Are diamonds forever? a best friend? Best place to get them

I’m not a diamond kind of gal. I don’t quite get the fuss, but when I saw the Hope Diamond at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History this summer I thought, now that is impressive. If you are a person who is into diamonds, heading to the Diamond District in New York is one way to save lots of money for a gem–more than 50 % if you hit the right dealer who is willing to bargain down.

That’s because almost all diamonds entering the U.S. have a New York City stopover where they are cut, polished and sold before they end up in jewelry stores elsewhere. Reading about the Diamond District in Si Liberman’s article in the Columbus Dispatch reminded me about going a mall of outlet stores, but the deals are better on the diamonds.

I did receive a diamond as a gift once. It came in a small plastic bag, with a zip-lock top. From what I recall my friend got it from his sister’s best friend’s father’s jewelery store. The store was out on Long Island, but the father made frequent trips to the Diamond District for his diamond goods. My friend explained how he picked it because it had the elements of an excellent diamond: cut, color and clarity. It wasn’t big (carat weight is the other value marker) because that would have knocked it out of his price rang. He bought the best he could afford and I had it made into an earring, but alas, it was stolen one of the few times someone broke into my apartment when I was living in Albuquerque. This was one of the only two pieces of jewelry taken. Someone knew what he was doing. (The photo diamonds are fake.)

If you do go to the Diamond District don’t just buy from anyone. Make sure you are at a reputable dealer and find out if the diamond has been altered to get rid of flaws. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy it, but the value isn’t as high.

How Much Do We Spend on Travel?

The results from the Travel Industry Association of America are in and Americans sure like travel. The numbers prove it. Here are some highlights from an article that covers some of the report’s details. Besides mentioning numbers, Steve Stephens, the travel editor of the Columbus Dispatch covers other interesting tidbits.

Amount Americans spent on travel in 2005–$653.8 billion.

Number of trips made in 2005 to visit family, get away for the weekend or go on an extended trip in the United States — 1.48 billion.

Number of people who took a trip outside the U.S. for fun – 50 million.

We’re not the biggest spenders, though. Although, Americans spend $95.2 billion when we head overseas, people who visit the U.S., out do us–They spend $102.6 billion here. We do spend a bundle at restaurants–$444 billion.

Here’s another detail I found on the Travel Industry Association website. Amount of money generated by travel and tourism in the United States each year– $1.3 trillion.

Oscar Night America: Get the Red Carpet Treatment and Give to Charity

Oscar season is upon us and I’m making plans. Even when I’ve lived in other countries, I have kept an eye on the date as to not miss the hoopla. One year, thanks to a friend’s membership, I saw the ceremony on a big screen at the American Club in Taipei. This was one of those fun-filled events that Americans throw to feel like they are still in the U.S. On Oscar night I’m happy to pretend.

Because I am a movie fiend, as soon as I see Half Nelson my oath as a member of the Columbus Academy of Movie Pickers Picks [CAMPP] is fulfilled. We are a group of folks who the Dispatch (Columbus Ohio’s main newspaper) deemed worthy of the weighty responsibility of seeing all the nominated movies, actors, actresses, directors and those in supporting roles to pick who we think should win before the paper’s press deadline. On Oscar Sunday our photos and quotes end up in print. With a few days left to make up my mind, I’m still mulling.

What I am not mulling about is where to see the Oscars. Across the U.S. there are Oscar Night America® parties where the award ceremony is broadcast live on the big screen. The website lists where the events are and gives details how to attend. By attending, participants get to do things like walk the red carpet, eat yummy hors d’oeuvres, cast their ballots for the winners in order to win prizes, and earn money for charity. Each attendee also receives the same program they would receive if they were actually at the Oscars. The event I’m going to is at the Drexel Gateway near the Ohio State University campus. The money raised that night will go to Columbus AIDS Task Force.