What would be a great item to pick up in Edinburgh?
There is a Whiskey shop on the North Bridge and it has all the nice souvenirs from local whiskey to local crystal glasses to horn cups. If you're into cashmere, the Royal Mile is the best place to shop. Make sure you look around because we noticed the prices were a little high in some areas but the quality was the same.
Something that you see and YOU really really like. Not something I would like.
There are quite a lot of small 'Harris Tweed ' articles for sale, Hats, Wallets, handbags. trainers. Harris Tweed is a genuine hand powered loom produced product, however a lot are manufactured outside Scotland and it is the same with larger article like Jackets, trousers, Skirts often tailored outside Scotland and there lies the difference in quality.. At the moment there are lots of Scottish artisans with stalls around the Mound & Royal Mile selling their own hand made goods. Or and all Year outlet is the 'Old Tron Church' on Royal Mile selling a lot of hand produced Scottish souvenirs to suite most budgets.
Avoid anything with tartan or quoting Burns.
So many souvenirs particularly in the Tat Shops that sell "Scottish" items that are made in China. Even some of the woollen mills are guilty of this.
I know of a Scottish shortbread factory that is almost entirely staffed by Poles :-)
I'd go a step further, but I'm not sure if you're interested in lots of relatively cheap souvenirs, or quality items which you or others will appreciate in years to come.
Scotland has a number of good modern silver- and gold-makers. Around Edinburgh I can think of Shiela Fleet, with an outlet in House of Frasers (was Jenners), or Annie Smith with a shop in Stockbridge.
There are a lot of shops on the Royal Mile selling gemstones set in silver - or polished stones in silver. They may look Scottish but many come from abroad. Good pieces will have makers marks and an assay office mark, a year mark etc. Check a few shops rather than believing everything the first salesman tells you. If you look round antiques shops you are more likely to find authentic older brooches - they may or may not be bargains :-)