Man-Made Diamonds; A Buyer's Guide

It seems almost impossible to watch TV or open a newspaper without seeing something about man-made diamonds. For centuries of years science has tested to create a perfect synthetic diamond. Finally, 21st-century technology has made that prospect a reality.

There are many reasons to purchase synthetic diamonds instead of the mined variety. The prices charged for mined diamonds are, in the very best verbiage, an illusion. To put it more bluntly, Cecil Adams, in his award-winning newspaper column "The Straight Dope" says: "Diamonds are a con, pure and simple." Diamond prices are largely controlled by the DeBeers diamond cartel, and they are not a fair reflection of diamond scarcity. Additionally, studies show that one out of three diamonds sold in the US today has been altered to artificially increase its value. Further studies have shown that on average a couple pays 40% too much for their diamond engagement ring.

Beyond deceiving pricing, there are the issues of "blood diamonds", forced child labor, and a myriad of other disturbing diamond facts.

Recently, socially conscious celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Minnie Driver, and Angelina Jolie have made a vocal issue of wearing only synthetic diamonds to the many gala events they attend.

Good synthetic diamonds are naturally indistinguishable from the mined variety, but without the baggage, and additionally, they cost thousands of dollars less. But, which synthetic diamond is the best choice?

There are many types of man-made or synthetic diamonds available. The choices are numerous, but unbiased information is scarce. Here is an overview and comparison of the synthetic diamonds currently unavailable on the market:

Cubic Zirconia

The grandfather of simulated diamonds, Zircons are available wide. In their best examples, CZ's are actually a fairly decent diamond replica. Unfortunately, the commodity-like availability and vast differences in quality have made the stone synonymous with low-cost fashion jewelry. Perhaps a good choice for cheap bling, but not for fine jewelry. Many sources are available, a decent one is: http://www.czfantasy.com

Russian Diamonds

Including Russian Brilliants, Russian Stars and others, they are in fact nothing but high quality cubic zirconias. This is not mentioned prominently on their web sites and they will only cop to it when pressed, but that is the fact. Russian diamond simulates are priced around $ 280 per carat.

Russian Diamonds are a fine jewelry selection and are usually mounted in quality precious metal settings.

Russian Brilliants are one of the best and oldest sellers of "Russian Diamonds" available at: http://www.russianbrilliants.net

Moissanite

Moissanite is a lab-created mineral that is a very good diamond simulant. Moissanite has been on the market as a fine jewelry choice since the early 90s and has picked up quite a few fans. Moissanite is a hard mineral that, like diamond, will cut glass. There are a couple of minor downsides to moissanite however. First, it is quite expensive, (though still cheaper compared to diamonds) usually priced about $ 500 per carat for good samples.

Secondly, moissanite does not have the same optical qualities as diamond and there are several indicators that make them easy to spot with the naked eye for an experienced practitioner. It is difficult to produce a pure white moissanite and they often appear slowly green when viewed in natural light. Also, moissanite has significantly higher radiance and brilliance factors then natural diamond, causing them to appear "too sparkly" to some. Overall though, moissanite is a beautiful synthetic diamond choice.

"Moissanite From the Sky" at http://www.fromthesky.com is a good source of fine moissanite jewelry.

Diamond Nexus

Diamond Nexus gemstones are the result of a fairly new scientific advancement in processing technique, and have only recently been available in the United States.

Diamond Nexus gemstones are excellent diamond simulants and come very close to matching the properties of mined diamonds at many different comparison points. They cut glass, being virtually identical to diamond on the Mohs (hardness) scale. They refract perfect "hearts and arrows" and have radiance and brilliance statements very close to flawless diamond.

Best of all, they are currently introductory pricing for the US market, and are a steal at $ 79 per caret. Diamond Nexus gemstones are only available in precious metal, solid-gold settings.

Diamond Nexus is only available from Diamond Nexus Labs at: http://www.DiamondNexusLabs.com

White Sapphire

Sapphire is the second hardest natural mineral on the Mohs scale, surpassed only by diamond. They are, unlike the others in this review, a natural stone. Their radiance and brilliance are not up to the standards of diamond however. Neverheless, quality white sapphires priced at around $ 220 per carat are a good diamond alternative.

A quality source is: http://www.TheNaturalSapphireCompany.com

Gemisis Cultured Diamond

Gemisis diamonds are beautiful and almost perfect diamond replicas. Unfortunately, they are not available in a clear, white color, so they are not a good choice for traditional diamond settings. However, if a yellow, orange or pink diamond is what you crave, Gemisis offers stunning choices in beautiful precious metal, fine-jewelry settings.

Gemisis Cultured Diamonds are only available at: http://www.gemisis.com

Recap:

Synthetic diamonds offer many advantages over the mined variety. You can buy with confidence, knowing that you are getting exactly what you paid for, and have not been the victim of diamond pricing chicanery. If you are concerned with the world around you, you can have a clear conscience, knowing that your money has not contributed to the support of an unethical and abusive industry.

However, there are many choices of synthetic diamonds, with varying degrees of quality. Take a little time to review the seller's information to get a clear idea of ​​what the science is behind the gemstones you are buying.

For my money, I believe the best choices are quality Moissanite stones or the new diamond simulant gemstones available from Diamond Nexus Labs.

Living in the Philippines – Best "Passive" Businesses to Start

For those OFW’s and foreigners wishing to start a business, but not wishing to involve themselves with the stress of a business involving day-to-day operations, employees, landlords, inventory, and so forth, there are several available opportunities for foreigners living in the Philippines. Buy fixer upper properties, improve them, then rent or sell them.

1. Buy Fixer Upper Properties, Improve Them, Then Rent or Sell Them. This is a great business for those of you who have experience in your home country in buying, fixing up and renting or selling properties. Over the past 10 years, a lot of people got involved in this kind of business in their homeland.

With the overall economic problems in the world the past couple of years, the Philippines has not been immune, and there are a lot of properties in a state of disrepair, as well as lot of distressed and foreclosed properties.

2. Build An Apartelle. An Apartelle is an apartment building where all but one of the units are rented out long term, and you are left to operate on a nightly or weekly basis, like a hotel – hence the combined name of apartelle. These are common in the Philippines.

This business will require a heavier capital investment, yet with the right property and by focusing in the more rural areas or smaller cities, you can construct a small 4 unit apartment building for Peso 3,000,000 – not counting cost of the land.

You would want to rent out 3 units on a long term rental basis, and keep one for short term rentals – for the many traveling salesmen that frequent the countryside. They like booking into such short term apartelle units rather than the much more expensive hotels in the area.

3. Condotels. I have not given this business my “thumbs up” in all instances. Condotels have been heavily touted and promoted the past several years and there have been many, many new condominiums built in Manila, and now even in Cebu and starting in Davao.

The problem is that although the developers offer great down payment terms (usually around 30% down financed over 3 years) and in some cases carry back the mortgage and finance for perhaps 10 years, the interest rates are incredibly high, and the split of rentals with the management team runs around 50%/50%. There is also always a nominal monthly maintenance fee.

What looks like “cheap” entry point and cash flow out each month, in many cases simply becomes a bet on long term property appreciation – finding someone willing to pay you more for it than you paid for it.

This is because with all the inventory on hand, there is a surplus of condos which have been into hotel type rental pools, but not enough visitors to rent them all.

Consequently, what an investor thought would be a good positive cash cow, turns out to be a continuous negative cash flow – not what a new retiree to the Philippines is looking for to supplement his pension or annuity! This type investment will only drain you pension.

However, having written all this, I HAVE FOUND the past several month two exceptional condotel investments which DO meet my criteria of creating good ongoing rental income.

4. Farming. The likely cessation of the Agrarian Land Reform Program (CARP) will give the rural sector renewed confidence to invest in agricultural production capacity. CARP has held back investment in both production capacity as well as farm acquisition. An end to CARP will mean higher land prices since land will be valued for its higher income producing potential.

However, higher land prices are simply a “serendipity”, an added value, to the type of farming business I am writing about. I have found an extremely unique business opportunity, which will generate a great ROI (return on investment) and is completely passive. It has been structured by the developers (all foreigners) to be a one turnkey investment price. The price includes cost of the land, plus all

Clearing, planting, cultivation and harvesting for the first 5 years.

The business has been priced to fit the capital investment budget of the average foreigner retiree, and all landowners will be members of a cooperative which will share the farming equipment (tractors, equipment shed, and others). The farm will be “farmed” by the developer’s management team

The hottest trend now is in organic farming, and yet it is only in its infancy stage in the Philippines. There is one export product in particular which has caught my attention – the pili nut. The Philippines is the ONLY country with which produces and processes this nut in commercial quantity.

The current status of the pili is equivalent to that of the macadamia some 30 years ago. It has huge potential to develop into a major industry. They are in demand not only in Hong Kong and Taiwan but also in Singapore, Korea and Austria.

The Effect Of Gadgets On The Youth

The young and trendy generation of today judge themselves, according to the kind of gadgets they posses. The popularity of gadgets among youth has ensured that newer and trendier gadgets are introduced very passing day. The addiction of gadgets has been such among one and all that it has become unthinkable of a life without a gadget. The effect of these gadgets has been tremendous, and it is often debated that whether the impact that it has made on the youth is a positive or negative one.

Video Games and Computer games can be listed as the gadget which has influenced the youth the most. Several researches indicate that these games can have a positive effect on the youth’s mind. However sometimes it may cause terrible changes in behaviors. It was seen that playing video games or computer games actually help the young people in concentrating much better. There are games which require you to use your brains and those games may indeed prove to be helpful. Also it was seen that it has a very good impact on the motor skills and spatial skills of today’s youth. However these games may also result in the child getting absolutely isolated from the society. There is a tendency to get engrossed in the games, and forget everything else. Also there are chances that they might tend to confuse between the virtual world and real world. When you are using a gadget like a video game it is important to remember that whatever you are doing is going on in the virtual world. It would be nothing short of foolery in trying to emulate those things in the real world. Gadgets like computers or video games may turn to be very addictive. This is another worry as because these things are meant to be past times, and never should it be preferred over family or social commitments. Thus it is important to remain aware of your responsibilities while using your favorite gadget.

MP3 players another popular gadget that has found its feet among the youth also has its pros and cons. It may soothe your soul when you are doing nothing, or even doing some work which is less intensive. Listening to music may also help to concentrate better at times. However listening to music for long periods of time in a high volume, may cause hearing problems in the near future which is extremely dangerous.

Wholesale Fashion Jewelry – 5 Shortcuts to Retail Success

Something in the human spirit is always itching for independence and this itch translates to a constant flow of new entrepreneurs that so often gravitate towards fashion jewelry. What is so irresistible about this accessory? Beyond the high profit margins that wholesale fashion jewelry can open for retailers lies an intrinsic beauty that creates truly wearable art. Yes, wholesale fashion jewelry offers plenty of profit potential that enables retailers to turn small investments into the longest mark-up in the fashion industry, but the magic of fashion jewelry’s beauty stops consumers in their tracks and this magnetic attraction, more than anything else, brings the entrepreneur into retail sales specializing in jewelry.

Many of these new fashion jewelry businesses begin on the simplest level with retailers buying wholesale fashion jewelry and presenting it to friends and co-workers. Easy sales and new found profits ignite a fire to grow the business, but what step comes next? As a twenty-five year veteran of the wholesale fashion jewelry industry, I have seen business after business start in this way and often grow to become the major supplier of fashion accessories in a community. The learning curve never ends as fashion jewelry evolves as well as retail tactics, but some things never change and these key techniques will have positive impact on your fashion jewelry business.

But first, how are you going to sell your treasure of wholesale fashion jewelry? Outgoing personalities love the active sale. Visit businesses, do parties, set up in flea markets or craft shows, and bubble over with enthusiasm as you introduce stunning fashion jewelry to consumers. All they need is a crowd and permission to set up. Bingos, festivals, school picnics, car shows, sporting events-the list is endless. Overhead is low and actually stops when not engaged in sales activities. But so does sales, so many prefer brick and mortar businesses with a higher overhead, but continuing business even when you’re not there.

The quieter, methodical personality may not be up to this bubbling enthusiasm and choose a passive sales mode. Successful businesses often build without the entrepreneur ever engaged in active sales to the consumer. They connect with beauty shops and other locations to provide fashion jewelry on consignment with the owner profiting as well as the entrepreneur. Methodical personalities think out the details like how to handle shrinkage of missing items with no sales recorded. Increasing price and lowering consignment fees compensates for losses when fashion jewelry has open exposure that can result in more shrinkage. The flip side is reduced sales in secure environments like showcases or behind the counter, which reduce shrinkage, but unfortunately, also sales.

Okay, both personalities have a selling method they are comfortable with and both can expand their business with online marketing by working on websites while their sales support them as the websites grow, climbing higher in the results of major search engines. But what about the 5 shortcuts to retail success? They boil down to pricing, selection, presentation, knowledge, and benefits.

-First comes pricing the wholesale fashion jewelry. New entrepreneurs often feel shock waves as they see the wholesale cost compared to retail prices they paid as consumers. The first temptation is undercut all the competition. Stop there!-because fashion jewelry is cyclical and low prices generate low profits that don’t carry retailers through the tough times. Do you want to spend all your earnings on restocking wholesale fashion jewelry and covering overhead? Of course not, you want to grow your business and make a profit and pricing is important.

Retail uses a term called keystone-a nice word for doubling the wholesale price. Make keystone the minimum for mark-up in fashion jewelry and look for the items that give you room for far longer mark-ups. The upside has no rules. Let your intuition guide you because prices can always come down, but it is difficult to go up.

-Next comes selection and this is a factor that major retailers like fine department stores are always struggling to get right. Stroll through one and you will see they have reduced staff on the floor so selection often has to sell itself. The fine department stores need “no miss” choices and have resources, forecasts, statistics, and trained buyers to make these decisions. Small retailers don’t need to be discouraged because this isn’t rocket science and you are closer to the clientele in your location than any major retailer.

Making the perfect selection rests on the age and demographics of your main customer base. Add this to the fashion trends of the season and you are close to perfect. How do you keep up with all those rapid changing fashion trends? Well rapid change is a myth. Trends change very slowly-often over a decade. Yes, colors and subtle adjustments occur every season, but today we are in the midst of classic trends that started in the early 21st century and have a promising future. More on this when we cover knowledge.

-Now for presentation-making the fashion jewelry look special. Ever notice how necklaces clumped together on a tee bar on top of a showcase seem to scream “I’m on sale” while the stuff in the showcase whispers “I’m special”. That’s presentation and how it has changed even for fine department stores.

Teri Agins in The End of Fashion details how department stores that were once “the first visual contact with fashion” and “introduced merchandise concepts to customers” changed in the late 20th century to a collection of brands. Agins quotes one upscale shopper who “was appalled when she discovered $19.99 Nine West shoes displayed right next to $350 Chanels” in her favorite department store that was compromising its image of elite fashion. Make an item look special and it takes on the perception of higher value.

-Next comes knowledge that is worth more than price. Don’t believe it? Think of items you bought because the sales person impressed you with a deep understanding of the product. That was worth more than price. I personally experienced this lesson when I did a trade show with a colleague. I told my customers the fashion jewelry was a real value at the price. His sales person painted a word picture of the wholesale fashion jewelry with the season’s apparel and wrote more orders without the customers even knowing the price.

Knowledge is knowing the trends and knowing the item. Consumers trust a well-informed source and when you know what is today’s style and why it looks right on the customer, you remove the burden of choice from the buyer.

Knowledge today goes deeper because classic trends in fashion jewelry bring gemstone components, shell, Murano style glass, Millefiore, and more to jewelry designs. A story is worth volumes in explaining glass jewelry and knowledge of gemstones that removes the doubt about whether it is real. Don’t be overwhelmed about understanding the trends and knowledge of today’s components because everything is detailed in a report, Wholesale Fashion Jewelry-The Magic of Trends (find a link to the report at the foot of this article).

-Finally there are benefits. Think of benefits as vision-what the customer envisions. Anyone that buys fashion jewelry wants to make a positive statement. They want a look that is flattering and appropriate. So like the car commercial running on the radio, features describe the details like length, color, texture, and shape while benefits say “matches apparel while complementing your complexion”, “draws attention to your slender neck”, or “creates a youthful look that is so you”. The old adage of sell the sizzle, not the steak, gets to the point. Pick the right item for the customer, be sincere, and sell the sizzle.

Will all this work in a slowing economy? Absolutely! In worrisome times women appreciate an escape valve of some small new purchase. What fulfills this better than fashion jewelry? Apply the five shortcuts and lift your customers’ spirits with a feel-good experience.