Following are the “Ask Diamond Jim” columns posted to the website as of 01-20-2019
“A Right Honorable Man”
by The Other Jim
I find it just and necessary to bring to your attention the selfless works of an exceptional human being. There is a man among us in our community who serves his fellow men and women without seeking praise, glory, nor recognition. For the past three years it has been my sincere pleasure and honor to silently witness the kind and giving spirit of this gentle humanitarian. He has no indication that I’m writing this letter to you, for if he did, I’m certain he would ask that I not proceed.
For nearly 40 years, this man has worked tirelessly to become a consummate jewelry professional. GIA educated, he is truly a brilliant diamond shining brightly among the many other polished professionals within our industry. He requires that his entire staff be “diamond certified” through GIA’s diamond “Distance Education” courses in order to provide customers with the best possible service.
Insisting that every person who walks into his store receive a “WOW” experience, this man takes genuine customer care to its highest level. It’s not at all unusual for him to sit and listen to a longtime customer or a first-time visitor as they discuss the hurdles or obstacles they’re encountering in their personal lives. Most people would look for a reason to shorten this type of conversation during a busy day, not this man. Anyone who engages in a conversation with him is without fail the most important person in the room. I find it refreshing that he holds staff to the very same level of ethics that he holds himself.
Just 5 short months ago this jewelry business owner noticed, on one of our security cameras, a young man sitting outside the store on a bench, leaning over with his head in his hands. When he walked outside and approached the young man, he could see that he was upset. It turns out that this young man was a homeless US Army veteran and was struggling to find work. The young man “Michael” was eager and willing to work but, was not finding an opportunity or an open door so that he could prove his worth, even though he asked everyone he met if they were hiring. The store owner sat outside and talked with this veteran for nearly two hours.
At 73 years old, the jewelry store owner knows thousands of people such as customers, other business owners and professionals from all over the city and from nearly every industry. In only a few short hours, he had lined up three interviews for this military hero to attend. Late that evening, this humanitarian went to the store and purchased socks, underwear, shirts, pants and a new pair of shoes for Michael. Two days later, I was outside with the store owner when Michael literally came running up to us, held out his arms and hugged the 73 year old while breaking down in tears. Michael held on tight and would not let go as he cried and thanked the store owner for what he had done for him. As it turns out, Michael secured two jobs…one full-time job and one part-time job recommended by this “old man”. As I stood there watching and listening, I couldn’t help but to well up with tears myself. My supervisor had just served this military veteran who had already served us during his deployment. Several minutes later, Michael was once again moved to tears as he received the new clothes and shoes that were purchased especially for him. I heard Michael say, “I just can’t believe that an older white man like you would help a young black man like me. You are such a blessing. I had lost hope for the future.” I left them alone and went back inside the store.
This is just one of many acts of kindness that this man does for friends and strangers alike. As a Rotarian for more than 30 years, this jewelry business owner sees life a little differently than most. He not only requires a lot of his staff, he demands even more of himself.
The man I speak of is James K. Mills, better known to many as “Diamond Jim” of Pineforest Jewelry in Houston. At 60 years old, I have a lifetime of experience working with and for many business owners. Diamond Jim is truly and without exaggeration, one-in-a-million. The fact that he is one of the few survivors of pancreatic cancer and a near fatal car accident only serves to make his selfless acts more noteworthy.
I’ll leave you with this last thought. I know that Diamond Jim has helped many people who will never know who helped them or from where the assistance originated. It’s not in his character to seek praise for helping someone. In fact, I believe he might receive greater pleasure by remaining anonymous.
If your newspaper would be so kind as to share this letter with others, I would be very appreciative. I can think of no one more deserving of this acknowledgement than “Diamond Jim” Mills.
Thank you very much for reading this letter.
Diamond Jim: “What’s a really great way to propose?"
THE PERFECT PROPOSAL
You've found the right person. You've found the right ring. Now you have to find the right moment to pop the question.
So how do you make your proposal turn out flawlessly? We have plenty of tried-and-true tips to help you, but overall, it all comes down to just one thing: effort. Putting in real effort, thought and love into your proposal makes all the difference. Remember, your proposal doesn't have to change the world. It just has to show your partner that they mean the world to you.
Here are a few tips that will help you along the way:
Do your homework before buying the engagement ring. Most importantly, find a jeweler you trust. And, since you’re making such a big investment, make sure you insure the ring as soon as you purchase it. Your knowledgeable jeweler should be willing and able to discuss this with you. One option is that you may be able to insure it for an additional cost under your homeowner's or tenant’s insurance policy.
KNOW THE ANSWER
Your proposal should be surprising, but it shouldn't come directly out of left field. Before you pull a ring out, have a good idea how your partner will respond. "Will you marry me?" shouldn't be your first discussion on the subject.
RULES OF THE ENGAGEMENT (RING)
Here’s where a little bit of effort goes a long way. The history of the diamond as an engagement ring first became popular in the 1930’s, but the idea of an engagement ring has been around for centuries.
If you’re still deciding on a diamond engagement ring, consider doing some window shopping with your partner prior to making a purchase. If you want to keep things more secretive, talk to your partner’s friends and family to get a feel for their taste. Another option is to use a stand-in ring for the proposal. Perhaps you can use their great grandmother’s diamond engagement ring, and then take your partner shopping later. (A trusted jeweler can tell you everything you need to know about how to buy a diamond and will take the time to help educate both of you).
ASK PERMISSION, NOT FORGIVENESS
Before you take a knee, take the time to speak with your partner's parents first. Asking permission is a tradition carried since the Roman times, and it’s a great way to make a good impression on your future in-laws.
This is your chance to shine. A good Jeweler should have several ideas that will help you to be creative when "popping the question". You could also use modern technology for a Twitter proposal. You might also consider proposing by sending her a text when she’s right next to you. Imagine the huge smile that will light up her face when she reads the best text she’s ever received! No matter what you do, just put your heart into it.
You did it! Consider toasting your engagement with a night on the town, a glass of bubbly or a celebration with friends and family.
Diamond Jim: "What is The Independent Jewelers Organization (IJO)?"
The Independent Jewelers Organization is an elite group of retail jewelers. Members are Master IJO Jewelers and are hand-selected for membership in the Independent Jewelers Organization (IJO). IJO is an organization which only accepts jewelers with the highest ethical standards and superior professional integrity. IJO provides marketing and educational opportunities to over 1,000 members worldwide.
As a Master IJO Jeweler, members receive benefits such as expert training, allowing them to update their knowledge, skills and experience to help the consumer make a confident jewelry purchase. Group purchasing power allows Master IJO Jewelers to pass a significant savings on to their customers while maintaining the highest quality products they have come to know. And the fact that IJO Jewelers are active members of their communities means they strive to offer an unsurpassed level of service.
IJO members also offer you a host of exclusive services.
· Extensive buying opportunities, bringing the top fashions and best prices to you, the customer.
· The ability to buy diamonds to buy directly from the cutters through their offices in the famous city of Antwerp, Belgium, the diamond capital of the world.
· Master IJO Jewelers are full service jewelers with knowledgeable staff who will educate and guide you through your purchase either online or at the store.
· Master IJO Jewelers have the opportunity to attend two trade shows each year, where top-notch jewelry vendors exhibit the latest designs.
The IJO is the best resource to find your local ‘Master Jeweler’. The Master IJO Jeweler designation affirms that each member company is an independent jewelry business which operates within a well defined code of business ethics. Trust, Expertise, Honesty, Confidence and Integrity are the core principals of a Master IJO Jeweler, helping to ensure that you get the "Brilliance You Deserve"® no other jeweler can provide. For more information please contact IJO at www.ijo.com.
Diamond Jim: "How did the Internet begin?"
In ancient Israel, it came to pass that a trader by the name of Abraham Com did take unto himself a healthy young wife by the name of Dorothy (Dot for short). Dot Com was a charming woman, broad of shoulder and long of leg. Indeed, she was often called Amazon Dot Com.
And she said unto Abraham, her husband, "Why dost thou travel so far from town to town with thy goods when thou can trade without ever leaving thy tent?" And Abraham did look at her as though she were several saddle bags short of a camel load, but simply said, "How, dear?" And Dot replied, "I will place drums in all the towns and drums in between to send messages saying what you have for sale, and they will reply telling you who hath the best price. The sale can be made on the drums and delivery made by Uriah's Pony Stable (UPS)."
Abraham thought long and decided he would let Dot have her way with the drums. And the drums rang out and were an immediate success. Abraham sold all the goods he had at the top price, without ever having to move from his tent. To prevent neighboring countries from overhearing what the drums were saying, Dot devised a system that only she and the drummers knew. It was known as Must Send Drum Over Sound (MSDOS), and she also developed a language to transmit ideas and pictures - Hebrew to The People (HTTP).
And the young men did take to Dot Com's trading as doth the greedy horsefly take to camel dung. They were called Nomadic Ecclesiastical Rich Dominican Sybarites, or NERDS. And lo, the land was so feverish with joy at the new riches and the deafening sound of drums that no one noticed that the real riches were going to that enterprising drum dealer, Brother William of Gates, who bought off every drum maker in the land. Indeed, he did insist on drums to be made that would work only with Brother Gates' drumheads and drumsticks. And Dot did say, "Oh, Abraham, what we have started is being taken over by others."
And Abraham looked out over the Bay of Ezekiel , or eBay as it came to be known, and he said, "We need a name that reflects what we are." And Dot replied, "How about Young Ambitious Hebrew Owner Operators?"
"YAHOO," said Abraham. And because it was Dot's idea, they named it YAHOO Dot Com. Abraham's cousin, Joshua, being the young Gregarious Energetic Educated Kid (GEEK) that he was, soon started using Dot's drums to locate things around the countryside. It soon became known as God's Own Official Guide to Locating Everything (GOOGLE).
That is how it all began. And that's the truth! Thank you for reading and Happy New Year!
Diamond Jim: "What is the Birthstone for January?"
January’s Birthstone is Garnet
For babies born in January, the garnet is the perfect gem to represent their birthstone. This beautiful stone, which is most commonly red but can be found in a range of other colors, symbolizes peace, prosperity and good health. Some say it even has the power to give the wearer eternal happiness, health and wealth.
We say it’s the perfect way to start each year!
The word “garnet” comes from the 14th Century Middle English word “gernet” meaning dark red. The word is derived from Latin “granatum” which means seed, and is called so because of the gemstone’s resemblance to the beautifully red seeds of the pomegranate. Garnet is actually the name of a group of minerals that comes in a rainbow of colors, from the deep red of the Pyrope garnet to the vibrant green of Tsavorites. Some rare garnets are even blue, colorless, or—most rare of all—change colors in different lights. But the most common color is a beautiful range of reds, from rust colored to deep violet-red.
The garnet is a very durable gemstone (6.5-7.5 on the Mohs scale) found all over the world, including Wyoming, Czech Republic, Greece, Russia, Tanzania, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and India. It is also believed that the garnet symbolizes deep and lasting friendship. With that "legend" in mind, give a garnet to someone whose friendship you deeply value.
The garnet is so durable, remnants of garnet jewelry can be found as far back as the Bronze Age. Other references go back to 3100 BC when the Egyptians used garnet as inlays in their jewelry and carvings. The Egyptians even said it was the symbol of life. The garnet was very popular with the Romans in the 3rd and 4th Century. This gemstone was also used as a talisman for protection both by warriors going into battle and to those who wanted to ward off pestilence and plague. Some ancient healers and wise men even placed garnets in wounds and praised its healing powers.
Today, the garnet can be found in a range of jewelry pieces and styles, from beautiful rings to stunning tiaras. Since the garnet can come in a range of colors, rare garnets in green or blue make breathtaking pieces, especially in pendants or drop earrings.
HOW TO BUY GARNET
If you’re looking to purchase a garnet for yourself or a loved one, it is a great way to celebrate friendship, toast a 2ndwedding anniversary or recognize the wearer’s January birthday. When buying, visit a jewelry you know you can trust to assist you in purchasing exactly the right stone and piece. Look at how the garnet reacts under light, both natural and synthetic and check for an intense, saturated color. Remember, garnets commonly come in a wide spectrum of reds, but can also be green, pink, colorless or blue. The price of the piece will likely increase for more rare colors like green or blue.
Try to find a cut that spreads light evenly over the surface of the gemstone. This will help to bring out the overall beauty and color of the garnet. No matter which stone or piece you choose, remember that the garnet is known for its durability and richness of color, so your investment will not only have great emotional value but could be a piece that stands the test of time.
Diamond Jim: "On this night before Christmas”
On this night before Christmas, and all through our store,
The diamonds were brilliant like never before,
Gold earrings and pendants, silver and pearls,
And so many shoppers, mostly grown boys and girls.
A wall made of watches and another of games,
We know all your faces but not all of your names,
Greeted by smiles and fresh drinks from our staff,
We chat, share memories and talk of days past.
Red rubies, green emeralds and sapphires galore,
With new friends arriving and approaching the door,
New watches, pretty rings, and low prices to share,
For more than 40 years, we’ve known that you care.
So, on Christmas Eve when we then close our doors,
to spend time with our families, just like you will with yours,
We’re reminded of those who we’ll miss at this time,
It’s hard to believe so many years have gone by.
Our proud “Wall of Honor” saluting the Brave,
Our “Missing Man Table” honors those in their grave,
I think of the many who’ve passed on before,
They protected our peace, our land, and our shores.
And as I turn off the lights on this eve of great joy,
I can’t help but be thankful to those who deploy,
Tonight with my family, we’ll all say this prayer…
“See them home safely, they have family there”.
We are forever grateful to those who have served, do serve
and will serve…
Merry Christmas and Thank you!
Diamond Jim: "If something is free, does it have value?"
I really like this question. I feel that there are many things in life that are free and have great value. Love, friendship, a handshake, a hug, and even laying on the cool grass during a hot summer day. I can do any of these things for free and all of them have value to me.
For the financial value of an item, let’s consider a piece of jewelry. Ultimately, the value of anything is what someone is willing to pay for that item at a given point in time. For example, people will often show me a ring or a pendant or a Rolex watch and ask me “what is it worth”? The value of a 14K gold ring depends on why the valuation is needed and its intended purpose. If the person is selling the ring because they need the cash for other expenses, that amount is based on what we call “scrap value”. If a person is wanting to have a formal appraisal done for insurance or replacement of that item, that value is much different and usually much higher than the scrap value and is known as the items “appraised value”. Value, much like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder or in the details for the circumstances.
We have many customers who will come into Pineforest Jewelry just to say hello. They’re not here to buy something this time or for us to repair their jewelry, they just stopped by to have a cool drink and chat for a while. They feel comfortable here, they feel welcomed here, the feel appreciated here, they feel valued here. Our friendship and the cool drinks are all free. Now that’s a real value, that’s priceless!
We Love our customers and it shows every day of the week. Thank you for reading the “Ask Diamond Jim” column.
Diamond Jim: "What is the birthstone for December?"
December’s birthstones offer three ways to fight the winter blues: tanzanite, zircon and turquoise – all of them, appropriately, best known for beautiful shades of blue. These gems range from the oldest on earth (zircon), to one of the first mined and used in jewelry (turquoise), to one of the most recently discovered (tanzanite).
All of these stones are relatively inexpensive, but their beauty rivals even precious gems. Colorless zircon is a convincing replacement for diamond, tanzanite often substitutes sapphire, and turquoise is unmatched in its hue of robin’s egg blue. Whatever your style preference or budget, one of December’s three birthstones will match your true blue desires.
Tanzanite is the exquisite blue variety of the mineral zoisite that is only found in one part of the world. Named for its limited geographic origin in Tanzania, tanzanite has quickly risen to popularity since its relatively recent discovery. Zoisite had been around more than a century and a half before this rare blue variety was found in 1967. Trace amounts of vanadium, mixed with extreme heat, cause the blue color – which ranges from pale blue to intense ultramarine with violet undertones.
Tanzanite is still only found on a few square miles of land in Tanzania, near majestic Mount Kilimanjaro. Its price and availability are directly tied to mines in this region. Tanzanite measures 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness – which is not nearly as hard as the sapphire it often substitutes. Given its vulnerability to scratch during daily wear and abrasion, tanzanite is better suited for earrings and pendants than rings. Between its deep blue color and its limited supply, tanzanite is treasured by many – whether one is born in December or not!
Zircon is an underrated gem that’s often confused with synthetic cubic zirconia due to similar names and shared use as diamond simulants. Few people realize that zircon is a spectacular natural gem available in a variety of colors. The name zircon likely comes from the Persian word zargun, meaning “gold-colored.” Others trace it to the Arabic zarkun, meaning “vermillion.” Given its wide range of colors – spanning red, orange, yellow, green, blue and brown – both origins make sense.
Zircon commonly occurs brownish red, which can be popular for its earth tones. However, most gem-quality stones are heat treated until colorless, gold or blue (the most popular color). Blue zircon, in particular, is the alternative birthstone for December.
Admired since ancient times, turquoise is known for its distinct color, which ranges from powdery blue to greenish robin’s egg blue. It’s one of few minerals to lend its name to anything that resembles its striking color. Ancient Persia (now Iran) was the traditional source for sky blue turquoise. This color is often called “Persian blue” today, regardless of its origin. The Sinai Peninsula in Egypt was also an important historical source.
The U.S. is now the world’s largest turquoise supplier. Nevada, New Mexico, California and Colorado have produced turquoise, but Arizona leads in production by value, as well as quality. The stone’s popularity here makes it a staple in Native American jewelry. Turquoise is sensitive to direct sunlight and solvents like makeup, perfume and natural oils. The hardest turquoise only measures 6 on the Mohs scale, which made this soft stone popular in carved talismans throughout history.
From ancient Egyptians to Persians, Aztecs and Native Americans, kings and warriors alike admired turquoise for thousands of years. It adorned everything from jewelry to ceremonial masks to weapons and bridles – granting power and protection, particularly against falls. Highly esteemed for its striking namesake color and its ancient history, turquoise remains popular through time.
Diamond Jim: "Will you give thanks this Thursday, or is it just another day off work?"
Many people will acknowledge and be thankful to someone who helped them during their lives such as a parent, and brother or sister, a boss who gave them an opportunity, a coworker who showed them a better way to do something, or a teacher that had a positive impact in their life. Some people will see this Thursday and simply a day off of work or school and offer no appreciation for anything or anyone, and that is their choice to make.
Believe it or not, there are even a few people who will go above and beyond on this national holiday to help make someone else’s day just a little bit brighter, a little bit special, or a little bit Thankful. Nearly everyone one, at some point in their life, has helped a neighbor or a friend who was down on their luck. When someone we know hits a hard time in life, giving them a little help can actually help us as well. I do see acts of kindness each year and I sometimes wonder why that person is helping someone out…is it because they truly care? Is it because they’re in need of hearing “thank you”? Or could it be that they would still help even if no one ever knew that they were the one who helped.
I think this is the time of year when we should all do something special for someone else and for no other reason than it will make us fell good that we did a good thing. It’s nice and a good thing to be selfless, and not selfish. To be patient, and not demanding. To be appreciative, and not entitled. To be humble, and not arrogant.
Personally, I am sincerely Thankful for every customer who has come through our doors during the past (nearly) 40 years. It is an honor to be of service each of you. Whether you’re getting a watch battery replaced or you’re making a sizable purchase, the fact that you are giving us this opportunity to serve you is so very much appreciated…”Thank You”!
Whatever Thanksgiving means to you, I hope you are near friends or loved one’s who may share in your joy. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
Diamond Jim: "Does the price and value of diamonds stay about the same over time?"
- With continued economic growth around the world and more demand for luxury goods and decline in the mining of diamonds, it is expected that the prices of high gem quality natural diamonds will increase by roughly 6% each year until 2020.
- While the overall health of the economy influences the prices of diamonds, in general this gemstone has gained value over the years. Data shows the prices of diamonds over the past ten years have increased by approximately 32-33%, giving it an average of 4% every year.
- De Beers no longer controls the largest supply of diamonds as their market shares have fallen from roughly 90% in the 80s to close to 30% now. This is good news because it shows that diamonds can hold its value even when its supply is not controlled by a large cooperation.
- While many pundits would suggest that diamond is not a good investment, it is not necessary true. If you get the diamond from a trusted source at fair price and it is a top gem quality stone, diamond is one of the best commodities you could own. People are not insane to invest billions of dollars in this alluring gemstone. However, it is a different story if you buy the gemstone at a 400-700% marked up price as is sometimes the case in big chain jewelry stores.
Determining the best price for a diamond is critical for investors and consumers alike. This rare and alluring gemstone has been around for years and, all this time, its price has been quite high. To understand diamond and how its market value has been over the past half century or so, it is important to have a good perspective of the worldwide diamond industry. The value of the diamond has always been high since it was discovered and the main factor that affects this is the demand for diamond jewelry. With continued economic growth in the world, the demand for diamonds is expected to have a positive increase in the future.
With increased demand for this unique gemstone over the coming years, eventually demand will be way higher than the growth of diamond production. This is due to the slowdown of current mines and the lack of discovering new mines for this mineral. With the increase in demand of diamonds, more and more companies have come to the realization that such demand would affect prices globally.
If compared to another mineral such as gold, diamond prices haven't fluctuated as much, but they have changed nevertheless. Surveys show that the price of diamonds over the past 8 years has increased by approximately 33%, giving it an average of 4% every year. The size of the diamond will highly affect the price of the diamond. You will find that large type of diamonds (weighing about three carats or more) will fluctuate more compared to the smaller diamonds (weighing 2.99 carat and below to 0.50 carats). When you look at larger diamonds, you will notice that they have gradually increased in price over the past fifteen years, more than doubling their prices. The 4 carat diamonds (most active type) tripled between the year 2004 and 2008. When you look at the changes in prices of the smaller diamonds (0.50 to 2.99 carat) you will notice that the change in price over the past years is smaller.
While the price you pay for diamonds may change from year-to-year, the unique beauty, appeal and luster of this amazing natural stone will likely remain as it is . . . unrivaled. You can learn more about diamonds on a personal level by visiting the experts at Pineforest Jewelry.
Diamond Jim: "Do I need an appraisal for my fine jewelry?"
An official appraisal is necessary for insurance and estate planning. Fair market value appraisals indicate the amount a piece would be sold for between a willing buyer and seller. This appraisal can be used for estate tax determination and division of property in a divorce. A fair market value can be helpful to fair division of jewelry assets among loved ones.
Insurance replacement appraisals provide you protection for reimbursement in case of loss. This appraisal will give you a document that describes your item exactly (stone clarity, size, color, quality and value). By having a relatively recent appraisal, you will be better able to get the lost item replaced with a similar item or receive a settlement from