Monday, January 2, 2012

Expensive jewelry is stupid

Disclaimer: If you are really rich, and have enough money that you'll never have to work a day in the rest of your life, none of the articles about expensive stuff applies to you. I'm targeting regular people who have to pay rent (or a mortgage), buy groceries, and scrounge up enough money to pay for all the other things that keep you alive.

You are not a Christmas tree. You do not need to be decorated.

Jewelry is almost never a good investment, so if you are buying jewelry for that reason you are stupid. Yes, there are ups and downs, and that gold chain you bought back in 1985 is likely worth more than you paid for it. Gold prices are up right now. The same goes for diamonds. But I'll bet the price you paid for that diamond ring wasn't based on the price of diamonds and gold. You likely paid more than twice that, in which case you are still in the hole.

"The media" (whoever that is) has conspired to convince you that you need and deserve expensive jewelry. I have a 1970's book by a famous "manners" person who states the then-current view on engagement rings. A reasonable amount to spend on an engagement ring was one month's salary of the groom. The advice adds, "if you can afford it". I searched around the web for the current advice. The consensus seems to be that two month's salary is a reasonable amount to spend. I wonder how the relative amount of a reasonable amount happened!

On the teaser for one of those @#$%ing reality shows last year, it showed a couple in a jewelry store shopping for an engagement ring. The bride-to-be immediately fell in love with a $35,000 ring. The groom-to-be thought she was kidding since this represented almost a year's salary. The prospective bride went into a rant about how if he loved her he would buy it and how she had no idea that he was so thoughtless.

Yes the bride-to-be is stupid, but not unusually stupid. I know several couples who are struggling to live but have a lot of expensive jewelry. They are convinced that they deserve it, that the suggestion that they don't need and shouldn't buy such things (instead of food and other necessities) is an elitist attitude. Why can Mr. Rich Guy have these things and we can't? The answer is obvious: he's rich and you aren't. Sorry about that, but it is a fact. Once you get rich, buy all you want.

A reasonable amount of moderately priced jewelry is OK, but unless you are well to do and have money to burn, buying expensive jewelry is stupid. If a couple is in conflict over the engagement ring (and it can be either partner who is pushing the upside) there will be problems down the road.

P.S. I must confess that I did break down and bought my wife a pair of expensive diamond ear rings one anniversary. But in my defense, this was the year I hit my highest annual income and had substantial savings, and was ahead of my target toward being financially independent. I also consulted with the diamond fanatics I worked with and contacted their dealer, so I got the ear rings at about half the price of the retail outlets. (I also got educated on diamond quality and pricing so I knew what I was dealing with). I may be off a bit, but I believe she has worn them at most once a year since then.

You are not a Christmas tree and don't need to be decorated. And, by the way, you don't need to add anything to look great.


  1. Someone I know bought themself diamond earings with student loan money even though they can't afford to pay rent, utilities, or to have regular maintenance done on their car. She said she deserved them because she did well in school.

  2. "Deserve" is a word that advertisers have used ad nauseum for years now to get us all into debt. "You deserve this" because you have a pulse. "You deserve this" because you actually had to work for a living (since when is 'work' supposed to be easy? It's 'work'!).

  3. Diamonds are inherently worthless. Had my bride to be tried those manipulative tactics, the relationship would have probably been over...a long time ago. Expensive jewellery is for the wealthy that can spend stupid amounts of money. Regular people should just be happy with stainless steel. It is all the same....and nobody with a robust mind really cares.

  4. That appears to be excellent however i am still not too sure that I like it. At any rate will look far more into it and decide personally! pawn shop casa grande az