Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Last week, because I’ve been hearing so much about the price of gold escalating, I decided to have one of my necklaces – the only necklace I didn’t buy for under $10 in a department store – graded and appraised by a registered gemologist.

The necklace actually was one I’d designed myself and had a goldsmith make for me about 25 years ago. It turned out to be a pretty heavy piece, with 8.2 grams of 14K gold surrounding a quarter-carat diamond. Back in the 1980s, I’d shelled out over $300 to have it made.

Last week’s appraisal came back at $1,750.

“I’m going to put the necklace on Ebay,” I said to my husband as soon as I had the written appraisal in my greedy little hands. “I have worn the necklace only twice in the past 20 years. Why am I keeping it?”

“Because it’s one of a kind – a Breslin original,” he said, “You’re sure you want to part with it?”

To be honest, it was so thick and heavy, it looked like something Mr. T might wear. “Now that I know it’s worth so much money, I don’t dare wear it! Where would I wear it anyway? Out to pick up the dog poop in the yard? Out to dinner at Burger King? Besides that, we really can use the money.”

“Well, do what you want,” he said. “But don’t put the price so low on it, you’re practically giving it away.”

I put the necklace on Ebay for $500, which I thought was more than fair. Heck, the appraisal alone had cost me $50.

It didn’t get a single bid.

I dropped the price to $450. Still nothing. So I decided to advertise the necklace on Craig’s List. I listed it at my original asking price of $500.

It took a few days before someone finally contacted me. “My name is Ben and I want to buy your necklace,” the e-mail said. “Please call me.” He gave me a phone number with a Massachusetts area code.

I called the number and the man who answered had a thick accent that sounded Middle Eastern. “I have a gold refinery in New York,” he said. “I’m just north of Boston on business at the moment, so I can drop over and get the necklace this afternoon. What’s your address?”

I gave him my address and he said he’d see me in about 45 minutes.

About 15 minutes later, Ben called back. “I just want you to know,” he said, “that I’m going to remove the diamond from the necklace and give it back to you, then I’m going to take the gold and melt it down…so I’m only going to give you $100. Oh, and while I’m there, might you have any other jewelry you want to get rid of?”

At first, I was too shocked to speak. When I finally found my voice I said, “That necklace is special! I want someone to wear it and enjoy it, and maybe even hand it down through the generations as a family heirloom. I don’t want it ripped apart and melted down!”

“If you think you can get $500 for it, you’re a fool!” he said. “Jewelry has such a high mark-up, even my $100 offer is too much for it!”

I decided I didn’t like the guy…nor did I want him to come within 10 miles of my precious necklace. “I’m sorry,” I told him. “I have a guy on Ebay who offered me $250 for the necklace. I’d rather sell it to him.”

“I’m still coming,” Ben said. “By the way, are you single?”

That did it. I hung up.

“You gave him our address?” my husband asked when I told him what Ben had said.

“Well, that’s how you sell things on Craig’s List! People come buy the stuff in person. It’s not like on Ebay where you have to mail it.”

“But he could be some psycho!” my husband said. “You gave our address to a psycho?”

The minute he said the words, the phone rang. It was Ben again. “OK,” he said. “I’ll give you $250 for the necklace.”

“Sorry,” I said, “I already contacted the guy on Ebay and told him he could have it.”There actually was no such Ebay guy and no such offer, but I was desperate to discourage Ben from showing up on our doorstep.

“Too bad, sweetheart,” he said. “If I get there first, it’s mine.”

“It’s already been sold, I told you! There is no need to come here!” Again, I hung up.

Because our driveway is so long, we have a monitor halfway down it that sends a signal to the house when someone or something is approaching. A few minutes after my phone conversation with Ben, the monitor beeped. My husband and I turned to stare wide-eyed at each other.

Grabbing the pepper spray I usually carry in my pocket when I go hiking, I inched my way toward the window and peeked out through the side of the blinds. There was nothing out there but a big crow, flying back and forth in front of the monitor.

I barely had time to sigh in relief when the phone rang again. It was Ben.

“I’m only 10 minutes away now,” he said. “There’s a lot of traffic. This necklace had better be worth all this trouble!”

“I told you, it’s no longer for sale!”

“I hope you’re not trying to tell me that I drove all this way for nothing! I’m going to be very upset if I did.”

Suddenly my husband’s voice boomed from the background, “If you need me, honey, I’ll be in the hobby room cleaning my guns!”

Ben hung up. And he didn’t call back.

Still, I keep expecting him to pop up from behind a bush at any moment.

If he does, he’ll risk being de-pantsed by our two rottweilers.

Meanwhile, I’m still broke and I still have the necklace. I guess I may as well put it on…and go out and mow the lawn.