Friday, January 27, 2006

Gallery of Tacky Rings Found on Ebay pt. 1

I'm on a jewelers forum and while discussing about beautiful pieces and design marvels is a lovely past time, we also enjoy ripping apart butt-ugly tacky jewelry especially if they come with a lofty price tag. Now, there are several criteria points which constitutes "tacky" but the one thing that is important to remember before thoroughly mocking a piece is that it must be wearable or intended to be worn first. Nothing is truly tacky until it has been seen in public. There are many concept art "mini-sculptures" out there that were made for the purposes of design and visuals only (think Haute Couture clothing), and those items are not included for scrutiny.

Craptacular pieces of adornment abound since humans, let's face it, are rather vain. What better place to study human possessions than Ebay? Even after focusing on just high-end designer rings made of precious metal, there were hundreds of rings to choose from and the discussion threads just grow day by day. Here are a few highlights:

This is an engagement set from the 60's. I suppose the designer was going after the whimsical "mod" look, but this ring looks like it has smallpox.

Set in platinum and 18k yellow gold, this ring has the low starting bid of $5999 for this one-of-a-kind thing-a-ma-bobber. Frankly, if I were the metal smith, I'd never make another one again. I guess, however, it could be used as a fancy phone cradle.

This ring looks like it could store a year's supply of Prozac in the compartment. Either that or a momma robin is really pissed off right now that someone stole her egg.

Somewhere in there, there's a cluster of 7 diamonds. Not sure.

Obviously the bench jeweler was cleaning out old inventory and decided to lump all his leftover smaller stones into one tacky ring. This doesn't even make any compositional sense....and is it one ring or two? I'm so confused.

LOOK! Boobies! What a waste of extremely fine quality natural pearls.

More Boobies! Or, maybe the jeweler stole some more eggs from a robin and mounted them on 14k yellow gold. Someone on the jeweler's forum asked if those were gumballs. Supposedly they're turquoise. I can't figure out how these are mounted either---probably just glued on.

Fake boobs? Okay, I'll stop now. I realize this is an antique ring, but there is a reason why some styles are copied and some aren't.

This one is multipurpose...

And they thought it was impossible to make a ring out of a cream puff...

Frankly this looks like gold plated dog-dookie. You can barely see the amethyst crystal trapped underneath. The ring was described as "organic" looking. Indeed!

Even if it is 2 cts, it still is ugly. Yes, ladies and gentleman, this is an I3 industrial grade diamond engagement ring. The value that the seller claims it to be? $4650.

Is it meant to be a faucet dripping water? Is this Freudian? I have no idea.

Again, another case of a bench jeweler using up inventory, but at least he focused on moonstone. I would think this ring is dangerous near young children but for the low price of $65 that's the price you pay.

For sure this one is certainly dangerous!

Lastly, Message to Snow Queen: Someone stole your headdress I was a little torn about this one since the quality of the stones is just magnificent (supposedly all VS1, D-F color), the setting is well executed in platinum and it is aesthetically pleasing in a ostentatious way. However, why spend so much money on ring guards (the center ring was not part of the auction) when you could get a whole new ring? It is just way too overdone--not even the queen would wear it, I'm sure. Goes to show, too much of a good thing can be bad.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

I Think I Found the Ring Mounting I Want

Here we go. This sort of has attributes that all the others have (with the exception of the peekaboo diamonds underneath the head). It would be a web purchase, but at least they do have a return policy. Furthermore, since the head can be changed out, this can take any stone, so if I don't like it and don't manage to return it in time, I can set any colored stone in its place. Cool eh?

I'd get it in yellow gold so it would match my band. What do you think?

Labels: ,

Monday, January 23, 2006

DeBeers Musings and Semi-Mounts

I can't decide what the hell to do with "Lemon Drop" my light yellow 1 ct. oval diamond.

As an aside, I can't believe I own a diamond since I know quite well these things aren't exactly rare. I told myself multiple times that if I were to ever get one, I'd get a man-made version like the ones Takara grows because the process of mining natural ones is detrimental to the environment and the working conditions for those who do mine diamonds is close to slave labor. Even though DeBeers doesn't have a 100% monopoly as the rumor claims, they still own a majority of the diamonds in the world. Therefore, they can keep prices artificially inflated. You know those pretty commercials with the shadows dancing romantically to music by Karl Jenkins that deBeers creates? Well, this all started way back before television marketing. Back in the 40's they ingeniously worked with Hollywood to insert images of diamonds engagement rings in movies so that the American people would believe that it was part of the marriage process. These are the guys who created the whole "2 months salary" rule.

Amazing eh? This is an example of a marketing campaign that worked--and worked well! So, I, a trained gemologist, a lapidary and certified jeweler, am coming to grips with all this all over again. Oy!

Now that I have Ms. Lemon Drop, I have to figure out how to set her properly because if I'm going to own a diamond, it ought to at least look unique. I went with an oval. That's a good start because these days everyone wants a round "super ideal cut" (which is a crock of shit, by the way, and another marketing ploy. There are many cuts that return better brilliance.) Secondly, I'm not going to go with platinum since EVERYONE is wearing platinum today.

Here are the contenders:

Scott Kay triple stone mounting in 19k white and yellow gold. I like the cute peek-a-boo diamonds on the side. If can switch those out for a rubies, it would be perfect. The only issue is that I'm not sure if it can accommodate an oval stone and I'm annoyed about the fact that it is a name brand.

Another Scott Kay mounting. This one is a solitaire. The website says "call for price" which equates to "expensive"

Verragio solitaire. This one can be ordered in 18k yellow gold, is fairly affordable, but again, I'm not sure if it can accommodate an oval stone.

I saw a two toned version of this one in person that I loved (and almost got) but the little diamonds on the lower ring portion is almost too much. Supposedly it can be modified to hold an oval, but I don't want to compromise security.

Again Verragio. This is an interesting variation with less diamonds.

Neat looking non-branded setting specifically for a 1ct. Oval. I can order this in 18k yellow gold. The drawback is that that design will make the center stone looks smaller and won't fit flush against my wedding band.

Another non-banded setting that I like. The problem is that the head may not be modifiable to hold an oval stone. Although these non-branded versions are cheaper, I'm not sure of the construction.

For a while this was the top contender, but it is so ridiculously overpriced. The yellow diamonds are not in the fancy color grade range, BTW. It is 6 times the amount of the one above and yet the website refuses to send me additional pictures of the underside which makes me wonder if it is hollow.

Overall, although I love the look, I am worried that pave' work is going to look rediculously out-dated ina few years. Furthermore, if a diamond falls out, its a pain to find a matching one to fix which is why I'm learning towards the smoother designs at the moment.

So, there you have it. After my momentary guilt trip on diamonds, I am now contemplating semi-mounts!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Letter of Rec Woes

The numbers are tapering off now, but every now and then I still get a desparate student contacting me for a letter of recommendation. I should point out that I left academia about four and a half years ago to pursue a nice, mundane, relatively drama-less job concerning computers and programming. The extra bonus--no dumb students.

Anyway, I just got off the phone about 10 seconds ago. This guy worked as a physics tutor, was smart, nice, but essentially, I barely knew him. In fact, he only worked for me for one semester. Aside from saying he was punctual and that he has a heavy accent, I can't think of anything else that stands out about this guy. For an academic job, merely being smart isn't good enough--you either have to be a phenominal teacher or produce phenominal research. He begged for a letter of rec (due in a week, mind you) trying to wrench my arm into writing him one because no one else would write a letter for him.

Now, this ought to have been a clue to said grad student. Unfortauntely I had to flat out tell him that a bad or mediocre letter of rec is even worse than no rec at all. He seemed hurt.

I feel mildly guilty. In reality, I do remember some things about him and none are good. I remember that he started the PhD program 4 years before I started, that I finished my masters and was working for my 4th year while he was still in the same PhD program. He took too damn long to find an advisor he liked and essentially had to start again. I remember funding was taken away from him due to not producing anything or worth and he had to transfer to another school. Before doing so, he worked for me for one semester. I found it odd that someone many years my senior was now my employee.... At the new university, he managed to finish a second masters. That is to say, he didn't finish his PhD there either.

So now, he's trying to find work teaching at a community college. There's this mean side to me that wants him to get a dose of tough love. It's his fault for not having several back ups for these letters of recs and his fault for not covering his tracks with ample work experience, etc. At the same time, he's from Korea and language is probably a barrier. I wonder if he reached out to me because I'm Asian, hoping for some mercy. I'm not sure. Either way, I'm not feeling good about the situation.

I'm thinking about my own academic bridges I've burned. My advisor and I ended on ill terms and the last job I was at, I quit. Hence, are there people who could write a good letter of rec for me if I needed it? Probably not. But instead of begging a past supervisor and doing the whole "but no one will help me bit!" I would have taken other classes, taken on other small jobs, etc. to build up a group of people who would say something nice about me. Blargh. Tough love indeed.

On a whimsical note. I wonder if Trent would write me a letter of rec if I asked. Ha!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Flannel-esque tongue and school musings

I'm sick today. A few shots of tequila certainly helped get rid of the aching pain in the back of my throat, however, I can't seem to get rid of the fuzzy gross feel my tongue possesses even with frequent tooth brushing and liters of water. Unfortunately, I'm stuck at work clickety clacking away at items of actual importance. Oh the timing. I'm sure the gods are smiting me for slacking off last week when I was healthy.

On a totally unrelated note, I was thinking about my kindergarten school after filling out one of those useless LJ memes that are meant to pad your journal with trivial questions and quizzes. I suppose it wasn't all that useless because this is somewhat an interesting topic of note. I went to kindergarten in Taipei, Taiwan. That in of itself isn't particularly odd; however the circumstances and the school itself were a little strange.

To back track a little, my grandmother was incredibly ill and my mother had to fly back to take care of her. Due to the lovely harsh relationship with my dad, and the fact that he had gotten into a physical brawl with her recently, this gave my mother the perfect reason to go back to her home country and bring her children along. Somehow she had it in her mind that it would be detrimental if I didn't attend kindergarten that year (I was 5) and that somehow the government wouldn't allow me to attend grade school if I didn't "graduate" from kindergarten. Correct me if I'm wrong, but no one is legally obligated to attend school right?

Anyhow, she figured it be best if I attended school with my "own kind." In her mind, that meant English speaking American Citizens. Unfortunately, the American academies were filled that year, so I was stuck at a British institution--and a Catholic one at that (Grace Christian Academy to be exact). Now, I'm not Catholic and I also had never really heard a British accent before (remember, I was only 5). Furthermore, it seemed like there weren't many openings in Taipei, because it seemed like we had every freaking nationality known to man compressed in that little school house. That's in retrospect. At the time, I kept thinking to myself "Why does everyone sound funny?"

The convenient thing was yes, we could all speak to each other in English. However, we all had our own accents. There were German kids, Dutch kids, kids from France, Japanese children (I think they thought I was Japanese at first because all my stationary has Japanese stickers on it). Remember meeting a gal from South Africa. "Why aren't you black?" I asked her. She was confused. "Why would I need to be?"

Even more amusing was that everyone could speak some degree of mandarin. I had a lovely and tall Indian lady as my morning teacher and I found it incredibly amusing that she could speak Chinese. It just seemed to incongruous to me at the time, but now I just find it sad that most people in the US are not bi or tri lingual like the kids I knew from kindergarten.

All in all, it was a great experience. It cultured me at a young age and exposed me to different types of people. Furthermore, the program was accelerated, so that by the time I came back to the states, I was 2 years ahead in mathematics. Unfortunately, because my reading level was normal, the school I attended in Houston decided it would be better to let my brain rot in math class for a while by keeping me in my normal grade. Go USA. :P

Labels: , ,