Ask A Genius 384 – Baited to eBay
September 16, 2018
[Beginning of recorded material]
Scott Douglas Jacobsen:
Rick Rosner: Close to 30 years ago, when my wife and I first moved to LA, she worked at a small company. It had become fancy and medium-sized, and had become wildly popular in a 1980s dynasty nighttime soap opera way. It was a fragrance company.
It was the Reagan Era with big hair and shoulder pads, and a certain amount of excess. My wife was working for a company caught in this tide of elegant and slightly excessive living. We don’t live excessively. She’d go to work and come home, and say, “Wow!”
She was intimidated because coworkers would be wearing Chanel suits and big cocktail rings. This was when people wore a lot more jewelry than they do now. I was mostly unemployed. She would come home. I might still be in my underwear because I’d be working on this novel all day, which is really not working.
My work: I would model for art classes and bounce bars. So, I was mostly unemployed. I couldn’t help her buy Chanel suits or cocktail rings. But I wanted to do something for her. So, I looked into making jewelry.
Happily, I was surprised to find jewelry has a huge markup. The difference between the retail cost of jewelry and the cost of the materials can be 10-fold. I began making jewelry for her. I could make crazy stuff because I could make it cheap.
I made her a brooch/a pin for her lapel, which had 70 karats of amethysts and blue topaz. It cost less than $100. I found a place that sold chipped gemstones for 1 buck a karat. I used silver findings. The prongs that hold the stones.
The thing looked pretty and should have cost $800 if you bought it retail – if you could get anything that crazy in retail. So, I did that for a year or two. I got hip to the way jewelry works. I started becoming gainfully employed writing for TV.
I gave up on the jewelry stuff. Every once in a while, I would poke around in stuff. I have not poked around in the world of jewelry in a number of years. I went on eBay. I ended up getting some pop-up ad.
It is this little ring of gold plated silver with three one-karat pink sapphires, with each pink-shaped sapphire being the shape of a little birdy. It is three birds on a telephone wire with the telephone wire being the ring – and with little teeny, probably, white sapphires standing in for diamonds along the wires the birds were on.
So, you have this ring. It has three karats of pink sapphire. It is gold over silver. This thing, shipping included, was $2.19 from China, which is just freaking crazy. So, I looked into a bunch of others. I got it for my wife. She wore it once.
[Carole Rosner chimes in.]
Carole Rosner: Hey!
Rick Rosner: [Laughing] it’s not your deal! If you wore it twice, the per wearing average cost will drop to a dollar, so you have to wear it, at least, one other time [Laughing].
But this ring made of silver and gold, and little baby fake diamonds, and three real pink sapphires is two bucks shipping included. I looked around. I saw these other rings, which are beautiful art décor rings with real baby sapphires – baby sapphire baguettes set in azizis standing in for diamonds and filigree and so on.
Stuff that is labor intensive. But you can buy these rings. That look like something that would have sold for $250 for the décor era. Now, it would sell as a piece of estate jewelry for two grand. But you can buy a ring that looks like a reasonable knock-off of this for two bucks shipping included. Because China!
This is not the only kind of goods that you can get. There is a thing called micro-needling. You got a dermatologist. They aerate your face. You’ve done some lawn work. You know how some people run rollers over a lawn and punch a bunch of holes in the lawn. Micro-needling does that to your face.
You roll a wheel with a tiny one- to two-millimeter needles in them. You roll this over your face. You bleed a bit. It wakes up your face. It makes your body send all these healing agents to the poked areas. You end up getting younger looking, healthier looking skin once everything heals up. I bought one of these wheels for my scalp.
Because, apparently, it can help your scalp if you want to keep your hair. After 6 months, it got clogged with hair and clogged. I found it, shipping included, from China for $1.99. I think China is going to kick our ass. Right now, we are a rich country.
China, on a per capita basis, is a poor country. But we politically hitting ourselves in the head with a couple of hammers. We are not doing what we can to keep up. China has the triple threat of a vast population of 1.6 billion people.
People who will work for super cheap. The per whole country’s designed to run on cheap wages. And people who have technical expertise. People who can be trained to do great work, who do not get paid a lot relative to the first-world countries and a gazillion of them.
I guess a determination to fulfill this national destiny. For hundreds of years, China and, to some extent, Japan; one of those was called the Hermit Kingdom. They wanted nothing to do with the rest of the world. They wanted to be left to themselves. They did not trust the foreigners who came exploring.
They were very insular. Now, they are not. I think China thinks it can end up being the big dog country in the world. And if Americans keep being lazy and dumb, I don’t know.
[End of recorded material]
American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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