While everyone may need a new pair of socks or a new iPod on occasion, it’s also nice to give presents that retain their value or increase in worth over time. Even though you may not want to think about your wonderful gift being cashed in, the reality is that “investment pieces” are so-named for a reason. We checked in with experts to find the top eight gifts that will still be worth something long after the ornaments are put back in the closet.
1. Fine Jewelry
“As time goes on, precious gems and metals only become more scarce, which inevitably leads to increased value,” says Todd Ingwer of Leo Ingwer a New York-based diamond and jewelry manufacturer. "These commodities can also be used as currency the world over."
But don't just base your purchase on the recipient's ability to resell the item, Ingwer advises.
"Resale value should have very little to do with your purchase. Quality product and a fair market price, should. Regardless of economic standing, I believe every girl deserves to sparkle every once in a while," he says.
Many investors have turned to gold to capitalize on steadily rising prices, but there is a strategic case for investing beyond those returns, says Kevin Quigg, Global Head of SPDR ETF Strategy and Consulting with State Street Global Advisors.
“Gold is both a risk mitigater and a potent wealth preserver,” says Quigg. “During periods of market stress, we’ve seen investors flock to gold as a safe haven because it provides volatility protection and tail risk protection, and can be used to hedge against inflation or currency devaluation.”
Gold also makes for an ideal diversification tool, he adds.
“Because gold plays an important role as a diversifier and a long-term store of value, it is a foundational asset within any long-term savings and investment portfolio," says Quigg.
Art has a tremendous upside as an investment that provides both pleasure and potential return, says Liana M. Arnold, Communications Manager at CardHub.com.
“Good art by well known artists will keep its value for a long period of time, and will most likely increase in value as years pass."
However, she cautions that "unless you’ve managed to get your hands on an Ansel Adams, Annie Liebowitz, or Joanne Bird original or signed print, you’re going to be making an educated gamble."
Arnold recommends seeking out pieces by up-and-coming artists.
"They just might help finance your loved one’s retirement," she says. "The longer a piece of art has built value, the more potential it has moving forward.”
"For some people, the word 'antique' suggests one of those shops synonymous with 'old, broken junk,' but if you’ve got a skilled eye or an advisor, that junk can be buried treasure," Arnold says.
Vintage items of some historical significance will have very low amortization and could even have the potential to even increase in value with proper care and passage of time, she says.
“However, unless you are the American Pickers, chances are you won’t know the difference between a rusted sheet of tin and a valuable old soda advertising sign. Proceed with caution!"
5. Savings Bonds
Anyone can buy a savings bond through the federal government’s TreasuryDirect site.
“A Series I savings bond is an incredibly easy gift to both give and receive,” says Matthew Amster-Burton, a MintLife blog contributor. “It will keep pace with inflation, it’s a safe, stable investment, and is guaranteed to make the recipient smile when it comes to maturity.”
6. College Fund Contribution
College tuition is higher than ever and continuing to rise. Contributing to a child’s college fund is now an incredibly popular gift, says Amster-Burton.
“Whether it’s your niece, nephew, or simply a family friend, this gift is bound to make parents happy since they’re most likely contributing money of their own on a monthly basis,” he says. “If you trust the recipient, the easiest way to contribute is by writing out a personal check and marking it 'college fund.'”
7. A Personal Finance Book
By buying a personal finance book for a friend, you’re giving them the skills they’ll need to grow their retirement fund, and you might even help create a skilled investor over the long run.
“This is a great gift for a new college grad, a younger sibling, or anyone who depends on you for financial advice,” says Amster-Burton.
Mint.com recommends two books for learning the ropes: Elements of Investing, by Malkiel and Ellis and Investing Made Simple, by Mike Piper.
8. Donate a High-Return Investment to Charity
You can always give to a loved one’s favorite charity, but instead of giving cash, why not donate an investment that has the potential to grow over time, asks Amster-Burton.
“If you have value-increased investments, this is a great option because you are not only making a difference in someone’s life, the charity benefits from the donation as well,” he says. “Plus you get the tax break, which never hurts!”