- Personal Finance»
- Investing in Stocks, Bonds, Real Estate, More
Why You Might Choose To Go Gem Shopping Today
Could Gemstones Be A Support to Gold During a Banking Collapse?
Why might I consider gem shopping today? Is there a need or a purpose beyond traditional investment in gemstones? It goes without saying that our economy despite its better moments is in real trouble. We've already lost 81 banks this year according to John Kanas, a CEO of a private equity firm, and according to him we'll likely lose another 1,000 banks in the next two years! This particularly impacts many small businesses and families who are heavily tied to smaller at risk banks.
Our dollar is in danger according to various economic talking heads. On August 25th, The Hill's Blog reported that Senator Chuck Grassley (IA) warned Tuesday, that the economy could spiral into hyperinflation not seen since the early 1980s if the Federal Reserve does not tighten its monetary policy soon.
So what do we do if the worst case senario were ever to happen? What if the economy went belly up and the dollar basically died on the operating table. Sure the grand schemers in D.C. would come up with something but what do us smaller fish do in the mean time? Many financial experts talk about gold but is gold a savior for the average individual or family? What about the small business?
First there is the practicality of owning gold. While it is available in coin it is cumbersome to store securely and cumbersome to handle. And beyond that there is that this late in the game, it is extremely expensive and virtually impossible to take possession of. Right now 08/27/09, gold is at $947.30 per ounce. So how do you trade a part of an ounce for a loaf of bread or pay your electric bill with it? What if you don't have some $947 odd dollars pocket change to strengthen your personal security beyond the shaky banking system with? So what other options are there? There is silver of course. However when a crisis worsens and everyone flocks to the next best solution that solution may become overwhelmed too. So what next?
Well aside from more common commodities we might consider gemstones. Traditionally Gemstones hold their value long term. They are lightweight and come in a whole variety of sizes. You can purchase them singly, in strands, or bulk. They might make an ideal trade item thanks to ranges in size and quality within each type. The drawback as a local currency replacement in a pinch might be the need for knowledge of quality to value for each piece but that is a relatively small matter in the larger scheme of things.
If a country or region had to function without hard currency for awhile as our banking and monetary system straightened itself out then gemstones could offer a user friendly alternative or support to gold. Rather like carrying around penny's to augment your dollar....a brightly colored form of pocket change.
I was thinking on this and it occured to me that the next logical step of consideration would be what general gemstones would work to best fill the situation? Well in reality just about any would work but then you run into troubles which come from a lack of standardization and predictability. A vender must be able to identify what you are proposing to use in trade for goods or services.
When we look at gemstone history we find three prominent gemstones used for trade, the diamond, the saphire, and turquoise. The diamond is a remarkable gem in many ways, however, I think some things, like difficulty in judgment of quality, and the more extreme value detract from it being a successful common currency. Much the same is true of Saphires. Saphires do have one benefit, that they are relatively common in some areas of the United States. Montana is known for its Saphires.
The one gemstone which I think has the most potential however is the natural Turquoise. Turquoise has perhaps one of the longest histories of any gemstone. It is recognized internationally. Ancient Tibet used it as currency once upon a time. It can be dated clear back to ancient Egypt to Queen Zar in 5500 B.C. for that four bracelets were discovered on her mummified remains.
Sleeping Beauty Turquoise Bead Strands
In the United States Turquoise is a popular and commonly collected gemstone in jewelry. A high percentage of American women have a turquoise necklace, bracelet, or ring in their possession. It is both familiar and comfortable as it comes with a long Native American history and is almost a cultural icon in the West for its association with Western America & Native culture.
The gemstone has in the not so distant past been available in strands from gemstone dealers such as Fire Mountain Gems and Beads. A 2005 catalog from them listed Natural Turquoise Bead Strands from Sleeping Beauty Mine, in Arizona USA as available in the vivid turquoise blue color known as "Persian Blue" which has made the gem so popular both here and abroad in Europe.
2005 Strand Prices were listed as: 3mm round Grade AA beads as $78.35 It is the smallest bead size listed. Now you might say that sounds a little spendy for just a strand of beads that you would expect to be using as a fallback currency in an emergency as a trade item. But if you look at the size and figure that translates to probably around 130 odd beads give or take then you are looking at around 0.57+/- cents per bead. Roughly the equivalent of two quarters. Not far off of current coin usability. One strand might outfit a family of four for a week of groceries or supply fuel for a vehicle to and from employment for nearly a month. Larger sizes could be functional for larger expenses such as vehicle payments or mortgages.
Three years later, here in 2009, innovation involving an old familiar friend could well be a viable standby in tough and uncertain times. And when our financial prospects improve whatever remains could adorn a fine necklace or go to storage as a security for our children's future too. Financial experts have long recommended to investors that they diversify...well, that seems as good a reason as any why you might choose to go gem shopping today.