her the web address and wait for her reply. After she says "yes," you can send the address to friends and family to announce your engagement.

Via the Knot

Street art
Pre-arrange a deal with a street caricaturist. Have him sketch a picture of you two with word bubbles. Yours will read, "Will you Marry Me?" and hers will say, "Yes!" After she comments on the finished artwork, pull out the ring.

Go digital
Borrow her digital camera and have a friend take pictures of you holding a series of posters with the words "will," "you," "marry," and "me?" – each in different positions and locations. Then return the camera and ask if she'll upload the pictures for you.

Delicious proposal
Take her to her favorite restaurant and have the waiter include the open ring box on the dessert tray.

Via Jerry Bruno Productions

Love and the law
If you have a police officer friend she doesn't know, have the officer pull you over and search the car. Get the officer to act like he or she's found something illegal—but it turns out to be the ring. That's your cue to hit your knee and propose to her on the side of the freeway.

Nervous about finding the right ring? Read our tips for picking one she'll love.

Ultimately, the important thing isn't how creative you are, but how thoughtful and sincere. Let her know how much you love her. That's a proposal bound to be successful.

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