Tag Archives: secondhand diamond dealer

Goodbye Diamonds: You’ve Got Options

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Engagement Ring Stone Varieties

Ok people, ’tis the season once again.  No, not just that of the annual ‘turkey stay of execution,’ of avaricious munchkins clamoring for toys and the ‘imposed family visitation’ season; it’s marriage proposal time as well.    For some reason, one third of the year’s proposals occur during the holidays.  Perhaps this is because people are feeling so cheery and warm (despite the plummeting temperatures) in their lover’s arms, that they can easily envision and hope for a well spent life together.  Maybe they just get all giddy at the sight of candy canes.  We’ll never know for certain, but one thing that is for sure is that engagement rings will need to be purchased. 

So what’s a potential proposer to do?  Drop the requisite ‘three month’s salary’ on a costly, environmentally destructive, possibly bloody diamond?  Well, that’s always one way to go – but luckily there are a bunch of other merry options.

Be “Fake”

If you’ve been following diamonds in the news at all over the past year or so, you will have seen an explosion of information on the man-made diamond front.  Scientists are becoming increasingly more efficient and clever at growing diamonds in labs (instead of under the earth’s crust, like ‘real’ diamonds that are made by the gods).  These stones have the same exact chemical composition as naturally derived diamonds (often with less blemishes too; they’re farmed in pristine labs, not the dirty, dirty dirt).  The only noticeable difference is that they are cheaper: significantly.  Score!  White diamonds, the most desirable across the board, that are fabricated will run you about 15 to 20 percent less than natural diamonds.  Even better if your thinking lies somewhere over the rainbow; colored High Pressure, High Temperature (HPHT) diamonds can cost an astounding 80 to 90 percent less than ‘real’ diamonds of the same hue.  

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Moiss Doesn’t Grow on a Rolling Gemstone 

Now, on to the ‘diamond simulant’ category.  These are stones that mimic diamond in many sparkling ways.  The much maligned cubic zirconia is in this batch; the main complaint about this guy is that it chips, breaks and eventually loses its luster.  As a result, most people turn their noses up to the high heavens at all diamond simulants.  However, there is one of these diamond copiers that has some real staying power; moissanite.  Naturally occurring moissanite is found in meteorites (obviously making them the most cherished gemstone of intergalactic aliens) and is incredibly similar to diamond in terms of density and glitter-ifficness.  Believe it or not, moissanite can have a higher rating than diamond in the brilliance (sparkle) and fire (the way that light is refracted and dispersed through the stone) categories.  Moissanite is commonly replicated in labs now, just like diamond, and is priced well below what human-made diamonds go for.  Expect to pay about a cool grand (or less!) for a perfect 1 carat moissanite stone.  Unless your soon be to betrothed and all of your mutual friends are expert gemologists, no one is going to be able to tell that this isn’t a diamond.  We’re not saying to try to pass it off as one; just use all that saved cash for more essential things as an engaged couple, like a ravishing vacation or bathroom supplies.  

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Alt. Rocks 

We’ve been touting the benefits of alternative gemstones for quite some time.  Not even getting into how much cheaper these all can be than diamonds, they can also be so much more unique and personal.  Each gemstone has its own story as to where it comes from, how it was named and what its hue (or hues) symbolize.  Maybe you pick your lover’s birthstone, maybe you just go with their favorite color.  The possibilities here are endless (see?) 

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-Joe Leone 

10 Fun Things To Do That Are Totally Free

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The belt buckle tightening time of the year is upon us once again (fiscally speaking, of course; you’re going to be doing the polar opposite of that come Thanksgiving dinner).  As you plan out your budget in anticipation of a pricey holiday season, you realize that you are definitely going to have to cut back on some of the more extravagant elements of your lifestyle.  That certainly doesn’t mean that you need to stop having fun.  In fact, the opposite can be true, yet again.  Delving into some new, adventurous, absolutely gratis activities will have you feeling like you’ve just won the Lottery of Fun.  Read on for some no-cost enjoyment!

Lights, camera(phone), action! 

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Have a camera with video function on your phone?  Of course you do.  Get a group of your friends together and shoot a movie!  Either write it out beforehand, with storyboards and all that jazz, or just wing it and improvise the whole thing.  You may be surprised at how creative you end up being, Fellini-like friends.  Can’t find any willing participants?  Channel your inner nature documentarian and film some indigenous sparrows and squirrels, as they frolic tither and thither.  If that gets boring, just start photo-bombing your own production.

Speak your mind. 

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Whether you strive for the spotlight or shun it like Gollum, there are endless opportunities for you speak in public.  Either throw together some corny jokes for Open Mike Night at your local comedy club, or a few choice mellifluous sentences for a poetry reading OR break out the ole six string and soulfully strum away at a volunteer music venue.  This will be goofy fun if you are comfortable in these situations.  If you are like most people, and are inherently shy about voicing your opinion in a public forum, then this will be a splendid chance to tackle those fears head on and prove to yourself that you can overcome anything.

Call your loved ones.

Face it, there are some people that you care about a tremendous deal, but you hardy ever communicate with (a “merry x-mas” text doesn’t count).  Speaking directly to your parents, distant relatives or old college chums for a few minutes can be truly rewarding.   Yes, this can seem like an absolute chore in some cases, but the more difficult/awkward the task is, the better you will feel about yourself for having done it once it’s over.

Get a pen, pal. 

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In keeping with the theme of reaching out to someone, there is yet another means of getting in touch that can be really satisfying; writing a letter.  A hand written letter is a real rare commodity in these modern times that we live in.  The cool thing about writing a tangible letter is that you can scribble little drawings in there, tape cut-outs from magazines, add scents; whatever quirky little thing you like.  Those on the receiving end of the letter will be treated to a delightful surprise.  Don’t have anyone you want to send warm messages to?  Well, this is a splendid opportunity then to send some anonymous passive-aggressive tips to to a deserving foe, or even a fun ransom note.

Volunteer and spread cheer.

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Volunteering your time doesn’t have the same somber association that it once did.  Perceptions about what this means have shifted; it’s not about being ‘stuck doing something – just to be nice,’ as there are now tons of milieus to choose from.  A quick Google search will provide you with oodles of different types of activities in your area that you can engage in, from face painting for kids to planting trees to cleaning up a garden to helping people with their resumés.  Just pick something that speaks to you and have fun with it.  The people running these programs, as well as anyone who benefits from them, are typically so very grateful to have you there.  Bottom line, you’ll feel great about contributing; it’s a win-win.

Spend a day away from all forms of technology.

This may not sound like ‘fun’ to most people; it’s really more of a challenge for yourself.  If you really commit to this, and do not go near the likes of a phone, tablet, laptop or any other conveyance of contemporary, digital content, you will be amazed at what you find yourself up to.  Listening to vintage records (or that “Mmmbop” cassette single), reading that book you never got a chance to, pouring over old photo albums, exploring new parts of your world; the possibilities will soon reveal themselves to be endless.

Free wheelin’.

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Many people out there already have a preferred way of transporting themselves from place to place (via what is known as an ‘automobile,’ or in some colloquial circles, a ‘car’).  Did you know that you can travel on a self-propelled device that also has wheels?  It’s called a bicycle.  Get out there and do some cycling today – no matter the season (minus the 30 degree below weather days of January, naturally), a brisk bike ride is invigorating and helps you clear your mind – and, in staying with our free theme, doesn’t cost anything in gas!  Already an avid biker -or- just don’t have access to a bike?  Find some alternative wheels.  Rollerskates, blades and skateboards are readily at your disposal (if you don’t own already, just ask to borrow some – everybody’s got these things just collecting dust in their garages, attics or storage units).  Oh, just be sure to wear a helmet; you don’t want this free-fun activity turning into a costly E.R. trip.

Get cookin’.

Go through all the items in your refrigerator and find things that you never use (‘What is this wasabi infused, mesquite bbq sauce doing here?’) and some other items that don’t have such a long shelf life and will have to be thrown out soon.  Take said items, find a recipe that incorporates them and BAM!  Become Emeril or Rachel Ray – that part is totally up to you.

Purge!

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Getting rid of old stuff can help clear your closet as well as some much needed headspace.  It’s fun to go through these preterite things and reminisce about where they came from.  The best part about this task is when you put a magnanimous spin on it and donate the articles to a charity.  You’ll feel zen-like about having more room, a fresh start and the knowledge that you helped pay-it-forward to someone else.

Just say “Yes!”

…to free things.  The concept of having a day/night where you say “Yes” to every question posed to you (meaning ones that require an affirmative or negative response, not “Hey, what time is it?”) is not a new one.  There was a “Frankie and Grace” episode about this very subject this year.  The twist here is that you employ this mantra, but only in relation to things that do not cost a penny.  Depending on where you start off, this can lead you down some interesting/exotic/flat out weird paths, but hey, as Mao Zedong once famously said “YOLO!”

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-Joe Leone 

6 of the Worst Ways to Save

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Over the last year or so, we’ve offered up sundry tips on how to consistently and systematically save money.  However, there exists a litany of alternative methods that certain factions of people routinely employ in a hapless effort to hold on to their finances.  Let’s take a gander at some of the worst ways that people have dreamt up to “save,” and why you should avoid them like the bubonic plague.

“Everything’s fine!  Why would I need insurance?”

For the love of all that is holy, please do not adopt this attitude.  Be it home, auto or health, you need insurance.  All the money you could possibly save in your lifetime by not having insurance will still pale in comparison to the amount you would have to pay out of pocket in the event of an accident or unexpected serious condition.  Property and car insurance providers are well aware of this, and as a result must compete for your business by advertising/offering cost cutting incentives (why do you think Geico has over 100 mascots?)  Even the oft maligned ‘government’ is looking out for you in terms of reasonably affordable health insurance (Hello, Obamacare.)  Only when you’re insured, can you rest assured – or at least take a little nap.

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“Let’s buy in bulk! / Find the best deal!”

Shopping at the massive bulk item conglomerates can be quite cost effective when making purchases …if you actually use up all the items you buy.  For instance, “Octomom” could have benefited from a large supply of diapers.  You, on the other hand, may not need 200 Glade Plug-Ins.  While the individual costs of these items will be ostensibly inexpensive when you break them down, if you aren’t using the products up rapidly, then these giant quantities are effectively costing you cash.  Not to mention the annual fees that most of the wholesale clubs enforce.  Along the same lines, if you spend all day long scouring the internet for “super great deals,” you can often be tempted (and lured with clever advertising) to buy “cheap” things that you weren’t going to buy in the first place.  So great, you’ve just saved 40 cents on fabric softener with a discount code provided by a site, but you also just bought 78 dollars worth of Snuggies.

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“I see Golden Arches ahead!”

Truly, a “Dollar Value Menu” sounds like the epitome of savings/deliciousness, but if you trust your, ahem, gut, you know this is not a smart idea.  Yes, eating healthy can be costly, but ultimately it is worth it.  Scarfing down copious amounts of fast food will leave you feeling lethargic and susceptible to illness.  In the long term, doctor’s bills of any sort will always outweigh any savings you may have incurred from eating BK every day.  Repeat, do not have it your way.

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“Minimum payment: check!  I’m good to go!”

We’ve gone over a lot of the pros and cons of credit cards and how to avoid debt, but one thing is for certain; making only the minimum monthly payment on your cards is costing you a great deal.  As your balance surges higher and higher, the interest you owe also accumulates at this exponential rate, leaving you in quite the credit hole.  Try to pay as much as you can per month (unless, of course, you’ve got one of those nifty promotional cards with an APR of 0% for the first year, in which case, go buck wild.)

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“DIY, DIY, DIY!”

While some of you may love working with your hands, either digging around in a garden for weeds or popping Ikea furniture together, there is definitely a time and a place for home projects.  So let’s go over the times/places where you should NOT attempt to repair or construct things yourself (after a perfunctory Google or Bing instruction session that you deem totally adequate): fixing a hole in your steep angled roof, stopping that gas leak in your basement, putting out the fire billowing from your carburetor, building a guest-tree house for your brother-in-law to live in, capturing a rabid raccoon.  There are professionals in all these fields; if you value your safety in the least bit, please use them.  Even tasks that aren’t that dangerous can just be a colossal waste of your time.  You’ve been trying to grab it for the last three hours; you’re never going to reach that turtle your son flushed down the toilet.  Call a dang plumber immediately before you permanently lose your mind and end up in a mental hospital.

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“One day, this sparkly thing will be worth so much!”

Holding on to old diamond jewelry that you never wear anymore (or ever did, in the case of some dusty inherited pieces) is not smart.  Diamonds, and most jewelry items in general, do not appreciate in the same way that other commodities can.  If you have substantial diamonds of any nature (meaning 1 carat and larger), you should consider selling them now.  The money you make from them can then be used for something more profitable, such as a mutual fund or (a more spiritually profitable) trip to Paris or Mumbai.  Check out DiamondLighthouse.com.  We get our clients the best value for their diamond jewelry, every single time.  Find out how!

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-Joe Leone

How Much Should You Spend on Jewelry?

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The average U.S. household spends only $167 on jewelry per year, but that number varies greatly by region. The northeastern U.S., southern and central coastal California, and the east coast of Florida, for example, spend the most on jewelry per year, while the northwest region spends less than $50 annually per household.

The popular concept of smarter spending has a lot of people taking a closer look at how much they spend on everyday items, and jewelry is often an impulse buy. Self-help and finance blogs discuss budgeting and making realistic financial plans, which often results in cost-cutting or looking for ways to get some of your money back.

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But when you’re buying new jewelry, how much should you be willing to spend? What’s the price tag on feeling pretty or scoring a compliment from your moody boss? The obvious answer to this dilemma is: spend the amount that makes sense for you, whether that’s based on your region, your social circle, or your personal style. The decision, however, is more complicated than that, and probably varies with every piece you look at. It’s not easy to choose between shelling out more cash for nicer, longer lasting jewelry over less costly, trendier pieces. It’s hard to place a number on the value of the little boost in self-esteem you might get.

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Websites like Pinterest and Instructables make Do-It-Yourself a viable option for saving money on a lot of important items including jewelry, but there are certain pieces that are essentially impossible to DIY. And that’s one element of DIY that people often overlook before diving in to a project: the cost of the materials and tools, which is one part of what goes into jewelry-making. When you’re deciding how you want to better your budget, consider how original you would like your jewelry collection to be. If originality is important to you and you want handmade jewelry from an artist or smaller manufacturer on a site like etsy, plan to spend a little bit more than you might for a similar piece from a larger manufacturer, like Forever 21, who outsource their work and user cheaper materials specifically so they can offer their products at a low price point. Some smaller companies even begin to outsource once they gain popularity so they can manage the costs and offer their product to more customers, saving 400-500 percent by having someone else produce their designs.

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Choosing how much to spend on jewelry may also depend on the materials you are looking for. If you’re more concerned about the look than the actual material, sterling silver is a good substitute for silver and white gold, and purchasing gold-coated jewelry can save you a lot of money if you prefer the darker color. In addition, synthetic gemstones can be created to look like a natural gemstone, so if you are here because you are aiming to sell your diamonds, a man-made stone might be a great replacement.

Another consideration for choosing an amount to spend on jewelry is whether you value the experience of going into a physical store and trying on the jewelry or whether you are comfortable buying it online. Online stores are often cheaper, simply because renting a brick-and-mortar space is expensive for the business.

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If you are not looking for a specific piece, buying jewelry at an overstock or auction site can be a way to find great deals. Sale jewelry is typically marked down temporarily, while clearance and overstock jewelry are usually marked down because the manufacturer or retailer wants to make room for other products. Because there is an incentive to get rid of it, clearance and overstock jewelry can offer a steeper discount, but the selection may be limited.

One great rule of thumb for a jewelry purchase is the dollar-per-wear rule. To follow this rule, ask yourself how many times you anticipate wearing a particular piece, and if that number is the same as or lower than the price, then it is probably a good purchase. However you decide how much money to spend on jewelry, remember to make the choice for your own reasons, not someone else’s.

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Trick Yourself into Saving More Money

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While you may not have gotten a raise, you can still save more money if you introduce smart saving habits into your daily lifestyle. Being able to save really just means you take a closer look at the ways you manage and spend your money, then find avenues for putting cash away. Creating rules to follow and developing smart habits will change the way you think about your cash flow, and can be a great way to trick yourself into saving more money.

Use Cash

Striving to use only cash will cause you to force yourself to pay closer attention to how much money you really spend every time you go out, to the grocery store or clothes shopping. The trick is to put your plastic away so you feel like you don’t even have it to use. You may also want to consider removing your credit cards from easy pay and 1-Click settings from your online accounts to make it harder to make purchases. You might be surprised at how much less you want an item you see online when the added difficulty of typing in your 16-digit credit card number is in your way.

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Check Your Credit Card Statement Every Month

Your credit usage may have run away from you because you are like the thousands of other people who do not check their credit card statement every month. Looking at how much money you spend and the places you spend it is a good way to make yourself think about your choices in a more deliberate manner. Seeing that you spent $80 at the bar instead of the $40 you planned may shock you into being a little more careful next weekend, or realizing you spend half of your paycheck on new threads may encourage you to create a budget for your wardrobe.

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Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

Attorney Leslie Tayne who writes for Fox Businesses advises you wait five days before making a big purchase. While that hot tub sale is enticing, give yourself five days to ponder whether a hot tub purchase is really in line with saving for your kids’ college tuition. Thinking about what you want to buy is a great way to prevent yourself from spending too lavishly on items you don’t need. A bonus benefit of waiting to buy something is that it gives you a chance to find a better deal, whether you look online or in competitors’ stores.

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Ignore Extra Income

Even though your surprise income may look like it has “jet-ski” written all over it, try instead to imagine it saying “Save me!” and put it away into an account you don’t use immediately. Tayne advises that you only rely on the money you make regularly to make big purchases. That means you should take that big fat tax refund or even the $10 you found in the parking lot and put it toward debt or into a savings account. Extra income is anything outside of the realm of your weekly or monthly income, including cash you make from selling your unneeded wares, (like diamonds that you sell with us!) By putting that extra cash away, you’ll never be tempted to dump it down the drain on something you don’t need. The unexpected kind of money is best spent by not spending it at all.

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Automate Everything

Investopedia advises against taking care of your financial business on a day-by-day basis. Instead, get your employer to deposit portions of your paycheck not only into your checking account, but into your savings account and IRA as well. In addition, set up your credit cards to pay off the balance each month, not just the minimum. A penny paid off is a penny and a half earned in the credit world, because each time your balance equals zero, that means you don’t have to pay annoying off bank fees later in life.

Saving money is really just about changing the way you look at money. If you don’t let it burn a hole in your pocket and instead let it burn a hole in your debt or build your savings, you’ll be on your way to securing a bright financial future in no time.

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