Tag Archives: four c’s

Are you spending too much money on everyday things?

Valuable Tips for Cost-Cutting

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If saving money wasn’t such a challenge, everyone would do it – but why pay $10 for something you can get for $5? There are many easy ways to save money throughout the day if you are willing to commit to them. Below are a few things you may accidentally be overlooking when you think about trimming costs from your daily or monthly budget.

Coffee & Cigarettes

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Daily habits like coffee and cigarettes add up quickly, but they don’t have to. If you are like the average American worker, you could probably save about $15 every week, or over $1,000 per year, on the coffee purchased in chains and shops.  Make it at home; make a profit. If worries about your health haven’t made you stop smoking, the maybe worries about your wallet will. Pack-a-day smokers could save an average of $2,000 per year on cigarettes, and that’s money they could be putting away for travel or retirement. Cut back on coffee shop coffee consumption and quit smoking, and that’s $120,000 you’ve saved in 40 years.

Lunch

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If you work away from home, there is a good chance you buy café or restaurant lunch several days per week. Studies show the average American eats lunch out at least twice per week, and men spend on average $21 per lunch, while women spend $14. If you don’t want to lose your precious time out of the office, try choosing a less expensive restaurant, finding places with coupons, or nixing a side item, a drink, or both.

Buy Generic

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While generic products are not always a way to get more bang for your buck, some items, like cereal, may be better or just as good at a significantly lower price. DailyFinance.com advises buying store brand spices and seasonings in addition to cereal to shave off costs for food. Medications may be another avenue for saving money, but certain items like toilet paper and trash bags are not necessarily cost effective because their low quality will make you use them faster, therefore making you spend more to replace them.

Energy Habits in the Home

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While a long, luxurious shower may be your favorite way to start the day, you may be able to save quite a bit on energy costs if you cut your shower time shorter. Save the luxury shower for the beginning of a relaxing Saturday and expedite the process on the weekdays. Many high costs come from the air moving around in your house as well, so encourage your family or roommates to close the blinds in the daytime to keep the rooms from being heated up by the sun.

Entertainment & Travel

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Reconsidering how much you can spend on entertainment may be a great way to trim your budget, but that doesn’t mean you have to completely deprive yourself. If you love going to the movies, see a cheaper matinee, then spend the rest of your evening reading a book from the library instead of the bookstore. While your car isn’t entertainment, it does get you to and from the places you like to be entertained, so make sure you change the oil regularly and keep the tire pressure at appropriate levels.  These simple acts can keep you safer and help you save what could be hundreds of dollars per year in fuel costs. Another idea to keep yourself entertained is to try out free community events at various parks or the library.

Whatever your money-saving goals are, they require thought and dedication. Saving money feels good and helps you reach your financial goals for the future, and makes occasional splurges even more rewarding.

 

If you find that (despite your best efforts) you simply can’t save any money up, and you really would like to have some extra funds, consider selling any diamond jewelry you may have with Diamond Lighthouse.  We will get you the best price for your diamonds, every time, with our entirely unique, fair and transparent online auction platform.  Find out more!

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Beautiful Jewelry Terms

(starting with “B”)

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Bail – yes, this is indeed what you had to lay out for your incorrigible grandpa that time he got caught shoplifting at K-Mart, but it’s also a glorious jewelry-related homonym.  The bail is that little loop that gets fastened to the top of a gemstone or pendant or Olympic Gold Medal that enables it to hang (or “chill”) from a chain.

Bakelite – there won’t be a ton of plastic-based things on this list, but the once highly sought after Bakelite is definitely one of them.  While it sounds like it gets its name from being baked in an oven (with less calories than usual!), its nomenclature stems from its creator, Leo Bakeland (and yes, his name clearly sounds like a dough-based amusement park).  Bakelite was conceived by this fellow in 1909 and peaked in desirability during the not-so-roaring ’30’s (mostly for its affordability and highly durable nature), as it was used in a wide gamut of jewelry items.

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Bandeau – is a headband, but in French; hence it is fancy.  They first rose to popularity during the Middle Ages in Europe, where they were simply constructed of jewels strung together with ribbons, which were tightly yanked and secured on to these Middled Aged ladies’ foreheads.  Later they were crafted out of various metals and took on a more tiara-esque look.  They saw a significant surge during the 1920’s Art Deco era (the flappers sure loved them some bandeaus), and fairly recently as well, as poet laureate Paris Hilton has been frequently sighted donning one.

Basket Mount – why, this is one fancy gemstone setting that creates the illusion that the stone is set in a woven, wait for it…basket.  Guess an explanation of that wasn’t really necessary.

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Basse-Taille – those who are in favor of the process of “translucent enameling” are typically said to be ‘All about that Basse-Taille.’  This term, in French, means “shallow cut,” and this is a reference to how the metal here is treated.  The metal is etched into very deeply, so that when a nice shellack of enamel is applied, it dries in various hues.  These different colors draw attention to the minute contours of the overall design.  This technique can often been seen in jewelry items that feature intricate shapes, such as leaves, butterfly wings, flower petals and replicas of Donald Trump’s hair.

Bavette – Is this from Bavaria?  No, no Bavette.  Here’s another phrase from the land of fine wine and stinky cheese.  Bavette in French means “bib,” and is used to describe necklaces that are constructed of numerous strands of beads (usually pearls), of various lengths.  They form a beautiful bib-shape, and can be used to showcase your opulence out on the town – or simply as a way to keep bar-b-que sauce off your camisole.

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Bayadére – this is just twisted.  It’s a necklace formed from a multitude of strands of “seed” (aka: tiny) pearls.  The strands are twisted around and around, like a pair of earphones in bottom of the jostled purse of someone desperately running to catch a bus.

Belcher Ring – is not necessarily named after those with audible indigestion symptoms.  Legend has it that this style of ring was christened after infamous English bare-knuckle boxer, Jem Belcher, at the turn of the 19th century; whether he was gassy or not remains a mystery.  The ring features a stone that is set in place with prongs that are fashioned out of the original, core metal of the band.  Also of note, is the fact that the guy’s name was Jem.

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Belle Époque – the “beautiful era” in France (1901-1915).  This was known as the Edwardian period in nearby, contentious England; for the contemporary king, Edward (aka “Fast Eddie”).  The designs of this stylish epoch are quite flowery and flowing, consisting of many floral patterns, intertwined lace and billowing bows (just like Belle’s outfits in “Beauty and the Beast”).

Benoiton – surprisingly, this is not the precursor to the Benetton line of clothing.  It’s a weird thing that women put in their hair during the 1860’s.  It’s made up of a bunch of chains that come out of the hair (reminiscent of a lovely octopus or spider) and then clamp down into one’s dress.  These non-functional hair clips first came into the public eye onstage, in a play written by satirist Victorien Sardou: the farce “La Famille Benoiton.”  They fell out of favor when scores of people began injuring themselves while brushing their hair.

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Billet-Doux – this one is a touch scandalous.  A French expression connoting a “love letter,” the jewelry manifestation of this took its form in flower based pieces – that were given to clandestine lovers.  The type of flower used would indicate a specific message, for instance:  roses symbolized true love, daisies conveyed purity, gardenias meant secret love.  Taking things to a Da Vinci Code level of crypticness, certain gemstones would be used in pieces, and the first letter of each stone (ie – “C” in crystal) would be used to spell out a covert message.  For example, Labradorite, Opal and Lazulite (“LOL”).

Biscuit – a) the most delicious item on the menu at KFC, b) what you call your sweetie, c) the name given to the sumptuous ceramic, porcelain, when it has not yet been glazed.

Bloom Finish – this is a complicated process that utilizes a vast array of deadly chemicals (the charming hydrochloric acid, to name one) to remove the shiny surface from gold and essentially leave it looking softer and “pitted,” like a morose teenager’s face.

Diamond-Lighthouse-selling-gold-braceletBluite – now here’s some good marketing in action.  Manhattan based jewelry company Goldfarb & Friedberg conceived this term around 1922 to describe an 18k white gold compound they sold which, they purported, was the closest approximation to platinum ever created.  They found that “Bluite” sold far better than their previous product “Greenish Gold.”

Bombé – looking exactly how they sound, these jewelry pieces are the bomb.  They exhibit a curved, bulbous shape, like that of a little explosive device.  Most common in ring and earring design, these were a ‘hit’ during the greater part of the 20th century.

via Queensbee.ru
via Queensbee.ru

Brown Émail – before your imagination begins to run wild, know that “émail” is the French word for “enamel.”  So this simply refers to enamel that has that particular, earth toned hue.  Interesting to think that the French have been using email for hundreds of years (…don’t be jaloux, England.)

-Joe Leone

Amazing Tales of People Who Got Out of Debt

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It can happen to anyone.

Everything in your life is going fine.  Good, stable job, appropriately priced living space, transportation costs under control, etc.  Then, one day, something happens.  Either it is traumatic and crushing (like becoming unemployed), something joyous (you have a baby – or, twins!), or something of such apparent inconsequence that it barely registers on your radar (…a new credit card arrives in the mail).  Whether monumental or seemingly minimal, an event occurs that steers you off your straight and sensible economic track.  Before you know it, you’re swimming, nay, drowning in debt.  Now what?

While there appears to be an unlimited resource of online articles, instructions and advice on how to climb out of the debt abyss (Solving the Credit Card Debt Enigma, Facing The Final (Bankruptcy) Chapter: 7, Divorce Yourself from Financial Woes), it’s one thing to read about how to theoretically do it; it’s another to hear from people who actually have.  Here is an assemblage of brave souls who tackled their debt head on, and the specific methods they used to remove the money owing albatross from their backs for once and for all.

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You don’t have to get into Harvard to figure out that Harvard Business School isn’t cheap.  The businessinsider.com highlighted the intriguing circumstances of Joe Mihalic, a grad from said institution who left with an impressive diploma …and a student loan debt of $101,000.  After two years of making payments on this sizable loan, Joe wasn’t seeing any significant results ($22,000 paid back to the banks only saw an actual decrease of about $10,000 – because of the high interest fees).  He knew he had to makes some changes: “Joe took a two-pronged approach, decreasing his spending and increasing his revenue. He got a weekend gig as a pedicab driver, started a landscaping business with his friend, bought a flask to skimp on booze spending, got a roommate for his Austin home, temporarily stopped his 401(k) contributions, and did the usual lunch-eating, restaurant-skipping money-saving tricks. It worked. In under a year, he shaved off his entire debt-load.”

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In a story featured on time.com, Master Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps, Rachel Gause explained the tactics she was able to put into place to eliminate her debt (which totaled $179,625), and which allowed her to control her future expenditures.  Guase explained “I use the envelope system. Before I get paid, I do my budget. Then I have 13 envelopes—one for groceries, one for clothes and shoes, one for charity, one for dining out, one for gas, and so on. I go to the bank, take the money out, and divide it between the envelopes.  I don’t spend anything that doesn’t come out of those envelopes. Debit cards are nice, but swiping is less emotional. Cash makes me more aware of what I’m spending my money on. If I run out of money for something that month, I don’t buy it. But I’ve never run out of money for something important—now I’m more aware of how much I’m spending.”

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Even if you make a lot of money, you can owe a lot too.  After a decade of healthy spending, Travis Pizel and his wife Vonnie (both of whom have high paying jobs) had collectively racked up a credit card debt to the tune of $109,000, according to the Pizel blog Enemy of Debt.  They realized the best way to combat the intimidating figure was to find a debt management plan that worked for them.  By condensing all of their credit card payments into one figure of approximately $2,500 per month, and adhering to a strict budget, they found that the new order and structure made things easier for them.  With 100k in the books, they are on the fast track to becoming entirely debt free quite soon.

College tennis star Ja’Net Adams was doing very well for herself after graduation, as reported by forbes.com.  She lost her job, however, in the dark days of 2008.  Soon after she and her husband were facing the precipice of a  $50,000 financial chasm.  Ja’Net knew she needed to land another full time job, but also was wise enough to focus on supplemental income as well.  She explained “I started coaching private tennis lessons for $25 an hour, and my husband taught basketball lessons for four or five kids at a time, at $25 per child. This earned us $500 a week.  Then I sought out easy ways to help reduce our expenses, like downgrading to basic cable, scaling back on our cell phone plans, and being conscious of how wasteful habits—like failing to turn off the lights after leaving a room—affected our utility bills. These simple adjustments saved us hundreds each month.”

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Maureen Campaiola was able to devise a three year plan to eliminate $79,500 in credit card and student load debt, states wellkeptwallet.com.  Her inspiring story involved a rollercoaster of economic ups and downs, but ultimately she came away with some extremely helpful wisdom in the debt management forum.  Here are some of the unapologetic tips that she cultivated:

“Cut up your credit cards and don’t look back. You don’t need them and you don’t need the points.

Track your income and expenses religiously. Evaluate it regularly and make adjustments to your spending plan to meet the financial demands month to month.

Be willing to make sacrifices. If you’re not willing, you won’t be successful. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but it is the truth.

Ask yourself if you need something, BEFORE you make the purchase. If you can’t honestly answer yes to that question, don’t buy it.”

If you find yourself in debt, even if the figure isn’t as astoundingly high as some of ones just listed, there are clearly a variety of steps you can take to help yourself become fully debt-liberated.  Along with the helpful suggestions supplied by the people above,  another method to reduce debt is to sell off any unneeded valuable items in your possession.  If you have diamond jewelry that fits into that category, check out diamondlighthouse.com.  We help people find the very best prices for their diamond jewelry, every day.  Whether you have a one carat sized engagement ring, or a set of diamond earrings totaling 10 carats, we will find the best price for you.  As evidenced from many of the debt eliminating stories in this post, every little bit can help.  Find out more here.

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-Joe Leone 

How to Buy Jewelry: A Man’s Guide

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Uh-oh.  It’s time to buy her some sort of jewelry.  But…how??

The reason why buying jewelry can be such a daunting task is that you’re dealing with a potentially very expensive present, that could turn out to be disappointing and unappreciated.  Of course it’s the “thought that counts,” (…not sure how many ‘thoughts’ ever bought any dude points) but if you buy her something that she finds utterly repulsive, it sends the message that you not only have horrid taste, but that you don’t know her at all.

Not to fear!  We are here to help.

Do Some Detective Work

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Before you venture to the jewelry store, you need to do your homework (yes, homework stinks, but this assignment will be well worth it).  Scope out the pieces that she currently wears.  Notice any trends?  If all the items are refined and classy, with discretely mounted gems and sleek lines, then you should probably stay in this conservative direction.  If her baubles are boisterous and vibrant, with ginormous colored jewels and numerous layered textures, then it can’t hurt to keep driving right into Funkytown.  Also, her clothing can be another helpful clue, Sherlock Hotstuff.  If she always wears certain shades and tones, try to find jewelry that will work well with these.  Not sure what that means exactly?  Ask the salesperson!  They will be all too thrilled to explain complementary color matching and the like.  A final thing to take away from a light stalking of her jewelry box is the “what is missing?” element.  If she has, and loves, opal earrings and an opal pendant, perhaps she would simply adore an opal ring to complete the stunning set.  Yes, sir, the trifecta.

Get Smart

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Walking into a jewelry store with a “duh” look on your face really isn’t the impression you want to make.  Do a little internet research first; find out what the price of gold is that day, see which stores are offering what sales, even learn all about a diamond’s 4C’s.  As with everything in life, knowledge is power.  Should the sales clerk come off as snooty, you can hit them with some educated jewelry lingo of your own.  Most likely they will be nice (hello, they’re trying to make a sale), but when you are equipped with an arsenal of pertinent jewelry info, you can rest assured that you won’t be taken advantage of.   When ultimately presenting the gift to your honeybun, you can impress her with your vast knowledge of the jewelry’s specs as well.  This smoothly conveys that you really made an informed decision when picking out the precious piece for her.

The Ole Compare ’n Contrast

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Now that you’ve got a handle on what she would like to receive, and how that’s going to reflect on your bank account (be prepared for a bit of a “dip”), you can now get down to brass tacks and save yourself some dough.  If you know you’re getting her a 2 carat tourmaline ring set in platinum, you can see all the different places that offer that fella online.  Now the fun part: find the cheapest one!  (of course, be wary of hidden shipping fees, fine print, “no refund” clauses, etc.)  If you’re not a fan of the whole online shopping experience, make sure you get print outs of the best prices on the merchandise you want before entering a jewelry store.  If your local shop has the same item for a higher price, they may come down if you show them the hard evidence that you can procure it for cheaper elsewhere.  In general, national retailers can offer the best prices, because they buy in much larger quantities than smaller stores.  However, if you make it clear that you want to forge a long, jewelry-purchasing relationship with your local jeweler guy/gal, they may match the price to get the ball rolling.

The Price is Always Right

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The glorious thing about jewelry is that there are lovely looking pieces available in all price ranges.  If you live like a Wynn, snag some 5 carat diamonds and rubies to luxuriously bathe your loved one in.  If you live like M.C. Hammer, then a nice sized set of spinel, feldspar or coral earrings will certainly do the trick.  The point is that if you follow the simple steps outlined above, you’ll be able to find a beautiful present for your babe at  a price that’s appropriate for you and your rockstar (or CPA) lifestyle.

 

A final word: if you want to get your sugar bum a nice jewelry piece, but have literally NO funds available, think about selling any jewelry you may already have in your possession.   Got a fancy watch?  Perfect, sell that time tracking puppy.  A class ring with a sapphire stallion in the middle?  Great, ride that horse to some fast cash.  A 14 karat gold pinky ring from your days as a ruthlessly stylish mob boss?  Bid it arrivederci and collect some serious cashola.  Even if you do not don jewelry yourself (unlike, say, Rick Ross), you may have some sort of ‘family heirloom’ to hock to fund the endeavor, or maybe even an engagement ring leftover from that particular lady who wasn’t quite “the one.”  If it’s diamond based, send it over to Diamond Lighthouse.  We’ll find you a better price for your diamond jewelry than anywhere else on god’s green earth.  More info on that right here, Mr. Sweetums.

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-Joe Leone 

 

Diamond Engagement Ring Scams – and How to Avoid!

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So the time has come to make an honest woman (or man) out of your special someone.  What’s the next step?  Why, you need to purchase a gigantic (yet classy) diamond engagement ring to signal to the world “back off!” and to their friends “yup, that’s right, I am loved this much!”  Seems simple enough.  Now, just head to the local jewelry store (equipped with the 3 or 15 months worth of salary that you’ve been saving up) and snag a gorgeous, gleaming rock, slip it on your betrothed’s finger and then live sappily ever after.

But wait…could there be a flaw in your plan?   What if the jeweler…is trying to SCAM you??

Look, the people who sell fancy diamond jewelry, just like those who sell automobiles, buildings or scented candles, are trying to increase their profit margins.  If that means unloading a garbage stone on some sucker along the way, so be it.  Now, as far as you are concerned; don’t be that sucker!  Here are a few quintessential ways to avoid wasting your hard earned greenbacks and how to get the best lil’ diamond ring in the whole bunch!

If buying online, make sure they have a reasonable return policy (or any)  

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Here’s the potential problem with online purchases: the diamond engagement ring that you receive in the mail doesn’t look anything like the one in the picture (the ole “McDonald’s quarter pounder with cheese commercial” versus what that monstrosity looks like in real life paradox).  Even worse, if the actual stone specifications that they supply are entirely inaccurate.  Ok, time to send it back – but then you read the fine print and see that they either do not accept returns of any nature, or that they happily do, but charge a restocking fee for half the cost of the item.  Do your research first: if a company has these sketchy return policies in place, then it’s probably best to avoid their business altogether (they are clearly anticipating a lot of returns for their shoddy merchandise).  A regular, non-shady online company will often charge return shipping or insurance costs, that’s the norm.

The easiest way to see if an online jewelry company is reputable?  Why, by checking online, of course.  A quick Google search will reveal a lot about any business that may have struck your fancy.  Just trust the reviews and check if they’re registered with the BBB.

Like certain selfies, good lighting can totally trick you

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There’s a real simple method to see if the diamond ring you are about to purchase is really “as good as it looks.”  Just take it outside, into natural light.  Yes, some stores may frown upon (or send security after you) if you take unpaid-for-merchandise out into the street, but not just because they think you will pilfer said gem.  They have special lighting set up in their stores, to maximize the color and sparkle of the diamonds, and once that puppy sees the harsh light of day, then taddah! …it’s revealed to be utter trash.  They do this by expertly (and deviously) tinting the store lights blue – this makes a yellowish, corn kernel looking stone appear as if it’s a perfectly pristine white diamond.  If the salespeople won’t let you cavort around the great outdoors with the ring you’re interested in, take it to an area of the store with the ugliest lighting there is; that’s right, fluorescent (the bathroom is usually a good locale for this).  If the diamond still looks sparkly there, then you’re in business.

Don’t be fooled by the rocks they don’t got

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Here’s a very ancient and basic ruse some jewelers will employ: they will proudly display or verbally relate that a ring has a specific carat size “This beauty here is 2.5 carats!”, yet it will not look that large at all.  What is going on here?  Are they out right lying?  Well, yes and no.  With this ploy, they are telling you the total carat weight, not the size of the main diamond.  Meaning, the primary diamond may be .80 ct, and is surrounded by a double halo loaded with 1.70 carats worth of minuscule diamond pavé.  Pavé is French for “paved” or, in diamond circles, “le garbage.”  Similarly sized baby stones are also called diamond “meleé,” and you’ll feel like you’re in quite the melee as you fight with the jeweler over what is what.  You see, 1.70 in diamond pavé is worth diddly squat compared to a single 1.70 sized stone.  Ergo, make sure you always are provided with the precise carat weight of the main event stone.  In tandem with the rest of the stone’s other “C’s,” you can get a somewhat accurate estimate of what the diamond should be costing you in a retail setting (by cross-referencing with other stores and online).

Trick or Treatment: same thing

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“Treated” diamonds are, ironically, not treated all that nicely.  Jewelers and the like use the euphemism “clarity enhanced” to describe treated diamonds, but what this term really means is that the stone has undergone “laser drilling” to remove dark internal crud from it.  These unsightly blemishes are known as inclusions, and once you remove them in this manner the stone can become weaker.  Another form of treating is “fracture filling,” where preexisting cracks are made to look a little less prominent and ugly.  Yet another incarnation of treating is color irradiation, where the poor thing undergoes actual radiation to improve its color grade.  Overall, these abrasive treatments can hurt the sensitive little diamonds, leaving them susceptible to chips, cracks and, in some cases, emotional breakdowns further along the road.  So if you see a resplendent diamond ring (at a decent price), with the subtle disclaimer that it has been “clarity enhanced,” just stay away.  It could be a ticking time bomb, just waiting to implode one day on your lover’s precious finger.

50% OFF! …no, just, no 

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If a diamond is offered at a blaring “50% off,” then the smart money is on the fact that the initial price was blatantly overinflated (by, oh let’s say, half), and the “sale” figure is just a regular price.  This is just common sense.  If a diamond ring is truly provided at a significant sale price, it’s because something horrible has happened to it (a tiny crack has now spread, it was revealed to have been stolen from a highly publicized heist, etc.)  It may be fine to purchase, just don’t delude yourself that you’re getting a “deal.”

At the end of the day, not all jewelers are nefarious, scheming and avaricious louts.  Just be careful not to sink your savings into a diamond engagement ring being hocked by one of the sneaky ones.  Follow the tips above, trust your instincts and maybe, just maybe, you won’t get scammed like a total newb.  If, after reading all of this, you still end up falling prey to one of those dastardly devices…there’s a huge sale on a bridge in Brooklyn you may want to check out.

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-Joe Leone