Holiday Gift Spending To Increase, Says Report.

Shoppers buying gifts this holiday season will spend an average of more than $1,000 each, according to a new study from Unity Marketing.

This represents an 8 percent increase over last year’s average holiday gift budget of $928.

So far this year, consumers have spent an average of $1,034 on gifts, 20 percent more than last year, according to Unity Marketing’s quarterly “Gift Tracker” survey, which monitors gift givers’ purchases.

If consumers continue buying gifts at this rate, average gift-spending could exceed $2,250 for the entire year, a 12 percent increase over last year. A quarter of consumers polled have already spent $169 on Christmas gifts, according to the survey.

Unity Marketing expects top gift categories to include gift certificates; gourmet gifts like wine, spirits and chocolate; and “little luxuries” like soaps, candles and home fragrances.

The Gift Tracker survey takes quarterly polls of 800 gift-buying consumers, tracking what gifts they have purchased, why they purchased the gifts and where they bought them.

Vatche Jewelry, Vatche Diamond Engagement Rings, X-Prong & Lucida Rings

I’ve blogged on Vatche engagement rings before, and we are obviously delighted to be an Authorized jewelry retailer for the famous designer jewelry by Vatche…but let me tell you, these guys ROCK!!

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First off, their stuff is incredibly elegant and timeless. None of these gaudy and cheezy looking diamond engagement rings that are so over the top, like so many designer ring companies are putting out these days.

Look at Scott Kay, look at engagement rings by Tacori, Verragio, Michael Beaudry (or Michael B. rings..as he is affectionately known), etc.
True, some are quite beautiful. However, so many of them look like something out of a bad sci-fi movie. There is more metal on some of these diamond rings then on a prison cell!

Here, you’ve got a stunning ideal cut center diamond that you bought after investing so much of your time and research into buying a diamond….’cept nobody sees it, cuz they are too busy being distracted by the metal of the ring that seems to pop up out from everywhere.

This, is after all, exactly what the ring designer wants. They need to promote their own designer jewelry brand. They could give two hoots about your exquisitely brilliant center diamond. This is, therefore, exactly how they accomplish their objective. The question to ask yourself is, is this your objective too? If your diamond looks like a piece of coal, then it may not be such a bad idea. If, however, you have a top of the line diamond, cut for a balance of optical beauty and cut precision, you want your center diamond to be center of attention. The engagement ring is supposed to complement the diamond, not distract attention away from it.

A really good article on this topic can be found here.

In this endeavor, and IMO, nobody from the designer brand jewelry companies does it better than designs by Vatche, and probably the all time classics, engagement rings by Tiffany and Tiffany inspired diamond solitaire rings.

Where To Get A Diamond Education on The Internet

With more consumers than ever, turning to the Internet to educate themselves on all aspects of diamonds and diamond jewelry before taking the plunge and buying their first (and hopefully last ;) ) diamond engagement ring, it is important to find information that is both meaningful and accurate.

Sure, there are many websites that offer some recycled fluff pieces about how choose the perfect diamond ring or diamond engagement ring. However, the reality is that aside from the romantic gobbly-gook, there isn’t much meat and substance in many of these articles that would actually empower you to pick the most perfectly cut diamond engagement ring at the best value.

Some websites do a bit better by taking you through a brief tutorial on the “four C’s” of diamonds (diamond carat, diamond color, diamond clarity, & diamond cut). They will briefly explain the importance of a diamonds color grade, the effect of inclusions in a diamond, the importance of a diamond’s critical “cut” factor etc.. After that, you are pretty much on your own.

The fact is, that there are many ways to properly qualify and quantify the beauty and cut precision of a well cut diamond, such as an ideal cut diamond, or Superideal, hearts & arrows cut diamond. There are certain scientific machines today that do an incredible job of measuring the beauty, brilliancy and cut precision of any loose diamond. Much of this diamond education and information is available to you on the Internet. That is….if you know where to look ;) .

Armed with this comprehensive diamond information, you will be empowered to purchase the perfect loose diamond, or diamond engagement ring of your dreams, at the lowest possible price.

Not all diamonds are created equal. Some diamonds are beautiful, sparkly, and brilliant; regardless of their size, color, and clarity. Many more diamonds however, are unfortunately, dull, lifeless, and appear to be nothing more than frozen spit; regardless of size, color, and clarity.

These are diamonds you ought to stay far away from.

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The following few diamond websites, diamond learning centers, and diamond discussion forums on the Internet, will all open up new vistas of understanding in the world of diamonds, diamond jewelry, custom designer jewelry, wedding rings, and engagement rings.

These websites are indexed by literally thousands of diamond shoppers like yourself, who are turning to the Internet in droves to get the perfect diamond education before making a significant purchase of this magnitude.

You will mingle with diamond jewelers, professionals, and consumers alike. You will ask questions and get answers.

Just one warning for you: these websites are extremely addictive, once there, you might get hooked for life!

Enjoy, and I hope this info. proves to be useful to you in your diamond search! Good luck!

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Tale of Two Diamond Cities: The Best of Times; The Worst of Times.

Botswana and The Congo.

We recently blogged on the process of Beneficiation which is a strategy that is being used by several African diamond and mineral rich countries to benefit their citizens and dramatically raise their standard of living. Botswana Beneficiation

The opposite end of the spectrum, unfortunately, also exists, and it is The Congo.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) offers huge deposits of diamonds, gold, cobalt, copper, tin and coltan (an essential ingredient of cell phones.) The United States imported some $115.8 million in rough diamonds from the DRC during 2005. For the January through July period of 2006 the DRC has exported some $23.6 million in rough to the United States.

The country is also rich in coffee, palm oil, and rubber. Nonetheless, violence, preventable disease, and starvation claim 1,200 per day on average, according to MONUC (United Nations Mission in DR Congo.) The Associated Press reported September 27 that half the victims are children in this country of about 63 million. Statistics from July 2006 show 47 percent of the population had not yet reached the age of 14.

“The contradiction is that it’s one of the richest countries on the planet,” said Mario Zamorano of MONUC, which was the organization tapped with maintaining peace during DRC’s first democratic vote in 46 years this past July.

“All the elements are there: Copper, gold, and diamonds,” Zamorano said. “They are so rich and they are so poor.”

Political instability and strife have been staples of Congolese life for many years. Now another attempt at political stability is being attempted as the country inaugurated its new National Assembly on September 22. The MONUC representative in the DRC, William Lacy Swing, called the assembly a remarkable achievement after overseeing the organization’s most complex and most expensive transitional election process to date.

DRC’s presidential run-off election between President Joseph Kabila and vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba is set for October 29, 2006. Following some violence and incidents in the three days after the election in July the United Nations is preparing to curb any new strife as much as possible.

Kofi Annan, secretary-general of the United Nations, called for extending the organization’s peace-keeping mission in the DRC through February 2007. Annan also requested “continued authorization to reinforce troop numbers when necessary.”

Annan’s recommendations came after the Security Council determined the need to maintain credible and transparent run-off elections in late October. He highlighted the challenges ahead, including the need for assistance in strengthening democratic institutions, promoting the rule of law and basic human rights, and providing security as well as in other areas.

MONUC has more than 18,000 uniformed personnel on the ground in the DRC, supported by some 3,600 civilian staff and volunteers, all of whom are helping the country rebuild after a six-year conflict that cost 4 million lives.

Let’ see if this time The Congo can get it’s act together.

Custom Diamond Jewelry…Made With Wood??

I just saw a recent article in an industry magazine that deals with a new and very cool phenomena in the world of diamond jewelry.
Wood- from ebony to exotic African species- has become a suprisingly popular look in fine jewelry.

Many upscale, luxury diamond jewelry designers, are incorporating wood into their diamond jewlery creations. IWC, the Richemont-owned watch brand known for its upscale sport watches, has a new watch style that features timbers from the decks and othe parts of the Calypso, the famed research vessel of pioneer marine researcher Jaques Cousteau. IWC chose the case back of the watch to house the ocean going memorabilia.

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The famous Calypso

The limited edition Aquatimer chronograph “Costeau Diver” watch also has a silhouette of the Calypso stamped into the wood. Costeau’s widow has released sections of the ship for use in collector memorabillia in order to raise funds for the Cousteau foundation.

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IWC “Costeau Diver Watch

This company manufactures mens cufflinks made out of wood from various ballparks, including Yankee Stadium.

This company manufactures some beautifully crafted writing instruments made from a combination of exotic woods and precious metal, like gold or platinum!

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Gorgeous Pen made From Exotic Wood and 24 Carat Gold!

This stuff is really incredible! I always thought it would be interesting to fuse the desireability, beauty, and aesthetic value of exotic woods with the timeless appeal of diamonds and precious metals, in custom jewely creations!

These companies are finding that there is indeed a niche market af savvy consumers who appreciate these unique jewelry pieces.

Diamond Engagement Ring “Size” Does Matter!

Eighteen percent of consumers have problems finding the correct fit for jewelry, according to a new study by the Jewelry Consumer Opinion Council (JCOC).

Sizing problems included jewelry being either too big or too small and not being able to find jewelry that’s big enough or small enough, according to the Jewelry Size Report, issued this week by the JCOC.

Rings posed sizing difficulties for 24 percent of those surveyed, and bracelets posed sizing problems for 19 percent of those surveyed. Despite the sizing problems posed by rings, about two-thirds of those surveyed found adjustable and sizeable rings undesirable. By contrast, more than half of consumers found adjustable and sizeable bracelets and necklaces desirable.

About a quarter of those surveyed reported that they wear a ring size of seven to seven and a half, but 12 percent do not know what ring size they wear.

Of those surveyed, 18 percent prefer a size-seven bracelet, but 27 percent do not know what bracelet size they prefer.

Correct ring sizing is also a big problem as many guys don’t have a clue as to their gal’s correct ring size. This is a problem when ordering a diamond engagement ring on-line as it means that after presentation, they have to send the ring back to the vendor for correct re-sizing. This entails their paying for round-trip shipping-insurance costs.

We recently had a case of a guy who ordered a Platinum Custom size 8-1/2 diamond engagement ring from us only to sheepishly call us a few days after receipt that the ring was “slightly big” on her finger, he now has the correct ring size after taking her to the neighborhood jeweler for sizing, and could we re-size it. No problem, we replied, our Lifetime Guarantee covers re-sizing free of charge. What do you need, we asked?

Size 5-1/2, he answered!

Whoa Nellie! No can do, my friend. We explained that re-sizing can be done up or down to 3/4 of a size. More than that and it’s best to make a completely new ring. Got to make you a new ring, which he paid for.

Guys, get her correct ring size BEFORE you place your order. Beg, borrow, steal a ring she wears on a regular basis and take it to your neighborhood jeweler for correct ring sizing.

Most good diamond Internet websites have comprehensive ring charts, including International ring size conversion tables that allow you to correctly determine her ring size.

See The Diamond Hearts & Arrows & Ideal-Scope Results In Action!

There is much information available on the Internet today concerning the Hearts & Arrows patterning in a Hearts & Arrows cut diamond and how it is indicative of the most precisely cut diamond that money can buy.

The Ideal-Scope technology has also gained popularity amongst diamond consumers for its ability to demonstrate light leakage/refraction in a diamond by menans of a very simplistic device.

The Idealscope was developed by Australian gemologist; Garry Holloway.

For more information on the Ideal-Scope device and what it measures, please click here:

Wouldn’t you love to actually SEE the internal Hearts & Arrows patterning for your loose diamond?

Some companies offer a FREE Diamond Toolkit with every purchase of a loose hearts and arrows diamond, or an ideal cut diamond.

Here is an example of our free diamond toolkit, provided with the purchase of any SuperbCert Super-Ideal cut Diamond.

Can you guess which items perform which function?

**Please note: Although we own a few of the trademarked IdealScopes by Mr. Holloway, and use them in-house (in conjuction with our various other technologies) to evaluate leakage and light performance in our diamonds, the photo you see below is not one of Mr. Holloway’s trademarked Ideal-Scopes, but rather a similar functioning ImageScope of our own manufacture.
We developed this ImageScope which is slightly different from the IdealScope to include in our Free diamond toolkits to all of our customers.

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Information About Martin Flyer Engagement Rings

Martin Flyer is a designer of some beautiful and unique diamond engagement rings. I recently had a chance to view a Maryin Flyer diamond setting and was quite impressed by the beauty of the ring. They are located right around the corner from us, in the heart of the New York City Diamond District, so I might just go over one day to visit. In any event, I think this guys stuff is nice, if not a bit pricey. Is there better value for the money in a designer engagement ring? Possibly. That is up to you to decide.

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Flyer Diamond Rings

They do make some very nice halo engagement rings for Asscher cut diamonds and fancy shaped diamonds. I do not believe Martin Flyer diamond engagement rings can be purchased over the Internet, although I do know of one Internet company that offers Martin Flyer jewelry without recognition (at least on the product pages..)

Wedding Facts and Figures.

So you’ve spent the big bucks in getting her that diamond engagement ring and matching wedding band. My friend, your expenses are first beginning. Gotta plan the Wedding and make sure you have the cash to pay for it.

Weddings are a big industry and a growing one. The Association of Certified Professional Wedding Consultants (ACPWC), [wow that is a mouthful] estimates current wedding spending at 120 billion a year and projects growth of 6.5% by 2009.

One out of every 62 Americans got married in 2005, with the greatest number of weddings occurring in California, Texas, Florida, Nevada, and New York.

Newly marrieds are affluent, with an average annual household income of $60,000. Weddings are expensive as the average wedding costs between $20,000 to $25,000. Regional differences do apply with the average in New York coming out to $31,000 while a wedding in the Southeast will cost $17,000. Nearly half – 45% – of couples spend more on their wedding than they had planned to, which includes the groom’s gift to the bride and wedding dress.

An interesting statistic is that the cost of enagement rings is going UP. In 1995, the average diamond engagement ring cost $2909. In 2000 it was $3390 and in 2005 it was $4146. According to Hallmark Cards, approximately 75% of first-time brides receive a diamond engagement ring, 67% for repeat brides.

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Wedding Ring Costs

Finally, the most commonly cited statistic about about American marriages is that more than half of them end in divorce. 59% of brides who marry before the age of 18 are separated and divorced within 15 years. Nevertheless, people like getting married. The proof is in the number of second marriages with 33% of the annual 2.4 million weddings being remarriages. Second marriages occur most frequently between the ages of 34-49. The average age of remarrying brides is 32 and the remarrying groom 37.

Tension Set Engagement Rings Can Give You a Tension Headache.

We declared our disdain for Tension Set Diamond Engagement Rings in a recent Blog here:

Diamond Engagement Rings

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Tension Set Diamond Rings

In a Tension Setting, the diamond is (hopefully) held securely in place at opposite ends on the mid-point circumference by two pieces of the metal wall.

Well, we’re not surprised to note the angst and anger of a customer writing today on the diamond internet Forum, Pricescope.com, who purchased a tension set Diamond Engagement Ring at the Robbins Brothers Jewelry Store in Torrance, California and found that the diamond popped out of the setting not once but twice.

You can read his gaga saga here:

Diamond Tension Settings can give you a tension headache