Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Whiteflash Wedding

Dear Whiteflash.com Team,

Just wanted to say "thanks" again for the gorgeous ring! I finally got to see the finished product at our wedding and I was BLOWN away! I have attached a picture of the big reveal! Happy Holidays!

Is Tiffany's Really Worth the Money?

This is what $150,000.00 buys at Tiffany - But at Whiteflash its $80,000.00. Same quality and service with a lower price to pass along to the consumer. Make sure you do your research out there before buying for the brand name!

Women Want Those Diamond Studs

It is no surprise that diamond studs are among the top of the list of gifts that women would love to receive this Christmas. Classic and versatile are the season's buzz words, as we recall a day when well loved pieces were worn with style and grace.

Jewelry lovers are discovering the feel good nostalgia in traditional designs that befit any occasion. Indeed, for all of us, there is comfort in the enduring beauty of stunning gold or radiant gems. This is good news for the holiday buyer, who will easily find a glittering gift in our cases to delight the most fashion conscious loved one.

Diamonds are at the top of the list of forever in fashion gem, which is not surprising, because diamond studs are at the top of the wish list of women who are desiring taste and quality in their jewelry collections. Diamonds are mounted in gold or platinum, and are available in round, pear, heart and princess cuts, and in a variety of sizes to accommodate any budget. Diamond studs still leave room for individuality to meld with tradition.

They are versatile enough to go from breakfast to dinner, and diamond studs will never collect dust in your favorite lady's jewelry case. Looking for a stronger statement or a complement to last year's stud purchase, then check out the wide array of diamond bracelets that are now available on the market. They are accented with heart or flower motifs, bars, ridges, swirls or links, the diamonds in these bracelets can be prong or channel set or even accented with colored stones. You will be able to select some thing that is just right for your loved one, and be assured that the final product, whether it is contemporary or traditional will be a classic destined to brings years of joy to the wearer.

To adorn the neck, try a solitaire pendant that come in all sizes, which are perennial bestsellers. Alternatively, the inspiring and popular three stone pendant can represent the past, present, and future, and can be especially meaningful in a myriad ways from romantic to hopeful. A fashionable favorite, the three stone ring can complete the message.

As time honored as diamonds are, precious metals also has a rightful place in the traditional jewelry collection. Long a jewelry box staple, omega necklaces can offer casual elegance in either white or yellow gold. Gift givers will find an incredible value with the reversible omega, which will offer both options in one piece. They can come in widths from three to six millimeters and lengths up to eighteen inches.

Wearers can enjoy the traditional yellow gold look or flip the chain to reveal the more contemporary white gold. In all yellow gold metal, reversible omega is also available with more subtle satin and eye catching shiny finish on the opposing side. Whatever the choice is classic jewelry, it will remind us that some things are forever. What a beautiful sentiment to present to a loved one this season.

Diamond Engagement Rings: A History

Ever wondered how the diamond engagement ring became the superstar of the jewelry world?

The Jewelry Insider offers a brief history for your reading pleasure.'Tis the season to pop that fateful question fellas...

Because of their beauty, strength and durability, diamonds for centuries have symbolized the eternal love of two people that have pledged to join together in marriage.

The actual tradition of giving a diamond engagement ring as a promise of marriage is thought to have started in 1477, when Archduke Maximillian of Austria presented Mary of Burgundy with a diamond ring. This practice became a trend among royalty and the wealthy, and the rest of the world's upper classes began to embrace it over the next few centuries.

But giving a diamond engagement ring as a symbol of betrothal really started to become an established, widespread tradition once the gems became more accessible and affordable to the public. And that all started in 1870 with the discovery of diamond mines in South Africa. These new sources flooded the market and led to the creation of the De Beers conglomerate to control the worldwide diamond supply. During these early decades of the De Beers dynasty, diamond sales flourished in Europe, the United States and other key world markets.

By the late 1930s, however, the United States and much of Europe was in the wake of the Depression, and Europe was bracing for the start of World War II - and demand for diamonds had plummeted to an all-time low. Thus, De Beers diamond mogul Sir Ernest Oppenheimer sent his son Harry to New York to meet with the N.W Ayer advertising agency. The plan was to transform America's taste for small, low-quality stones into a true luxury market that would absorb the excess production of higher-quality gems no longer selling in Europe. The result of Ayer and young Oppenheimer's efforts was a campaign - led by the enduring "A Diamond is Forever" slogan - that helped turn the United States into the premier market for the world's supply of gem-quality diamonds. The successful campaign also cemented the diamond's status as the engagement ring stone of choice in America.

Here are some other interest historical facts related to the engagement ring:

  • The tradition of placing both the engagement ring and wedding band on the fourth finger of the left hand stems from a Greek belief that a certain vein in that finger, the vena amoris, runs directly to the heart.

  • In the Middle Ages, men often kept a betrothal ring suspended from the band of their hats, ready to give to their chosen maid.

  • Posy rings, which were inscribed with love poems and messages, were popular betrothal rings from the Middle Ages until Victorian times.

  • A popular engagement ring style during the Renaissance was called the "Gimmel," or twin, ring. The ring was typically made of two (or three) interlocking rings: one worn by the bride-to-be, and another by the groom-to-be (and sometimes a third worn by a witness). All three parts were reunited into one to become the wedding ring on the day of marriage. Martin Luther and Catherine Bora were wed with an inscribed gimmel ring in 1525.

  • The smallest engagement ring on record was given to two-year-old Prince Mary, daughter of Henry VIII, on the event of her betrothal to the infant Dauphin of France, son of King Francis I, in 1518. Mary's tiny gold ring was set with a diamond.

  • A diamond cluster ring in the shape of a long pointed oval was popular as an engagement ring during the time of Louis XVI (1754-1793), and remained fashionable for 150 years afterward.

  • Hearts were popular motifs for engagement and wedding rings during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Such rings often combined rubies (signifying love) and diamonds (signifying eternity).

  • Despite the diamond's growing hold on the bridal market, colored stone rings were still quite popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Often, the first letter of the stones within the setting spelled out the name of the giver or a word (for example, "dearest" would be represented by diamond, emerald, amethyst, ruby, epidote, sapphire and turquoise).

  • Queen Victoria's (1819-1901) engagement ring was in the form of a serpent. The snake motif was believed to be a symbol of good luck.

  • The Tiffany, or solitaire, setting was introduced in the late nineteenth century.

  • The "princess ring," a type of English engagement ring sporting three to five large diamonds in a row across the top, was popular in the United States in the early twentieth century. The three-stone style has enjoyed a major comeback recently.

  • In the early part of the twentieth century, platinum was the metal of choice for engagement rings because of its strength and durability in holding a diamond. However, platinum was declared a strategic metal during World War II, and its usage was restricted to military purposes. This led to the rise of both yellow and white gold in bridal jewelry.

  • The famous "A Diamond is Forever" campaign established many of today's standards for diamond engagement rings, including the "two months' salary" guideline - which basically says that a prospective groom should plan to spend two months' salary on an engagement ring for his bride-to-be.

Gisele, Brady Engaged? Pop Says "Nobody Told Me"

Tom Brady may be out for the rest of the football season, but he's officially found his Angel.
E! News has confirmed that the benched New England Patriot popped the question to supermodel girlfriend Gisele Bündchen and she accepted.

On Christmas Eve, the gorgeous exes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Bridget Moynahan (with whom the QB has a child) hopped on a private jet from New Jersey's Teterboro Airport to Boston. Also on board were four dozen white roses, champagne and the bride-to-be's parents.
Cue fantasies of a row of Victoria's Secret Angel bridesmaids and linebacker groomsmen.

Just days after the Internet was abuzz with the mile-high engagement of Gisele Bündchen and Tom Brady, it appears their families may have missed that memo.

The injured NFL quarterback's dad, Tom Brady Sr., told the Boston Globe, "We don't know a thing about it. Nobody told me. We talked to him and there's nothing to say. It's rumor, rumor, rumor."

The Brazilian bombshell's sister, Patricia, also shot down the possibly-pending nuptials, telling the Boston Herald it's "not true." Meanwhile, Gisele hasn't been seen sporting an engagement ring since the story broke.

Of course, the families could just be downplaying the story to allow the couple some private time to enjoy the special moment.

Engagement rings -- what you need to know

Yes, you read that right. It's been said that nearly 40 percent of all marriage proposals occur between Thanksgiving and Valentine's Day.

If you're one of the lucky ladies hoping for a ring this season (or one of the nervous gentlemen contemplating popping the question), use this guide to popular diamond shapes and cuts -- and the stars who sport them -- to get acquainted with the dazzling world of engagement rings.

No shape more aptly fits the diamond nickname "ice" than the emerald, a rectangular cut with lean facets extending down the sides. This elegant art deco shape received its confusing name during the 1920s, when it was typically used for emeralds.

Characterized by a flat top and step-shaped side facets, an emerald cut cries out for a clean setting.

Star Power: Eva Longoria, Ellen Pompeo, Melania Knauss

The Asschers of Amsterdam, gem cutters for the British royal family, designed this striking, dramatic shape in 1902. A square with diagonally cropped corners and stepped sides, it features a high crown and sheds a gentle light.

Star Power: Tameka Foster, Ashlee Simpson, Christine Costner

A square with curved sides and rounded corners, this stone shines softly instead of sparkling. Cushion-cut center stones surrounded by tiny diamonds are especially in vogue.

Star Power: Jeri Ryan, Courtney Ford, Guiliana DePandi

Think of this flirty, flashy option as the "Yeah, baby!" stone, and not only because it was dreamt up in London during the swinging sixties. The arrangement of the gem's many (49 to 144) facets produces a hall-of-mirrors effect.

Star Power: Stephanie March, Kara Janx, Sarah Michelle Gellar

Ovals have been enjoying a high profile since Tom Cruise placed a gorgeous one on Katie Holmes's finger. The cool cousin of the round, the oval shares many of that stone's features, with plenty of sparkle and versatility when it comes to settings. The long shape is especially flattering.

Star Power: Bridgette Wilson, Toni Braxton, Rebecca Romijn

Made to sit with the point facing up, this lusciously feminine (and unusual) cut frequently goes solo because few wedding bands fit easily beneath the large underside of this stone.

Star Power: Katherine Heigl, Lela Rochon, Tiffany Fallon

The name for this cut comes from 18th-century Versailles, where courtiers wore ship-shaped rings as a sign of their rank. Today the marquise can be worn lengthwise or sailing sideways across the finger.

Star Power: Catherine Zeta Jones, Victoria Beckham, Portia de Rossi

Created by Marcel Tolkowsky in 1919, the round diamond is the most popular shape for engagement rings. It's often called the round brilliant because it has triangular facets, arranged to direct light from the bottom of the stone up through the top for maximum sparkle.

Star Power: Katherine McPhee, Roselyn Sanchez, Mary J. Blige

This rectangular stone, introduced in the seventies, lives up to its name: By combining long, lean, step-cut and triangular facets, it refracts lots of light. So if you decide on this shape, keep the setting simple.

Star Power: Heidi Klum, Leslie Grossman, Anna Chlumsky

Most diamonds have a flat top with facets on the edges and bottom, but a rose-cut diamond is domed and covered with facets. Carat for carat, rose-cut diamonds, which cast a mellow, soft light, are typically less expensive than other shapes.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Jewelry is most common item reported missing or stolen from Hopkins

Next time you travel by air, whether it's now during the holidays, or maybe for a winter vacation, we can tell you the most important items you'll want to keep an eye on as you go through airports.

Channel 3's Dick Russ has an update on our first report about your property that ends up stolen, missing, or damaged, in our airports.

Brace yourself. The amount of property disappearing from passenger luggage may disturb you more than any rough landing.

Channel 3 News has learned nearly $57 million in personal property from passenger luggage has turned up broken, missing or stolen at airports nationwide. Much of that property disappears after entering secure areas of the airport.

For 7 months, Channel 3 News Investigators have been battling the Transportation Security Administration to obtain public records on passenger property.

We finally obtained an electronic database from TSA that contains about 3,000 pages of valuables that passengers reported missing or damaged.

Passengers are claiming all kinds of items have turned up missing from their checked and carry-on bags; things like medicines, laptops, DVD players, and jewelry.

Channel 3 News found the most common items missing or stolen nationwide were clothing, including belts and accessories. More than 5,900 items valued at $2.5 million.

Second on the list is more than $13 million of fine jewelry with 5,680 pieces missing. Digital cameras are third with more than 4,400 of them reported missing and stolen, carrying a value of nearly $3 million.

Nationwide, passengers have filed 76,000 claims in just 3 years. Marti Hallstrom of Wadsworth is among those who have accused TSA of stealing personal property at Cleveland Hopkins.

Marti inadvertently left her glasses, a watch and a special bracelet at a TSA checkpoint. Not to worry, TSA said she could pick them up when she flew back to Cleveland later the same day.
"The TSA officer confirmed that morning that he had all items and that he would lock them in the office," said Hallstrom.

But when she arrived back home, TSA returned only her glasses and watch. The multi-stone bracelet, a gift from her husband, was gone. She blames TSA.

"Someone from inside that locked office took that bracelet. There' no doubt in my mind," said Hallstrom.

Marti filed a claim and won. She's among nearly 600 passengers at Cleveland Hopkins alone who have filed claims in just 3 years for nearly $345,000 worth of personal property; that's an average loss of about $600.

By far the most common item reported stolen or missing at Hopkins was jewelry, more than $71,000 worth of merchandise.

Mike Young, the head of TSA locally, has a zero tolerance policy for theft. He admits it' tough to catch thieves red-handed, but they know if they are caught, they'll be fired.

Young hasn't disciplined anyone yet, but nationwide, 269 TSA employees have been fired for theft, including this federal baggage screener, who was caught on tape stealing cash and other valuables at JFK Airport in New York.

It's not only stolen items at airports, but damaged property as well. Luggage and laptops end up damaged the most, along with clothing.

At Hopkins Airport, there is about $30,000 worth of damage a year to those three items.
If your property has been damaged at an airport, or is missing or stolen, you will have to contact the Transportation Safety Administration and file a report.

A Glimpse of Diamond Ring Settings

Do you know what holds a diamond up? Diamond ring settings are the things that make your diamond stay well at the place. You must definitely express your love with the most excellent gift for your special someone even though it is a difficult job. So, if you plan to give your special someone a diamond, don’t forget to pick the perfect diamond ring settings since you can choose any kinds of diamond ring settings based on various personality.

So Many Options! It is believed that diamond ring settings are not many. You will only find the channel settings, prong settings, invisible settings, and bezel settings. All of them have their own plus and minus. So, if you plan to pick one out, it depends on the look you are searching.
One of the most famous diamond ring settings is the prong setting. This setting uses three to five prongs to hold the diamond on the ring. This setting is not only the most common setting, but also the most visible.

For those who want the diamond as the most essential part of the ring, an invisible diamond ring settings are great choice. An invisible setting looks as if the diamond is just floating above the ring, not really attached. But it can be guaranteed that the diamond is securely attached to the ring.

Another type of diamond ring settings is the channel setting. This channel setting is really popular for engagement rings. If you see the setting, you will think that the diamond is sitting in between two bands, or channels. This setting is the most popular one in engagement setting because you will not only find the diamond stand, but you can also add extra diamonds or other stones on the two channels.

Bezel settings are another beautiful setting of diamond ring settings that partially cover the diamond in the ring band. It is actually reminiscent of the stone setting of a class ring. It maintains the diamond in a low profile which can be a great choice for very-active person. It would be a shame for them to pick the wrong setting since they may lose the diamond because of an accident. So, the bezel setting will absolutely reduce the risk of any damage to the ring.

It is also important for you to recognize various types of diamond ring settings before starting to purchase any kinds of diamond. Recognize that some types that are considered as a modest diamond will seem more luxurious. So, before buying, look at many kinds of settings and choose the best one.

A Glimpse of Diamond Ring Settings

Do you know what holds a diamond up? Diamond ring settings are the things that make your diamond stay well at the place. You must definitely express your love with the most excellent gift for your special someone even though it is a difficult job. So, if you plan to give your special someone a diamond, don’t forget to pick the perfect diamond ring settings since you can choose any kinds of diamond ring settings based on various personality.

So Many Options! It is believed that diamond ring settings are not many. You will only find the channel settings, prong settings, invisible settings, and bezel settings. All of them have their own plus and minus. So, if you plan to pick one out, it depends on the look you are searching.

One of the most famous diamond ring settings is the prong setting. This setting uses three to five prongs to hold the diamond on the ring. This setting is not only the most common setting, but also the most visible.

For those who want the diamond as the most essential part of the ring, an invisible diamond ring settings are great choice. An invisible setting looks as if the diamond is just floating above the ring, not really attached. But it can be guaranteed that the diamond is securely attached to the ring.

Another type of diamond ring settings is the channel setting. This channel setting is really popular for engagement rings. If you see the setting, you will think that the diamond is sitting in between two bands, or channels. This setting is the most popular one in engagement setting because you will not only find the diamond stand, but you can also add extra diamonds or other stones on the two channels.

Bezel settings are another beautiful setting of diamond ring settings that partially cover the diamond in the ring band. It is actually reminiscent of the stone setting of a class ring. It maintains the diamond in a low profile which can be a great choice for very-active person. It would be a shame for them to pick the wrong setting since they may lose the diamond because of an accident. So, the bezel setting will absolutely reduce the risk of any damage to the ring.

It is also important for you to recognize various types of diamond ring settings before starting to purchase any kinds of diamond. Recognize that some types that are considered as a modest diamond will seem more luxurious. So, before buying, look at many kinds of settings and choose the best one.

Where stars go to propose marriage

Engagement ring season is in full swing, which, of course, means an influx proposals, but more importantly, tons of creative "will you marry me?" scenarios to top. Take a cue from these celebrities by jaunting off to memorable destinations for a proposal your partner won't forget (or turn down!).

St. Barts
On their first date, Billy Joel took Katie Lee out to dinner, but on that November 2002 evening she got much more than a scene from an Italian restaurant.

"Afterward he took me to see "Movin' Out" [the hit musical based on Joel's tunes], got onstage and sang the last two songs," recalls Lee, 23, who was visiting New York from Ohio and first met Joel, 55, in the lobby of the Peninsula Hotel, where both were staying. "I knew he was trying to impress me."

It must have worked; six months after that meeting she moved to Long Island, New York, to live with him, and in January 2004 he proposed on a trip to St. Barts. "He got down on his knee, and it was a complete surprise," Lee recalls. "That made me feel really special."

Though Scott Wolf, 35, of "Everwood," and Kelley Limp, 28, formerly of "Real World New Orleans," credit a friend with setting them up, in a way they can thank Oprah Winfrey.
"When I first called Kelley," says Wolf, "she said, 'I just sat down with strawberries and chocolate milk to watch "Oprah." '" Apparently it was not the best timing. "Nobody calls me at 4 o'clock," says Limp. "It's an unwritten rule that I'm watching "Oprah"."

So Wolf decided to catch the episode, and they discussed it afterward. The chatting continued over a dinner date at Raoul's in New York City. A year later, on a trip to St. Barts, Wolf took Limp boating and pulled into a cove for a sunset dinner, where he gave her a Bruce Winston (son of Harry Winston) 2.7-carat diamond ring. "I said yes, like, 15 times," says Limp.

New York City
It was Stephanie March's first and last blind date ever. After weeks of delays, March, then starring on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit", finally agreed to meet Food Network chef Bobby Flay for dinner at Nobu in New York. Within seconds of meeting Flay, her misgivings about blind dates were dispelled.

"I know it's a cliché, but I remember thinking, Oh my gosh, this is the rest of my life," says March. She was right: Just before Christmas 2003, Flay took March ice-skating at Rockefeller Center, where he surprised her with another kind of ice -- a princess-cut diamond ring -- and a proposal.

On the golf course during the 2001 British Open was probably the last place Tiger Woods, 28, expected to meet his future wife, Elin Nordegren, 24. The thunderbolt struck when fellow golfer Jesper Parnevik introduced Woods to Nordegren, who was then working as the Parneviks' nanny.

If his scores are any indication, Woods was more than a little distracted by the stunning Swedish former model. He lost the tournament but soon won her heart. And on a South African safari two years later, Woods proposed to Nordegren during a sunset stroll around the Shamwari Game Reserve.

Nantucket, Massachusetts
Devon Gummersall, 29, thought he'd blown it after a 1998 date with "Quarterlife's" Majandra Delfino, 27. "I showed up in this awful leather jacket, and Majandra was like, 'Who is this guy?'" recalls Gummersall, the former co-star of "My So-Called Life."

After losing the leather, he reconnected with Delfino at a concert five years later -- and didn't miss a beat. Soon, the future groom bought a garnet ring from the Beverly Hills Watch Co. and hid it for a scavenger hunt on a Nantucket, Massachusetts, beach.

Says Delfino, "I dug up this white box, all sandy, and opened it. Devon said, 'Do you know what this means?'" Delfino definitely did.

New Zealand
The romance that blossomed between "Two and a Half Men's" Melanie Lynskey, 30, and Jimmi Simpson, 31, star of "The Farnsworth Invention" on Broadway, surprised them both. The pair, who had become friends while co-starring in a Stephen King miniseries in 2000, were sharing a taxi when "good night" turned into a good-night smooch.

"We kissed each other unexpectedly!" says Lynskey of the moment. "Once that happened, I was head over heels for him."

Simpson chose a moonlit moment on the deck of Lynskey's family beach house in New Zealand in 2005 to get down on one knee. "He opened the ring box," she recalls, "but then he set it on the table. I was like, 'Can I try that on?'"

Six months after Matthew Perry introduced them at a 2004 barbecue, actor Jonathan Silverman, 41, proposed to "Close to Home" actress Jennifer Finnigan, 28, in a New Zealand rain forest.

Channing Tatum surprised his "Step Up" costar Jenna Dewan with a weekend proposal in Maui in September 2007. Tatum arranged to have close friends of the couple fly in for the festivities.

When commissioning an engagement ring for his girlfriend Heidi Klum, Seal had one key word for New York City jeweler Lorraine Schwartz: canary. Schwartz's sister delivered the 10-carat yellow diamond stunner to Whistler, British Columbia, where Seal proposed to Klum on a glacier -- with the sunny piece of ice.

In May 2004 Jason Priestley arranged a trip to London, England, -- to the very street corner where he and girlfriend Naomi Lowde first met. Once there, Priestley presented Lowde with an emerald-cut, three-diamond ring by Steven Pomerantz. "It became evident that my life was better with Naomi in it," says Priestley.

In the summer of 2006, after 3 years of dating, "Superman Return" star Brandon Routh purchased the 3-carat diamond ring that had caught girlfriend Courtney Ford's eye during an earlier visit to Beverly Hills jeweler Neil Lane.

But since the two were traveling for the "Superman Returns" press tour, Routh asked Gilbert Adler, one of the film's producers, to hold the ring until they arrived in England. "Poor man!" says Routh. "He carried it around for two and a half weeks." Finally, while picnicking in Glastonbury, England, Routh popped the question.

One year after Avril Lavigne and Dereyck Whibley's friendship turned romantic, Whibley, 26, proposed with a 5-carat diamond solitaire after a picnic and gondola ride in Venice, Italy. It was something of a shock for the bride-to-be. "I might look like a tough chick -- and I am," Lavigne once said, "but I'm a hopeless romantic inside."

Puerto Rico
Just two days before Christmas 2007, under a full moon at midnight in a bay off the coast of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, Roselyn Sanchez and Eric Winter were seated in a double kayak, taking in the bioluminescent organisms shimmering in the water all alone, except for a tour guide in a second kayak.

After giving an "amazing speech," Winter pulled out a 4.3-carat brilliant-cut diamond ring by Michael Barin, Sánchez's favorite jeweler.

"I can't remember the exact day I knew she was the one; I remember it was an accumulation of what she's about, where she came from, and her family," says tennis star Pete Sampras of his bride, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras. After nine months of dating, Sampras proposed to Wilson at his Los Angeles, California, home with a platinum ring with oval-shaped diamond from Cartier.
The romance between Noah Wyle, 29, and Tracy Warbin, 31, a movie makeup artist, was born on the frigid Maine set of the 1997 film "The Myth of Fingerprints."

Recalls Warbin, "At the end of one shoot, there was a huge snowball fight. Noah pushed my face into a snowbank. It really, really hurt! I knew then that he liked me, because it was so kindergarten-y."

Wyle concurs: "It's a technique I learned in grade school, and it's worked for me ever since." Three years later, on Valentine's Day 1999, at a picnic for two on the couple's Santa Ynez, California, ranch, Wyle got down on one knee to propose, a marquise-cut diamond ring in hand.

In February 2005 Christina Aguilera and her beau, Jordan Bratman, went on a Valentine's Day getaway to Carmel, California, where Bratman proposed with a five-carat diamond-and-platinum ring by Stephen Webster. Eight months later, the pair -- who share a love of the wine country -- wed in Napa Valley.

How to Choose the Perfect Ring for Him and Her

Don’t wait until the last minute to buy your wedding rings and don’t buy the first rings you see. You’re going to be wearing these bands for a lifetime, so take the time to find rings you love today and will still love when you celebrate your 25th wedding anniversary. If you’ve fallen in love with the idea of platinum wedding rings but you can’t make a commitment because of the higher price, opt for white gold, which looks very similar. Platinum costs roughly three times more than white gold. If you’re allergic to most metals, platinum or purer gold like 18K is less likely to cause a reaction. But rarely do we see a case of true metal allergy. Usually irritation is caused by soap that gets trapped under the ring.

Ideally, you’ll never take off your wedding ring, so it needs to be sized just right. Too small and it will get too tight when your hand swells, too big and it might slip off when your hand gets cold. Have your ring sized when you’re calm and your body temperature is normal.

Many couples buy a matched set of wedding bands, and they’re often more affordable that way, but there’s no rule that says your rings must be the same. If your husband-to-be wants a wide, solid-metal band and you want a dainty ring of diamonds, then you should each have what you love. After all, you’ll be wearing this ring every day for the rest of your life.

If you’re having something engraved inside your wedding rings, don’t assume that it can be taken care of while you wait. Some stores do it on premises and it only takes a day or two, but others may send it out to be done which will take longer.

Diamond Jewelry Gifts Go Back to Basics

It’s that time of year again – and, guys, the Whiteflash knows how you feel. You’ve been thinking about what to get her for weeks now - putting it off until somehow the gift-giving gods provided some kind of divine inspiration. But now it’s crunch time, and you’ve got, well, a whole lot of nothing. Am I right?

The good news is: there’s still time. And the better news? We have the perfect gift idea that will wow her without breaking the bank. Diamonds.

Why spend money on meaningless cardigans, boring bathrobes and sad-sack sock sets when you can consolidate your list into one shining gift that she’ll treasure forever?

According to the Diamond Information Center’s Sally Morrison, diamond jewelry is experiencing a return to basics this holiday season. Staples like diamond studs are a surefire winner. Three-stone jewelry and right hand rings are also popular choices. And while interest rates may be lowering (along with the stock market and our 401k balances), there’s no denying that love will never go out of fashion. In other words – pop the question fellas. There’s no time like the present!

Ms. Morrison also points out that price points for all of these jewelry categories are far from frightening – and I couldn’t agree more.

Beautiful Diamond Studs

And how about this three-stone diamond dazzler for just a bit more?

And what better way to get rid of those butterflies than to get on bended knee with this stunning diamond bridal set.

So take your finger off the panic button, gentlemen, and let one little box do all the talking this holiday season. ‘Less is more’ never looked this good.

850-pound emerald at center of dispute

An 850-pound emerald said to be worth as much as $370 million is in the hands of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department while a court decides who really owns it, a spokesman for the sheriff said.

The "Bahia Emerald" -- one of the largest ever found -- was reported stolen in September from a secured vault in South El Monte in Los Angeles County. The report was made by someone who claimed to own the giant gemstone, Los Angeles Sheriff's Lt. Thomas Grubb said.
Federal court papers showed the emerald has been at the center of a dispute between a California man who claimed ownership, a company he contracted with to sell it, and a potential buyer.

Detective work traced the Brazilian stone to a Las Vegas, Nevada, warehouse, where the person in possession claimed to be the rightful owner, Grubb said.

A federal judge ordered the sheriff to hold the 180,000-carat emerald until he can sort the case out, Grubb said.

Investigators suspect someone used falsified papers to remove the stone from the secured vault in California, although no criminal charges have been filed, Grubb said.

While Grubb said it was his understanding the stone had been appraised at $370 million, the value is unclear.

The company hired by the owner to sell it said in court papers it had received a $19 million offer, which the company wanted to accept.

It alleged the gemstone's owner then tried to go around the broker to sell the emerald to the same buyer for $75 million.

At one point, the emerald was listed for sale on eBay for a "buy it now" price of $75 million.

Diamond Christmas Tree

When it comes to holiday decorations, holiday movies are quick to show how competitive rivals can get to create the biggest, brightest, and most outlandish decorations. For the past two years people have been taking Christmas trees to new heights. While in 2006 a 21karat gold tree was made by Japanese jeweler Ginza Tanaka that sold for $850,000, the tree that takes the cake is bigger and better. Last year, Soo Kee Jewelry of Singapore commissioned what was at the time the world’s most expensive Christmas tree. The tree was almost twenty feet tall and weighed over seven thousand pounds. It was adorned with almost four thousand crystal beads and was decorated with almost five hundred lights, yet none of these things are what made the tree so expensive. That factor was based on the fact that the tree was encrusted with just short of twenty two thousand diamonds, totaling nine hundred and thirteen carats. With a value of $1,005,000, this was one tree that literally looked like a million bucks.

The record for most expensive tree was broken later last year, and the new record holder measures in at a mere sixteen inches tall. This tree is made of a small tower of preserved miniature roses and contains four hundred and eight diamonds with a weight of one hundred carats and a red teddy bear with a diamond pendant. The store selling the tree notes that “the smaller diamonds sparkle charmingly like morning dew on petals while two-carat and three-carat pieces mesmerize admirers with their noble glow.” It is intended to fit atop a desk, and only one such tree was made and offered for sale. The tree is offered for a staggering one million eight hundred thousand dollars by the Chinese department store chain Takashimaya.

This year’s most expensive tree is on display at the Ginza Tanaka jewelry store in Shinsaibashi, Osaka, Japan. Weighing in at only 21 kilograms, this gold tree contains over 240 jewels, including numerous diamond baubles. The tree is decorated with strands of pearls and has a value of roughly one and a half million dollars.

In addition to diamond studded Christmas trees, high end makers have also pushed limits when creating ornaments. German maker Krebs Glas created the world’s most expensive Christmas ornament. Made of finely sculpted 12 carat solid gold and encrusted with 120 VS1 diamonds with a combined weight of 5.1 carats, this ornamentation surrounds a beautiful red glass ball. The ornament has an estimated retail value of thirty one thousand four hundred dollars.

These trees and decorations are part of a larger trend of encrusting even the most common items with diamonds. From computers to cell phones and even coffee makers, there is a rapidly growing trend that if an item can be encrusted in diamonds it will be. Aimed at a small and unique group of people, these items are typically sold as one of a kind or limited edition gifts.
Diamond encrusted items are nothing new, as many antique items have been sold at auction that are encrusted in diamonds as well. It seems to be a trend that waxes and wanes in popularity. In a time where the economy seems unsuited for such items, diamond sales remain steady. A recent auction at the famed Christie’s auction house brought in over twenty four million dollars for the famed Wittelsbach diamond, passed down through royal lineage from the seventeenth to twentieth centuries.

It is certain that these items are not for everyone, but there is certainly a market for them. There are actually a large number of people interested in diamond encrusted tech items and toys as well as decorative items. Because most of the pieces are produced in such limited editions, they are considered to be an investment as well as a usable product, and the value of these items is expected to rise significantly over time. When considering what a vintage video game system can sell for these days, it is hard to imagine how the value would have increased if the maker had issued a small number of jewel encrusted models.

In short, diamond covered Christmas trees, while highly unique, are nothing new. Many people enjoy seeing the new trees that come out every year, and it is stunning to learn the amount of hard work that goes into producing these decorations. People flock from all over the world to get a good look at the trees, which are only on display for a short time every year. While this year’s trees are quite astounding, there is little doubt that many people are already excitedly planning next year’s trees. There is also very little doubt that an even larger number of people are waiting anxiously to see them.

Monday, December 22, 2008


Online shopping, or shopping over the internet has become very popular these days. It has become a commonplace for shopping. But is it really safe to buy expensive things online or over the web? Let’s consider buying online jewelry.

There are huge numbers of online jewelry stores or outlets nowadays and more and more spring up every day. Some are online outlets for major high street jewelry retailers, others are sole traders selling their own jewelry online and yet others, concentrate on finding high quality, unusual fine jewelry pieces and offering them online at affordable prices.

With so many options for buying jewelry online, it is obvious that many people do. So why do they?

Extensive Choice - Firstly, online jewelry retailers are able to offer significantly wider range of items than a physical retailer because there are no space constraints. Online retailers can offer as many items for sale as they wish, as long as the customer can navigate easily through the website! Buying online maximises your chances of finding perfect hard-to-find pieces of platinum jewelry.

Information - Buying jewelry can be a nerve racking experience, especially for special occasion, big ticket items, such as engagement rings. Information is everywhere online and all reputable fine jewelers will be happy to help, many offering pages of jewelry FAQs on their webpages.

Some important points that you should know when you are planning to spend a lot of money!

Cost - Quiet self explanatory! Lower (negligible!) overhead costs makes buying anything online cheaper than buying from a high street store. This means that you get more for your money. Choose either huge savings off high street prices or buy a better piece than you could have afforded form the high street.

In other words, When you buy jewelry online, you can afford better quality jewelry - especially important for those once in a lifetime, big ticket items, such as a diamond engagement ring, Gemstones jewelry.

Convenience - Online shopping can be done according to your own comfort and any time day or night and from any place.Obviously important for people who do'nt get time to go to the shops!

Reputation - No one wants to buy from a disreputable source and this is even more important online. Major online sites use feedback ratings from previous buyers which is very helpful for your buying decision. Selecting jewelry auctions from sellers with positive feedback scores close to 100% will give you a lot of confidence that the retailer is genuine and can be trusted when deciding where to buy jewelry.

Payment - Always pay using a safe payment system, such as PayPal, or with a credit card for maximum buyer protection. Genuine retailers will want you to do this in any case. If the seller seems reluctant, click away from the page!

Buying jewelry online gives you a wider choice of jewelry, easy access to the information you need, is convenient, more affordable and just as safe as buying in a high street store. Provided you choose your retailer wisely, you will not regret it. It is safe to buy expensive items, like jewelry online, and the cost savings can be huge! So, Why not join the growing numbers of people who benefit by buying fine jewelry online?

Engagement Rings for a Blue Christmas

According to TheKnot.com, 40 percent of engagements occur between November through February and retailers know that one item that remains popular through the shopping season is engagement rings.

“The trend is leaning towards non-diamond ring styles.” Traci Anderson a sales representative at Whiteflash.com noticed the rise in alternative stones lately and wondered if it was due to the economic climate or just the holidays.

Auction Records for non-diamond engagement rings are a bright spot for Christie’s:
“People want to buy rarity and value. They want diamonds and color gemstones that are not easy to replace,” said Rahul Kadakia, head of Christie’s North America jewelry department. He remarked about a recent sale of a cushion-shaped “blue velvet” sapphire. The 42.28 carat, rare color ring sold at nearly $3.5 million.

Andy Cohen, a trader in Geneva, mentioned that the sapphire set a world record as world markets have fallen. “In this market there is interest in things that are truly rare and irreplaceable,” Cohen had said to Reuters.

That interest can also be found in the retail jewelry market when people are looking for true value.

However, another way to retain value and keep the surprise factor up is to find a unique piece. And a blue sapphire set engagement ring is definitely different.

The Natural Sapphire Company says 80% of their sales are for sapphire engagement rings. “Sales have been up all year, mainly due to the rise in popularity for non-diamond engagement rings. Since Princess Diana chose a sapphire engagement ring, it’s become a growing trend.”

Then again there are the ultra rich, who too are considering blue diamond engagement rings. On December 10, 2008 Christie’s set a new world record for the highest price ever for a diamond. The Wittelsbach Diamond, a 35.56-carat cushion-shaped gem, often compared to the Hope Diamond, sold for $24.3 million US.

The rare gem was snapped up by billionaire diamond-dealer Laurence Graff, Christie’s spokeswoman Alexandra Kindermann said.

Blue is the color for the new year.

Most Wanted Hunk Johnny Depp Buys Engagement Ring For GF Vanessa Paradis

Johnny Depp has reportedly bought an engagement ring for partner Vanessa Paradis.

The 'Pirates of the Caribbean' star asked a high-end California jewellery store to close to the public so he could privately choose a ring for Vanessa, who he has been dating for 10 years.

A source told America's OK! magazine: "This was Johnny's third or fourth visit to the store.

"He looked at an assortment of classic solitaire diamond rings in platinum settings - a really beautiful selection of elegant and understated rings and made a very large purchase."

Johnny - who has two children, Lily Rose, nine and Jack, six, with Vanessa - has previously insisted he and the French star have no desire to marry.

The 45-year-old actor once claimed: "I don't feel like I need a piece of paper that says I own her and she owns me."

Vanessa, 35, recently said she already feels married and has no need to take her relationship further.

She said: "I love the romance of 'Let's get married' but then when you have it so perfect. I mean, I'm more married than anybody can be - we have two kids. Maybe one day, but it's something I can really do without."

Time to Design an Engagement Ring? A Look at Custom Engagement Rings.

When you walk into a jewelry store you are going to see a whole bunch of diamond rings in their showcases. They will range in diamond size, type of metal used and of course price. But don't think that you are only limited to the engagement rings they have on display. You can easily mix and match what you see and design the engagement ring to fit what you are looking for.

For example, maybe you see a ring that has the perfect band you are looking for. It is the style you are looking for but the diamond is too big and out of your price range. Not to worry - you can easily ask for a diamond within your budget to be mounted to that particular band.

I always recommend buying your diamond "loose" and not purchasing pre-set rings (where the diamond is already mounted). This way you can see the diamond from all angles and properly inspect it. Also, you open up a lot larger selection of diamonds course way. The diamond is obviously the most expensive part of the ring so you want to make sure you have some choices to choose from.

If you aren't able to find the exact setting or band you are looking for, there are many jewelers that will offer custom made rings. If you can't find the setting you are looking for from what is in stock (also search the internet), than having it custom made course best option. The jeweler can show you a sketch of the ring based on what you tell them. Also, many jewelers will design the ring using a computer program and then send you the computer image for your approval.

Having a ring custom made actually isn't as expensive as you might expect. There is a slight increase in cost because of the labor involved, but the main portion of your price will come from the materials and metals used.

The best way to keep costs down is to learn how to save yourself money on the diamond you end up buying. Go to Whiteflash.com and have a look at the Diamond Buying guide and education material. You can literally save thousands from the information put together. Hopefully it helps you out.

I talk to a lot of clients who are stressed out from shopping for an engagement ring. I always remind them of how special of a time it animal behavior school that it should be fun - not stressful! Remember - the engagement ring is really only two things - a setting and a diamond. You just need to know what you want in those two categories and you are ready to go hunting.

Study finds that for gift-giving, it is the thought that counts

Most everyone knows the lesson of love and sacrifice told in “The Gift of the Magi.”

An impoverished young husband sells his treasured pocket watch to buy his wife a comb for her luxuriant hair. She shears off and sells her hair to buy him a gold chain for his watch.

But new research — sure to come as glad tidings to cash-strapped shoppers in these rotten economic times — indicates they probably could have gotten each other a coffee pot.

When it comes to appreciating a gift, a psychological study at Stanford University bears out what Mama always said and cheapskates love to hear:

It’s the thought, not price, that matters.

“In a holiday setting, you can imagine how people are really worried about disappointing those they care about — getting them something they really want, something that costs a bit more,” psychologist Francis Flynn said. “That is not going to make them happier. People are going to be delighted, not disappointed, in the gifts they get.”

OK, a caveat. It isn’t that easy. Women shopping for boyfriends might first want to read

Experiment No. 5.

Experiment No. 1: Give me a ring sometime

At Stanford, Flynn and his graduate student co-author, Gabrielle Adams, wrote up three experiments on gift appreciation in the November online version of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

In the first, they looked at engagement rings. They recruited 33 men and women who were engaged but not to each other.

The women rated their appreciation for their rings. The men were asked how pleased they thought their fiancées were with their rings. The buyers of really costly rings expected the women to be really excited.

Bummer. Their ladies rated their level of appreciation no higher than those getting cheaper stones.

“The funny thing is, you can put either a positive or negative spin on this,” Flynn said. “The negative explanation is that the women who received the expensive rings didn’t appreciate them. The positive interpretation is that the other women were just as appreciative of the smaller gifts.”

Experiment No. 2: Thanks for nothing

Then came the 237 people surveyed about a birthday gift they’d either recently given or received.

Again they ranked their appreciation for items ranging from CDs to wine to expensive jewelry. Givers consistently expected more expensive presents to garner more appreciation.
Nope. They were appreciated, but so were smaller gifts.

Experiment No. 3: Appease in the iPods

In Stanford’s “iPod” study, 197 subjects had to imagine a hypothetical scenario.
Half were to think they were attending a high school graduation and, as the gift-givers, were giving someone either a CD or an iPod.

The other half were to imagine they were the grads and gift-getters.
Again, the imaginary iPod was expected to be the hotter gift. Again, it came out nearly even with the much cheaper CD.

Flynn said: “I think there is a simple upshot: Spend less money on gifts. Much more can come from a small thoughtful gesture than a large price tag.”

Experiment No. 4: This doesn’t quite fit

Don’t choose too poorly, warned researcher Janetta Lun, a psychologist at the University of Virginia.

She was one of the authors on a study titled “The Gift of Similarity: How Good and Bad Gifts Influence Relationships” in September’s Social Cognition.

They partnered 31 male and 31 female undergraduate students who were strangers to each other and asked them to chitchat for about four minutes.

Monday, December 15, 2008

How Diamonds Are Made!


This is a great video that came on the Discovery Channel...very informative and interesting!

The Million Dollar Ring

J Lo’s 6.1 carat pink diamond engagement ring from Ben Affleck was worth $1.2 million dollars. It made headlines, but didn’t make her his wife. Soon thereafter, she weds Marc Anthony whom doesn’t even give her a ring. Apparently, “Love Don’t Cost a Thing.” A year later, he does get her a 14.5 carat, brilliant cut diamond ring on a platinum band, valued at more than $5 million dollars. So, I guess love does cost a Pink diamond? Good call Ben. How'd that work out for ya?

Don’t fret though fellas…even if you can’t drop down that million or two on a ring, here are a few tips on how to shop for the perfect engagement ring.

Set a budgetAccording to theweddingreport.com, the average amount spent on an engagement ring is $4,322. So, throw that “three-month’s-salary-common-rule-of-thumb” out the window! Accept your limitations. Let quality and value be the basis for your decision making, not the dollar amount.

Consider the four C’s: clarity, color, carat, and cut.The 4 C’s are either a man’s best or worst friend. The best value in clarity is a diamond with no inclusions, other minerals stuck inside the stone visible to the naked eye. A colorless or near colorless diamond also adds value to your ring, unless of course you’re going for another gemstone (like a sapphire) or a colored diamond. The third “C” is for carat weight. Although a larger stone is nice, bigger doesn’t necessarily make it better. An inclusion-free, colorless, large carat stone loses its brilliance and sparkle depending on the cut. There are several cuts to choose from: princess, emerald, round, and pear to name a few. Every woman will have their preference.

Know your diamonds!

Once you’ve chosen a rock, you’ll have to do a bit of research.Study the current jewelry style she wears; classic, fancy, antique, modern? Does she prefer white or yellow gold or maybe platinum? She may need a cathedral or contour setting (which means the diamond is set into the band) if she’s more active with her hands. A raised setting, works well for women that don’t have to worry about snagging their clothing, etc. Ask her friends if she’s pointed out anything specific and make them promise not to spill the beans!

Or, you can also simply ask her. Today, many couples are looking for rings together, which is an enjoyable and error proof route for you! In any case, stay within your budget, use the four C’s, consider her personal style, and you will have a fabulous ring to propose with!

Let me just say, that with the candlelight low, a bottle of bubbly, gazing into each other’s eyes, as you get down on one knee - she’ll probably say “Yes” before you bring out that little box. And whether it’s a 1 carat or a 14.5-carat ring, I guarantee, she’ll wear it like it’s worth a million bucks.

David Cook Rumored to Propose to Kimberly Caldwell

Dating Kimberly Caldwell for nearly seven months, David Cook reportedly is planning to propose to her during the holidays. The "American Idol" winner is claimed to have been looking for the perfect ring to be given to his leading lady.

Per Star magazine, David is keen to present Kimberly with an extravagant 2-carat diamond and platinum ring from Tiffany's when he pops the question. The gem, still according to Star, costs $54,000.

"He's not used to spending that kind of money on jewelry, so he needs to give it some thought," so read a quote in this week's issue of Star. At press time, there hasn't any comment from David, Kimberly, or their people concerning the engagement report.

David Cook is recognized as the winner of the 7th season of hit singing competition "American Idol." Before dating Kimberly Caldwell in May this year, he had no hesitation to make public his love for the former "Idol" contestant, asking her to go out on a date on the TV Guide Network.

"I'm just excited because I finally get to talk to you," he told her during an interview on the Idol Tonight show in late May. "I've been hearing you say all these nice things about me all season, So I'm actually going to ask you to dinner right now."

10 things to know before buying an engagement ring

Blame it on all the family gatherings, the mistletoe, or even the champagne, but it's no secret that the holiday season is prime time for popping the question.

If you're one of the thousands planning (or hoping for) a proposal in the near future, don't head to the jeweler shopping without reading these top 10 engagement ring buying tips.

1. Skip the solitaire

There's more than one way to wear a carat of diamonds on your finger. A ring with a classic solitaire at this weight will generally cost thousands. But a band covered with tiny pavé diamonds that add up to just under 1 carat sparkles plenty and can cost up to 90 percent less than a ring with a big center stone.

2. Compare settings

The way a diamond is framed can have a major impact on how big it looks. For example, a bezel -- a thin band of metal that wraps around a gem -- gives the illusion of a larger stone.

3. Request certification
A diamond of a carat or more should come with a gem report -- a gemologist's evaluation of the stone's color by letter grade (good stones are ranked no lower than I) and clarity, ranging from "flawless" (FL) to "very slight inclusions" (either VS1 or VS2) for an acceptable diamond. The cut, carat weight and measurements are also listed.

The Gemological Institute of America issues most gem reports, but a few fine jewelry firms offer their own guaranteed certificates.

4. Know your metals

Platinum and gold are the top choices for engagement rings. The former will cost you -- a simple platinum band can cost nearly $600 more than a comparable one in gold -- but many brides feel the price is worth it. Platinum is a far more durable metal. It will show fewer nicks and scratches, and platinum prongs will hold a stone more securely.

As for color, some people believe that yellow gold casts an unflattering light on the diamond, while others prefer the hue's warmth and traditional look.

5. Invest in insurance

The cost of protecting yourself against loss or theft depends on several factors -- including the value of your ring, of course, as well as where you live (major city dwellers will pay more). According to Donna Syverson, a spokeswoman for the national insurance firm Jewelers Mutual, your annual premium will be about 1 to 2.7 percent of the jewelry's appraised value, even for rings that cost six figures.

6. Have your ring numbered

Your diamond's certificate number (or jeweler's designation) can be laser-inscribed on the side of the stone, allowing it to be positively identified in case of theft or after cleaning or repair.
Such inscriptions, which are visible under magnification (shown at right for the ring below) don't affect the gem's value. They cost from $40 to $200 and offer more than mere peace of mind: Some insurance carriers will give policy discounts on inscribed diamonds.

7. Save big with a smaller stone

Most couples look for diamonds in whole carat weights, but what you may not realize is that jewelers charge a premium for such stones. If you opt instead for a gem just under a carat (or under 2 or 3 carats, for that matter), the savings can add up to 30 percent. And the difference in size is so insignificant, you won't be able to tell.

8. Buy with an eye to trading up

For a big anniversary, couples often replace their engagement ring with a grander model. When shopping now, ask jewelers if they'll accept this purchase as partial payment on a later ring. Both Tiffany & Co. and Jeff Cooper will apply the full retail purchase price toward another ring (that's at least double the value) for as long as you own your original one.

9. Dream up a custom piece

Believe it or not, many reputable jewelers offer one-of-a-kind rings without charging exorbitant fees. Some companies require a minimum purchase or bill clients a small amount for preliminary work, such as drawings.

10. Check out online vendors

The center stone constitutes the most expensive part of a classic solitaire ring, accounting for as much as 85 percent of its price. One way to cut down on the cost is to buy a diamond online.

At a resource like Whiteflash.com or diamonds.com, it's possible to save up to 40 percent over prices at brick-and-mortar jewelry stores. Feeling nervous? Both e-tailers offer certified gem reports, as well as a full refund within 30 days on undamaged stones.

Engagement Bling Loses Some Sparkle

Could the big diamond solitaire engagement ring soon be a relic of the past?

Fall typically is the busiest time of year for sales of engagement rings – an estimated 28% of all engagements happen around the holidays in November and December, according to Fairchild Bridal Group. And this year, some jewelers say they’re noticing consumers cutting back on those purchases.

At Sterling Jewelers, Inc., which operates more than 1,400 Kay Jewelers, Jared The Galleria of Jewelry and other specialty stores in the U.S., some shoppers have been purchasing rings with a few small diamonds, which cost less, instead of the traditional showstopping solitaire in order to pop the question. While a 1-carat solitaire engagement ring could retail for about $5,000, a ring with a few small stones generally retails for less than $2,000, says David Bouffard, spokesman for Sterling. E-tailer Whiteflash.com says it has seen a recent uptick in sales of less expensive colored gemstone rings and diamond bands that are being purchased as engagement rings. At Whiteflash, a platinum ring set with a 2-carat equivalent sapphire could retail for $5,300 while a version with a similar-sized diamond could retail for $20,000, for example.

“People are still falling in love and getting engaged but the overall environment is more difficult – we’re seeing people get engaged with these rings and saying, perhaps later they’ll buy the solitaire ring,” says Diane Irvine. The Wedding Report, a wedding-industry market research firm, had forecasted in March that the average price of an engagement ring purchased in the U.S. would drop 6% this year to reach $4,332. After polling retailers and brides in recent months, however, the company now estimates that the average price of an engagement ring will plummet a further 20% to 30% in 2008.

To be sure, companies say conventional diamond engagement rings are still popular even if some consumers are trimming costs by buying smaller stones. But if lovebirds do indeed cut back, the jewelry industry could take a hit. U.S. sales of jewelry have suffered since the financial crisis exploded in September – sales through the year had been on the rise through August but were flat in September, according to industry analyst Ken Gassman, who is with the Jewelry Industry Research Institute. (August, for example, saw a 2.8% increase over the same month a year earlier.) While U.S. jewelry sales figures for October aren’t available yet, Mr. Gassman noted that publicly held jewelers Sterling, Birks & Mayors and Finlay have all reported sales decreases in the third quarter which ended in October.

Based on these September and early October numbers, Mr. Gassman recently revised his U.S. jewelry sales forecast for 2008 and now expects them to decline 0.3%. (He had previously expected U.S. jewelry sales to rise 2% in 2008.)

Jewelers also could take a hit due to the growing number of Americans who are suddenly seeking to sell their rings. IdonowIdont.com, a business that specializes in the resale of engagement and wedding rings, says it saw its sales listings double in October, rising to about 1,000 from 500 in September. The site saw sales rise 61% and Web traffic jump 261% in October, compared with September, said chief operating officer David Becker, who says he attributes the increase to “the three ‘Ds’ – Debt, Divorce and Death.”

Readers, has the recession made you scale back on your purchase of an engagement ring or inspired you to sell your diamond ring?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Would You Buy A Diamond Engagement Worn By A Celebrity?

Good Question. Would you be influenced?

While luxury brands are eager to get celebrities to show off their goods, the impact may be negligible, according to a new study. In fact, the survey found celebrity endorsements are twice as likely to backfire as they are to produce immediate sales results among wealthy consumers.

The Wealth Report, compiled by the Luxury Institute, finds only one percent of wealthy consumers (median income of $250,000 and net worth of $1.5 million) will buy a luxury product based on an endorsement from a celebrity. Only five percent say endorsements would increase their consideration of such purchases.

Of those surveyed, 13 percent would definitely not consider a celebrity-endorsed luxury product, and 63 percent said celebrity endorsements do not affect their decision-making at all.

But the report finds celebrity endorsements do raise awareness of luxury products and services. Of those surveyed, 18 percent said celebrity endorsements help them become aware of luxury offerings.

In terms of products, celebrities have the greatest power in promoting fashion designers, with 30 percent of those surveyed admitting celebrity influence in this category.

Do You Like Pink Diamonds?

Many people do. They are exquisite, beautiful and very rare. Also mucho, mucho expensive.

High above Manhattan streets this week some of the world’s rarest and most valuable Pink diamonds were on display as Rio Tinto Diamonds of Australia brought its annual pink diamond tender to the New York City.

This year marks the first time the Argyle mine tender, which includes 65 diamonds ranging in size from about 50 points to just over 2 carats, will be conducted under the auspices of Rio Tinto Diamonds, the sales and marketing division of the Rio Tinto Group. The tender has been re-christened the Rio Tinto Diamonds Argyle Pink Tender.

Underscoring just how rare the collection is, Faye Jenkins, manager of sales and marketing for Argyle Diamonds in Western Australia, says pink production at the mine is less than 1 percent of total production, while those pinks deemed worthy enough for the tender are a significantly smaller percentage. The estimate is that for every million carats of rough diamonds produced at the mine, one carat is suitable for sale at tenders.

Exclusive clientele from around the world are invited to view the diamonds in Perth, Australia, Hong Kong, London, New York and Geneva. The viewings began late last month and bids must be in by Oct. 3. The bids are confidential and the names of successful bidders and values are not disclosed. For the first time, the company’s Select Diamantaires, core customers who do business with Rio Tinto year-round, will also have an opportunity to preview the diamonds.

Diamonds represented at the tender come from a year’s worth of production. The stones are cut and polished at the company’s facility in Perth and then sent for grading at two independent laboratories. About 80 to 100 stones are held back from regular sales and then the tender is chosen among these. Jenkins says the offering usually includes 55 to 65 diamonds. In addition to the pink stones, this year’s collection includes two diamonds in the blue to grey range.
In July, Rio Tinto released “Diamonds as Art” a limited edition catalog displaying some of the stones available at the tender.

“Last year’s tender was incredibly successful and we expect even greater accomplishments in 2006,” said Jean-Marc Lieberherr, general manager marketing of Rio Tinto Diamonds, in a media release. Of the 60 diamonds from last year’s tender, he said 22 clients were successful with no one company dominating, which meant the stones were evenly distributed to clients around the globe.

The demand for rare pink diamonds grows unabated as does the price for these gems. Diamond pricing is generally a reflection of the market dynamics of supply and demand and with Argyle’s pink diamonds, they are truly a scarce product, popular but very rare. Therefore, a one-carat, good quality white diamond would be $20,000 and the equivalent pink diamond can command $400,000.”

Interest from celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Victoria Beckham have made Pink diamonds more sought after than ever.