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The Affair of the Necklace - Romance. Scandal. Intrigue.

There’s something magical about a necklace. Thirteen women in Ventura, CA recently embarked on an adventure that transformed their lives when they collectively purchased a $37,000 diamond necklace. Appearing on “Good Morning America,” they promoted their book “The Necklace: Thirteen Women and the Experiment That Transformed Their Lives.” Talks for a movie are in the works.

When the perfect strand of diamonds caught Jonell McLain’s eye at the window of Van Gundy’s Jewelers, a spark was ignited. Not one that would normally invest that amount on a luxury impulse buy, Jonell nevertheless couldn’t get the necklace out of her mind. She started thinking creatively. What if some friends were interested in sharing it? A plot was hatched. Thirteen women would share the necklace, each having it for one month - a time-share for jewelry - including Priscilla Van Gundy, the store owner’s wife.

“Jewelia,” the newly-named necklace, would be used for fundraising efforts to support charities. The thirteen women, ages 50-62, discovered a newfound fellowship that deeply touched and transformed each of their lives.

Jewelia re-ignited routine marriages. “It made me feel sexy again.” The necklace was worn for special occasions - “it made me feel like a movie star” - as well as boogie-boarding in Hawaii. It gave a sense of hope, of second chances, of a new life, of rebirth. “I felt alive.” It bonded the women together in unexpected ways. “What had been a symbol of exclusivity became a symbol of inclusivity.”

The story touches a nerve. It taps into the current trends of women buying their own jewelry, of jewelry being used to promote charities and of innovative techniques for people to own a piece of something spectacular - renting designer dresses, handbags and jewelry.

This is not the first story of the transformative value of a special necklace. De Maupassant’s classic “The Necklace” tells the story of a wife of modest means who, craving something more, borrows her neighbor’s diamond necklace for a special party. In a Cinderella moment, she metamorphoses into the belle of the ball. Every eye is upon her.

As she returns home, she is mortified to discover she has lost the necklace! Biting the bullet, she and her husband take out a massive loan, replace the necklace (they are too ashamed to reveal they have lost it), and spend the next decade of their lives working to repay the loan, sinking into a life of drudgery and near poverty. A chance meeting when the loan is finally repaid uncovers an ironic twist. The neighbor reveals the necklace was paste. The couple’s lives had been determined by the unnecessary repayment of a debt which was not due.

A necklace can not only transform the life of an individual or a group, it can even transform a society. “The Affair of the Necklace,” the 2001 movie starring Hilary Swank, reveals the real-life scandal involving Marie Antoinette that helped precipitate the French Revolution. It’s a colorful tale involving romance, scandal and intrigue that could hardly be imagined if it weren’t true!

In 1772 Louis XV commissions a spectacular necklace for his mistress, Mme. du Barry. The Crown Jewelers Broehmer and Bassenge take several years to assemble a world-class collection of large diamonds and fashion them into a magnificent elaborate design. Unfortunately, Louis XV’s untimely death almost bankrupts the jewelers who have not yet been paid for the piece.

Enter Jeanne de La Motte-Valois, an orphan who, fighting to restore her name and place in society, hatches a plot to sell the necklace to Marie Antoinette. Jeanne collaborates with Cardinal Prince Rohan, an out-of-favor courtier. The fascinating plot involves a famous mystic, Count Cagliostro, romantic intrigues - including Jeanne’s affair with the Cardinal - and secret meetings with mistaken identities.

Although Marie Antoinette ultimately refuses the necklace (perhaps she did not want a piece designed for another woman, and a mistress at that!), she becomes embroiled in the widely publicized trial which further tarnishes her reputation, already weakened by gossip and scandal. The resulting strain on the monarchy hastens its collapse... the French Revolution.

So the next time you put that special necklace in your display case, think for a moment. How will this transform someone’s life? The truth may be magic.

Mia Katrin is an award-winning, internationally celebrated couture jewelry designer, specializing in one-of-a-kind and limited edition high-end necklaces with precious gems in 18-24 karat gold and platinum. Her Collections, which have been worn by A-List Hollywood celebrities, are featured in many top galleries and stores throughout the country, where she regularly hosts Trunk Shows. Contact Mia via her website, http://jeweljewel.com, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (877) JEWEL-MY.

The lore and lure of gems

Sparkling. Enticing. Enchanting. Do you secretly covet a large, flawless diamond? Are you mesmerized by the rich beauty of emeralds? Do you treasure tantalizing tanzanite?

Throughout the ages, gems have captivated us with their alluring magic. The ancient Egyptians revered midnight-blue lapis lazuli, pairing it with purest gold in striking ornaments for their royal pharaohs. In the India of antiquity, rubies were known as the "king of gems". Warriors, believing these precious gems to convey invincibility, wore them into battle for protection. The Chinese have venerated jade for millennia, considering it a celestial blessing, a harbinger of happiness and prosperity. Rich purple amethyst, included in the British Crown Jewels, has been favored by both royalty and clergy. According to lore, its influence helps prevent drunkenness! Shining turquoise, the color of the sky, was sacred to the American Indian, and is still widely used in Native American jewelry.

The Retailer’s Perspective: Terms and Conditions - Part II

I previously wrote about how people will readily click the ‘I agree to these terms and conditions’ on a website without giving it a second thought. That made me think about adding a ‘Terms and Conditions’ waiver that customers must sign before entering my store. After mulling it over for about a year, I’ve come to the conclusion that I left out a few important terms and conditions and now need to amend the document. This is a work-in-progress and might never be finished.

The Retailer’s Perspective: The rude things they do

She sees me eating lunch as she comes through my front door just gabbing away on her phone. Granted, it was only chips and hot dogs, but it was still my lunch. And, they weren’t just any hot dogs, they were special hot dogs. When I’m marinating anything for the grill, I’ll open a package of hot dogs and I’ll pierce them with a fork, and marinate them at the same time. Then I’ll grill them and put them in the fridge to reheat later in the week for lunch.

The Retailer’s Perspective: How to turn a negative into an even bigger negative

A couple of weeks ago, I had a strange situation occur. I had someone come in wanting me to verify an online purchase they made - and I knew them! They were actual customers of mine. Every single time that’s happened in the past, and it’s happened a lot, it’s a total stranger. This was a first and it went something like this.

The Retailer’s Perspective: We need to talk!

As a card carrying member of the jewelry industry, I speak from experience when I say “we need to talk” to my customers. In all reality though, I’m just trying to save them from a very costly lawsuit against me. Because, if we don’t have ‘the talk’ first, they may be foolishly thinking that the thingy they are trying to hand me is actually worth something. Because, when it all goes to hell on my bench, they may actually try to sue me for negligence which is hardly ever true. In most cases, the problem they are bringing to me today started in a faraway land several years ago.

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