Over the years I have felt disappointment and outrage at various aspects of Xmas, but now I have given up on swimming against the flow and accept that commerce has replaced Christ in America, and has become an end in itself. The final 30 days of retail business accounts for nearly the entire profit margin for small businesses. The shoppers are running in the mainstream of our economy and anything that diminishes the “handle” hurts the nation.
I do however feel compelled to point out a few of the truly larcenous practices and products used to victimize the unwary gift grabber.
You may have noticed the increase in television advertising for one or another jewelry chain offering great deals on diamonds. Cuidado! Don’t go for diamonds, particularly already mounted with surrounding chips for glitter.
You are being charged for all the design but will never be able to sell the piece for anything but the price of the rock. And that price will be a fraction of what you paid. Like a new car, the loss of value as it exits the store is immense. Just ask your divorced friends or a pawnshop. Diamonds are a price-controlled commodity, totally inflated by the DeBeers monopoly. Unless you are buying in bulk, you cannot get investment value. Skip diamonds and give her an espresso machine.
The next thing you need to know to avoid being ripped off is the price of gold. Due to the unique physical properties of gold, it has earned its place as a store of wealth over time. Another remarkable characteristic of gold is its malleability. It can be worked to a fineness that makes it a natural medium for jewelry, and that is where the gaff comes in. Pure gold (.999 fine) is 22 carat, thus each gram of gold is worth roughly 4.5 percent of the weight. But most retail jewelry is only 14 carat gold, or 56 percent pure, so the price per gram drops almost in half. To buy gold jewelry, weigh the item and divide the weight in grams into the price of the piece. Chances are you’re paying double or better the gold price of the day. Bad deal. If you must buy gold jewelry, find a Thai or Chinese dealer in 22 carat chains and ornaments, maker-marked and instantly saleable around the world.
Just a couple of shopping tips for those of you trying to avoid being taken by the shark of retail, who, after all, have to make a living, too.
“Travus T. Hipp” is a 40-year veteran radio commentator with six stations in California carrying his daily version of the news and opinions. “The Poor Hippy’s Paul Harvey,” Travus is a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but unemployable in the Silver State due to his eclectic political views. He can be reached at email@example.com.