For many people and businesses, Bank Transfer Day represents a critical revolution in the United States; inspired by Occupy Wall Street protesters, generations have gathered to productively take away money and power from government-subsidized international banks. More importantly though, today highlights a key revelation for the entire world: better alternatives are only offered to us by the private sector – not governments.
Credit Unions are beginning to shine because they offer many enhanced values and services to consumers; at the same time, it must be noted that Americans are always on the prowl for new superstars. As a connoisseur of fine items – and appreciator of all superstars – I’d like to nominate precious metals and jewels as America’s next reality stars. They are beautiful to look at, and, better yet, can also be used to stabilize global currencies and economies.
To prove my point, I recently chatted with celebrity gemologist and owner of ZeeXchange.com, Zee Boyadjian, who has over 30 years of professional experience working with precious metals and jewels. Zee is a graduate of the Gemological Institute of America, and regularly serves as an adviser for high profile athletes, businesses (including several Fortune 500 companies) and celebrities, among others.
In the narrative that follows, Zee dishes about his website and why jewelry is a great investment. He also sheds light on how precious metals and gems – particularly diamonds – can be used as the basis of better, more stable national currencies.
How has your business changed since the economic crisis of 2008?
High-ticket items are being sought after more aggressively – particularly in the last 12 months. Clients are looking to make safe investments as a hedge against uncertain times and a dollar that keeps devaluating. An increasing number of people – those outside the top 1% – are also selling jewelry to create liquidity needed for servicing obligations. Therefore, right now is a great time for serious buyers to purchase jewelry and other related items at favorable prices.
Are more clients purchasing jewelry as an investment right now?
Yes, it is apparent that diamonds, gold and other precious stones have become the safe haven for investors. They have performed much better in the last four years than real estate, for example, and pose less volatility than stock markets and currencies. The sentiment of today’s average investor is that of risk aversion. Clients are feeling more comfortable investing in commodities, like diamonds or gold, that have recently gone up 18% and 14% (respectively) in the last 6 months, rather than other options.
Is generating a healthy ROI ever the primary focus of clients?
Yes, especially with more sophisticated clients, who have done their homework, and are aware of the issues that drive gold and other precious items like diamonds higher in value; they realize there was a period of panic, followed by uncertainty, and as long as that uncertainty lingers on, which I believe will remain for the next 12 to 24 months, the price of gold and other precious stones will stay strong, even if they make short-term corrections. Frequent corrections are healthy, as it demonstrates that the market is very attentive to consumers’ needs, and it reacts accordingly.
Can you name any of the individuals and businesses you’ve worked with?
I have consulted with several Fortune 500 companies, and have numerous celebrities and professional athletes as clients. Discretion is very important in my business – or else, normally, I would not mind name-dropping at all! (Smile)
You own the website ZeeXchange.com, which is used for purchasing (or auctioning) jewelry; tell us some more about it, and what you hope to accomplish.
We are living through a tumultuous economic climate right now, and as such, ZeeXchange.com offers a unique value to consumers. Many people are selling hard assets because they need cash to meet their financial obligations: some are unemployed; some have gone from two-income households to one; others have lost passive income, such as profit sharing. The sad reality is that many Americans have lost control of their destiny.
ZeeXchange.com gives power back to average folks in the buy-and-sell jewelry marketplace. For example, before our website launched, pawn shops were usually the only option for people that own precious metals or jewels, and have an immediate need for cash; at pawn shops, assets are handed over for cash, and very often, this results in a massive haircut, with up to 90% of the assets’ retail value forfeited by the seller. Beyond that, there are also auction houses, which tend to be exclusively interested in high-ticket items.
At auction houses – if they are willing to accept your item – you will commit to a period of time for them to find a buyer; this may be six months, or in some cases, even longer. Then comes any upfront costs, such as cataloging and insurance fees. If your item sells, which is never a guarantee, you are also hit with commission fees. So, in reality, this is a scenario where you will spend a few hundred (or thousand) dollars to potentially sell an asset. Imagine investing a good sum of money, and waiting for a number of months, only to be told, “Sorry, we were not able to sell your item.” Ouch!
Using ZeeXchange.com, our members bypass the need for pawn shops and auction houses altogether; items can be purchased, sold or auctioned, depending on individual preferences; sellers maintain complete control over the process, and can quickly accept offers, or if need be, adjust asking prices, depending on the responses they get.
In addition, there are many manufacturers and store owners holding on to large inventories of jewelry; many are having a difficult time moving items. ZeeXchange.com offers a major benefit to these businesses, as it provides an alternative and highly viable sales channel.
Do you think precious metals and jewels have a sacred connection to them?
Throughout times, people have felt a sacred connection to them, and I believe it’s because they are, in effect, born naturally from this earth. Precious metals and jewels are bright, shiny, polished, exquisite and valuable, all at once; for this reason, I understand why many gravitate towards them, especially during times of hardship and prosperity. Perhaps they are a symbol of the earth's true intrinsic value.
What benefits would nations gain from basing their currencies on a large array of precious metals and other jewels? This setup would surpass traditional gold and silver standards, but is it even feasible?
Currencies are a very complex subject. Think of it like this: we have seen some economies boom for a while – Brazil and China are good examples. In a boom, the middle class grows along with demand for higher-value goods; prices are driven higher because of the demand that's created. In turn, this also creates an artificially-strong currency, and a classic inflationary bubble that will burst at some point. At the climax of this inflationary bubble, a nation’s currency will reach heights that are impossible to sustain by production alone. Current events seem to indicate that many industrialized nations face this problem today.
If nations moved to back their currencies with precious metals, metal prices would not fluctuate in large degrees. Any reason for fluctuation would be directly connected to worldwide conditions, rather than events pertaining to nations’ respective currencies. In other words, if the value of money was determined by precious metals in lieu of productivity, we would create sounder and less-volatile currencies all around.
As far as jewels are concerned, diamonds are my favorite pick to go in the world basket of currencies. Diamonds are identifiable in rough or polished form, and can be easily transported; they can also be traded in any currency. Most importantly, diamonds would give a whole new dimension to world currencies, particularly in the bargaining power they offer to nations that are rich in diamonds, but productively poor in other economic sectors.