by Chelsea Clarey.
As we advance in our quest for clear, forceful text, especially in online item descriptions, it’s clear that with a thesaurus and some ingenuity we can make our site copy much more engaging, entertaining, and effective.
In this installment, we’re going to look at better words to express beauty than the old standbys: “beautiful,” “pretty,” and “lovely.”
The concept of beauty is naturally something we want to evoke, but to get vivid, sparkling text, we have to choose the most unique and apt wording possible.
What we’re aiming for in our site copy is connotative language, which is wording that causes the reader to feel emotion. The emotional sense your customer attaches to a piece is what makes him or her want to buy it.
“Beautiful” is so vague and obvious that our usual format for these articles breaks down – it’s hard to analyze intent because there are simply too many ways to use it. Besides, we all think our jewelry is beautiful!
So instead, let’s make this a quick one and jump into a discussion of our alternatives:
- “Beautiful” – avoid this word. Just like every baby is beautiful to its mother, all jewelry is beautiful to its creator. In most cases, even deliberately odd art jewelry has a beauty of its own. How can such a non-specific word convey the emotions that enhance your product in the eyes of the buyer?
- “Lovely” – only a little better than “beautiful.” It has a softer, more feminine sound, but it’s not terribly connotative.
- “Pretty” – more girlish than the previous two, suggesting a piece for younger women, but also vague.
When we’re considering alternates, carefully choosing appropriate terms like the ones in this list, which I’ve tailored to the needs of jewelry sellers but which other online copy-writers may find helpful as well, may help your site stand out:
- Pleasing, graceful, classic, shapely, heirloom-quality, handsome, lustrous –These are an excellent choice for vintage-inspired jewelry and simple, traditional designs because they suggest a slightly vintage, candlelit glamour. Someone who wanted, for instance, classic and traditional wedding jewelry with the “Grandma’s pearls” look would be attracted to jewelry that was accurately described this way.
- Intriguing, alluring, fascinating, enthralling, tantalizing,
compelling –These words connote equal parts romance and mystery. They suggest an engaging or even hypnotic effect. They might be particularly appropriate for found-object jewelry, steampunk jewelry, particularly unusual materials or techniques like chainmaille where the structural complexity is important to the appeal.
- Delightful, darling, sparkling, delicious, charming, precious –Superb for jewelry that’s either intended for younger women and girls or uses a feminine “cuteness” for its appeal. Consider these for more delicate designs, charm bracelets and necklaces, miniatures of bigger items, or colorful polymer clay, because the connotation of these choices is all about sweetness and fun.
- Splendid, exquisite, magnificent, luxurious, queenly, divine –Perfect diction when you’re selling wedding jewelry or pieces made with very fine materials, directing your customer’s attention to the quality you’ve put into every step. It makes your pieces sound worthy to be crown jewels, perfect for your top-dollar pieces and for advertising custom special-occasion work.
- Luscious, touchable, magnetic, mesmerizing –These guide your customer to recognize a hypnotic, sexy quality. These words have a very sensual connotation, great for dark lustrous colors, Old Hollywood designs, and pin-up curves!
While you’re at it,
use the same process to describe
- Instead of “beautiful pearls,”let it be made of “flawless, unblemished pearls.”
- Instead of “beautiful stones,”describe “handsome glossy stones with intriguing matrix.”
- Instead of “beautiful hand-painted silks,”string it on “graceful diaphanous silks.”
And your colors:
- Instead of just a pretty red,try “lipstick red” for a sensual glamorous piece, “candy red” for a young, energetic one.
- Instead of just a lovely blue,try “delicate dreamy blue” for a story bracelet, or “luxe blue” for a high-end mixed-media piece.
By using more connotative words, not only will your pieces be beautiful, you’ll also make your customers think so too. When the description aptly and vividly mirrors the piece, the unified impressions guide your target customer’s response, leading them to look for the shopping cart!
Author Chelsea Clarey of TangoPig Jewelry Creations is a jewelry designer who gravitates toward bead and wire jewelry because the simple techniques have infinite artistic applications. She specializes in reusing vintage components in stylish one-of-a-kind designs. When not creating, she thinks much too much about word choice in jewelry descriptions. Be sure to keep up with Chelsea on her TangoPig Jewelry Creations blog.
Beautiful, Pretty, Lovely
This is a biggie for me! I’m aware that I use these three overdone words all the time. I love the alternatives you’ve listed here, and the nuances they imply – these will be extremely helpful to me! In fact, I’m going to print them out and keep them next to my computer.
Thank you so much for this fantastic Part 4, Chelsea! This series has provided me (and many other jewelry artists!) with a great deal of food for thought – and more precise ways to express ourselves!
Hesitant on describing jewelry
Selling jewelry online is a new business venture for me, and reading some of your tips is such a great help. I am so paranoid when it comes to describing jewelry, therefore I simply write what the jewelry is made of. For example: this item features a necklace made of pearl and agate. Boy do I need help… I know I’ll be reading your tips from here on. Thanks
Thanks for being lovely as usual, Rena! 🙂 And Carole, I’m glad to know this is helpful to someone starting to navigate the jewelry-business waters. I think a probable first step would be to apply emotionally laden words to the materials you’re describing, to help give the jewelry that touch of “story.” Glad you’re liking the series!
Isn’t is always beautiful, pretty and lovely.
Thank you for this posting, it is so important and I get tired of using the B, P & L words. I love to describe my jewelry and sometimes agonize over the description. I have been known to take a piece of jewelry to work and ask my fellow workers to tell me the words that come to mind when they see the piece! I will keep your advice in mind and try my hand at it the next time I add a piece online. I also comment on my fellow bloggers designs and try to be creative with my words, but I come up short, I will keep trying. Please direct me to part 1 through 3 of this series. Thanks again.
The rest of this series
Hi Regina –
I’m with you, Regina – the main time I get stuck using the “B, P, and L words” over and over is when I comment on my fellow artists’ jewelry. Their work is often all of those things, and my brain has trouble getting past that to find different words!
B, P, and L
Chelsea, thanks for your beautiful comment! :o)
I love this write up! I tend to use the generic, vague words! This is so helpful in thinking outside the box when writing a description.
re Carole’s comment
I too can’t seem to get beyond a generic this-is-what-the-necklace-is-made-of description. And I used to write display advertising copy for a daily newspaper. For JEWELLERY STORES, no less. Gaaaaah.
There is a war I fight between my black-tee-shirt-and-jeans-no-jewellery-clad, hard-nosed, concrete view of the world, a world divided by practical needs versus impractical wants, and remember what it’s like to be awe-struck by whimsy and impracticality and overcome by irrational desire for something so beautiful my brains go out the window.
The trick I’ve found is I have to forget I ever made the piece (even if it takes sometimes waiting a day or two to post it online), and imagine it from the point of view of the customer who first lays eyes on this object of perfection they’ve been searching for all their lives…
I find it profoundly difficult to become that objective, but on the other hand (I tell myself over and over) if I don’t have faith in what I create then how can my potential customer? Still, I’m in awe of the fantasy scenarios that some people are able to concoct around their pieces.
In analyzing what others write, there’s a lot of concrete information about the stones woven throughout in imaginative ways: the legends, the properties, the history… which means half the writing work has already been done.
by: Sally V
What a lovely article — I mean, what an inspiring and thought-provoking discussion of a common dilemma! I’m going to start re-writing my descriptions today! Thanks.
What awesome comments on this one!
Thanks, Val! I have to confess this all started as an exercise for me: the “interesting words!” parts of our brains and the “describe own work!” parts of our brains seem to have so much trouble connecting!
Barbara, I like the strategy of imagining yourself as the customer! Your idea of removing the description from the real-world toughness is so well-phrased. I think part of the trouble in writing our own small-business copy is that we’ve got to balance the idea of jewelry-as-art with our carefully cultivated business savvy. … and now that you’ve led me to that realization, I think with your permission I may lift it for the next entry in the series. :p
I’ve always really liked this Etsy shop for the boldness of how the “story” is incorporated in the descriptions: http://www.etsy.com/shop/fancifuldevices
Chelsea, yes — help yourself to my words. This ongoing series of articles is invaluable and many thanks to Rena for providing the forum(s) for all of us to become good, better, best at what we’re doing.
and check out the Etsy link…
Fantastic descriptions. Uh-ohhh… is “fantastic” now on the no-go list? ;-p
Thanks for opening my mind up to new words.
Addition to my New Year Resolutions
Your posting has certainly provoked some serious thoughts and good comments, looks like many of us recognize that we need to improve on our descriptions and language use.
I have just added a another resolution to my list for 2011.
Do not use beautiful, lovely or pretty on my jewelry descriptions, I am going to find other words to describe my gorgeous, amazing and exquisite jewelry.
Chelsea, I have really appreciated your series. I am a great fan of the thesaurus, however time is always precious, so I have begun to collect words into an Excel spreadsheet. That way I have an instant collection of words that apply to jewellery I can use for writing descriptions, and tagging. Beside looking them up and recording them for myself, I also take time to note down how other people use words in their descriptions.
That is not to say, of course, that I can’t continue to improve what I am doing – your suggestions are going straight onto the list!
Thank you Chelsea!
by: Heather Saxon
How timely! immediately edited my website after reading this and previous parts.
That’s an awesome idea, Sam! I might have to start a spreadsheet of my own. I love an excuse to make a spreadsheet!
Especially Useful Series but…
by: Patricia C Vener
I find myself using far too many adjectives now. Or thinking too much about using too many adjectives. I wonder if perhaps this is a lack of clarity on my part.
I am still unclear about the balance between enticing copy and SEO copy. Should the writer start with SEO strong terms or potential client strong terms? Does google (for example) weight earlier use of terms more than later use? Or tag use?
I suppose I need to pick a noun or a verb for my next entry — I hadn’t considered the adjective weightiness, though that is something I recommend to students and proofing clients!
As for SEO versus emotional appeal — I don’t know exactly what the happy balance is. I generally keep the SEO words relegated to tags, but I would defer to an expert on the subject. However, I do know that descriptions written only with keyword prominence in mind tend to feel cold to me — hence the series!
Finally found! what i was lookin for…it helped me to form a attractive n meaningful quote..lookin out for phrases or quotes made up of such words..thank you