A Casual Place To Talk About Our Favorite Shiny and Sparkly Objects

Archive for the ‘Gift Ideas’ Category

Ahhhhh, back from the holidaze…..

When you purchase jewelry for yourself or someone else, how do you usually buy it?  Physically, as in at the store counter, via a paper catalog, online, or eBay?  Is your decision affected by who the piece is for?  Does how much you’re planning on spending play a role in your decision?  Do you have a store or site that you’ve been purchasing from for years, and you automatically just trust them?  Do you hunt down unique pieces or try to get the best price possible on eBay?

Initially, it can be difficult to purchase jewelry online, especially if you’re not familiar with the site.  If you’re doing the same with a new seller on eBay, I think it’s even more difficult, because all you have to go by are other people’s reviews.  How can you be so sure that what you see is what you’re going to get?  If you found the site through a  search engine such as Google or Yahoo, does that mean the sites on the first page are going to be better than one on, say, page 10?  This is especially confusing when the search engine gives you some ridiculously high amount, like 100,000 sites.  How do you know that what is found on the first page a better bet than page 37,634?

When one does a search for jewelry, say Google for example, different results will come up depending on the wording of your search.  The first several in the shaded area are sites that paid to be the first 3 or 4 sites from that search.  Does paying to get a site advertised before all others make it more or less appealing?  There are so many different directions we could go with this topic, so let’s start with the sites that pay to be in the #1,2, or 3 slots.

Let’s put this to the test.  I go to Google and do a search for ‘diamond jewelry.’  It comes up with three paid sites: 

‘Diamond Ring Sale’ from www.worldjewels.com.  “A special gift for your loved one. Save up to 75%.  No sales tax!”  

The second is ‘Blue Nile Diamond Jewelry’ from www.bluenile.com.  “Forbes Favorite Online Jeweler. Free FedEx & 30-Day Returns.” 

Finally, we have ‘Diamond Jewelry to Browse’ from www.sohogem.com.  “Fine boutique and designer jewelry to browse and buy with style.”

So what does this mean?  WorldJewels is a very ‘busy’ site, as if it is trying to cram everything it has onto the first page. Blue Nile, with its rich blue background, is less busy, and with both left and right side panels focusing on educating the consumer, you don’t feel as much pressure to purchase RIGHT NOW.  Sohogem has a very different look, sleek and artistic.  It’s navigated by three modern lines, where one can search by designer, trends, price.  It has a very different feel to it, as if you are already familiar with different artist’s diamond creations.

Well, which do you choose?  Do you tend to skip past the paid sites?  Would you go for the promise of paying less, the reputation of an established jeweler, or check out a more esoteric site and learn more about what the trends are right now?

Please, post your comments!  What do you think?  Where do you go?  Do you always go to the same place for every type of gem?  Don’t worry, I have a feeling we might be talking about this some more…

I’m sure you’ve all at one point or another received one of those email forwards from a friend asking your preference on a bunch of items (like ice cream: chocolate or vanilla?) and you’re supposed to pick your favorite, forward it on to everyone, blah blah blah. However in one of those emails (I happen to like them), there’s one question that always stood out to me. “Jewelry: Gold or Silver?”

The default response for most is usually gold. And, as always, I’m the one who chooses silver. I feel like there’s something inherent, like ‘cheap date’ with silver. However, I just don’t have a skin tone that works well with the COLOR gold. It looks all right, but I definitely prefer silver. Platinum is a worthy choice with great color, but it carries two problems for me: it’s heavy, and it’s even more expensive than gold.

Fortunately, there is a solution, and it can put me in the ‘in’ crowd too. And that would have to be White Gold. According to Wikipedia, “White gold is an alloy of gold and at least one white metal, usually nickel or palladium. Like yellow gold, the purity of white gold is given in karats.” In my limited experience, I’ve found white gold is wonderful-it has the color I desire without the exorbitant cost (compared to platinum I mean; it’s obviously more expensive than silver). While I was researching that, I found that there’s also a compound called Rose Gold, which is gold that is mixed with different metals to give it that color. I’ve never seen it, but I’m going to keep my eyes out for it.

Both white and rose gold can come in purities of about 18 karats. Pure gold, 24k, is generally considered too soft for jewelry and is therefore mixed with an alloy(s) to produce 22, 18, 14, or 10 karats, so opting for white or rose gold is not necessarily an automatic reduction in quality or purity. I love the white gold jewelry I have, and if you’re looking for a piece of jewelry, consider giving white gold a try. And if you’ve seen rose gold somewhere commonplace, let us know where you saw it (I’ve never seen it in any department stores like Macy’s or the like), because it would definitely be worth taking a look at.

Oh la dee dah, ‘diamonds are a girl’s best friend’…BLAH BLAH BLAH

‘If you really love your fiance’, 2-3 months’ salary for a ring is a must’…OUCH

‘We have everything under control now…these aren’t blood diamonds’…you sure about that?

People have been trying for centuries to come up with a man-made gem that mimicked the diamond.  Cubic zirconia first comes to mind which yes, is bright and shiny, but for some reason has never up to par.  And then there’s Moissanite, a silicon carbide found in meteorites originally.  Today, it’s usually made in labs.  It is cheaper than a diamond, but it’s still a large purchase.  One problem with them is that they can’t make one that’s pure white , and their ‘dispersive power’ is 2 1/2 times greater than a diamond.  That’s how it dispurses light.  When it’s that much higher, the effect is sort of like a disco ball.  Some people think that’s great and even better than a diamond, and others thinks it makes it look cheap. 

Then you have synthetic diamonds.  When in 1797 it was discovered that a diamond was made solely of carbon, people have been trying to precisely replicate it.  The idea of creating a synthetic diamond, therefore, is far from a new one.  Many people have tried to do so with mixed results.  The first real successes came in the 1950’s, and the technological processes used today draw largely from the discoveries made then.

Diamond, mined or synthetic, is a mineral which has a myriad of uses because of its hardness, but since we’re talking about jewelry here, we’ll keep it at that.  There are numerous reasons why I like them synthetic diamonds, and I hope they continue to make inroads into the jewelry market.

First, they are REAL diamonds.  According to an article from www.news.com,  “consumers shouldn’t see any difference. Both mined and synthetic diamonds are chemically identical. Neither the naked eye, nor an ordinary microscope can detect the difference. Jewelers can tell with a loupe by reading a laser inscription required by the Federal Trade Commission. Otherwise, it takes high-tech equipment that analyzes the crystal structure of diamonds (like a proprietary machine De Beers has) to distinguish the difference.” 

Second, and this should matter if you have a conscience, the mining of diamonds is not exactly a pretty process.  I won’t go into the whole history, but long story short, environments have been ruined, countless lives have been lost (they’re not called ‘blood diamonds’ for nothing), people have been enslaved, countries ravaged by wars, and all for that bright shiny object.  Granted, steps have been taken to reduce these problems, but we’re not there, so we are at the mercy of what’s being reported, and who knows whether or not it’s accurate?  Mining in northern Canada has become the new big thing (and has come with even bigger prices) and made for a great show on the History Channel called “Ice Road Truckers,” but even though it’s like a tree falling in the forest with no one around, it’s still trashing the environment.

Finally, synthetic diamonds cost a fraction of what a mined diamond costs.  Two-three months’ salary?  Did you know that DeBeers came up with that as a marketing concept?  If it’s an engagement ring, use the savings for the wedding itself (which in today’s world averages $20,000), for a down payment on a house, a car, or all of the other things you’re going to need after you say “I Do.”

That’s why I’m a supporter of synthetic diamonds.  Today, there are a lot of companies out there, each with their own ‘angle.’  Because a diamond is pure carbon, they can be made from different sources, even including the ashes of a loved one or pet.  I can’t decide whether that’s an amazing way to remember them or if the whole thing is kind of creepy.  Various companies are creating diamonds of different colors and sizes previously unknown to nature.

I’ve been following this concept for about a year now, and one company, Diamond Nexus Labs (www.diamondnexuslabs.com), has really stood out to me.  They carry something for everyone, from under $150 to custom creations where the sky is the limit in cost.  You can design the jewelry piece of your dreams, and they will work closely with you to make sure it’s perfect.  They have an extensive presentation of rings, necklaces, bracelets, pendants, you name it, they can make it,and they can do it 14 carat gold to 950 grade platinum and everything in between.  It’s been great to see how their offerings have increased over a year.  Their print catalog is something to drool over, and you really do get a lot more bang for your buck.  Would you rather have a one carat mined diamond or a 2-3 carat synthetic?  Or a ring AND a matching necklace?  In a world that loves their bling bling, synthetic diamonds are there to satisfy that seemingly insatiable demand.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against mined diamonds, the people and companies who buy and sell them, or anything like that.  I received a mined diamond ring for my birthday last year; it is absolutely beautiful, and I love wearing it.  However, I think synthetic diamonds gives many people a chance to purchase what they couldn’t previously afford, I like the fact that you know 100% FOR SURE that no one died and no trees fell.  Still, the idea does make some people uncomfortable, and even though chemically they’re exactly the same.  I hope companies like Nexus Diamond Labs continue to work to eliminate that stigma, that celebrities who preach their love for the environment put their money where their mouths are, and that this can be integrated into jewelry fashion as a viable alternative.  There is room for everyone, and I hope synthetic diamond’s place continues to grow.