LINCOLN SQUARE — Guys, you're not fooling anyone, least of all Steve Quick, who's been in the jewelry business for more than 30 years.
You haven't even started Christmas shopping for the woman in your life.
"Everyone will come in the last three or four days, but the 23rd is always bizarrely busy," said Quick. "They're men, that's the only answer."
Perhaps because he himself had yet to purchase a single gift for his wife less than a week before the 25th, Quick actually rewards procrastinators. All three of his stores — Lincoln Square, Lincoln Park and Wicker Park — are hosting Panic Night, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., on Monday, offering shoppers free pizza, beer and "Monday Night Football" on the shops' TVs.
"I just remember the men of my childhood — the men would go out, have a cocktail and come home with an armful of packages," said Quick, who aims to recreate that retro vibe with Panic Night.
"It's mostly going to be a lot of neighborhood men looking for a gift for their wife," said Val Mays, who works at Quick's Lincoln Square outpost. "A lot of guys sneak over at lunch or take a half day off to do all their shopping in the Square."
"I've seen, five minutes before Christmas Eve, a guy getting an engagement ring," added her co-worker, Pam Chill.
Where most other retailers have limited inventory remaining this close to Christmas, Quick said, "We made sure we were still stocking a week ago" — everything from $6,000 diamond hoop earrings to more affordable silver pieces in the $200 range.
For shoppers unsure of their loved one's taste, Quick has the equivalent of a cheat sheet. "If she's in the neighborhood, she probably has a 'wish list,'" meaning the store has a record of the necklace she's been eyeballing for the past eight months.
Customers more willing to roll the dice should be aware of a few trends: Color, for starters.
Blue topaz and pale green amethyst are the most popular gems, and after a decade of market domination by platinum and palladium, the pendulum is finally swinging away from white metals, said Quick.
"I'm loving how much yellow we're seeing, how much pink," he said. "Our youngest customers are loving the colors. They don't want what their mom has or even what their older sister has."
Lincoln Square clientele, many of them couples with young children, tend to be evenly split between those with traditional tastes and "people willing to take design risks," said Sarah Sopha, another Lincoln Square staffer.
Wicker Park shoppers show a preference for rose gold, contemporary design and interesting finishes, she added.
Perhaps the most important piece of advice Quick has for gift givers and those on the receiving end: "It's always returnable. Most guys would rather you trade it in than wear something you don't love."