Is Your Jewelry Safe? – A Cautionary Tale

Recently, clients I hadn’t seen since 2005 came into my office. It was so great to see them and I couldn’t believe that it had been so long; but their 7 year old son and 5 year old daughter were undeniable proof. After we caught up and I was introduced to the new additions to the family, we got down to the true reason for their visit. Unfortunately, their home was broken into and their bridal set stolen. I quickly asked if they had insurance and they assured me they did. We all breathed a sigh of relief – that is, until I noticed they hadn’t updated their appraisals nor had annual checkups since I last saw them. The rings were covered but under-insured. With the insurance check, it would cost them an additional $12,000.00 to replace what they had. They told me they had meant to come in but something always came up.

There are three simple questions to ask yourself to ensure this doesn’t happen to you.
1) Does my jewelry have an up-to-date appraisal?
According to Chubb Personal Insurance, because of rapid growth of luxury markets, unprecedented jewelry auction sales, rising production costs, and robust online sales, the average consumer has outdated appraisals that extremely undervalue the true replacement cost of their jewelry by as much as 50%
Solution: If your jewelry appraisals are over 5 years old, it’s time to get them updated – NOW.

2) Have I purchased any new jewelry in the last five years that hasn’t been added to my policy yet?
Remember standard homeowners policies for jewelry range only from $1000-$5000.00, plus a deductible. If it’s not scheduled, it may not be covered.
Solution: Get either itemized coverage or blanket coverage. Check with your agent to decide which option is best for you. It has been my experience that the downside of blanket coverage is that there are typically limits placed on individual pieces and at times there may be a deductible.

3) When was the last time I had my jewelry inspected for loose stones or structural damage?
Most people wait for something to break before they consider taking their jewelry in for help, but this is inadvisable.
Solution: Like with our bodies, preventative maintenance is of key importance. Take the time to have your jewelry checked once a year. In an annual checkup, any loose stones, pulled prongs, warped shanks, or scratches are detected and fixed. Studies show that those people who regularly take their jewelry for annual checkups are 4x less likely to lose a major stone.

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask The Diamond Guy®

Jewelry Every Woman Should Own

When I think about an alluring woman, there are certain words that immediately come to mind: Simplicity, subtlety, naturalness and elegance. Natural beauty captures our hearts and imagination with ease. It awakens us, it enlightens us, and it fills us – mind, body and soul – with joy. Beauty is grace. Beauty is passion. Beauty is love.

People say that for one to possess beauty, one must “be-you-till-full”. In other words, only when we stop hiding from our own inner power & greatness and dare greatly can we truly be ourselves and thus know true inner beauty. Without this, our light cannot shine; our love cannot flow. Jewelry doesn’t make or complete a woman, it celebrates her.

If a woman is happy before wearing jewelry, she will be happy after wearing jewelry. Jewelry essentials are about amplifying the simplicity, elegance, and grace she already has. They accentuate the nape of her neck, the pulse from her wrists, the soft lobes of her ears, and the touch from her hands. Jewelry essentials awaken the senses.

simple-necklace

The Simple Necklace

Like a perfectly well-worn pair of jeans that hug your hips ‘just right’, the simple necklace is the finishing touch you throw on right before you head out the door. It’s the smile you always have on – your sparkle.

cuff-bracelet

The Cuff Bracelet

When you put on a cuff bracelet, it lets the world know you’re in charge. ‘Nuff’ said.

diamondhoop-earrrings

Inside-Out Diamond Hoop Earrings

Inside-out diamond hoops earrings seem to defy gravity as they let your inner light shine bright. You’re beautiful – Inside & Out.

always-bracelet

The Always Bracelet

Some things you never take off. Some things you never confess. Some things you love forever. The Always Bracelet – forever and a day, always with you.

stackable-rings

Stackable Rings

No one defines you; that’s your job. You don’t play by their rules, you have your own. Stackable rings let you tell your story your way.

diamond-studs

Diamond Studs

You’re never naked with a pair of diamond studs – unless you want to be.

knuckelbuster

The Knucklebuster

Hey Bosslady – You are not every woman. You are your own woman. When you’re ready to kick ass and take names, put on your Knucklebuster. It’s Game Time.

Van Cleef & Arpels: What You Need to Know

Van Cleef & Arpels is a member of the Four Horsemen Club (nickname for the top four jewelers in the world); the others are Cartier, Graff, and Harry Winston. They are also referred to as gild stores after the Gilded Age. The company was founded in 1896 by Salomon Arpels and Alfred Van Cleef. Their brilliant business plan was a simple, yet elegant, three prong approach to selling jewelry. First: only use the finest materials in the world! This meant all their rough diamonds were full term crystals (also referred to as sawables in the industry). They bypassed all the macles and flats (cheap, poorly formed & wildly abundant inferior diamond crystals) and only selected the top two percent of what Mother Nature had created. With 49 out of every 50 diamonds being rejected as “not within our standards”, Van Cleef & Arpels quickly got the reputation as being the best money could buy! Their standards for excellence didn’t just stop with diamonds. Van Cleef & Arpels introduced the world to a palate of colored gems the world had never seen – Aquamarines; Mandarin garnets; rubellites as well as the finest Kashmir sapphires; burmese rubies and muzo chrome green Colombian emeralds. Exceptional stones; exceptional jewelry pieces. Secondly, they hire the finest master diamond cutters and colored stone cutters in the world. Without the master cutter at the wheel a priceless gem could be grounded into a worthless bauble in the blink of an eye! No cutter was ever hired by Van Cleef & Arpels that hadn’t proven himself to be world renowned. The third prong is the mounting. Van Cleef & Arpels knew that how a masterpiece stone is placed into the jewelry was as important as the masterpiece stone itself. For this they coined the term “the mystery setting” as a way to set gemstones into their mount without the use of visible claws. By removing as many obstructions to light as possible, the master stone setters at Van Cleef & Arpels allowed the gemstones the opportunity to take full advantage of the available light. Three simple rules: only the finest raw materials; only the finest diamond and colored stone cutters in the world and wherever possible create an invisible mounting, “mystery setting”, to give the appearance the diamonds and gemstones are just floating on air! If price is no object and you insist on having the most valuable vivid white diamonds and colored gemstones, then search no further.

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Wedding Traditions

By Julie Seitz

Today is Bosses’ Day, October 16, 2003. Bosses’ Day is a “holiday” that I haven’t observed for quite some time. This year, however, I have a new boss. Many of you know him as “The Diamond Guy.” I know him as “He Who Has Had Many Assistants.” I think I’m number 250…..this year. Not really, but he has had, lets just say, a difficult time finding an assistant who understands him, who he understands, who isn’t afraid to work hard and, well……someone who will put up with him. (Just kidding, Fred)

My name is Julie Seitz and I’m the newest employee of Diamond Cutters International. I’m the Assistant to our President and CEO, Fred Cuellar. I’m 34 years old, with two beautiful children, ages 11 and 13, and a wonderful husband to whom I have been married for 14 years. I decided to go to work full-time as my children entered middle school, and everyone seems to be adjusting well. It was an incredibly difficult decision; much more difficult than I anticipated. I loved being a stay-at-home mom for many years, but as my children got older and hungrier for independence, I found myself wanting to be part of the “rat race.” I’d heard people discuss it, complain about it, even praise it. I was ready to discover what it was all about and if it was for me. I miss the days of kids running home from elementary school, hugging me, wanting a cookie and a glass of milk…but we can’t go back, all we can do is move forward and look for the next adventure. It’s what life is all about. My kids are doing it, my husband is doing it, and now I am too.

Yes, it’s true, we can’t go back. But it is fun, on occasion, to look back. I was lucky enough to meet the man of my dreams at an early age–in high school, actually. We got engaged the year after high school, and after a long engagement, married at ages 20 and 21. When I became “Bride-to-be” on that fateful May evening, as my favorite guy pulled a small ring box from his jeans pocket standing in our favorite park with a light mist falling, something happened to me. Yes, I was incredibly, deliriously happy, excited, nervous…but I immediately began stressing out about everything I had to do to prepare for this wedding. Everything had to be perfect. The cake, the dress, the jewelry, the honeymoon, the hair, the guest list. I was overwhelmed, to say the least. I don’t think I handled the stress very gracefully. In fact, I know I didn’t. I’m sure, if they’re honest with themselves, most brides-to-be will admit to the same thing to some degree. I was, for this short period of my life, known to my family and friends as BRIDEZILLA! I was the stereotypical, hysterical, stressed out bride-to-be who had the overwhelming urge to control, plan and organize every aspect of my wedding. Oh yes, my bridesmaids and friends and family members all tried to help by pacifying me to the best of their ability, but some of my requests and demands were just too unreasonable for words. “No drinking at the bachelor party! Where is that maid of honor? She promised to loan me her new blue handkerchief! (It’s time efficient to combine traditions whenever possible.) What do you mean the church doesn’t allow rice throwing? Who knows what kind of children we’ll have if they throw BIRDSEED at us?!! ” I can look back and laugh now. However, I don’t think that I’m alone in my thinking that certain things, no matter how silly they may seem to some people, are important to brides all over the world. We don’t need a reason for them to be important, they just are, and that should be enough. It’s our day, dammit… Sorry…Getting back on track…..

Is there truly any actual reasoning that is involved in a woman’s frantic search for something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue? Have you ever seen a bride “freak out” because her guy accidentally caught a peak at her a few hours before the wedding? Not a pretty sight. But is there any factual basis to why this is a bad thing? I was curious, so I did some research. I was surprised by how important and, yes, necessary, many of these customs were at one time. Of course, some were silly then and are still silly today, but learning their origin will make you understand them in a more sensible way. But who are we kidding? The bride (zilla) is always right, and is under no obligation to be sensible.

Did you know that several of our wedding traditions are based on the concept of the bride being too ugly for the groom? I’m serious! Seeing the bride before the ceremony is considered bad luck because there was a time when marriages were completely arranged by the families. To keep the groom from backing out, he wasn’t permitted to see the bride until the ceremony just in case he considered her unattractive. The custom of wearing a veil came about for same reason. But in this case, the groom wasn’t allowed to see the bride’s potentially ugly mug until he actually lifted the veil to kiss her. Cruel? Maybe. But necessary at the time.

Watching a groom remove his bride’s garter at the reception is always fun. She’s usually quite embarrassed, he’s usually way too comfortable with the whole thing. Everyone gets a big kick out of it. What’s the purpose? In certain parts of Europe in the 14th Century, it was considered to be good luck to come away from a wedding with a piece of the bride’s clothing. Inebriated guests would destroy the poor bride’s dress trying to get a scrap. So, over time, it evolved to the tossing of the garter, providing safety for the bride, but making the dispersion of luck more of a lottery. This same idea of protecting the bride is also why the bride has always stood to the groom’s left. This was so the groom could have his right hand free to draw his sword against sudden attack. I guess this could still be considered a convenient concept. How else is the poor guy supposed to retrieve his cell phone from his right pocket on the first ring?

You’ve all heard, I’m sure, the term “to tie the knot.” I always thought it referred to tying your lives together. It actually goes back to Roman times, when the women’s girdles had many strings on them that were tied securely. Of course, the groom had the “duty” of untying the knots on the wedding night.

Stag parties have had the same meaning since they started. Stag parties, or bachelor parties as they are often called, are a farewell to bachelorhood and celebration of camaraderie between the groom and his friends. Although the reason has changed over the years, there has always been a shroud of mystery and secrecy when it comes to the bachelor party. It’s a sort of unspoken rule that details of the party usually aren’t revealed to women. I’ve heard rumors and hints, but after 14 years of marriage, I’m still not 100% sure what happened at my husband’s bachelor party. I only know that he lost his shoe and never did find it. Interesting. I think I feel an in-depth article on bachelor parties coming on.

Of course the bride has her own festivities to attend in the weeks leading up to her wedding. The first bridal shower is said to have come about from a Dutch folk tale in which well-meaning townspeople gave household items to a poor, newly married couple. The father of the bride disapproved of the union, so he had not provided a dowry. Anything goes today. Many bridal showers even become “bachelorette parties.”

Have you ever wondered where the word “honeymoon” came from? I have. I’ve even asked around. Not surprisingly, few people know the origin of the word or original meaning. Teutonic newlyweds drank wine made of honey and yeast from one full moon until the next full moon after they were married. I guess I should refer to my post-nuptial vacation as my “margaritamoon.”

Speaking of drinking, I found out in my research that the word “toast”, as in toasting the happy couple, actually comes from toasted bread. An old French custom is the source of this tradition. A piece of toasted bread was placed at the bottom of a glass filled with wine. After passing the glass around at the wedding, the bride would finish the wine, eat the wine-soaked bread at the bottom, thus receiving all of the good wishes of the guests.

Now to the tradition that most brides take very seriously. I know I did. Did I understand what the meaning of “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” was? No. But now I do. Something old signifies continuity. I had my Great Grandmother’s wedding band to wear on my little finger. Something new signifies optimism. This is the easy one. The dress is new, the rings are new, the shoes are new, you get the picture. Something borrowed signifies future happiness. A friend of mine borrowed her uncle’s Ferrari to drive to the church. Hey, whatever works for you. Something blue signifies modesty, fidelity and love. It’s funny to me that most brides I’ve known have gone with the blue garter. The garter is removed in front of hundreds of people! Fidelity and love? Maybe. Modesty? I’m not sure.

There are enough stories about the origin of the customary white wedding dress to fill an entire page. But, I couldn’t find a single story that had anything to do with wearing white only if you were “pure.” It was mainly just a fashion trend credited to Ann of Brittany in 1499 and again by Queen Victoria in 1840. I did come across a great poem about the topic, however.

Married in White, you have chosen right
Married in Grey, you will go far away,
Married in Black, you will wish yourself back,
Married in Red, you will wish yourself dead,
Married in Green, ashamed to be seen,
Married in Blue, you will always be true,
Married in Pearl, you will live in a whirl,
Married in Yellow, ashamed of your fellow,
Married in Brown, you will live in the town,
Married in Pink, you spirit will sink.
-Author Unknown

When a girl wore a green dress, the implication was that she was of questionable morals and her dress was green from “rolling in the fields.”

There are many traditions, customs and superstitions that are not covered here. There are, simply, too many to mention. Depending on race, culture, religion, geographic location, there are literally thousands of different particulars that brides must organize and prepare for her wedding. Some are silly, meaningless things that are done “just because it’s always been done.” Others have been passed down from generation to generation and, for whatever reason, have true meaning for the bride and her marriage. Do we have any conclusive answers to whether following wedding tradition will lead to a happy marriage? No. I do know, however, that I have never met a divorced person who told me that the reason for the split was that rice wasn’t thrown at the reception, or he didn’t carry her over the threshold, or cans weren’t tied to the bumper of their car. Not that I’m trivializing the value of these actions. In fact, it may be many little things combined that will make or break your wedding day. But remembering the “little things” AFTER that one day is what will make or break a marriage in my opinion. Rice may or may not have been thrown at the reception, but taking the time to throw your arm around each other for no reason…now that’s important. He may or may not have carried her over the threshold, but has he ever carried the groceries in from the car without being asked? I don’t feel that I missed anything by not having cans tied to the bumper of my car on my wedding day. Seeing my husband teach my son to tie his shoes for the first time, however, I wouldn’t have missed for the world.

Wedding Traditions: A Quick Reference Guide

Bachelor Party

A party given for the groom to say goodbye to his bachelorhood and celebrate the camaraderie between him and his friends.

Bad Luck for Groom to See Bride Before Ceremony

This came about as a means to keep a groom from backing out of an arranged marriage to an unattractive woman.

Bouquet Toss, Garter Toss

In the 14th century, it was thought to bring luck to have a piece of the bride’s clothing. To prevent the bride from harm, brides began throwing their garter. That later evolved into the groom throwing the garter and the bride throwing her bouquet.

Breaking the Wine Glass

The Jewish tradition of the groom stomping on a wine glass at the conclusion of the ceremony signifies the fragility of the relationship and also the irrevocable act of breaking something. “Mazel Tov!”

Bridal Party

This tradition has many different origins depending on culture. The groom would use the help of his “bridesmen” to capture or escort his bride from her village. They were also responsible for getting the bride to the wedding and to the groom’s home after the ceremony. The women who assisted the bride were called her “brideswomen.”

Bridal Shower

Dating back to the 1800’s, a bride receives gifts from her friends to prepare her for marriage.

Bride Standing on Grooms Left

This goes back to ancient times, when the groom would need to keep his right hand free to draw his sword against sudden attack.

Carrying the Bride Over the Threshold

It is considered very bad luck for the new bride to trip and fall upon entering her new home for the first time. To eliminate the risk, the groom traditionally carries her through the door.

Engagement Ring

Pope Nicholas I decreed the engagement ring a required symbol of intent to marry. The Diamond became popular because of its long-lasting and enduring qualities.

Flowers

The practice of matching the groom’s boutonniere to the bride’s bouquet goes back to medieval times when knights would match the colors of their lady in tournaments.

Honeymoon

Teutonic newlyweds would drink wine made of honey and yeast from one full moon to the next immediately following their wedding.

Kissing

The kiss between the bride and groom dates back to the earliest days of civilization. A kiss has almost always been used as a legal seal for contracts and agreements, thus the obvious use of the kiss for the end of a wedding ceremony.

Money Dance

The money dance that many people see at wedding receptions, has its roots in dozens of cultures around the world. Basically, guests pay the groom money for the privilege of dancing with his bride. The money is then used for the honeymoon.

Ring Finger

Greek belief was that the third finger was connected directly to the heart by a vein they called “the vein of love.”

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Old signifies continuity, new signifies optimism, borrowed reflects future happiness, and blue is a sign of modesty, fidelity and love.

Throwing Rice

This is a symbol of fertility and also a wish for the couple to always have a full pantry. Note: birdseed is often used as an alternative that is nature-friendly.

Tie the Knot

This dates back to Roman times when the bride would wear a girdle tied in little knots.

Toasting the Bride and Groom

Originates from the 16th century. A small piece of toasted bread was placed in the bottom of a glass of wine. Guests would pass the glass until it reached the bride, who would drink the last drink, eat the bread, and receive the good wishes of the guests.

Tying Cans or Shoes to the Car

In England during the Tudor period, shoes were thrown at the carriage as a sign of luck. Eventually it became more common to just tie the shoes to the vehicle. Today, it’s usually tin cans that are used.

Veils

Veils were originally worn to keep the groom from seeing his bride until he lifted the veil to kiss her in case she was unattractive. In Roman times, veils were also thought to ward off evil spirits.

Vows

Vows are spoken promises between the groom and his bride in front of witnesses. Today, many religions and cultures allow and encourage the bride and groom to write their own vows.

Wedding

The Anglo-Saxon word “wedd” refers to promise of a man to marry a certain woman, but it also refers to the money or land, or social status to be paid to the woman’s family for her hand.

Wedding Bells

Like many wedding customs, bells are rung to protect the couple from misfortune.

Wedding Cake

In the 1st century, cake was thrown at the bride for fertility. It is considered very good luck to all who eat wedding cake.

Wedding Ring

Ancient belief was that the ring was protection against evil spirits. Early Rome is the source of our modern symbolism of love and commitment.

White Wedding Dress

A fashion trend credited to Ann of Brittany in 1499 and again to Queen Victoria in 1840.

Top Ten Signs

Korbel Champagne Cellars and Proposal Expert Fred Cuellar Lend Guidance to Ladies in Waiting with the “Top Ten Signs He’s About to Pop the Question”

Guerneville, Sonoma County, Calif., Jan. 6, 2003 – You and your beau have discussed the “M” word – marriage – and are ready to take the next step. So, what are you waiting for? The proposal, of course! With the most romantic day of the year – Valentine’s Day – approaching, women all over the country are anxiously awaiting the proposal of their dreams. In fact, according to proposal expert Fred Cuellar, approximately 24,000 proposals happen on Valentine’s Day each year. As you mentally plan your emotional acceptance and continue your regimen of weekly manicures, don’t forget to observe your boyfriend’s behavior for definite clues that “the question” is coming.

Is He Sending Signals?
According to Cuellar, author of “How to Buy a Diamond” and “The World’s Greatest Proposals” (Casablanca Press), women often witness unusual behavior from their boyfriends just prior to marriage proposals. Cuellar has researched more than 10,000 proposal stories and has spent years in the industry advising men on popping the question. Now, he has partnered with another proposal expert, Korbel Champagne Cellars, to compile this list of signs
— from getting a new gold card to buddying up with your dad — that may signal that your boyfriend is gearing up for the engagement:
TOP TEN SIGNS HE’S ABOUT TO POP THE QUESTION
1. He’s cleaning his closet: If your boyfriend is finally tossing out that “private” box of mementos from former girlfriends, he is letting go of his past and is ready to focus on the future with you.

2. He’s sizing you up: Your favorite ring is missing and your best friend has been asking the size of your finger. Chances are, your boyfriend is doing some investigating before visiting the jeweler.

3. He’s cutting costs: Dates have gone from gourmet dining to drive-through dinners — if your boyfriend is suddenly a miser, he may be saving up for the special day.

4. He goes for the gold: You spot your boyfriend flashing a shiny new gold card — many men open credit cards with higher spending limits to make the expensive ring purchase and snag some frequent flyer miles in the process.

5. He’s on the “We” channel: If his conversations no longer start with “My” but with “Our,” he is definitely ready to move out of singlesville.

6. He’s family oriented: Your boyfriend is enthusiastically organizing a get-together with both of your families. An anxious interest in “meeting the parents” is a true sign he’s ready for the next step.

7. He’s watching weddings: You attend a friend’s wedding and are shocked at your boyfriend’s commentary on the music, flowers and food. Even more surprising — he encourages you to catch the bouquet!

8. He’s letting go of “The Bachelor” inside: He’s sold his scooter and canceled his weekly poker games — a mature lifestyle change means marriage is sounding more meaningful to him than ever before.

9. He’s a man with a plan: Your socially laid-back guy suddenly insists on prior plans, and instead of waiting until Friday night to plan your weekend, he’s making arrangements Tuesday or earlier . . . he may have a certain social “engagement” that he doesn’t want you to miss.

10. He’s your dad’s new golf partner: If a close connection has developed between your dad and your boyfriend it’s more than likely that they’ve had “the talk.”

 

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

What Kind of Customer Are You?

What Kind of Customer Are You?

TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE: WHAT KIND OF CUSTOMER ARE YOU?

In my years in the business I’ve come across five basic kinds of folks who buy diamonds. Tell me what type you are, and I’ll recommend what grade of diamond you should buy.

Customer #1 will tell me the three most important things about a diamond are size, size and size. The bigger the better, never mind if the stone is yellow and has a few black spots or cracks!

My recommendation:
Weight: 1 carat plus
Clarity: I2
Color: L-M

Customer #2 also wants a big diamond, but size isn’t the only thing. A little quality wouldn’t hurt. Maybe the diamond can be slightly yellow, but please, no obvious cracks or spots. Maybe some teeny spots that can hardly be seen.

My recommendation:
Weight: .50 carat or bigger
Clarity: I1
Color: K

Customer #3 is a balanced kind of person, yin and yang. Size and quality are equal values. The diamond doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should be clean to the eye, white and sparkly.

My recommendation:
Weight: .50 carat or bigger
Clarity: SI1
Color: I-J

Customer #4 demands Quality, with a capital Q. Everything else is secondary. The diamond must be not only eye-clean, but clean when viewed with a 10X loupe, and bright white without a hint of yellow.

My recommendation:
Weight: .50 carat or bigger
Clarity: VS1
Color: G

Customer #5 isn’t getting engaged, or buying an anniversary stone. The diamond is an investment, to be locked away and later resold for a profit.

My recommendation:
Shape: Round (No other!)
Weight 1 carat or bigger
Clarity: VVS1 to Flawless
Color D, E or F

Buying Guide by Customer Type

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Getting Into Shape

What does a diamond’s shape tell about the wearer?

A palm reader supposedly can tell you your future and a numerologist says they can do the same thing by adding and subtracting the numbers of the day, month and year you were born. An astrologer goes so far as to say they can tell you who you are, where your future lies and what you’re going to have for lunch by what moon phase was in what orbit when you were born!

According to all these mystics, who we are and why we do what we do is all predetermined by fate. All we have to do is know how to read the signs to tell us what path our lives will follow and what our final destination will be.

“Yeah, right!” you’re probably saying, “I am the captain of my own ship and the creator of my own destiny.” Well maybe so, but how can you explain every time you check your daily astrology guide they seem to be pretty accurate? Lucky guess? Maybe. So vague it could apply to anyone? Maybe. Or maybe it’s just as simple as thought creates reality. If you are told something and you believe it, I guess it doesn’t make a difference whether it’s true or not. If it’s true for you, even if it’s just a perception, it’s your reality, your truth.

Now, probably at this point you’re thinking, if you’re still reading… What the heck does this conversation have to do with diamonds and for that matter what does it have to do with a title “Getting into Shape?” which I know you have figured out, doesn’t mean doing twenty push-ups or jumping jacks. What we are delving into here is why women get into or choose one shape diamond over another. That’s what I’m getting to. Believe it or not, what shape a woman chooses for an engagement ring tells a lot about the woman doing the wearing.

After almost two decades of watching women choose different shapes and sizes I found that certain personality types tend to gravitate towards one particular shape or another. I’ve also found that certain shapes tend to have a higher divorce rate than other shapes! Oh, I’ve got your interest now have I? Yes, I’ve actually been able to graph which shapes tend to have the highest divorce rates, which ones result in the best marriages and which ones are more likely to fool around!

Am I crazy? Probably. Sane is just plain boring. But if you’re interested in one guy’s observations, here it goes. Astrologers, numerologists, palm readers, and tarot card readers step aside. (Drum roll please) I’d like to introduce for the audience’s enjoyment the wonderful world of Dia-shape-ology!

Disclaimer: The following is just a test, in case of a real emergency you will be instructed where to go and what to do, this is only a test.

Fill out the following questionnaire and answer honestly to determine what your diamond says about you.

Question #1: Do you have a diamond? (Circle One)

Yes No (If no please stop taking this test.)

Question #2: What shape diamond do you have?

Question #3: What size diamond do you have? (Circle One)

A. Microscopic
B. Nice Size
C. A Boulder
D. I can’t lift my hand from the weight.

Question #4: How long have you had your diamond? (Circle One)

A. Less than 2 years
B. 2-5 years
C. 5-7 years
D. I can’t remember it’s been so long.

Question #5: Are you still with the person who gave you the diamond? (Circle One)

Yes No (If you bought it yourself, the answer will always be yes.)

Question #6: How often do you clean your diamond? (Circle One)

A. Once a day
B. Once a week
C. When it gets dirty
D. I’m supposed to clean my diamond?

Question #7: Pick the statement that best describes your relationship with your diamond. (Circle One)

A. I will keep my diamond till the day I die, we are inseparable.
B. I will keep my diamond till the day I die unless
something better comes along.

Check the following answer guide to see how you’ve done and determine what your diamond means to you and what it says to the world about the person you are.

P.S. If you liked this piece, I receive my fan mail at fred@diamondcuttersintl.com and if you didn’t, I was kidnapped two weeks ago and forced to write this against my will.

ANSWERS

Question #1: Obviously for the purpose of this exercise having a diamond is a prerequisite. Not to say that if you are not the owner of a diamond you are any less loved and appreciated. It just seems that way.

Question #2: Here’s the meat and potatoes; the meaning of the top shapes:

Round – Congratulations! Round is the most popular, faithful, traditional and religious. Most round wearers chose a round for its clean lines and symmetry. The idea that a circle has no beginning and no end adds to the romance of a round. Round wearers tend to be old fashioned, honest with values and beliefs they would fight for. The only down side to some that choose a round is their lack of spontaneity and leadership abilities. Round wearers tend to be more team players than team leaders. If a round wearer is married, her main goal in keeping a long loving relationship is to not be afraid of change.

Oval – Look, you would have gotten a round if everyone in your family including your aunt Gertrude didn’t have one. You have all the same values of a round but there is something inside you that cries out to be different and not go with the crowd. Oval wearers make great wives! On one side they are predictable, stable and dependable but every now and then they have a wild hair and let loose! If not the poor brilliancy of an oval I believe a lot more women would be in this camp.

Pear – Where round wearers tend to go with the crowd pear wearers want to create the crowd. Pear wearers pure and simple want to be different. If better comes along with the package so be it. Pear wearers tend to be more demanding and higher maintenance. Everything has to be just right or don’t do it at all is their battle call. Pear wearers are the third most likely to get a divorce. (Top two coming up.) Due to, in many cases forgetting that happiness isn’t always asking “What’s in it for me?” The happily married pear wearer never forgets that there is no I in TEAM and applies the same standards of excellence to herself as to her partner.

Emerald Cut – Here’s a tough nut to crack. Emerald Cut wearers are old fashioned like round wearers but being in the crowd, following the crowd is not the drum beat that they follow. In fact, the interesting thing about Emerald Cut wearers is their lack of rationale to do anything to impress others. Not that other people’s opinions don’t count, it’s just that they don’t see themselves through the eyes of others. Emerald Cut wearers are leaders. They are attracted to an Emerald Cut for its quiet elegance, its regal temperament and bold strokes. The Emerald Cut wearer doesn’t need pop to sell her diamond, that’s what she is there for.

Princess & Radiants – Princess and Radiant wearers are electric. They are fun, exciting, cutting edge and not afraid to take chances. They live life to the fullest. Since Princess and Radiant are the most sparkly shapes, wearers of these rocks don’t mind bringing attention to themselves. They love the spotlight. Whitney Houston for example is a proud wearer of a radiant. The only time Princess and Radiant wearers split up with their mates are if the guy can’t keep up.

Heart Shape – The heart shape A.K.A. “Black Widow” and “Three Strikes”, holds the title of the least sparkly, second highest divorce rate and the most cheated upon diamond in the group. Hence the alias “Three Strikes”. A lot of analysis has gone into why this diamond and its wearer have so much trouble, but I think it can best be explained on what type of woman and couple gravitate towards the heart; pure romantics. And when I say pure romantics, I’m not just saying soulmates, I’m talking maple syrup, knight in shining armor, Romeo and Juliet kind of romantic. Heart shape people tend to live in fantasyland. Their motto is love conquers all, love has no restrictions, love has no boundaries. Then they get married and quickly find out that even though love in its own little world is perfect, life isn’t. Life isn’t fair or just or even handed. Life equals change. The heart shape wearer tends to have a problem with this. If love is perfect, no need for change and certainly no need for reality. So when they come to the conclusion that their mate isn’t perfect (he never was, nobody is) and discover pure love doesn’t seem to pay the bills, they flee; into the arms of another, into another job, into another life constantly searching for the equation of pure love equals perfect life, which doesn’t exist.

Marquise – The Marquise for all its grandeur and magnificence (one of the largest looking shapes) is the crown jewel for divorce. Even more so than the heart. Heck, at least the heart had good intentions. Marquise wearers tend to be very concerned with first impressions, second impressions, all impressions. They are very goal oriented and certainly believe size matters. Marquise wearers believe in division and better than. There is the wrong side of the tracks and it’s never the side they are on. A lot of socialites and wanna-be socialites choose Marquise because they look bigger than they really are when cut right. And that’s where the problem is. Marquise wearers, not all, but quite a few spend the better part of their lives trying to be something or someone they are not. Success never lies in not being and loving who you are. For a Marquise wearer to survive she must realize that regardless of how nice a package is, it always fades away; Inner beauty doesn’t.

Question #3: What actual carat size you have is irrelevant to how you perceive it. To some people the one carat diamond they have is puny. For others, it’s the rock of Gibraltar. But that’s the key here, not what you have but how you perceive it. Is the glass half full or half empty? It appears that the happiest marriages tend to be those in which the engagement diamond is viewed as magnificent and substantial. The minute a woman finds fault in the rock or lack of it, it’s not long before she finds fault in the giver. Want to appreciate your diamond? Just think of the one out of three women who got married and didn’t get one.

Question #4: If you had to write a list of all the things you want, how long a list would it be? Long? Short? How about a list of all the things you need? Long? Short? The three steps for creation are thought, word, and action. To get anything done you have to think it, verbalize it, then take action. When you announce to the world there are things you need and want or expect you cannot be whole till you get them. And if your brain perceives that it is without or not whole it won’t be happy. The key to any long term happiness is not getting everything you want, but wanting everything you have. The longer you’ve had your diamond and the longer you appreciate it, the better your life and marriage will be. The diamond is a symbol of where you were and where you are going. To always embrace your past as you do your present will empower you to learn from your experiences and not repeat those events that no longer define who you are today.

Question #5: Well, I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. If the diamond is a symbol of two that have joined to become one and one of you is not on the scene any more, chances are your rock means very little to you today.

Question #6: To have and to hold doesn’t necessarily equate with to love and to cherish. I’ve lined up a hundred couples and asked them the condition of their marriage and relationship and I found a direct correlation between clean rings and great marriages and filthy rings and relationships that no longer connected or were drifting apart. Just a coincidence? Could be. Or maybe it’s that any good marriage takes work, care and effort. Marriage isn’t easy. When a problem arises, a lot of people just let it go, thinking it will fix itself. It won’t. A clean ring will always get dirty unless you don’t allow it. A good marriage will do the same unless you work at it and keep the dust off.

Question #7: Fifty-four percent of women who receive an engagement ring say they would never get rid of their original engagement ring. They would keep it till they die. Forty-six percent however, say that even though they have fond memories of their original engagement ring, they wouldn’t keep the first car they ever had or first home they ever had! If better comes along they will snatch it! That being said, here’s how the divorce bug attacks each group. Seventy-five percent in group one “The I’ll keep it forever” folks tend to stay married while eighty percent in group two are splitsville.

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

Cell Mate or Soul Mate?

Subheadline

Mrs. Right:

She looks like an angel, she walks like an angel, she talks like an angel. But she’s a devil in disguise! Oh yes, she is a devil in disguise! If these words sound familiar, they’re from an old Elvis Presley song but they still ring true today. How can a fella know when he’s got a catch or needs to throw her back? Sometimes it’s difficult to tell but the rejects will always tip their hand before the dealing is done. Let me share a few of my favorite stories when some women dropped their guard to reveal their true intentions.

Story I: Woody Allen & The Playboy Bunny

“Mr. Cuellar, your next client is here. Shall I bring them back?” Asked Lesa, my assistant.

“Bring away,” I replied as I quickly made an attempt to clean up my always messy desk.

When I looked up I saw one of the most striking, intriguing couples I had ever seen. She was bombshell, Marilyn Monroe type, hour glass figure, tight black leather pants and a purple tube top that defied gravity.

He, on the other hand, ten years her senior, 5’6”, comb over, “Woody Allen” glasses, 98 pounds dripping wet, short sleeve baby-blue shirt, pocket protector and charcoal gray shiny polyester pants hiked up so high, they were looking for a flood. She was attached to his arm like an extra appendage and kept repeating, “Oh baby, Oh baby, I love you, I love you so much.”

As I asked them to be seated, I couldn’t get over wondering what was this guy’s secret. Genius? Wealthy? Lover extraordinaire? Who cares! This looked like the real thing. She hung on his every word and laughed at every corny joke. I was impressed. Love is blind! It conquers all boundaries. Good for Woody! Good for all men who aren’t tall enough, buff enough, or handsome enough! This was victory for geeks and freaks everywhere.

Until…“Mr. Cuellar,” he said.

“Call me Fred.”

“Can you point me the restroom?”

“Sure, go out of my office and take your second left.”

“I’ll be right back honey!”

“Hurry back love muffin, I’ll be here,” she replied.

As I returned to my seat from letting my new hero out, Marilyn’s demeanor changed instantly. “So how long you been in this diamond biz?”

“Most of my life,” I replied.

“Must be raking it in huh?”

“I do okay,” I replied.

“Look I can break free from the dufous in a heartbeat. Let’s hook up.”

“What? You’re here getting an engagement ring. What the hell are you talking about?”

“Ah, I’m just here getting the ring, then I’m splittin!”

“Mr. Cuellar, can I let your client back in?” Lesa rung in on the intercom. Within seconds the couple was reunited and so did the game. “Oh baby, youz was gone so long, you know better than to leave honey bunny so long,” as she gave me a wink and a smile.

Summary:

How your woman acts when she’s not around you is probably more important than how she does when she’s with you. Always look at both sides of the coin.

Story II: Big Rock or I Walk

Having just finished lunch, my next clients were already seated in my office waiting for me when I joined them.

“Hi guys, how’s everything going? I’m Fred Cuellar.”

“I’m looking for a 3ct round VVS-1, D diamond and not a bit less,” she snapped back.

“Well,” I said, “The lady knows her diamonds! How does that sound to you sir?”

“It doesn’t make a difference to him, he’s just here to write the check!”

“Sounds like the rough part,” I replied.

He smiled, she didn’t.

“Well, I guess we better get down to it, let’s pull out some diamonds.” I reached in my drawer, pulled out a lovely 2ct diamond, placed it in a mounting and handed it over. “Here you go a beautiful 3ct VVS-1, D round diamond just like the lady ordered!”

She smiled, it would be her last. “You see, now that’s a rock, that’s what I’m talking about!” she said.

“Really,” I replied. “Do you think you could be happy with that?”

“Oh, yes,” she replied, “It fits my hand like a glove.”

“Well that’s wonderful because you’ll be glad to know it’s really a 2ct not a 3ct and that should save you over $10,000!”

He smiled, she didn’t.

“What!” she bellowed, “You said it was a 3ct!”

“I lied, just wanted to see if you could tell the difference and since you can’t, might as well save the money.”

“Look, I don’t know what your up to, but either I get a 3ct or I walk.”

Summary:

It was probably wrong of me to stick my nose where it didn’t belong. Maybe I should have pulled out a 3ct from the get go and let this couple be on their way. But she angered me. I knew going in this wasn’t a man of great wealth having talked to him previously on the phone. He was 39, never married before and was going to have to get a loan to purchase the ring. So when she started spouting demands, I guess I lost my cool. What’s the lesson here? Love doesn’t come with a price tag.

Story III: A Class Act

“Miss Ward is on the phone,” chimed Lesa.

“Any idea who she is?” I asked.

“Says her fiancé bought a diamond from you and would like to talk to you.”

“Put her through.”

“Fred Cuellar here!”

“Hi, Mr. Cuellar, I, I…don’t know where to start,” and she began to cry.

“Calm down, calm down, whatever the problem is, I’m sure we can fix it. Just start at the beginning.”

“Well, you see, last night my boyfriend proposed to me, it was so wonderful. Dinner, dancing and your beautiful ring!”

“Sounds pretty good so far, what’s the problem?” I said.

“He can’t afford it, I know he can’t. He’s between jobs and he just went over board.”

“Well,” I said, “Have you told this to him?”

“Oh no, he’s so proud of my diamond, how he researched it, shopped around, it would just crush him!”

“Well what can I do?”

“I’d like to give you some money, then have you call him and tell him you over charged him and need to return some of his money.”

“You see,” she said, “he has a job interview coming up and he needs a new suit. With the money he gets back, he can get the suit and hopefully get the job. The diamond is pretty, but I have to take care of my man.”

Summary:

The good ones always pick you up when you fall, the great ones don’t let you fall at all.

Mr. Right:

Tall dark and handsome? Knight in shining armor? Or a dude like a spud? Ladies now it’s your turn. For every woman playing games, there are probably ten men who have mastered the art of deception. Here are my stories.

Story I: The List

One late Friday afternoon, I sat down with a man I affectionately call the “List taker.” Not really very different than most anal retentive men you’d ever meet with the exception that this man had gone too far. His life had become a list; a list of pros and cons, checks and balances, pluses and minuses. Every action, a carefully scripted response to a plan that must have been meticulously thought out over and over.

“Mr. Cuellar, it appears it’s time for me to get married, so I’m going to need a diamond.”

“Congratulations, who’s the lucky lady?”

“Don’t have one,” he replied, “But I will.”

“Wait a minute, don’t you have this backwards, first you find the girl, then you get the diamond?”

“Nope, the girl will be the easy part. Plenty of women looking to be a homemaker. But to get her, I’m going to need a diamond.”

“Do you mind if I ask you a question?”

“Shoot!” he said.

“Where does love fall into all of this?”

“Haven’t you heard?” he replied.

“What?” I said.

“Only fools fall in love, marriage is a partnership, a legal agreement to share responsibilities. You know two heads are better than one. Love is nothing more than a fancy word for convenience.”

Summary:

Don’t want to be lonely? Get a pet. Need a homemaker? Hire a maid. Love is not convenience. Love is magic.

Story II: What She Won’t Know, Won’t Hurt Her

“Good morning, what can I do for you two today?”

“Well, my name is Max and this is my fiancé.”

We’re getting married at the end of the year and whatever kind of diamond my lady wants, she gets.”

“What size would you like to start with?” I asked.

“We want a big one because the best deserves the best. Let’s try 5cts.”

“Oh honey!, she exclaimed, “I don’t need a big diamond, in fact any size will do.”

“Nope,” he said again, “The best deserves the best, price is no object!”

Within 30 minutes, they had chosen a lovely 6ct platinum and diamond ring for $82,000. He pulled out his platinum American express card for the deposit and they were on their way. I don’t think I had ever seen a smile as wide as hers when she left. Then came the phone call. It was about an hour later.

“Fred?”

“Yes?”

“This is Max.”

“Oh, hi Max, any questions that need answering that I didn’t cover?”

“Nope, just one adjustment.”

“What’s that,” I said.

“Please exchange the diamonds out for cubic zirconias. What she won’t know, won’t hurt her.”

Summary:

Not everything we see we should believe and not everything we believe can be seen. Trust everyone but cut the deck.

Story III: The Shoe Box

Mr. Schwartz stood all of 5 feet 4 inches tall. By the age of 64, he had been married 42 years, had two daughters and four grand children. He had been an industrial engineer (garbage collector) since he dropped out of high school to marry his childhood sweetheart that would soon be having their first child. I still remember the first day I met him. I commented on his “Members Only” jacket that had been all the rage in the 70’s.

“Oh, this old thing, you’d be surprised what people throw away. Sylvia, that’s my wife, just sewed up a torn pocket and bada bing, bada boom, good as new.”

The second thing that I noticed was an old tan shoe box under his arm. When he laid it down on my desk, I saw scribbled in pencil on the top were the words “rainbows end.”

“You’re wondering what’s inside aren’t ya son?”

“Maybe a little bit,” I replied.

“Well let me tell you, it’s the vacation we never took, the fancy meals we passed up and a lifetime of bottles and cans that these two hands drug home. That there is the 1ct diamond ring I told her she would get someday.”

“Go ahead count it up and be quick about it, my wife’s waited long enough for her diamond rainbow.”

A new 1ct good quality diamond those days was going for over $6,000. This box must be filled with thousands, more than enough for Sylvia’s dream diamond. As I started counting the cash there were more $10’s than $20’s and more $1’s than $5’s. And at the end of my count there was exactly $2,231.55. He was short, there would be no 1ct diamond, not with what was in the box. Maybe in the late 1950’s this would be more than enough for the diamond of their dreams, but not in today’s market. The best they could get would be a 1/2ct.

“Well son, do I have enough? When can I pick up my 1ct diamond ring?”

“Let’s see, $2,231.55, that will just cover it, you can pick up the ring tomorrow.”

Summary:

A good man keeps his promises even if it takes a lifetime and if you’re ever in the position to save a dream do it.

NOTE:

All the stories in this article are true with the exception of name changes.

by Fred Cuellar, author of the best-selling book “How to Buy a Diamond.” More questions? Ask the Diamond Guy®

DeBeerios’Revolving Door – A Fairy Tale?

A long, long time ago (March 13, 1888) a man by the name of C.J. Streets discovered a land called DeBeerios. In this land he found many beautiful things. Gold and silver and crystals abounded. When C.J. held a crystal up to the sun it would reflect all the colors of the rainbow. He also noticed that these pure, white, transparent, octahedral- shaped crystals were very hard; they could cut through anything. When C.J. showed others his crystals they were mesmerized and offered to pay great sums of money so they too could hold a crystal up to the light and see all the beautiful colors.  Others wanted to have the crystals for the secret powers they supposedly possessed. Before long (1902) a fellow by the name of Sir Bernie Oppie Hammer (The Hammer for short) came along and took control of the magic crystals that C.J. had found. The Hammer also bought up crystals from others that were finding them because The Hammer loved to play a game called monopoly. The Hammer excelled at playing monopoly and soon there was no one to play with him. The Hammer did have one problem. By the 1930’s he had more crystals than clients, so in 1938 he decreed that anyone who had a crystal would live forever! It seemed like a far-fetched claim but people everywhere started buying them and giving them to the one person in their lives that they wanted to live with forever. The Hammer was happy, the people were happy and The Land of DeBeerios was happy too.

One day, however, a report was given to The Hammer that one day they might run out of crystals! The Hammer was furious at the possibility of losing his power. The magic crystals had allowed him to be the master of a game of monopoly! So The Hammer went away to his castle and refused to talk to anyone for a long, long time. Suddenly, The Hammer opened up the castle doors holding 93 Brown Boxes and asked all his best clients to visit. He told his clients that he would sell crystals only to 93 of them and those not  chosen would just have to buy their crystals from his “inner circle” (the nickname given to the chosen 93 that each got their very own Brown Box). After the 93 were chosen The Hammer asked for payment in full for each box before any of the chosen would be allowed to open what they had purchased. Many of the 93 asked “How can we know if it’s a fair price if we can’t see into the Brown Box? To which The Hammer replied, “I promise you will find crystals in the Brown Boxes and if you are unhappy with your purchase you can return your Brown Box but you will never see me or receive crystals again from The Land of DeBeerios if you do so.”

Each of the 93 paid in full for their little Brown Boxes and departed. When they got home they opened their boxes to see what treasure they had.  To their amazement & shock the boxes were filled with worthless rocks sprinkled with only a few beautiful white crystals. They took the worthless rocks that were of every color (but mostly brown) and stormed The Hammer’s castle.

When they got to the castle they demanded to know what they were supposed to do with the worthless rocks. The Hammer replied, “A crystal is a rock and a rock is a crystal. What it is to you and your customers is all perception! If when you look at the brown rocks (which are plentiful) and only see a brown rock, you will never be able to recoup your investment. But, if you see that brown worthless rock as a cognac crystal instead it will have value to those you sell it to. Also, worthless brown rocks can be put in ovens to be made white, yet brittle, but who would have to know that?”

Finally the “inner circle” all took their boxes of rocks & crystals home and agreed perception was everything!  If they believed they could make others believe they had a box of crystals of many different colors! They would tell all the people that even the black crystals that didn’t sparkle would be a symbol of their love. The people believed and bought. The “inner circle” was happy. The people were happy. The Hammer was very, very happy and The Land of DeBeerios kept chugging along.

Then, one day The Hammer was given a report from the mines that while they had an unlimited amount of rocks they would one day soon be out of white crystals to sprinkle in with the rocks. The Hammer again retreated into his castle for a very long time. When he did emerge he had the biggest smile on his face because he had come up with the “revolving door” idea. He hired men to mingle with the people and out bid what anyone else would pay for the valuable white crystals and return them to him. By doing this he could forever keep sprinkling in white crystals with the rocks in the boxes and sell them. Just repeat the process over and over again. The Hammer would live happily ever after.

Is this a fairy tale?

I hope so.

Fred Cuellar, The Diamond Guy®

Debating the Desire for a Diamond


What does it say about you if you want one, or if you don’t? Here are two points of view
By REBECCA MYERS AND CATHY SHARICK (TIME in Partnership with CNN)

Posted Monday, Nov. 20, 2006

Why do women want a diamond in the first place?

Amidst the whole debate over the ethics of the global diamond trade that is explored in the new Leonardo DiCaprio film Blood Diamond, this basic question often gets lost. How did they become the norm for the about-to-be-married couple? What is it about those particular gemstones, which are notoriously hard in structure and (perhaps) even harder on the wallet, that makes them so desirable in the first place? And what does it say about you if you really want one? Or really don’t?

So, to address this question, TIME.com’s executive producer Cathy Sharick and I have agreed to a friendly e-mail debate. We come from opposite ends of the diamond engagement ring spectrum, and it won’t take long to figure out which of us is on which side. By the way, neither Cathy nor I is married… yet.

I first had qualms about diamonds when I was about 10 or so. I remember holding my grandmother’s hand and noticing that her wedding ring did not look like what I thought a ring should be. It was a large light blue stone. She couldn’t even recall what kind and didn’t seem to care. I asked her why she didn’t have a diamond ring, and she replied that when she married my grandfather, people didn’t give each other diamonds.

She was basically right. When she got married in the early 1940s, diamonds were for aristocrats and De Beers was only just beginning its marketing push for the middle class — one that still continues today. I’m paraphrasing, but the message is: If you really love her, you’ll spend two months’ salary on a ring; it’s only true love if it’s a diamond; like your love, a diamond is forever.

When I realized that the tradition of the diamond ring stemmed from a very deft advertising campaign, I grew suspicious of their place in our society and their hold over young couples in love. After all, we were taught as kids that we should not go out and buy a Big Mac every time we saw a McDonald’s commercial. So how did adults get so duped by the diamond industry’s marketing that they thought they had to buy one or else their relationship wasn’t worth it? To me, a diamond had become a giant gleaming commercialized cliche rather than a symbol of love. —Rebecca

When I was little, I remember holding my mom’s hand and admiring her diamond engagement ring. I thought it was the prettiest stone I had ever seen and I really liked the way it sparkled in the sun. My mother loved it, and she often recounted how my father gave it to her. I guess he had bought into the marketing push because he had spent the two months’ salary on the Tiffany setting. It was hard on them financially at the time but my dad said when he got down on one knee and my mom lovingly said yes, he knew he had made the right decision.

Then one summer when I was about 8 my mom took off her engagement ring to wash some dishes. After the kitchen was cleaned up, we went out for a walk on the beach with her friend Brenda and her 6-year-old daughter, Sally. When we returned my mom realized that her ring was gone. It wasn’t in the sink, or down the drainpipe which my dad tore apart, or behind the counter tops. It wasn’t in her pocket, or in the bedrooms.

And it wasn’t until hours later that we realized what happened to the ring. Sally had found it on the sink and had brought it to the beach with us during our walk. She confessed that she was wearing it with the stone turned down — sneaking peeks when no one was looking at the sparkle I liked so much. We did not notice. And we did not notice when she dropped the 1.5 carat diamond in the sand where it was never to be found again.

My parents were devastated and there was a lot of crying the weekend the ring went missing. But there was not one moment where I thought — wow, this really has taught me not to love engagement rings. Instead I think I knew I wanted one even more because it meant so much to my parents. The loss was something that brought them even closer, and that was nice.

What I did learn that weekend was that a kitchen without a dishwasher was a no-no. And that Sally was a real pain in the ass. —Cathy

Oh, poor little Sally!

You bring up an interesting point: that your parents shared in, fretted over, and eventually lamented the loss of something so valuable. I’m not against wedding or engagement rings in theory — they are a tradition that dates back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. And although I’m not about to wrap a string of organic hemp around my finger and call it a ring, I do sometimes wonder if a couple about to be married could better spend that money elsewhere. Interestingly, as Tom Zoellner writes in his book on the diamond industry The Heartless Stone, American men are expected to spend two months’ salary, but for British men, it’s only one month. Japanese men have an even worse deal: they’re expected to spend three months of their hard-earned yen.

So, let me ask you: Has the diamond engagement ring become so popular because it’s a symbol of value? Does a man give it to a woman to show how much he’s willing to spend on her, and that somehow is a demonstration of his love? What if, through some freakish market devaluation, diamonds suddenly cost a tenth of what they do now — and everyone wore huge rocks for all occasions… would you still want one? —Rebecca

My parents lamented the loss of the ring because it was a valuable symbol of their connection to one another. I am sure they were sad about the loss of the money, but (according to what they tell me at least) it was the ring itself they missed. And my mom was so sad about it that she chose not to replace it with another diamond. She wanted a ruby instead. But I think my dad regrets not replacing the diamond. He always says that the ruby does not say “my wife is married and off the market” the way a diamond would.

If everyone was wearing diamond “engagement” rings, (not the right-hand rings that are so popular these days — which by the way are only popular because of the huge marketing campaign behind them too) they would no longer symbolize a something special, and so no, I would not want one. But I would not want one because they were really cheap. I would not want one because they would not mean anything anymore. —Cathy

But if you wanted something that had a lot of meaning, shouldn’t men have more room for creativity? What if your boyfriend gave you a sapphire ring because he said it made him think of your blue eyes? Or an emerald if you, say, loved forests and it reminded you of them? Wouldn’t that be more unique — and more of a symbol of the relationship — rather than the same diamond that everyone gets? —Rebecca

Men do have room for creativity. Remember J-Lo’s pink diamond from Ben Affleck? (Remember how that turned out?)

Seriously though, my boyfriend’s brother just got his fiancée a sapphire and I think that’s fine. If I wanted an emerald, I’m sure that would be an option. For me, though, it needs to be something that says “I’m engaged.” If the sapphire or the emerald covers it, well then OK. I just personally want a diamond because I like the way they look — and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that as long as you get one from a supplier who is in compliance with the Kimberley Process. What type of symbol are you thinking about wearing on your finger? A waxed walnut half? A split pea? —Cathy

Ha! Well, if there were a company that had a monopoly on split peas and used aggressive marketing tactics convincing men to give one to their fiancees or else the love wasn’t real, maybe we’d all be wearing one.

I’m not even sure I want an engagement ring. I find the exchange of wedding rings a poignant ritual — because there’s a sense of equality, or at least reciprocity (which is how I envision marriage). Since women don’t usually make a similar extravagant purchase for their mates, I find diamond engagement rings so one-sided. They’re like dowries for the modern man. The bigger the ring, the better off he is and the more he can provide for his wife-to-be. At least an old-fashioned dowry given by the bride’s family was generally discussed privately and the money and goods went towards the new matrimonial home. A diamond just sits ostentatiously on a woman’s hand for all to see (that is, when it’s not getting lost in the sand).

Plus, you can eat a pea. —Rebecca

I think you can have equality in your marriage and still wear nice jewelry. If it is a big concern, when your boyfriend gets down on one knee with a ring, hand him keys to a new car you’ve just bought for him. You could think of this as a dowry for the modern woman. —Cathy

I think I may do something more along the lines of what two friends of mine did. They gave each other engagement backpacks to use on their extended honeymoon. The backpacks were of some value (albeit not at a Harry Winston level, but also not something they would normally buy); but they were also unique gifts that reflected who they were and what they wanted to do together as husband and wife.

I’m not against diamonds per se, especially now that the industry is taking steps to clean up their practices. But I personally would prefer something less commonplace, more practical and definitely more personal. —Rebecca

That is really nice. A nice long trip is a probably the best present I could ever be given.

Just don’t tell my boyfriend I said that. And definitely don’t mention the car. —Cathy