So, I'm starting to think this whole "sell your jewellery" thing is a big fat crock.

I don't get why the fad is still going. Selling gold to be melted down is a HUGE rip off, in my opinion, as will be evidence by this little post I'm about to share about my recent experience trying to sell to Toronto's Omni Jewelcrafters at Bathurst & Glencairn.
Here's how it went:

I went to Omni hoping to sell 3 things. These things are as follows:

1) A 14k gold circle pendant (with chain) featuring a ring of small diamonds. (Original price: about $500)
2) A pair of diamond earrings (studs). Smallish, by v. high quality diamonds, set in white gold. (Original price: $750)
3) One 18k gold earring set with six small diamonds (like the ones in the circle pendant) that didn't have a mate. It was real, but I don't know how much it cost, because I found it in Heathrow airport six years ago.

I wasn't expecting that much, but considering that I had original receipts and/or appraisal documents for each item, I figured I might get a nice little chunk of change. Maybe... $200? $250?

Not even close. Omni offered me $110. For all three items combined.

Now, this is jewellery I don't want. It's stuff I don't wear. Besides the found earring, it was all given to me by an ex and is infected with bad juju. I WANTED to sell it, but I just couldn't bring myself to settle for such a crappy pay out.

I had receipts! I had appraisals! But in the world of jewellery hocking, such things mean nothing, I've learned.

Perhaps I should have known. I mean, consider the kinds of ads these outfits run.
_I definitely should have known.

I'd also like to add that the clerk at Omni was a bit smarmy and condescending, which didn't make me want to make a deal. Regarding the pendant necklace, he said "I know it's pretty and it sparkles, but it's not really worth anything." And "these diamonds are sOooo small ... it would cost me as much as they're worth to remove them from the setting."

Um. Yeah right, I thought. You could take apart this setting in five minutes, buster. You're not fooling anyone.

The whole experience was lame. I parted with the one earring and was paid $20 for it. (Six little diamonds, plus the thick gold setting and all I got was $20. But hey... he was doing me a favour, right? The diamonds were soooo small.) I let the earring go because I'd found it. Didn't seem fair to profit too much from someone else's loss. But I took the rest of my pieces home.

After having this experience, I can't understand why people sell jewellery this way at all. You've got to be desperate.

Maybe I'll do some sort of bad juju cleansing and start wearing this stuff again. Maybe I'll regift it. Who knows?

Omni Jewel & Java Café
2793 Bathurst St.
Toronto, ON M6B 3A4
(416) 783-2091

P.S. Also, there's a built in café/restaurant at the Omni location I visited. Because it makes total sense to combine food service and fine jewellery sales? Totally weird.
Okay, so this isn't exactly a review. It's more like a recommendation. It's a recommendation to buy a betta fish for the next little kid on your gift list.

Shown at the left is a picture of one of my first bettas.

His name was Princess Fancy Pants. Because he was... well, fancy. All pink and purple and pretty.

But most importantly, he was incredibly easy to care for.That's why bettas make such good little-kid pets.

This past weekend, Nathan and I bought two new fish for two very cute little girls. We got a red one for his little cousin Ella, who was turning six, and a teal one for my neice Katherine, who was turning four.

Don't worry, we asked their parents first.

Anyway, I highly recommend you go right out to get a betta. And if you do, here's what you need to know:

Creative Commons licensed blue betta by tarotastic from Flickr.
Creative Commons licensed red betta by Chlorine26 from Flickr.

How to Buy and Care For a Betta of Your Own
A good betta, complete with habitat and food (which, as a gift-giver, I think you should provide) will cost a minimum of about $20. The fish itself will cost about $5. They're available at all major pet stores. And while I'm not crazy about supporting the pet store industry, buying a fish from a pet store means rescuing a little guy who is living in a tiny beer cup and a couple of inches of dirty water. It's hard to squelch the desire to rescue a creature in such a bad situation.

Next, you'll need a home or habitat. I like a traditional glass fish bowl, but any large glass vessel will do. A big ol' vase, for example. Get one at Goodwill if you want. Or at the dollar store. That would be fine. You'll also need food, a tap water treatment solution, a bit of aquarium gravel, and a plastic aquarium plant. (Or a real plant, but that will result in more work.)

Approximate Prices
Betta Fish - Approx $5 (with good care, he should live 2+ years, easily)
Tap Water Treatment Solution - About $5 (a tiny bottle will last well over a year)
Betta Pellets - About $5 (will also last well over a year)
Freeze-Dried Blood Worms (alternate food) - Less than $10 (will last for years)
Aqua gravel (any colour) - Less than $10
Habitat or Vase - $0.99 + (depending on what you go for)
Plastic Plant - $2.99 to $10 (depending on what you get)

Strong Little Guys
Bettas are very hearty (unlike goldfish), and they come in a huge variety of colours (red and blue being most common). They are able to breathe both through their gills and by taking gulps from the air like a mammal. That's why you can house them in bowls instead of proper tanks. They are also very tolerant of odd feeding patterns. If you need to go away for a weekend, don't worry about it. You won't need a betta baby sitter. That's why they're great for kids.

Be Kind
That said, a fish is a living creature and deserves good care. I like to give my bettas five pellets a day. I fast him one day a week (usually Sunday), because he tends to become constipated and fasting helps. And I give him a treat of freeze-dried blood worms every once in awhile, just because the pellets can get pretty boring. I change his water every 3 - 4 weeks.

There are lots of other bits of care information online, and if you decide to buy a kid a betta I advise you to do some reading first, but even if you don't, I highly recommend this pet.

Betta are awesome.
Bettas I have know. (Some of my old pets, from when I lived in Vancouver.)

* Disclaimer: I'm not a fish expert or anything and I'm not saying this is the BEST way to deal with a betta. It's just what's worked for me. Don't sue me if your betta dies, okay? They're fish. They're not going to live forever. It's not my fault.