Has Technology Killed the Jewelry Industry?
January 7, 2015 9:11 AM   Subscribe

"Even my own diamond-business owning, non-millennial father is turning away from jewelry when it comes to gift giving. Sure, he’s made my mom a handful of statement pieces over the years, but at the same price point, he’s more likely to gift something that has actual purpose, aside from aesthetic value. The last few birthdays and Christmases have yielded vacation getaways, iPhones of every generation, even a smart home thermostat. What hasn’t shown up under the Christmas tree in the last five years? Diamond anything."
posted by almostmanda (154 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
It killed the toy industry, why not jewelry, too?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:17 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Good lord the diamond industry needs killing, though.
posted by Myca at 9:19 AM on January 7, 2015 [138 favorites]


Good.

DeBeers is pretty high on the list of companies I want to see crash and burn and sink and choke and die.
posted by Foosnark at 9:19 AM on January 7, 2015 [48 favorites]


After visiting a few pawn shops, it seems to me that diamonds and jewelry like that don't hold their value. I can get an engagement ring that costs a ton of money that then lives in a drawer because it's totally impractical to wear or I can sell it for a fraction of what it cost new. It doesn't seem like something that makes me feel pretty nor something that is a good investment.
posted by Foam Pants at 9:22 AM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


The increasing amount of disposable income that people spend on technology is probably part of the story, but I question if it's really the whole story. There were techy gadgets back in the 80s and early 90s, too, and diamond prices were sky high back then (like $60,000 / karat in today's dollars).

Maybe I am cynical, but part of me says that it's due to people just having less and less disposable income to spend, due to flat real wages for more than a quarter of a century, and with the ability to paper over that shortage by taking out dodgy home-equity loans or flipping one's house every few years.

Without a lot of cash to burn, people are prioritizing devices that are fun but still have some arguable utility (e.g. cellphones) over jewelry.

I can only assume that there is still a jewelry market for the super-rich, or if there isn't, that it's driven by other factors (maybe diamonds are just out of fashion?). However, the average jewelry store wasn't catering to Kim and Kanye, it was presumably making its bread and butter selling engagement and anniversary presents to average or slightly-above-average folks, and they increasingly can't afford or are having to really prioritize their discretionary spending.

I'd like to think there's been some sort of social change in either the acceptability of buying diamonds (demand manufactured by a blood-drenched cartel, terrible investment, artificially high prices), or in the general acceptability of flaunting one's wealth, but I don't think that either are really true. I think it's just that people can't afford it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:25 AM on January 7, 2015 [27 favorites]


What a silly premise. The recession killed the jewelry industry, not the iPhone.
posted by oceanjesse at 9:26 AM on January 7, 2015 [18 favorites]


Jewelry is so stealable, too. Other things you could own are at risk of theft, too, but jewelry has that combination of portability, resale and high value that just makes me uncomfortable.
posted by gimonca at 9:26 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


It killed the toy industry, why not jewelry, too?

Funny, that article only mentioned Mattel and Hasbro, and not LEGO, which is doing very well.
posted by FJT at 9:26 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


I don't own or wear any jewelry, and my wife's only diamonds are in her second-hand engagement ring that cost less than £100 thirty years ago. But there's nothing I enjoy watching more on TV than the two jewelry experts on the Antiques Roadshow when they go into paroxysms over delight when somebody brings in a piece that appeals to their sensibilities.

I particularly enjoy Geoffrey Munn.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:29 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


What a silly premise. The recession killed the jewelry industry, not the iPhone.

The article includes this bit that indicates that people that came through the recession relatively unscathed don't think it's a silly premise:

A 2014 Unity Marketing study that spoke to 1,335 millennials with an income above $100,000, supports this assertion. The study found that, as a group, these “affluent millennials” enjoyed technology purchases far more than jewelry; 46 percent said technology purchases gave them “great pleasure,” compared to just 25 percent for jewelry.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:30 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


The problem with jewelry is that it has virtually no resale value. Technology does. You can seriously buy an iPhone today, use it for two years, then resell it for $100-200 and buy a newer model. With a diamond ring or whatever, if you buy it new for $10,000, its value used is like $1000-2000 most likely, and that's assuming you can find someone to buy it. At a pawn shop or jeweler's it's worth probably even less, and for the scrap value the diamonds are virtually worthless and the metal is probably $500-1000.

You can also easily buy a look-alike piece of jewelry for infinitely less than a real one.
posted by Slinga at 9:32 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Maybe diamonds aren't showing up under Christmas trees, because it's more likely they're next to red envelopes:

China drives global diamond jewelery sales to $79 billion
posted by FJT at 9:33 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Seems like a reasonable upgrade. Pointlessly shiny things replaced with useful shiny things.
posted by the jam at 9:34 AM on January 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


I think a bigger reason for the decline would be a combination of the high price of gold and silver nowadays, along with the world's realization that diamonds aren't actually a scarce commodity, but are rather artificially controlled by the conglomerates to keep prices high. A few years ago you used to be able to get really gorgeous sterling jewelry from catalog retailers like J. Jill and J Crew - with the high price of precious metals now, there's no way to keep the prices low enough to make it an impulse buy. Better to buy a luxury item that's functional than something that feels overpriced.
posted by Mchelly at 9:34 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


There is definitely a jewelry market for the super-rich. It's boggling and grosses me out but it's also a really bad idea for me to be openly dismayed in front of super-rich friends when all they're doing is giving presents to each other. Everybody else I know who is interested in jewelry is interested in it from an art piece perspective. Something designed by someone they know or from a place they love, using interesting materials or unique styles is going to be much more desired and cared for than a pair of simple diamond earrings. I think it's a combination of plenty of things but it would be silly to discount the increased access directly to artisans, many of whom don't have the capital or desire to work with "precious" gems.
posted by Mizu at 9:34 AM on January 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


Don't you see? I've actually given you the best gift of all - self respect!

(As someone who is quite go d of gemstones as an aesthetic object it's insane to buy them new, even if you're comissioning something.)
posted by The Whelk at 9:35 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


> “They should be terrified, but the official party line is they’re not terrified.”

It would be awesome if the official party line was that they are terrified and started issuing press releases, etc. to that effect.

The death, if that's what it is, of the jewelry industry is probably due to a bunch of factors, but I wonder if it's just, to some extent, fallen out of fashion. I don't know any women who profess much of an enthusiasm for jewelry or wear anything more than wedding and/or engagement rings and/or small earrings.

Me, I've only ever bought my wife one piece of jewelry - her engagement ring - and I didn't really care what I bought as long as she liked it (she did and does) and it was within my relatively modest price range because it's a symbol; for all I really know I bought her a beautiful piece of glass.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:35 AM on January 7, 2015


Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond?

Yes, the date on that article is 1982 - suffice to say it's been a long time now that the diamond business has been scraping by on the inflated idea of diamonds as having a durable value rather than just being a pretty bauble, barely distinguishable from, e.g., cubic zirconium. Think of all the money extracted from middle- and working-class families, or never available to poor widows, because it was spent on a "valuable" diamond instead of put into a savings account. As noted above, that part of the diamond industry can't die fast enough.

It is unfortunate that these family businesses end up suffering along the way, though. And they are small businesses, owned by (relatively) ordinary folks in the community - even if they move high-price goods, their margins don't necessarily make them rich, at least not "top 0.1%" rich. At the same time, the aggressive materialist impulse they sell, the blunt insistence that women must always be spending time, effort (and of course a lot of money!) decorating themselves in order to be pretty enough - which this author seems to have fully bought into - well... I won't be sad to see that go.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 9:35 AM on January 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


Boy, glaring blind spot in that article about increased awareness regarding the horrific marketing and mining practices involved in the jewelry industry, with diamonds at the head. But then she'd have to address the fact that most "natural" diamonds are obtained via indefensible practices. I also like the dig against lab-grown diamonds--the only differences you'll find between lab-grown and natural diamonds of the same quality are not in the percent impurity but in the composition. For example, a nature-made diamond with 5% impurity may have that from 50 or more compounds, while lab-grown may only have a few elements making up that percentage.
posted by schroedinger at 9:36 AM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


Bring on the cheap lab diamonds! I wanna bedazzle my phone.
posted by The Whelk at 9:38 AM on January 7, 2015 [20 favorites]


My mom earned enough money to spend thousands of dollars on jewelry, and that jewelry is a signifier of the social and economic cohort she belongs to.

I have much less money to spend on non-essentials, and as my cohort doesn't care about expensive jewelry and I'm perfectly satisfied with pieces that cost less than $50, I'm also not going to be asking else anyone to buy me a diamonds for Christmas.

Technology has little or nothing to do with it.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:38 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've never gotten diamond anything for Christmas because my loved ones know me well and they know I think diamonds are bullshit.

I did get jewelry for Christmas, though, from my husband. Earrings made by a local artist - gold wire shaped to look like little saguaros. Shop local!
posted by Squeak Attack at 9:40 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Diamonds Are Bullshit
posted by The Hamms Bear at 9:40 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Another factor: if you are looking specifically at "millenials" (which the article does despite me thinking that it's kinda dumb), depending on exactly how you define that group, they were probably growing up when diamond prices in particular were crashing.

It's not surprising they see diamonds in particular as a terrible thing to spend money on. Their parents' engagement ring would have very likely—if they followed the typical middle-class life plan and got married and then popped out kids a few years later—been purchased at the all-time peak of the diamond market, and worth a fraction (like, a sixth) of their value only a few years later, even before the insane buy-sell spread that jewelry stores have traditionally managed.

That's a hell of a lesson to internalize.

Diamonds have basically held steady at $10k / kt since then, presumably due to supply manipulation by DeBeers and others, so I guess we'll see if in another generation or so if there's a less suspicious take on them. Hopefully not.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:41 AM on January 7, 2015


Also: the low resale value for jewelry is completely mystifying to me, and leads me to wonder why ANYONE would EVER buy new gemstones for any reason other than showing off.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:42 AM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


> That's a hell of a lesson to internalize.

The idea that anyone would be interested in the theoretical resale value of an engagement ring depresses me on a few different levels.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:44 AM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


As it happens, I got my lovely wife two pieces of jewelry for Xmas, but neither of them were diamonds. One was a chain bracelet made of titanium, the other was a pair of estate sale gold earrings with a lovely antique design. What I paid for the latter was worth it not for the gold content but because they were pretty.

Precious (and not-so-precious) metal can have value added by being sculpted into pleasing shapes. Diamonds and other gemstones, not so much.
posted by Gelatin at 9:45 AM on January 7, 2015


I'd say in reality it's DeBeers' chickens finaly coming home to roost - millennials are aware of both the moral issues with the industry as well as the insanely inflated costs - and the fact that Apple et al. have such more worthwhile status symbols to spend disposable income on isn't helping. But then, what FJT says about China above - DeBeers, like all the worst supervillains, will continue on unabated.

I wonder, however, whether the better place to look isn't technology but travel. Anecdotally, I know among my friends that when there's money for a romantic gesture, it will go to a memorable trip over jewelry every single time.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:47 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Yeah, the consumer resale market for diamonds is terrible. I got divorced recently and went back to the original jeweler to have my engagement/wedding rings appraised. I asked her for suggestions on reselling them and she gave me a frowny face and told me I'd be very disappointed. People have suggested I remove the diamonds and just sell the gold for scrap. I would definitely rather have a new iPad than this thing in my drawer I'll never wear again.
posted by desjardins at 9:51 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Every generation has its ... "status signals"

That is, those items that signal you are of a certain class (and have the wealth and taste associated with it).

For my father's generation, it was a nice family sedan parked in the driveway.

For my grandparents, it was jewellery at appropriate times throughout your life.

For this generation, it is apparently whatever smartphone is "the thing".

Tastes change, fashions change.
But remember, diamonds are portable, an ipad is much harder to hide, Christopher Walken style.
posted by madajb at 9:51 AM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


I think Narrative Priorities is on the right track about jewelry and social status. As others have noted upthread, it's not that jewelry isn't valued (as keepsakes and as social signifiers). It's just that the messages that most of us want to send aren't the same ones our parents and grandparents might have wanted to send with their purchases.

Maybe it's the sea of information in which we swim, but we want things to be interesting--to have backstories. Or, if not that, we want them to appear to have backstories. It's not enough to tell the world "I can afford this necklace". We also want to signify [personal characteristic/hobby/interest].
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 9:56 AM on January 7, 2015 [9 favorites]




madajb: "
But remember, diamonds are portable, an ipad is much harder to hide, Christopher Walken style.
"

So you're saying we need to bring back the iPhone 4?
posted by boo_radley at 9:57 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


There are also some really nice looking artificial diamonds out there that cost a fraction of the real thing and look very nice.
posted by harrietthespy at 9:58 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


What's the status signifier supposed to be for the Gen X-ers?

Born in 1980, I feel like I'm more of a gen X-er than a millenial. But the fact that I'm indifferent to and even sometimes kind of embarrassed by my (very modest) diamond engagement ring and wedding band probably shows some influence from millenial culture. None of my best and oldest friends have done diamonds or even wedding bands at all when getting married.
posted by kitcat at 9:59 AM on January 7, 2015


So you're saying we need to bring back the iPhone 4?

And be forced to watch The Office with black bars like a philistine?

There are limits.

What's the status signifier supposed to be for the Gen X-ers?

Just being middle class.
posted by Talez at 10:01 AM on January 7, 2015 [17 favorites]


With marriage happening later in life, a successful person's "two months income" on a diamond ring creates a tacky monstrosity of a ring. Is it real? Is it cubic zirconia? Don't know, it just looks tacky. Can't rock climb with it or go to the gym, it's basically like having long fingernails as a signifier of not doing anything useful with one's hands.

The signifiers of new wealth are always going to be based on today's bling things. Diamond and zirconia are enharmonic (visually homonymic?). But the latest greatest tech device is an unmistakable visual signifier, much as a large diamond used to be.

And if the purpose of jewelry is largely a signifier of success and wealth, you can put a big shiny thing on your body. Whether that's a rock, a boat anchor, or a smartphone is up to you.
posted by lothar at 10:02 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


So you're saying we need to bring back the iPhone 4?

"I hid this Apple Watch up my ass for two years."
posted by Horace Rumpole at 10:04 AM on January 7, 2015 [17 favorites]


Say what you will my iPad air 2 looks great on a simple gold chain around my neck.
posted by The Whelk at 10:05 AM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Now that woman are allowed to have their own bank accounts, jewelery isn't as important as a wealth holding device that allows woman to pass on wealth to their daughters.
posted by dipolemoment at 10:06 AM on January 7, 2015 [52 favorites]


I feel a little bad for being heartened by this news, but diamonds are one of those things that I just can't even try to disguise my disgust with, even when a recently-engaged friend is proudly showing off the gargantuan rock on her new ring. Especially then, actually, because all I can think of is the staggering amount of environmental destruction and human suffering that goes into pulling sparkly minerals out of the earth for the sole purpose of temporarily affixing them to someone's finger, neck, ear, or wrist.

Like, OK dude, you want to give an incredibly expensive gift that's going to last forever? Send a poor kid to college or, if you want something that's a little closer to the diamond industry, open a field hospital in Côte d'Ivoire. Problem solved! That said, De Beers and their ilk are the folks that indirectly brought us Sarah Haskins' exploration of jewelry face, so at least they've helped to contribute something of value to the world.
posted by divined by radio at 10:09 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Diamonds are gross, the "two months' income" thing is gross, and the whole industry should die in a fire, except the part that makes industrial diamond drill bits or whatever. I guess that can stay.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:10 AM on January 7, 2015 [36 favorites]


The jewelry industry isn't helping itself with its gross "Men, use diamonds to buy her love!" advertising.
posted by LindsayIrene at 10:19 AM on January 7, 2015 [17 favorites]


"I hid this Apple Watch up my ass for two years."

"...and by the time they let me out of the Vietnamese prison, it wouldn't support the new iOS update"
posted by a halcyon day at 10:23 AM on January 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


The idea that anyone would be interested in the theoretical resale value of an engagement ring depresses me on a few different levels.

Buying a 'starter' engagement ring with the idea of 'upgrading' it later on is apparently A Thing, so the fact that people are looking at the resale / value-holding ability of the stone is not necessarily only because they are planning for the future breakdown of their relationship. (It's still a swindle, IMO, because the jeweler is still getting a big buy/sell spread, but they are making it less obvious than a straightforward sale would be by making it part of a 'trade-in' transaction.)

The jewelry industry isn't helping itself with its gross "Men, use diamonds to buy her love!" advertising.

They're almost there.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:26 AM on January 7, 2015


I've bought my wife a very few pieces of modestly priced artisanal jewelry over the years (eg opal earrings from a local jewelry maker), but never diamonds because they are almost always gross and tacky. I'm sure the resale would be limited to the weight of the gold, which is fine -- they are small art objects, not investments or any kind of real wealth.

I very rarely see anyone wearing what looks like (to my uneducated eye) expensive jewelry, instead I see a lot of art and costume pieces, as well as some antique (real or replica) pieces.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:27 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'd say in reality it's DeBeers' chickens finaly coming home to roost - millennials are aware of both the moral issues with the industry

I highly doubt that. Don't forget that there are moral issues with the materials used to make cell phones, too.
posted by Cash4Lead at 10:27 AM on January 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


I think it's a lot harder for people to justify showing off their wealth these days in such a silly way. I don't like discussing money socially anyway, but at least if it's a fancy smartphone or something it costs maybe $200-300 on contract. And having the new phone is enough to hint at your wealth for people that care about that sort of thing. Wearing a multi-thousand dollar rock on your finger is just over the top.
posted by downtohisturtles at 10:28 AM on January 7, 2015


Like, OK dude, you want to give an incredibly expensive gift that's going to last forever? Send a poor kid to college or, if you want something that's a little closer to the diamond industry, open a field hospital in Côte d'Ivoire

The rich already do that too, even going as far as using those actions as another sort of status symbol. They get to name the hospital wing after themselves, put out a press release with a nice picture of the posing next to the third world folks they're helping, and then also have a nice tax write-off.
posted by FJT at 10:28 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


The Card Cheat: "I don't know any women who profess much of an enthusiasm for jewelry or wear anything more than wedding and/or engagement rings and/or small earrings. "

I have a great deal of enthusiasm for jewelry, but the thing is, nobody notices or cares about your bland string of pearls. Of course I have one to wear when I wear a suit, it's just the mandatory accessory that looks correct, but it just says, "I have basic good taste."

The things people comment on and love are the more unusual, one-off pieces that I find at boutiques or from small jewelers or estate sales or on etsy. Gemstone pieces still hew to a handful of fairly typical designs which are fairly dull and very mass-produced. So you can spend $3,000 on a diamond pendant ... or $300 on an antique jade pendant from 1850s India, that is much more striking, and people will say, "How unusual! Where did you find it?" Or $200 for a piece by Vanessa Gade that I've been wearing lately that constantly gets admiration and demands to know where I found it.

Which is to say, once you own some basics, gemstone jewelry mostly says "I can buy mass-produced high-end jewelry from a catalog" (until you get REALLY high end, or unless you have a local jeweler who does stuff you like in-house), while lots of stuff in the $100-$500 range says, "I have excellent taste and a unique sense of style that goes beyond those weird squiggle diamond "journey" necklaces that look like spines." The much more important signalling is about TASTE, not money, (especially since high-end gemstone jewelry is so easy to replicate now with CZ or moissanite or whatever).
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:30 AM on January 7, 2015 [38 favorites]


I want to second Mizu's point above:

Everybody else I know who is interested in jewelry is interested in it from an art piece perspective. Something designed by someone they know or from a place they love, using interesting materials or unique styles is going to be much more desired and cared for than a pair of simple diamond earrings. I think it's a combination of plenty of things but it would be silly to discount the increased access directly to artisans, many of whom don't have the capital or desire to work with "precious" gems.

I've recently gotten into jewelry making as a hobby, and it's given me a huge appreciation for artisanship in jewelry, even pieces made with "base" metals and cheap crystals. Part of the problem with the emphasis on the four C's and precious metal prices is that so much of the price of "fine" jewelry is wrapped up in the materials and there's no room left to pay artists to make art.

So, you get places like Blue Nile where you can get your platinum and diamond ring but it's going to be an assembly-line type thing that ends up looking like thousands of other rings out there. Luckily there's Etsy and the like where lots of jewelers are making beautiful one-of-a-kind things, but you're not going to find those pieces at your typical local jewelry store (I know I wouldn't go looking for them).

PeterMcDermott linked to this video of Geoffrey Munn showing off a 1928 diamond feather brooch. The piece is stunning, and a work of art, but even if you're ok with paying money for diamonds in this day and age where are you going to find someone making things like that now?
posted by sparklemotion at 10:30 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


To be fair, blood diamonds aren't the only option available: nowadays my wife probably wouldn't even want an engagment ring, but back then, when she did want one, we decided to get it from Brilliant Earth, who claim to provide "ethical" diamonds. The stone in her ring is supposed to be a Canadian one.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:31 AM on January 7, 2015


The harm done by the precious stone and metal industries is immense. I'd love to see worldwide demand collapse. They are precious primarily because they are a durable and identifiable physical embodiment of the suffering required to extract them. Like the continued existence of royalty, the ideas promulgated by the jewelry industry are beyond atavisitc and mock the notions of human dignity and equality.

Destruction of the demand for gold jewelry is probably my biggest wish. Global demand for gold is driven predominantly by jewelry, and a collapse there would mean knock-on effects would devastate the cretins holding it as an investment, ruining its allure as a safe store of value and hopefully removing a lot of the incentive to get more out of the ground, and to hell with the cost. Since before Columbus, but especially after, the lust for gold has meant a continual grinding genocide of countless indigenous peoples. The last piece of gold jewelry I'd like to see are a set of gold fetters for Peter Munk, because that man belongs in prison.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 10:37 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


sparklemotion: "Geoffrey Munn showing off a 1928 diamond feather brooch. The piece is stunning, and a work of art, but even if you're ok with paying money for diamonds in this day and age where are you going to find someone making things like that now?"

I've got a guy, if you're really interested. (You'd have to phone him, though, he is not techy.)

Jewelsmith in Durham, NC, does some great pieces and many of their artists take commissions. Typically a bit more modern in their designs, though. Give me some time, I'll think of some other shops where they still do awesome work like that ... mostly in mid-sized cities like that where there's a robust market for engagement rings (etc) but the rent is cheap, so they can afford to give art-jewelers some time to work up art pieces.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:39 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


My wife insists on blood diamonds.
posted by Renoroc at 10:42 AM on January 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


Diamond myths.
posted by I-baLL at 10:43 AM on January 7, 2015


The rich already do that too, even going as far as using those actions as another sort of status symbol. They get to name the hospital wing after themselves, put out a press release with a nice picture of the posing next to the third world folks they're helping, and then also have a nice tax write-off.

Not to extend this derail too much further, but a woman I work closely with had the natatorium here named after her sister, not because she was rich and contributed money, but because she had done so much for her sport and her school. I contrast that with the naming of buildings after the biggest monetary contributor and it makes me glad that this still happens, and when it does, it makes the tribute even greater, due to the money that is foregone.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:43 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd like to point out (as several links do) that the practice of diamond engagement rings as a required tradition is a relatively recent one, promoted by DeBeers less than 80 years ago. I don't have a reliable source for this, unfortunately.
posted by halifix at 10:46 AM on January 7, 2015


jewelry was a lot more impressive during the age of hereditary monarchs, tertiary syphillis, and shitting in jars
posted by Awful Peice of Crap at 10:55 AM on January 7, 2015 [12 favorites]


Maybe it's the sea of information in which we swim, but we want things to be interesting--to have backstories. Or, if not that, we want them to appear to have backstories. It's not enough to tell the world "I can afford this necklace". We also want to signify [personal characteristic/hobby/interest].

Yeah, I was just coming in to say this. I'm not much for jewelry, but when I buy it or ask for it, I'm generally requesting specific pieces that are interesting in some way. I could care less what they're made out of--it's the pure aesthetic of the piece itself that's appealing. If I can get the same aesthetic or one that is more interesting in some way for cheaper by not buying real gold or real gemstones, I'm going to do that--and as Eyebrows mentions above, it's really hard to do neat things with gemstones. Especially big ones.

Then again, almost all the jewelry I wear on a daily basis is made mostly of stainless steel, so maybe I'm not the best basis for comparison.
posted by sciatrix at 10:57 AM on January 7, 2015


After visiting a few pawn shops, it seems to me that diamonds and jewelry like that don't hold their value.

Thats not true. It holds its value pretty damn well. The thing is though, you're buying it at Zales, or Kay, or even Tiffany's or whatever, and there is a HUGE markup for that stuff at retail.

But I bet you a million dollars that it will hold its value (and a bit more) compared to the price those retailers paid for it.

If you want jewelry to hold its value, you have to be at the professional level, and not a consumer. Thats a sucker's game.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:58 AM on January 7, 2015


I'm not quite a millennial (born in 1982). I think my interest in fine jewelry can be chalked up to my maternal line -- my mother has always got a new ring/necklace/earbobs, and her mother has, too. The few nice pieces I own have been given to me by my mom and grandmama when they are tired of them; the nicest piece of fine jewelry I own is an heirloom diamond ring I'll never sell.

That said, when I spend my own money on jewelry, I spend it on titanium/gemstone body jewelry. I think in a couple decades we will be seeing fine body jewelry on TV shopping networks -- BVLA, Scylla, Anatometal, Maria Tash, and more. All those millennials who do make good are going to buy some fancy things for their bellybuttons that they might not buy for their ring fingers.

I recently sold quite a lot of jewelry that I don't wear anymore, and they told me just to keep the stones, and priced the metal for me as scrap. And then I took that cash and bought me a fancy opal piece for my septum.
posted by fiercecupcake at 11:00 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


The problem with jewelry is that it has virtually no resale value. Technology does. You can seriously buy an iPhone today, use it for two years, then resell it for $100-200 and buy a newer model. With a diamond ring or whatever, if you buy it new for $10,000, its value used is like $1000-2000 most likely, and that's assuming you can find someone to buy it. At a pawn shop or jeweler's it's worth probably even less, and for the scrap value the diamonds are virtually worthless and the metal is probably $500-1000.

Precious metals and gems have resale value. BIG TIME. More than consumer technology which may be worse than automobiles. The problem is that people buy at retail and expect that to be an "investment". That's not going to happen. Thats like going to the grocery store to buy meat and telling everyone that there is no value in selling meat because you can't sell the meat you bought at Wal Mart to your neighbors.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:04 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


But remember, diamonds are portable, an ipad is much harder to hide, Christopher Walken style.

People don't buy flash because they can hide it. They buy it because they can show it.

I was brought up middle class, and I still stick to rules like "don't hold out your money in public". Thats how most people roll. They think someone might snatch it.

Rich people who wear gaudy displays of wealth aren't worrying about how likely it is to be stolen, they want everyone to NOTICE it.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:09 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


The problem is that people buy at retail and expect that to be an "investment".

Most people don't have access to any means of buying precious stones aside from retail, so the fact that they might be a good store of value if bought via some other channel is practically irrelevant.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:21 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


Definitely not milennial (born 1969) but also never had any interest in diamonds. The only diamonds I own are in a pair of solitaire earrings that my grandmother gave me, because they were important to her (which is why I treasure them). My engagement ring was made by a jeweler out of gold and an opal and cost under $200; I love it and look at it every day. It looks like the sea. It's much more me. I had always explicitly maintained I wanted no diamonds, and can remember making fun of those jeweler commercials featuring salt-and-pepper-haired gents surprising their well-preserved ladies with diamond necklaces to the dramatic strains of Vivaldi at least as far back as the 80s. Who would want such boring-looking stuff?

This ship had definitely started sailing long before milennials. It's likely that the industry's projections counted on them behaving in a traditional way, but they don't. I agree also that a large proportion of younger people, say 50 and under, prize experiences more than things and will take the trip, or the fantastic restaurant dinner, every time. Also that the fading of gendered expectations about who makes money, who gets gifts, who saves money and how means women don't need to sock away wealth in the form of saleable jewelry against a rainy day. There are lots of good reasons why diamonds aren't our best friends any more, and they're not all - or even mostly - shallow ones.
posted by Miko at 11:22 AM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also, did she really call out Kindles? I really don't think Kindles are eating your diamond profits.
posted by Miko at 11:22 AM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think part of it is that people, even relatively middle-of-the-road people, are choosing non-diamond engagement rings. And I think a big part of their appeal, in the last few years, has been Kate Middleton's sapphire ring.

That being said, here in the midwest I still see a LOT of younger women sporting (what look to me to be) gaudily large diamond engagement rings/wedding bands. But then I'd bet that the diamond industry's hold on engagement rings will probably be the last to go, after anniversary/christmas presents.
posted by likeatoaster at 11:29 AM on January 7, 2015


I think that Mizu, Eyebrows McGee, and sparklemotion all make good points: people these days are much more into artisanal, hand-made jewelry than generic bling. I love jewelry and have tons of it - almost all of it either inherited or handcrafted. (Early GenXer here.) I don't think artists who make jewelry are hurting. It's the generic diamond and "nice" gold jewelry that people aren't interested in. Jewelry is art, not a statement of status. (I did inherit my great-aunt's huge diamond engagement ring and I do not know what the hell I want to do with it. I've no intention of marrying, so I am not going to Save It For The Big Day. I probably will get it reset. I was close with my aunt, so I would rather keep than get rid of it.)

I'm sure the realization that the diamond industry is horrific and that diamonds really aren't that scarce (just price-controlled) has a huge part as well. Thanks to the Internet, more people know this - information is easier to obtain than ever, you don't have to be well-connected or a super-sleuth to find these things out. And people talk.

In my circle, there's also a backlash against huge white weddings with big diamond rings, because we've seen so many people do this and then get divorced a couple years later. Substance over style is the watchword. I don't know if this is a coincidence or not - but all of my happily married friends had small, low-key weddings and don't wear elaborate diamond engagement/wedding jewelry.

Finally, I've surmised for some time that something else is afoot, not just with diamond jewelry but with traditionally "feminine" collectibles like plates and whatnot that I don't see Millennials interested in at all: separate spheres for men and women is a dying concept. It used to be that women collected china and Franklin Mint type nicknacks and men collected electronics. But now, both men and women want iPads and wireless chargers and other technology. Women don't want the "Nice Things" belonging to the domestic sphere that their mothers and grandmothers did. I think this attitude goes for "nice" mass-produced jewelry, too. (This insight brought to you by someone unloading a houseful of inherited Nice Things that she doesn't want!)
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 11:34 AM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Jewelry is art, not a statement of status.

To be fair, wearing original art is a statement of status, just a different kind.
posted by Miko at 11:43 AM on January 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


I can tell you that Pandora is definitely very popular amongst my set.
posted by oddman at 11:52 AM on January 7, 2015


Women don't want the "Nice Things" belonging to the domestic sphere that their mothers and grandmothers did.

When was the last time you saw someone get a fur coat under the tree? Or is that more of a fashion thing than a conspicuous wealth thing?
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:54 AM on January 7, 2015


a piece by Vanessa Gade

That is stunning.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:58 AM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Good.

DeBeers is pretty high on the list of companies I want to see crash and burn and sink and choke and die.


Well, there's a whole lot of mom-and-pops between you and them that crash and burn too. I hate DeBeers as much as anyone (so do a lot of jewelers), but I'd rather my dad and a good chunk of my extended family not be unemployed.

Diamonds are bullshit

Good stuff, but there's a whole lot of gross generalization in that. For instance, on markup, a lot of independent jewelers (not chain stores) actually reduce the markup on the diamond as it gets bigger. A .10ct might have a keystone markup, but a 2.00 ct could easily have less than 30%. They make it sound like everyone's tripling the cost of large diamonds, which in the indies (in my experience, where I come from) is not usually the case.

Also there's the "diamonds aren't rare" thing, which is both true and very misleading. It is true that DeBeers manipulates the market with their stockpile. It is also true that if you are looking at the whole of crystallized carbon on this planet, it may well be "as common as coal." But rarity is a product of size and quality. You have to move literally tons of earth to produce a single finished 1-carat gem-quality diamond. You'll get more total rough diamond than that out of those tons, but only one bit of rock large enough to produce a full-carat diamond ring. So speaking about rarity of "diamonds" as a whole is like speaking about the dietary needs of "animals".

When I sold jewelry, I always tried to push lab-created stones to customers because you can get WAY more bang for your buck with way less environmental impact and no worries that human rights were violated. But people rarely go for them, because the average person sees them as "not real", and it doesn't matter how much you explain that they are. You learn very quickly in the business that they're there to buy romance, not gemstones. Lab-grown crystals are not as romantic as something forged under the earth for billions of years.

But even with that, hell yeah tech is a major competitor for jewelry and has been since long before I left the business over a decade ago. Jewelry's a luxury, so it competes with tech, vacations, fancy clothing, bathroom remodeling, you name it.
posted by middleclasstool at 11:59 AM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


When was the last time you saw someone get a fur coat under the tree?

In my case, never, but I was raised in a mild climate by diehard animal lovers. I would have hated to see the looks on my mom's or grandma's faces if someone presented them with fur for a gift.

These days - I can't imagine anyone of my acquaintance wearing real fur. Faux fur, yes - I have a gorgeous faux-leopard jacket - but I haven't seen anyone wear real fur in years. I've never seen fur advertised on websites. No department store I know of sells it.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 12:02 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


As a millennial (born in 1981), I never understood the appeal or desire of jewelry, despite coming from a home where both parents had internalized the diamond industry message that giving jewelry was a requirement to show love and status, and that the size/type of jewelry was a preferred gauge in which to measure that love and status. I still find it gross and can't wait to see the corrupt diamond industry get torn down as a new generation calls bullshit.

Increasingly, I see my circle of friends (20-40 year olds) eschewing jewelry because it lacks practicality. Even those that still harbor some desire for jewelry are turning to more unique metals (Tungsten is popular) and away from 'costume-y' stuff with gems/diamonds. This seems to reflect a greater trend that I've begun to see in the past few years. Previously, a lot of people seemed to acquire these hyped, mass-manufactured and over-priced items as a means to display their wealth and have others acknowledge how much money they must have sitting in the bank -- where people now prefer to be more involved and tell a story about what they've purchased as indicators of their privilege (refined taste), superior education and uniqueness as individuals.
posted by stubbehtail at 12:09 PM on January 7, 2015


Do you have any pictures of your ring, Miko? Has the opal been scratched or anything? I love opals, but the general consensus (among jewelers, who probably have ulterior motives) is that they're not durable enough hold up okay in rings.
posted by almostmanda at 12:18 PM on January 7, 2015


Seems to me another factor, besides current taste going for objects/experiences representing authenticity, is that in the developed world, there are enormous quantities of mid-century to early-2000s consumer goods still around. Clothes, appliances, house/kitchen furnishings, media... and jewelry.

Almost everyone I know who grew up middle-class has inherited, or will have the opportunity to inherit jewelry or buy estate baubles. I certainly have - I'm wearing my great-grandfather's diamond and Russian aquamarine pinkie ring right now, as I have since I was 18 and first permitted to wear diamonds. I have cultured pearls given to me to wear at college (hilarious, as I was exceedingly butch even then) and some other gold and precious metal pieces from various relatives and partners. I also have a lot of artisanal and estate cufflinks and stickpins. The other family stuff sits in a safety-deposit box until I pass them on to other, younger relatives.

I buy stuff I'm going to use, not to add to the hidden hoard.
posted by Dreidl at 12:22 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Jewelry isn't a "thing" these days like it used to be, and the younger generation is much more well aware of the artificial scarcity of diamonds.

In a country where the incomes at the top are going up, up, up, you would assume that sales of luxury goods like jewelry would rise as well, but wealth markers are no longer defined by jewelry.

As was posted on the @GSElevator Twitter feed, "Not wearing a watch is the new Patek."
posted by bright colored sock puppet at 12:23 PM on January 7, 2015


Interesting, Rosie M. Banks, as I've arrived at the opposition conclusion. In fact, I'm incredibly dismayed that it appears to be somewhat acceptable to wear fur again. Mainstream department stores like Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth carry a lot of real fur apparel and accessories especially in winter, as do online boutiques like Shopbop. Even masstige brands like Joie and Theory hawk fur vests these days. It's so gross.
posted by peripathetic at 12:24 PM on January 7, 2015


Hm, just realized.. I've just rewatched S4 of Game of Thrones, and started noticing there's quite a lot of jewellery--and very, very little of it seems to include gemstones or much gold. I'm thinking Sansa's necklaces later in the season in particular, Missandei has a lovely solid metal choker also.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:29 PM on January 7, 2015


Metafilter: a lot more impressive during the age of hereditary monarchs, tertiary syphillis, and shitting in jars
posted by a halcyon day at 12:41 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


> Buying a 'starter' engagement ring with the idea of 'upgrading' it later on is apparently A Thing

Really? Wow. I know a guy who was making significantly more money than I was when he got married and he still had to take a second job just to pay for the damn engagement ring.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:44 PM on January 7, 2015


Really? Wow. I know a guy who was making significantly more money than I was when he got married and he still had to take a second job just to pay for the damn engagement ring.

I am suddenly and harshly reminded of, shall we say, the very broad range of types of human relationships.

Which is my attempt at trying to be civil instead of muttering a lot of profanity in the vague direction of my computer.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:53 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


In a country where the incomes at the top are going up, up, up, you would assume that sales of luxury goods like jewelry would rise as well

But there are many fewer people with access to high incomes.

I've arrived at the opposition conclusion.

When I read Rosie M. Banks' comment I also thought about domestically-related Nice Things I think are still highly desired and markers of status, like a Kitchen Aid stand mixer, super expensive outdoor grills/ovens and fireplaces, full sets of barware, high-end patio and deck furniture, granite countertops, etc. I don't really see interest in that stuff declining among people who can afford it, and my sense is that women are making most of these purchases.
posted by Miko at 12:58 PM on January 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


The idea that anyone would be interested in the theoretical resale value of an engagement ring depresses me on a few different levels.

This. Jewelry is for yourself and your daughters and your daughter's daughters. Engagement rings are to give to your sons (or I guess, now lesbian daughters) so they can ask a girl to marry them. They stay in the family and thus become sentimental. That's their "value as an investment." It's not about being able to sell them later.
posted by corb at 1:05 PM on January 7, 2015


I love opals, but the general consensus (among jewelers, who probably have ulterior motives) is that they're not durable enough hold up okay in rings.

There are plenty of opal rings out there, but they must be worn carefully if you want to keep the original stone in good shape. A lot of people never take their wedding rings off, and diamonds and sapphires are gonna hold up way better under those conditions.

Diamond has a Mohs hardness of 10 out of 10, and opal IIRC averages around 6, so it scratches easier. They also frequently have internal fissures that will not respond well to being hit on things. Opals are also not as heat-tolerant, so if it's prong-set, you have to take it out of the piece when rebuilding worn prongs, which with diamonds you don't have to do. That ups the labor a bit, but not prohibitively so.

If you're dealing with a local, reputable jeweler, the only ulterior motive they have is that they don't want to sell you an engagement ring with a stone that you'll break because you wore it while washing dishes and had an accident, because (1) it will make you sad that your wedding ring is broken, which they don't want, and (2) it's even money that the customer will blame the jeweler for selling them something that broke, which they really don't want.

Jewelry is for yourself and your daughters and your daughter's daughters.

Divorce, inability to have children, dire financial straits, and other possibilities abound here.
posted by middleclasstool at 1:12 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Jewelry is art, not a statement of status.

As a silversmith who makes jewelry as well as teach others the craft, I absolutely agree with you. The art form has completely transformed in the last 20 years -- Precious Metal Clay and lab grown gems have taken it to another level.

People want different kind of jewelry and you have to keep up with the changing technology and the times...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 1:16 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Divorce, inability to have children, dire financial straits, and other possibilities abound here.
"Now my little girl is a journalist."
"Thanks, Dad, I am a journalist, so I have to go pawn this to pay my rent!"
[Sarah Haskins (as mentioned above)]
posted by en forme de poire at 1:23 PM on January 7, 2015


I have my maternal grandmother's engagement ring and wedding ring. She had no sons. She had one grandson but you might as well throw it in the street as give it to my brother. I'm nearing 50 and have no children. I suppose I should give it to one of my nieces or nephews, but they're all too little to be interested. Hopefully I won't be gone before one of them gets old enough to decide if they are interested.

I expect that if I took them to the Cash4Gold store they'd offer me about 75 cents. The diamond is microscopic, the gold is probably low quality, and both rings are worn to a hair thickness. But the fact grandma wore them long enough to get them that thin, gives them great sentimental value to me.

Couldn't be less interested in new versions of such items.
posted by elizilla at 1:27 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm in line with fiercecupcake.... I come from a long line of jewelery loving Europeans. When they opened my grandmother's safety deposit box after her death, there was nothing but jewels. Of course, her family was torn apart and never reunited due to WWII, and she suffered extreme poverty and the collapse of her economy so that also changes one's perception of what is valuable. I inherited a gorgeous diamond estate watch and an opal ring. My regret is that she was not alive for me to thank her for them, but every time I wear them I think of her....

But there is so much CRAP diamonds out there... we shopped forever for an engagement ring and they are all bland mass market crap. Round brilliant cut. Zzzzz. No style. Yet another halo cushion cut that will be dated in 10 years. Barf. Here is where I echo Eyebrows McGee (& Mizu & sparklemotion) X 100.... it is all about the setting/style and not the stone per se. Either go classic (diamond studs, stand of pearls) or go funky.

Changing topic a little... I found this quote very illuminating:

“The psychology of this generation is not that of a depression generation…. Status for this generation isn’t about money—it’s about attention,” Yarrow explained.

THAT makes sense. We value what is scarce and now that several generation's worth of diamonds are in the market place, and now that we are so pressed for time (because of technology), true attention really is a valuable and rare commodity. We get attention through our cel phones and media, not through statusy items.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:43 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Consider this: The last time jewelry -- real jewelry, desirable jewelry, jewelry that real people could touch, jewelry meant to solely be a beautiful work of wearable art -- the last time it had a major, memorable moment in popular media was this right here.

That was 25 years ago.

Since that time, the only other pieces of jewelry that have received a similar degree of popular media spotlight are blood diamonds, the diamonds from Reservoir Dogs and The One Ring.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:46 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well Celine Dion did pour all her malice and will to dominate into that necklace too.
posted by The Whelk at 2:00 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I love opals, but the general consensus (among jewelers, who probably have ulterior motives) is that they're not durable enough hold up okay in rings.

And my general consensus that I don't care that much. I doubt this ring will last 10 years, maybe not even 5, but I will replace it then with something we pick out. In the meantime, it's beautiful and expresses what I feel about the whole engagement thing. That's the important stuff. I don't view the ring as something that has to last a lifetime. My brother and SIL just upgraded their wedding rings after 17 years. A lot of people do that. Never had the expectation that it has to be one ring to rule all time, so I reject that right along with a lot of the other cultural baggage about rings. There's also a lot of yammering about opals being bad luck, but that's cultural. In other cultures, they're auspicious. THis is not high on my list of life worries.

Jewelry is for yourself and your daughters and your daughter's daughters.


I don't have any daughters at present. I also don't have much from my parents or grandparents. I think this is kind of a wealthier person's thing, not something that was particularly relevant to my working-class family. I can think of other things I'd rather give my offspring.

Has the opal been scratched or anything?


Nope. It looks great. If it did get scratches I suppose they'd just reflect the wear and tear of life. If I wanted something to be pristine forever I guess I wouldn't wear it all day every day on my hand.
posted by Miko at 2:03 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well Celine Dion did pour all her malice and will to dominate into that necklace too.

Ah, yes, Titanic. Where the piece of jewelry in question was hidden away for decades as Rose completely repudiated her association to wealth and privilege. And then she throws it away so no one could ever again find it or even know that it was ever in her possession.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:20 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


When I was getting the engagement ring for my fiancee, the jeweler I worked with said that blood diamonds are actually a tiny percent of overall diamond stores, and anyway almost all of her stones came from Canada anyway.

I ended up going with a green sapphire with some tiny diamonds around it (more of the jeweler's work), and it seems to have gone over pretty well — I knew my fiancee would like it, but part of what makes this so fraught is that she'd also get judgmental bullshit from her relatives over deviations from their ideal. And while I have the social freedom to say fuck 'em, I recognize that she's got another web of gender obligation that they expect her to hew to and deviating is much more fraught.
posted by klangklangston at 2:31 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


We have matching pairs of Magical Gay Marriage Cufflinks in bluejohn fluorite, mined from his hometown's mine, gotten during a visit to his old stomping grounds.
posted by The Whelk at 2:36 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've disliked and actively campaigned against diamonds ever since I first learned of DeBeers years ago. So on that note, hell yeah!

(I did leave space in my disgust for synthetic diamonds though. The idea of making something like that is cool to me.)

But as for buying jewelry? I never really got it. A small fortune for a trinket that didn't do anything just seemed wasteful to me. I'll make jewelry for people (rings from silver quarters, braided gold wire, that sort of thing) but buying it? Nope. Not my thing.
posted by quin at 2:41 PM on January 7, 2015


Foam Pants: After visiting a few pawn shops, it seems to me that diamonds and jewelry like that don't hold their value.
SILENCE!

GUARDS, STOP THIS MAN! NO ONE MUST SUSPECT THIS IS TRUE!

And has always been true.
dipolemoment: Now that woman are allowed to have their own bank accounts, jewelery isn't as important as a wealth holding device that allows woman to pass on wealth to their daughters.
Probably the most insightful thing I've heard about jewelry in years. Damn, of course. Trousseaus are insurance for women valued for their hymens alone, obviously; jewelry is a sort of trousseau. Goddamned salary bonuses and financial instruction from Mom do it for a woman who fucks, and loves, for pleasure.

And most jewelry gifts, by and large, are quasi-trousseaus. Gifts to a girlfriend to show you're serious. Annual gifts to a wife to prove you're still interested. Bigger, secret gifts to your mistress to prove you're gonna leave your wife. And the occasional class ring.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:42 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


That's not even some deep secret. Women's jewelry is their own, it's portable, it's valuable, and it's hidable. I can point to a number of women of an older generation who have sold jewelry in order to get cash. Also, randomly, a number of survivors/refugees from World War II and other European disruptions owe their presence in America to the wealth stored in jewelry.
posted by Miko at 2:49 PM on January 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


But I mean, if jewelry isn't really that valuable, then how much of a "wealth holding device" from mother to daughter could it really be, unless we're going like way, way, way back in time, to when proto-Greek kings gave each other tripods and stuff.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 2:50 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, then.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 2:50 PM on January 7, 2015


People should only give gifts that really matter, like a duchy.
posted by The Whelk at 2:51 PM on January 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


Gender and Jewelry: A Feminist Analysis
posted by Miko at 2:52 PM on January 7, 2015


I think a big part of their appeal, in the last few years, has been Kate Middleton's sapphire ring.

This doesn't explain why it didn't catch on the first time around, though.

Like a lot of the ladies around these parts (apparently), I am pretty meh about jewelry as far as my personal style goes and am also concerned about the ethics of its production. But it seems worth reminding people that electronics are not without very similar concerns, and I am leery of frameworks that position female-coded consumer goods as just vain and silly but male-coded consumer goods as perfectly reasonable.
posted by naoko at 2:52 PM on January 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


I think this is kind of a wealthier person's thing, not something that was particularly relevant to my working-class family.

I don't think this is the case - many even working-class families value "mom's wedding ring" or suchlike, even if they don't have any other jewelry - but what other people are saying about it being a secretive wealth transfer may also have a lot of value.
posted by corb at 2:54 PM on January 7, 2015


The jewelry industry isn't helping itself with its gross "Men, use diamonds to buy her love!" advertising.

No kidding. Most jewelry ads make me want to throw things at my TV. I have a special hate for this Jared commercial - how many sexist stereotypes can you throw into one ad?
posted by SisterHavana at 3:10 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


We have matching pairs of Magical Gay Marriage Cufflinks in bluejohn fluorite, mined from his hometown's mine

Is he from Castleton? I love Castleton.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:15 PM on January 7, 2015


The article rang pretty true for me, as someone in the target age group.

For a recent 'milestone' birthday, my GenX sister-in-law got me a beautiful birthstone necklace and my parents got me a lovely watch. Neither of those are gifts I would have picked out for myself and, unfortunately for jewelers, my sister-in-law bought the necklace online and the watch was from a major 'off-price' retailer.

My biggest current consideration is the most meaningful way to spend my tiny leisure budget. Jewelry is not it.

If I were extrapolating from the experience of my peers and myself, I'd blame (as others already have in this thread) the economy--specifically flat real wages--with a side of 'out of fashion right now', for the lack of shiny rings and bejeweled brooches in Millennials' lives.
posted by librarylis at 3:21 PM on January 7, 2015


I love that Sarah Haskins piece (okay, I love all the Target: Women stuff) and I agree with you SisterHavana, but oh, this year's holiday ad from Tiffany's was so lovely...
posted by Mchelly at 3:31 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Guess I'm a real contrarian fogey then for giving Mrs. Ersatz a leather and silver braided bracelet for xmas. It was either that or a 24-Port Managed Gigabit Ethernet Switch.
posted by mr.ersatz at 3:36 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I hated the jewelry commercials that Pandora kept throwing at me badly enough that I wound up switching my gender on the site to "male" in the hopes that I would hear about something else for a change.

Seriously every time the jingle for one comes on, I start frothing at the mouth. It's like a Pavlovian reaction, only instead of happy drooling for meat it's an all-consuming desire to rip the voicebox out of whatever is making the noise so it will just go away already.
posted by sciatrix at 3:42 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


many even working-class families value "mom's wedding ring"

Yeah, but not as an investment.

I agree with you about the gender-coding, naoko. Also that people are uncomfortable talking about the ethical consequences of simple computing power, which we tend to happily gobble up even while refusing the plastic bags and writing on both sides of scrap paper and other practices we think of as environmentally friendly.
posted by Miko at 3:44 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


from Castleton? I love Castleton


Yep! For a While before moving further north.
posted by The Whelk at 3:58 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


if jewelry isn't really that valuable, then how much of a "wealth holding device" from mother to daughter could it really be

I've been told this is still the case, or was the case until very recently, in parts of India / Pakistan / Bangladesh and probably other places I'm less familiar with.

I went to a jeweler in Bangladesh with the aim of getting some small gifts for friends at home, and it was pretty clear I was out of my depth; their main focus was on selling worked gold jewelry by the ounce. As in, you were basically paying for the gold, and then the making-into-jewelry piece was a sort of value-added service that you paid for on top. So if you are buying things that way, you could carry around a pretty serious fortune on your body, which was sort of the point traditionally. (Although I don't know if it was traditionally more of a trousseau thing or a dowry thing; some googling suggests that's a pretty controversial subject.)

But the key difference vs. the US market is that people aren't paying the kind of stupendous retail markups that characterize the jewelry industry in the US, because they are buying mostly gold at a small markup over the commodity price, plus gold has a good track record as a store of value compared to diamonds (which are volatile and maybe even artificially inflated).
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:21 PM on January 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


So if you are buying things that way, you could carry around a pretty serious fortune on your body, which was sort of the point traditionally.

The two ways that make jewelry work as a way to store wealth are this, where the gold and/or jewels are valuable for their quantity rather than the jewelry itself, and with some seriously good jewelry where it is so beautiful that it has value over and above the metal and gems. Exactly none of the jewelry in your average retail jewelry place in the US would qualify for either -- the markup is too high for the commodity value, and it's not nearly nice enough to have serious artistic value.
posted by Dip Flash at 4:30 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


This is creepiest jewelry ad to me. For some reason Hulu kept playing it at me, and I kept wanting to yell at the TV: "Break the engagement now and call the police, lady! He's only marrying you to creep on your daughter!"
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 4:54 PM on January 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Also, did she really call out Kindles? I really don't think Kindles are eating your diamond profits.

re: this thread my wife told me, "if you're gonna spend that much on a gift for me, buy me an e-reader" so....
yeah?
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 4:57 PM on January 7, 2015


This is the best jewelry ad of all time.

(Note: is not actually a jewelry ad.)
posted by Spathe Cadet at 5:34 PM on January 7, 2015


I hate the spence diamonds radio ad, I want to punch that guy in the face.

Plus they're so manipulative it's like they're reaching up, grabbing for the ovaries and twisting. "A diamond engagement ring signals to the world this girl is precious. This girl is loved." Fuuuuuuck that guy.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 5:37 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


About the wealth transfer thing, jewelry would be the only thing a woman could take out of the marriage and was her possession. If you come out of a culture where women are not allowed to formally hold property e.g., land or it has be to handled by a male in the family then that jewelry is BIG business and a concern. You have a weak banking system where your man has control of the finances? Sucks to be you with no portable wealth. Your man going to get himself a new wife and leave you with minimal resources? Then that household cash you have skimmed for years and your jewelry are the cushion. You start making sure that your daughter, if you have any, starts building her cushion because, once she exits your house her only financial independence is her jewelry. Traditionally, if a woman left her man her jewelry was all that she could take, legally. It was one of the only routes for wealth accumulation allowed to women. This was the culture, Vietnamese, that I was raised with regarding jewelry and its place. "Traditional Vietnamese laws and customs, such as the provisions of the Hong Duc law code protecting the rights and status of women, were swept away by the new code." under Emperor Gia Long (mother fucking bastard, yeah I said it my VIet brethren) swept away the higher status afforded women including inheritance.

My mother was concerned that I did not transmute my paper money (Paper, pah! It burns when the government screws with the currency or you have to flee your home) into something solid, such as gold. Yes, she came from a war time experience where gold and jewels were the only acceptable currency in some pretty sketchy circumstances.

I think if you are coming from a social circumstance where jewelry is decoration or a declaration but NOT an existential survival buffer then you have privilege in NOT getting or NEEDING jewelry.

For my daughter, jewelry is sentiment while for my mother it was survival.
posted by jadepearl at 5:38 PM on January 7, 2015 [32 favorites]


Custom jewelry is in something of a renaissance right now. You can get anything you want made with whatever you want thanks to computer aided design, 3D printers, and better-than-ever understanding of materials. There's more to the creative field of jewelry making than some arbitrary musing on retail diamonds.
posted by oceanjesse at 5:39 PM on January 7, 2015


Wonderful! Both toys and jewelry are absolutely evil industries. And if you do want a pretty rock then remember the only completely exploitation free option is lab created diamonds, etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:17 PM on January 7, 2015


I love my diamond engagement ring and wedding band, bought brand new from Tiffanys. No regrets. The engagement ring is particularly beautiful when it catches the sun and acts like a tiny discoball.
posted by HMSSM at 7:04 PM on January 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


FJT: "The rich already do that too, even going as far as using those actions as another sort of status symbol. They get to name the hospital wing after themselves, put out a press release with a nice picture of the posing next to the third world folks they're helping, and then also have a nice tax write-off."

When I retire, I—I don't want to just disappear to an island somewhere. I want to be the guy who gives everything back. I want it to be like: "Hey, who donated that hospital wing that is saving so many lives?" "Umm, well, uh, I don't know. It was anonymous." "Well, guess what? That was Michael Scott!" "But— it was anonymous, how do you know?" "...Because I'm him!"
posted by Chrysostom at 7:50 PM on January 7, 2015


"Custom jewelry is in something of a renaissance right now. You can get anything you want made with whatever you want thanks to computer aided design, 3D printers, and better-than-ever understanding of materials. There's more to the creative field of jewelry making than some arbitrary musing on retail diamonds."

Yeah, one of the cool things about the process was seeing the CAD sketches and getting to make easy changes there. If I needed more jewelry, it'd be sweet to play around with it again. On that end, it's kind of a shame that jewelry is less popular, since there seem to be a ton of cool designers out there.
posted by klangklangston at 8:18 PM on January 7, 2015


"About the wealth transfer thing, jewelry would be the only thing a woman could take out of the marriage and was her possession."

As of the year 2000, North Carolina had still not passed a Married Women's Property Act.

Just sayin'.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:37 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I suggested a pair of diamond earrings. I had noticed her admiring a colleague’s similar set before, I told him. He scoffed at the idea, eventually settling on a comparatively pricier laptop. His rationale? “She can’t use the earrings to make her artwork.”

so weird that someone chose a machine that can display the sum total of recorded human knowledge over two shiny rocks
posted by Greg Nog at 9:30 PM on January 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is creepiest jewelry ad to me. For some reason Hulu kept playing it at me, and I kept wanting to yell at the TV: "Break the engagement now and call the police, lady! He's only marrying you to creep on your daughter!"


Ugh! Those "Open Hearts" things look like butts to me! Why would I want to wear a blinded-up ass?
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 9:39 PM on January 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


so weird that someone chose a machine that can display the sum total of recorded human knowledge over two shiny rocks

Yeah, it's not like we are a sufficient stage of technological advancement that even far less pricy laptops can also display the MAJORITY of the sum total of recorded human knowledge, or anything like that.
posted by corb at 10:13 PM on January 7, 2015


Yep! For a While before moving further north.

So your cufflinks came from The Devil's Arse. (What they used to call the mine locally.)
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:00 AM on January 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I do actually like and wear jewelry, but I have very specific preferences and almost nothing made after WWII qualifies. The piece I wear most often is a turn-of-the-century Art Nouveau lavalier pendant, which cost, I think, $140 or so at a flea market. Until recently, the only other pieces of 'good' jewelry I had were a necklace my mom had made from an inherited ring (I got the teardrop-shaped opal as a pendant, my sister got a pair of diamond earrings, and my mom got the rest of the diamonds from the ring on a necklace), and a necklace my grandmother bought me when I graduated from high school.

My great-aunt passed away a couple of months ago-- she was a hoarder, and I ended up helping my mom and grandmother clean out her apartment. I ended up with pretty much all of her stuff that was vintage and not actually garbage, which sadly wasn't all that much stuff: a few sets of dishes, a typewriter, some odds and ends, a gallon bag of costume jewelry and a smaller bag of her good jewelry. Now I have two beautiful large carved cameos, some 30s and 40s sterling bracelets, and a seriously gorgeous Art Deco diamond-and-sapphire ring that I am currently having a lot of conflicted feelings about. It's too big for me and I never wear rings, but it's SO beautiful and leaving it in my jewelry box seems like a shame.

The idea of going to the mall and buying a brand-new diamond ring is still baffling to me, though. None of that stuff has the artistry or history or personality of the jewelry I like. What's the point?
posted by nonasuch at 12:26 PM on January 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


From Devil's Arse, I flash at thee
posted by The Whelk at 12:40 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


naoko: But it seems worth reminding people that electronics are not without very similar concerns, and I am leery of frameworks that position female-coded consumer goods as just vain and silly but male-coded consumer goods as perfectly reasonable.
Since every single woman I know owns a computer, a cellphone, and so on, and I really can't think of high-tech advertising that is commonly gender-biased ("The Celeron XP4800 v2.0 - A Real Man's GPU!) ... I'm not clear how electronics are male-coded. Big cars, certainly. Trucks and hand tools, moreso. Beer advertising, yes.

Buying diamond jewelry isn't a problem because it's "vain and silly"; I buy vain and silly things all the time. It is placing an often-sexist financial hurdle before couples, which in turn supports a slave trade. This isn't the same as criticizing wedding dresses or eyeliner; it's more akin to an ad campaign that tells us, "If he really loved you, he'd buy you a cheetah pelt."
posted by IAmBroom at 1:15 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


As of the year 2000, North Carolina had still not passed a Married Women's Property Act.

Huh? As much as I like to make fun of Virginia's southern neighbor (when the opportunity isn't presenting itself in the other direction), this is perhaps technically correct but not materially correct. North Carolina has in its constitution (of 1868!), a section which reads:
The real and personal property of any female in this State acquired before marriage, and all property, real and personal, to which she may, after marriage, become in any manner entitled, shall be and remain the sole and separate estate and property of such female, and shall not be liable for any debts, obligations, or engagements of her husband, and may be devised and bequeathed and conveyed by her, subject to such regulations and limitations as the General Assembly may prescribe. [...]
(Ref. Article X, Section 4; non-PDF version)

There's no statute as a result of it being there in the state constitution.

North Carolina did have a peculiarity up until the early 1980s, of making the husband the sole controller of a piece of real property owned by a married couple as 'tenants in the entirety', during marriage (i.e. not when dividing assets in a divorce). It is discussed in this insomnia-curing law review article. It was fixed in 1983.

Anyway, credit where credit is due. (Which is, to be clear, the Reconstruction-era military government of occupation that rammed the constitution of 1868 down North Carolina's collective throat at bayonet-point, not an elected government. But hey, progress.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:46 PM on January 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've seen exquisite pieces made of glass and semi-precious gems. I've seen some pretty ugly and very pricy crap made with diamonds.

AFAIC, diamonds are just another shiny rock, except they're paid for in blood and suffering.
So, diamonds aren't that pretty.
posted by BlueHorse at 10:48 PM on January 8, 2015


I'm an auction-obsessed hoarder (upgraded from thrift stores a few years ago) and any interest I've ever had in jewelry was wiped out once I realized what 'real' jewelry gets at auctions: usually 5 to 10 percent of the appraised value. Most engagement rings, often with fairly substantial stones, are somewhere in the 200 to 400 dollar range. If you want an engagement/wedding ring set and you're not adverse to pre-owned, I can't imagine a better place to go than an auction. The household goods/antiques/fine art auctions that I haunt cater to radically different markets -- from places that sell granny's knitting needles and old toaster to places that sell 18th century furniture and paintings by Emily Carr and Jack Shadbolt (and I can't afford the really really high-end ones). And in all cases, the jewelry is much, much cheaper than almost anything else.

On the flip side, vintage costume jewelry is getting way, way more expensive, which makes good sense because it's awesome; creative, often striking and bold, sometimes whimsical and always great fun. I have scads of it, mostly bought from Value Village before it got stupidly expensive. It survived because no-one ever throws out good junk jewelry or scarves.
posted by jrochest at 12:30 AM on January 9, 2015 [4 favorites]


And in all cases, the jewelry is much, much cheaper than almost anything else.

One of the good things about watching the (British) Antiques Roadshow, is that they'll generally tell you whether the valuation they give you is what something will cost to buy at retail, or what you can expect to get for something at auction.

After watching it for a while, I can't imagine ever buying jewelry anywhere other than at auction -- though I'm kind of fortunate in being married to someone who has no interest in it whatsoever.

I would quite like a really nice watch though, and that's subject to all the same stuff. I'm currently rocking an early 60's Omega Seamaster that cost me around £300 on Ebay, but I'd like something a little nicer,

OK, a lot nicer.

I always said that when I gave up smoking, I'd spend my first year's savings on a Rolex Milgauss, but when it got right down to it, it just seemed way too frivolous. If you'd bought a Mark 1 Milgauss when they first came out though, you'd be quids in today.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:18 AM on January 9, 2015


Jewelry can be fun, if it's affordable for you. An engagement ring as a few months of your salary? Bullshit, unless it's something you're looking as a future heirloom piece. If so, two months for something that will be in the family for generations doesn't sound like such a bad deal.

Luckily, my wife and I share feelings on jewelry - diamonds are dumb, over-priced sparkly gems, and there are some really interesting gems with great colors. Like sapphires, which come in some amazing colors, and they're really hard.

Here's my jewelry story. While looking at engagement rings, my wife and I went to a number of different jewelry shops. Most places were pretty casual about our browsing, showing us anything we wanted to see, talking to us but not giving us a hard sell on pricier rings or specific stones. Except one place, where the jewelers/sellers were really pushing diamonds, even though we were very interested in blue sapphires. "Well, you know sapphires aren't the hardest stones," one guy told us, trying to steer us back towards the more expensive rings.

"Oh, really?" We asked. "What's harder."

"Um, diamonds."

We already knew this, because we had done some research on stones, after hearing about people chipping their various stones. We browsed a bit more and thanked them for their time, and never went back. Outside, we laughed about taking sapphires to a diamond fight.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:39 AM on January 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


After watching it for a while, I can't imagine ever buying jewelry anywhere other than at auction

Has Ebay changed a lot of this, or are in person auctions still a great place to go for inexpensive jewelry?

I'm, uh, asking for a friend. ;)
posted by corb at 2:29 PM on January 9, 2015


I think that the market for diamond rings were really a middle class thing.

No middle class. No market. Easy peasy.
posted by mikelieman at 7:19 AM on January 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


> There's more to the creative field of jewelry making than some arbitrary musing on retail diamonds

A friend is a jeweler, and she specializes in custom motorcycle bells.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:47 AM on January 11, 2015


One thing that immediately jumps out at me is that most tech goes obsolete within a few years, whereas, y'know "diamonds are forever." Someone in my family gets a new tablet, phone, TV, or laptop every year at least, not to mention new gadgets that hit the market (a fitbit! a roomba! a roku!) and seem interesting to try.

How many pieces of expensive jewelry can a person really get any use out of? My mom is a fairly committed diamond fan, but she's got her engagement/wedding ring set and a pair of diamond earrings and... done. Pretty much for life.

The jewelry industry spends a lot of time selling people on new occasions to buy jewelry, or new must-have pieces or styles. But, y'know, at the end of the day, jewelry is not an update-every-year thing in the way that techy gadget stuff is.
posted by Sara C. at 1:42 PM on January 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


"Oh man, the new rings don't support the old diamonds so I guess I gotta buy the new one now...."
posted by The Whelk at 1:50 PM on January 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


These earrings are just so... laggy, you know?
posted by Sara C. at 2:12 PM on January 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


My necklace barely holds a charge anymore and there's no way to replace it!
posted by The Whelk at 2:27 PM on January 11, 2015 [4 favorites]


jewelry is not an update-every-year thing in the way that techy gadget stuff is.

It could be, though. A piece of jewelry can be reworked almost endlessly, since the metal can be melted and recast any number of times and stones reset. Right not I don't know anyone who does that, but there is no reason why it isn't the norm.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:58 PM on January 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's really not unheard of in royal jewellery. So-and-so's brooch is made from stones and metal taken from SAS' grandmother's tiara which was made from her aunt's necklace etc. And some of the really big royal jewels (not Crown Jewels) are, e.g., a set of stones that convert from being a tiara to a necklace, or come apart as a brooch and earrings or whatnot. Then there are parures, which are sets of bracelet/earrings/necklace/tiara.

Royal jewellery is astounding. Personally my favourite that's still being worn from time to time is the Kokoshnik Tiara, which is basically a fuck-you wall of diamonds.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 4:44 PM on January 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah I think nowadays for the most part ordinary people only have jewelry reset if its an heirloom, especially a sized item like a ring. I've never heard of anyone having jewelry they already owned reset into a trendier setting, or a bracelet converted to a tiara, or what have you. Again, probably that pesky "diamonds are forever" marketing coming back to bite DeBeer's in the ass.
posted by Sara C. at 4:52 PM on January 11, 2015


Sara C.: " I've never heard of anyone having jewelry they already owned reset into a trendier setting, or a bracelet converted to a tiara, or what have you."

Whaaaaaat I totally do this. I had to have an extender added to my grandmother's pearls, and I had my jeweler make the extender chain out of beads from a necklace that was my other grandmother's, so I'd have a bit of both of them when I wear it. I had a little childhood plastic beaded bracelet that was a gift from a beloved great aunt turned into several pairs of drop-bead earrings for myself and my female cousins. (She had given each of us the same bracelet when we were little girls and we all loved them so when I stumbled across it going through some old boxes I knew exactly what to do with it.) It cost, like, $30. My mother-in-law gave me a semi-precious beaded necklace that was great, but too dated to wear ... I had it restrung, and two beads removed and turned into cufflinks for my husband. That cost a bit more because I had to buy the cufflinks, but it wasn't prohibitive. I've had the bails changed out on pendants, the backs altered on broaches, and one of my favorite pieces is an estate-sale piece of slightly-damaged jade that the jeweler gussied up with a little flower of semi-precious stones to turn the flaw into a feature (I didn't HAVE that one reset, I just bought it already done, but it IS reset).

I mean, if you've got something you love, and it sits in your jewelry box all lonely and unworn because it's just not wearable as it is, you get it changed so it's wearable!

(And the obvious, easiest version of this is to get pin converters and turn fabulous brooches from the past into statement necklaces with no permanent commitment ... there are a lot of awesome vintage and antique brooches out there that are underpriced compared to similar pieces that are necklaces or bracelets, since people just don't wear pins as much as they used to, and a $5 converter opens up a WHOLE WORLD of kick-ass statement necklaces. Ebay yourself up some art deco pieces or some pre-1837 pins or maybe something vintage and Chinese? Go nuts!)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:43 PM on January 11, 2015 [11 favorites]


Eyebrows - I added the pin converters to my Amazon wish list. I hadn't known they existed - and I have a ton of vintage brooches from my grandma that I don't wear because I don't really wear brooches that much. This solves that problem!

I had a lovely necklace of purple glass and silver beads that belonged to my great-grandmother, that was on a chain that broke. I had a jeweler friend restring the beads for me, and she did a great job. I think it's quite common to have inherited pieces remade, especially things like beaded necklaces (which aren't that hard to remake) and rings (where a setting can look really dated). I'm saving up to have a bunch of my mom's "cocktail rings" remade if I can. They're precious stones (an emerald, a ruby, and a sapphire ring all with diamonds) but the settings are dated and fussy-looking and I want something more contemporary. I'll be dead before the "dated" turns into "vintage!"
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 10:05 AM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Eyebrows, you are CHANGING MY LIFE FOR SERIOUS.
posted by corb at 10:11 AM on January 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah I think nowadays for the most part ordinary people only have jewelry reset if its an heirloom, especially a sized item like a ring

My wife had the stones in her engagement ring reset into a new ring for Christmas. The old one had worn thin over the years. It wasn't expensive. Around £100 for the work and the new gold band combined.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:04 AM on January 14, 2015


How did I not know about converters? I have a small pile of Avon pins from the 1960s and 1970s that I haven't been wearing, because they look weird on T-shirts. Googly eyed owl pin, your day has returned!
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:46 AM on January 14, 2015


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