Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Be Mine...Bejeweled...Beware. Advice for Buying Gemstone Jewelry

Larry Denton

Gemstones can be naturally mined, laboratory-created or total imitation. Natural gemstones (like rubies, sapphires, diamonds), as the name implies, were made by Mother Nature. Stones created in a lab can look identical to stones mined from the earth since they have essentially the same chemical, physical and visual properties as natural gemstones. The major difference is the cost. Laboratory-created stones do not have the rarity or uniqueness of naturally colored stones and, consequently, are much less expensive than naturally mined stones. Because these synthetic stones look similar to the real stones, they must be identified (labeled) as being lab-created. In contrast, imitation stones look like natural stones in appearance only, and may be glass, plastic, or less costly stones.

Gemstones can be measured by weight, size or both. The basic unit for weighing gemstones is the carat (with a C), which is equal to one-fifth of a gram. Carats are divided into 100 smaller units, called points. For example, a half-carat gemstone would weigh .50 carats or 50 points. When gemstones are measured by dimensions, the size is expressed in millimeters (for example, 7x5 mm.). Many gemstones are treated in some manner to improve their appearance or durability, or even change their color. Jewelers should tell you whether the gemstone you are considering has been treated since it may affect its value or require some special care.

Diamonds, the proverbial girls' best friend, are valued on four basic criteria: color, clarity, cut, and carat. The color of a diamond is usually "graded" on a scale. However, scales are not uniform: a "D" may be the best color on one scale, but not for another. Clarity refers to the presence or absence of internal flaws, called inclusions, which occur naturally within the stone, or to external blemishes, such as scratches or chips. A diamond can be described as "flawless" only if it has no visible surface or internal imperfections when viewed under a 10-power magnification by a skilled diamond grader. Make sure you know how a particular scale and grade represent the color or clarity of the diamond you are considering. Cut refers not only to the shape of the diamond, but also to size, angle, uniformity and polish of the facets (faces of the stone). Carat weight may be described in decimal or fractional parts of a carat, as described above.

Imitation diamonds, such as cubic zirconia, resemble diamonds in appearance but are much less costly since they are made in a laboratory. Other synthetics such as lab-created moissanite, also resemble diamonds and may not be detected by the instruments used to identify cubic zirconia. Ask your jeweler if he has the latest testing equipment to distinguish between real diamonds and lab-created stones.

Natural or "real" pearls are made by oysters and other mollusks. Cultured pearls are also grown by mollusks, but with human assistance: that is, an irritant introduced into the shells causes a pearl to grow. Imitation pearls are completely man-made using glass, plastic or organic materials. Because natural pearls are very rare, most pearls used in jewelry are either cultured or imitation. Cultured pearls, because they are produced by mollusks, are usually more expensive that imitation pearls. A pearl's value is largely based on size, usually state in millimeters, and the quality of its nacre coating, which gives it luster. Jewelers should tell you whether a pearl is imitation or cultured.

Some black, bronze, gold purple, blue and orange pearls, whether natural or cultured, occur that way in nature. Some, however, are dyed through various processes and jewelers should tell you whether the colored pearls are naturally colored, dyed or irradiated.

When you're in the market for a piece of jewelry for yourself or someone you love, shop around. Whether it is online, in catalogs or at a traditional store make comparisons. Compare quality, price, and service. Ask about refund and return policies before you buy. Check for the appropriate markings on metal jewelry. And make sure you get a sales receipt containing any information you relied on when making your purchase.

Best wishes for an enjoyable and rewarding shopping experience!

Larry Denton is a retired history teacher having taught 33 years at Hobson High in Hobson, Montana. He is currently Vice President of Elfin Enterprises, Inc., an Internet business dedicated to providing valuable and accurate information and resources on a variety of topics. For a treasure chest full of additional information about jewelry please visit

Yes, There Are Opportunities For Christian Work from Home Businesses
Randy Wilson

There are specific Christian work from home businesses around, with more opening up every day, although some would argue that any business can be a Christian one. Before you make any decisions though, ask yourself a few questions such as:

  • What are my talents and skills?
  • Is my goal to have a new full-time business or to add to my existing salary?
  • How will having a Christian work from home business affect my family?
  • Am I looking to help others through my business?
  • What quality of life do I really want?
  • What's necessary to achieve that quality of life?

These questions are just to get you thinking about what your true purpose is in pursuing Christian work at home opportunities. Without an idea of what your goal really is, you can't achieve it.

You especially need to consider your own special skills and abilities. For instance, if you love kids and are good with them, you might consider starting a Christian daycare center for them in your home.

Focusing on what your talents and skills are will keep you from going into any Christian work from home businesses that you're truly not interested in or good at, and help you choose what you will be successful at doing.

Maybe you love to write. There are many opportunities for Christian work from home businesses in the desktop publishing area. You can produce programs, brochures, tracts, church histories, and directories for churches in your area. You can also go bigger with this once you get started and have a few successes under your belt.

You could also consider writing inspirational literature, especially e-books. The demand for all sorts of Christian literature is out there, just waiting for you!

There are also many Christian work at home opportunities in MLMs (Multi-level Marketing). Some of them center around selling products like cleaners, vitamins, and family-oriented books. With this sort of Christian work at home business, you also usually get income from people you bring into such programs.

These types of Christian work from home opportunities can also be done predominately online. Just do your research to be certain that the company you're selling goods or services for isn't a scam of some kind. You can check with BBB (Better Business Bureau) or the SBA (Small Business Association) for information on companies you are considering signing up with.

Christian work from home businesses you might also want to consider is assembling Christian-related items in your home. These items range from putting together crosses to making jewelry. Some companies pay you outright for your work, others charge a small fee and allow you to sell the goods yourself.

If you love to work with your hands and be creative, this is a wonderful Christian home business opportunity for you to look into. Again, be certain that the company you choose is a legitimate one.

Now that you have Christian work at home ideas, what do you do next? Consider these things:

  • Do I have the space I need for an office?
  • Is there any special equipment I need to purchase?
  • Are there any licenses required?
  • Should I obtain any additional insurance?
  • Do I need to hire people to help me?
  • What sort of accounting system will I use?
  • How do I plan for taxes?

Once you have the answers to these questions, you need to make a business plan that maps out the steps you need to take to get your Christian work at home business up and running.

The more planning you do in the beginning, the better off you'll be. You'll be more efficient and won't waste time or money this way. And those things are key to any successful home business.

© Copyright Randy Wilson, All Rights Reserved

Randy is has more home based business articles at Profitable Home Businesses F to J such as Advertising Business Opportunity.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Animal Jewelry: a very different and beautiful form of adornment

Angela Davis

Animal jewelry is a wonderful way to express your love and appreciation for your pet animal. Not only is it an ideal gift to give to animal lovers, but it is also a rather unusual jewelry item which you can own yourself. Though animal jewelry in some form or another has been around since quite some time, it is only recently that the market for it has come of age. It is now available in almost every conceivable size, shape, form and texture for all age groups. Whether it is a sophisticated brooch for a woman, or tiger cufflinks for a man or a monkey necklace for a child, it can all be found and made to order if need be.

Animal jewelry is available in many different styles. Some popular motifs for designs include dolphins, cats, horses and dogs. Animal jewelry is such that it can be truly appreciated by an animal lover. It comes in a wide variety of price ranges. It can be something very reasonable and can also be quite expensive. Some kinds of animal jewelry are made of precious metals and decorated with precious and semi precious stones. Such expensive high end animal jewelry can be made from sterling silver or gold and can even have diamonds or rubies as settings. The kind of craftsmanship used the finish and over all look also makes a huge difference to the overall price of this kind of jewelry.

Animal jewelry is available in various specialty stores, jewelry stores, antique stores and boutiques. It can also be found in some kinds of departmental stores and also online. If you can afford it, you can even get animal jewelry made to order according to your specifications. Many kinds of animal jewelry is found in the shape of charms/totems and pendants. They are considered to be quite lucky and auspicious in certain cultures and regions and are worn as good luck charms. These charms and pendants can be produced to appear still, or even in motion.

Animal jewelry is not only beautiful, but it is also unique and a wonderful way to show your appreciation for animals. This type of jewlery in the form of rings is quite popular. Many animal lovers can choose to have their favorite animal on a ring of their choice. Other styles of animal jewelry include picture bracelets. These styles of picture bracelets have separate links that may either be circular or box shaped and can have a picture of an animal or an engraving of an animal on the inside. Designs may include wolfs, turtles, snakes, bear claws, otters, elks, and deers, among many others.

Animal jewelry is the perfect gift for the animal lover. Animal lovers can find beautiful necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, armlets, pendants, belt buckles, cufflinks and even body jewelry with animal themes like horses, dolphins, butterflies, geckos, elephants, frogs, ladybugs and much more.

Looking for information about Jewelry?
Go to:
'Merry Jewelry' is published by Angela Davis -
The Complete Jewelry Resource Directory
Check out more Jewelry articles at:

Is Your Trash Cash? 5 Easy Places to Sell Your Stuff
Karen Fritscher-Porter

The old adage that says "one person's trash is another person's treasure" never goes out of date. So when you're looking for some extra spending cash and you want to make some space in your home, combine the two endeavors by selling your stuff instead of donating it or trashing it. Use the extra cash to pay a bill or start a holiday gift fund. Even better, use the windfall to treat yourself to a weekend getaway! Plenty of people and places exist to buy what you could be selling instead of giving away or trashing. Here are some places where you can sell your stuff:

ANTIQUE DEALERS AND COLLECTORS: Sell anything from old coins and costume jewelry to old records and toys that are in great shape to dealers. And sometimes not so great shape. I got several offers for an old hand-me down jeweled pocket watch, even with its bit of chipped paint. Dealers often resell your item to make themselves a profit. The telephone book yellow pages yields the names of area antique dealers or check the local newspaper classified ads under the "wanted to buy" sections. Be sure to get more than one quote or appraisal before you sell it.

FLEA MARKETS: Got a bunch of stuff to sell like books, video tapes, figurines, fake (or real) potted plants, even clothing in good shape? Rent a booth at the nearest flea market that generates a lot of traffic. Often just $5 - $15 rents a space with a table. Visit first to scope out the best booth for your bucks. Perhaps even bring your own additional tables, shelves or hanging clothes racks. A sheet or cheap tablecloth will dress up your flea market table too (Sometimes good displays attract more shoppers!). Don't forget the lawn chair and $20 in small bills for change. And flea market shoppers like to haggle. So inflate your prices just a bit so they can strike a bargain with you. It's expected!

CLASSIFIED ADS: Make room for the new couch by selling the old one in your local freebie paper, especially if you're in a college town. Used furnishings are hot sale items to students. I once netted $200 bucks for a small quaint and deteriorating three piece wood bedroom drawer set someone gave me a few years back. I placed an ad in the local "Pennysaver" newspaper for just a few bucks, and dozens of potential buyers called almost immediately. It sold in two days (to a furniture design graduate student who wanted to restore the furniture).

CONSIGNMENT/RESALE SHOPS: If you have discovered that you like walking in fresh air or you stink at tennis, consider giving up your treadmill or tennis rackets in exchange for cash. Sell used sporting goods equipment to stores such as Play it Again; or put it on consignment at such stores. That means if the item sells, the store gets a cut. If it doesn't sell, you're still stuck with it and earn no money. Also, you probably have some clothing consignment stores in your community. Check the phone book and look around, or ask around, to find them. Sometimes resale shops or consignment shops will advertise in those weekly freebie "tell and sell" or community newspapers too. Make some inquiries with these shops about what seasonal clothes they're looking for currently; then give them your good stash of clothes that you no longer wear to sell on consignment. Make sure you inquire about what happens to the clothing if it doesn't sell (so you get it back and they don't cart it off to the nearest charity clothing shop which some will if you want them to do so).

FRIENDS AND CO-WORKERS: Sure it's okay to give things away now and then to friends in need. But if you're planning to sell an item and you happen to know a friend, acquaintance or co-worker seeking just such an item, why not give them first purchase option? When I married, I ended up with a lot of duplicate items just taking up storage space. One day during a casual conversation with a co-worker I found a new home for my almost new, small microwave. My co-worker had just divorced, moved to this new state, owned almost no household items and lived in a very small apartment; my small microwave was a perfect match for her needs. I ended up with $25 I needed and she ended up with a must-have item for her new apartment. So keep your ears open for people seeking what you're getting rid of and don't be afraid to say an item is for sale (after all, if you could afford to give it away, you probably wouldn't be reading this article.).

Karen Fritscher-Porter is the publisher/editor of, a Website that brings you simple pocket cash and freebie earning opportunities and ideas. She also publishes, a Website that helps you organize your home. Both sites offer free articles, information and ideas and a free newsletter.

Graduation Gifts for Men

Matthew Seigneur

How to Select a Graduation Gift for a young man

First when selecting a graduation giftfor any young man you need to decide what he is going to be after graduation. Is he headed off to college or out into the work force?
The graduation gifts that is often asked for are; a car, money, vacation, computer, or new clothes.

Most often some of these are just too expensive for some of us to buy.

A car would be an awesome graduation gift for any young man going off to be on his own. If you can not afford a brand new car look at some used cars that will not cramp his style.

He will appreciate owning his own car, and he may even get to come home more often from college if he has his own wheels. So, it could be a good investment for you also.

If the young man is headed of to college you could buy him a book for a graduation gift that pertains to his course of study. A good book to read can be a great gift even if they are just getting a job. Sometimes reading is relaxing and this would be a great way to
have a break from their normal routine.

What about a gift basket filled with their favorite goodies? Or you could even make a gift basket yourself for a graduation gift instead of buying one that is already filled.

You probably know more of what items they could use or eat. If you are preparing one for college you could always add items they could use with their new computer, a mouse pad, software, and even some games for a break from studying. Always include a prepaid phone card; you want this young man to call home often.

A nice graduation gift would be to put together a photo album of the years he spent in high school. Any man would enjoy looking back at when he scored the final touchdown in the big game, or maybe was voted King of the prom. He would love taking a break and
enjoying these photos.

Jewelry is always a great graduation gift. An engraved watch with the date of graduation is something any man would cherish through his college years. It marks a very important date in his young life.
If you just can't decide on what type of graduation gift to buy a gift certificate is always awesome.

This way he can decide what clothing, books, etc. he may want. You are giving the young man the ability to choose what he needs and wants and that is great ways of showing him you know that he is a man.

If your young man is going off to college you can put together a wonderful graduation gift that will help him survive his first year of college away from home.

Buy a nice wicker basket or some other type of box or basket that you believe he will reuse after he uses up the supplies.

Then fill the basket full of small graduation gifts like: a first aid kit (tweezers, nail clippers, safety pins, band aids, anti bacterial lotion, etc.), comfortable slip on shoes for the shower, magnet for the frig (to keep track of important phone numbers like home), reading light (so he doesn't disturb his room mates while studying late at night), a can opener, a screw driver, a bottle opener, keychain(any other small items you can think of), stamped postcards (your young man can send off when he is too busy to sit down and write a long letter), pizza gift cards, note books, pencils, pens, stationary and envelopes.

Any man would absolutely love a graduation gift that shows just how much you care. Putting together a basket full of goodies would be one of the best gifts of the year. Provides gift ideas and unique gifts for men, visit for some cool gadgets you
can buy for men!

Link Building: To Link, or Not to Link, That is the Question
Vik Tailor

Lately, there have been a lot of heated discussions regarding link building. Is it ethical to create a link building campaign? Does Google or any other search engine penalize for "link farms" (a bunch of non-related links created for the SOLE purpose of increasing search engine ratings)? Is the "link building era" over?

Link Farms
Many webmasters claim that Google penalizes websites for link farms. If this is so, why are a link farm sites that have a page rank of 5 on their link farm page? Let me give you an example, go to, type in any popular keyword(s) and append the word "links" to it. For example, "ABCD Links." Notice you'll get tones of websites that are linking to unrelated sites, but still have a great PR. I do not encourage link farming in any way or form, but building valuable partnerships is something I do encourage. If you're a jewelry site and you're exchanging links with an antiques site, I think this is a great thing. It's very possible that someone searching for jewelry may have an interest in antiques. I own a few sites and the hits I receive from partially related sites are phenomenal. Most of my websites are targeted towards webmasters so I receive hits from all sorts of sites. Remember, many webmasters claim to know the truth regarding search engine algorithms, but no one knows the EXACT TRUTH except the programmers at the search engines. Webmasters may have been penalized in the past for link farms and doorway pages (pages created around certain keywords for the sole purpose of redirecting surfers to the main page), but who's to say why some HAVEN'T been penalized.

Who Should I Create Link Partnerships With?
1. Create link partnerships with sites related to your site.

2. Create link partnerships with sites that have an audience that may be interested in your products

3. Exchange homepage links with websites that fit in your genre. You'll receive a link on a page with a good ranking and you'll get quality, targeted hits.

How Do You Find Link Partners?
1. Signup with an automated links management provider that organizes your links and helps find link partners. Automated tools are the best because they help you save time. Uploading and downloading your pages for every link exchange can be a huge pain and very time consuming. Automated tools are NOT link farms because they give you complete control of who you exchange links with. If a member exchanges links with every website, he/she might be abusing the tool. If a member uses the tool responsibly, it can be very effective.

2. This is a great little exercise I would recommend to anyone.
a. Write down 20 search terms pertaining to your website
b. Go to and type in a search term written in step A
c. Contact as many websites as possible listed under that search term and ask them to exchange inner page or homepage links with you. If they're NOT interested, ask whether they would be interested in selling advertising space. If your website is fairly new, you may want to ask sites for advertising prices. Free hits are the best hits but sometimes you might have to go the extra lap and pay for service. I wouldn't recommend spending over $100 / month for advertising UNLESS it's a high traffic site with your site audience. The best deals are the ones that offer $10-25 / month. There are sites out there that will sell SUPER cheap advertising, and others that charge an arm and a leg.

EVERYONE gets rejected sometime or another so keep your head up and keep moving along! The internet is comprised of Billions of websites. If you're rejected 500 times, you still have MANY business opportunities left! This is a continuous job so set aside time every week to do this. If you don't have time for this, then you don't have time to make money.

3. Hire a link building firm (this can be quite expensive but if you have money, its minimal work for you)

Pagerank is a great tool but don't use it as your ONLY measurement for success. I can't explain everything about pagerank but a good explanation is given at

In conclusion, link building is not only for increasing link partners and search engine rankings, it's also used to create partnerships and establish profitable relationships with other webmasters. Link building is a tedious process, but one of the best for getting free (sometimes not), targeted hits from other websites.

Vik Tailor is the owner of and He has been in the online advertising industry for over 4-5 years and has extensive online marketing knowledge.