What to Look for When Buying Pearls – Top Tips

Here are some top tips for things to look for when you’re buying pearls.
Please note, there is no discussion here relating to increasing in value over time – i.e. an investment. Generally speaking, it is unwise to consider the purchase of any type of jewellery from an investment viewpoint because values can rise or fall over time.
Check to see if the pearl has been artificially colored
This isn’t, in itself, necessarily a problem. Typically though, purists will look for naturally colored pearls and they might well command higher prices.
Things that might indicate the pearl has been artificially colored include:

  • color seemingly “wearing off” the outer shell;
  • a very dark core (indication of possible irradiation to change colours);
  • a very visible stratification of colour change on the inside of the pearl.

The final two above assume your pearl has a drill hole that you can look into with magnification.

Examine the regularity and symmetry of shape
Tiny irregularities of shape can be seen or felt – and that’s typically a good sign.If your pearl is perfectly round and perfectly smooth over its surface, then you’re probably looking at an artificial not natural (whether wild or cultured) pearl made from synthetic materials.
However, even if you have a real pearl, remember that significant deformations and irregularities may (or should) reduce the value if they’re particularly evident or severe.
Look at the lustre
Peals may vary in both body colour (their background colour) and their overtones (a surface shimmer of colour). Some may not have an overtone and that is not a problem. A lot will depend upon your own colour preferences.
However, this is very difficult to describe but look for pearls that gently shine. If they’re a dull matt finish it might indicate that there has been some damage (e.g. poor cleaning techniques with acid) that has taken the lustre off.
That can hugely reduce both value and appearance.
Read the advertisement’s wording carefully
Terms used in some pearl advertisements which may mislead (intentionally or otherwise):
Pearls from Japan“. That phrase would be true for pearls farmed in say China, shipped to Japan and then sold-on from there. Look for “farmed in Japan” to be sure – if that’s what you’re looking for;
Certified“. By whom? To what recognized standards? Remember, a label attached to your pearls means nothing if it’s just the seller’s.
Real pearls“. That should exclude synthetics but it’s ambiguous in terms of whether your pearls are natural (i.e. found in the wild – which is VERY rare today and they’re very expensive too) or cultured.
AAAA Grade“. Gradings are not standard across the globe or universally recognized. Trust some of the other tips on this page and your own common sense.
Price
Typically, if all other things are roughly equal, from most to least expensive pearls run:

  • natural/wild (sea);
  • cultured (sea);
  • freshwater;
  • synthetics.

If you see cultured pearls advertised at a price close to a set of essentially plastic ones, then something’s gone wrong and you should be sceptical.

Summary
  • If you have any doubts, you should contact an expert retailer for advice and guidance.
  • It might save you money and disappointment downstream.

California Travel – From Santa Barbara to Monterey by Car

Northern Santa Barbara County, and the California coast beyond, offer tourist attractions worth spending a few days enjoying. There are a number of natural wonders and great tourist stops to be seen driving north from Santa Barbara. This trip is suitable for both couples and families.
Take the San Marcos Pass road as you leave the city of Santa Barbara. This is a breathtaking mountain drive that heads up the side of La Cumbra Peak on Highway 154. Along the way to the highest part of the highway, there are many scenic turnouts for a panoramic view of Santa Barbara, the Channel Islands National Park and the many miles of coastline.
Once over the pass, you’ll drive by Cachuma Lake. This is a state recreation resource for camping and fishing.
Santa Ynez, for which this valley and region are named, is an old California mission town. Here you will find a number of fine art galleries and the county’s fine wineries. Notable celebrity homes here include President Reagan’s ranch and the Neverland retreat of entertainer Michael Jackson.
The quaint community of Solvang is just a few miles west of Santa Ynez on Hwy. 246, just west of Hwy. 101. It is a remarkable replication of an old Danish village, complete with a giant windmill. The town boasts some of the best Danish bakeries and buffet smorgasbords in the country. Spend a few hours here for lunch, and to visit the Scandinavian craft and souvenir shops. You’ll forget, for just a while, that you’re in the heart of Southern California horse and wine country.
The beautiful state beach parks just a few miles north of the city are yet another group of attractions. Leaving town, travel north along the coast on Highway 101. The road today retraces the historic El Camino Real, or King’s Highway. Check out El Capitan, Refugio or Gaviota state beach parks. They offer fishing, camping, and picnic sites on remarkable beaches.
Santa Maria is the next town up the highway. Santa Maria Tri-Tip barbecue is a local tradition. It’s not like anything you’ll find in Texas or other barbecue meccas. This is rubbed and marinated barbecued sirloin roast. It’s sliced thin, and is usually served rare. Typically it is eaten with corn tortillas or on a sandwich bun, and along with Santa Maria’s slow-baked Poquito beans. It’s well worth the stop to try.
Less than half an hour north of Santa Maria is the picturesque seaside town of Pismo Beach. Most of the motels and restaurants are on the ocean side of the highway, set on the cliffs overlooking a view of miles of coastline. Pismo Beach claims to be the world’s clam capital, owing to the unusually large, tasty and abundant Pismo clam. Several versions of clam recipes are available in a number of the local restaurants.
The nearby Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area. It is a 1,500 acre sand dune state park for ATV and 4-wheel vehicles. There are camping and RV facilities available. This is one of the few places in California where driving on the beach is permitted. Bringing folding beach chairs is a good idea.
Continuing north from Pismo Beach, you can drive up the tiny coast road to the town of Morro Bay. It’s a town with a distinctive New England coastal flavor. This is where the Pacific Coast Highway becomes part of the National Scenic Byways Program. Enjoy the road stretch from Morro Bay on the south, along the Big Sur coastline, up to Monterey at the north. Without exaggeration, this is one of the most beautiful and breathtaking roads anywhere in the world.
Exploring the central California coast is a great and affordable journey. There’s no need to forgo travel plans because of today’s high cost of living.

Traveling Single Doesn't Mean You Are Alone

If you have never been traveling alone, you may believe that it is boring. Not at all. Here are some of my tips and experiences for traveling alone. First of all though I would want you to consider why someone would be traveling single.
The benefits of traveling alone
I have traveled all over the world from a couple of days to months in a row. I have traveled with others and I have been traveling single. I love both, and don’t mind having a travel companion at all. It’s fun. However, there are several benefits of traveling single:
1. When you are traveling alone you don’t depend on someone else availability. If you go on a vacation for a week you will probably find one of your friends willing to join and being able to take off. But what if you want to trek through Asia or South America for three months, or even a year. How many people do you know that have the money and the time to do that? I don’t and since I don’t want to depend on that I’m traveling single. If friends want to join for part of the trip, they are more than welcome of course.
2. Traveling single is the ultimate self-indulgent. You can go wherever you want and can decide on your own whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it without having to bother about someone else. Sounds selfish? It is, but so be it.
3. You meet more people when you are traveling alone. How is that? Well, it’s easy and very comfortable to just stick to your friend and hang out with him or her. There is no real need to meet other people since you already have your buddy. When you are traveling single you better start talking to other people though. Also, other people that are traveling single are less likely to walk up to pair or groups since they are more closed-off. Don’t believe me? Try it in your local bar.
Isn’t traveling alone boring?
Traveling alone doesn’t mean that you are alone. Read the third benefit above again: You meet more people when you are traveling single. As a matter of fact in all those years that I have been traveling single, I had a travel companion almost all the time. How did that work? Simple: Take my trip from Western Europe to India over land. I started of traveling alone, but in Russia I traveled for a week with some Russian people I met, then in Siberia and Mongolia I traveled for a month with some Swedish guys who I had met on the train. In Tibet I traveled with a Canadian girl and a Dutch guy, in Nepal I traveled with an American girl for two weeks and ran into some people I met in Tibet again.
Is traveling alone boring? Not at all! And the good thing is, even though those people became my friends, I didn’t have to travel with them anymore if I didn’t want to. I could just go left when they turned right: benefit number 2: traveling single is the ultimate self-indulgent.
Tips for traveling alone:
1. Stay in hostels
2. Try couchsurfing
3. Go out to bars/clubs
4. Get off the beaten path to meet locals
5. Most important: be open minded. This applies to traveling single as well as with others of course

The Importance of Doctor's Visits For Children

Every child is unique and has different health care needs throughout childhood. Some children are born with weak immune systems, some with an adventurous spirit that often results in injury, and others with a preexisting medical condition. To be sure that each has his or her special needs attended to, all children should have regularly scheduled visits with a doctor.
How Minor Can Become Major
If not properly treated, small scrapes and cuts can become infected. Minor coughs and colds can develop into pneumonia or other sicknesses. A lightly fractured wrist can become a broken bone or a permanent injury. Whatever small medical problems your child is facing, they may develop into larger problems if they go untreated or are improperly treated. A doctor can immediately determine the cause of the problem and advise you on how it should be treated so that your child can fully recover. With regular doctor’s visits, recurring problems, such as allergies or asthma, can be diagnosed early to prevent potentially life-threatening health problems later on.
Paying for Your Child’s Health Care
Almost all parents understand that doctor’s visits are an important part of ensuring a happy, healthy childhood. However, office visits and medical treatment can be expensive. A health insurance plan can help you pay for your family’s health needs so that you don’t have to carry the burden yourself. In the case of a severe injury or illness, a child’s medical bills can build up very quickly to the point that you cannot afford to pay. Health insurance can protect your family from facing high medical costs.
Explore Your Options
Find the most affordable insurance for your children’s needs.

Gold Rings Leave Black Marks on More Than Just Fingers

Traditionally, gold has been the metal used in rings, for a number of reasons. From its value and social status to its malleability and comfort, gold rings have been the standard for as long as people have been making jewellery. But if you are in the market for a ring, there are some downsides to sticking with tradition and reaching for the gold.
For one thing, there’s the softness issue. Gold is a very malleable metal, which is great for jewelers. It means it doesn’t take much in the way of heat or force to get gold to do what they need it to. Unfortunately for you, it doesn’t take much for you to do significant damage to your ring, either. A gold ring will not hold up well to frequent bumps and impacts. What might seem like a soft bump to you can dent or scratch your ring. And of course, with time, that gold ring will warp and bend from the heat of your hand, turning your perfectly round ring into a slightly misshapen oval.
Then there is the irritability factor. For some people, gold jewellery is simply not an option. Whether it’s discolorations of the hands, or a more significant reaction, gold can sometimes be an irritant to the skin. While outright allergies to gold are somewhat uncommon, the alloys used to produce gold jewellery can react on some people. Black marks around the finger that you wear the ring on are the most common reaction. A higher karat or quality value of gold will sometimes cure this problem, but it will increase the cost of your gold ring significantly.
Aside from those problems, there is the originality factor. A gold ring is a common piece – odd as that may be for such an expensive metal. Gold has been used in jewellery for hundreds – if not thousands – of years, and many people who would rather not put much thought or importance on the originality of their ring simply select gold out of habit or the suggestion of others.
All of this is not meant to dissuade you from purchasing a gold ring. There are many fine designs available in gold, and despite its common use, it is possible to find an original design that will stand out slightly from the crowd. But before you drop a large amount of cash, you should consider all the factors that go into a ring purchase, and make sure that a gold ring is right for you. If it is not, there are certainly many fine alternatives out there, including silver, platinum and titanium, that would make a fine addition to your jewellery collection.

What Every Traveler Should Know About Making Hotel Reservations

There was a time when making hotel reservations was as simple as picking up the telephone & booking a room for a specific period of time. Depending on how your travels worked out, you would sometimes have the misfortune of having to book the same day & were hoping for the best, but all in all, booking a hotel room was not a big deal.
Boy, things have certainly changed! When the occasional hotel room “Booker” decides it’s time to make a reservation, the nervous perspiration starts. Palms get clammy, internal temperature starts to rise, and voices start cracking. The issue at hand is that we’re constantly bombarded by commercials on our airwaves telling us that we can find better deals by using technology. Online booking, booking apps, and email & text message alerts for price drops are now the way to book a hotel room not necessarily the right way but the smart way. Of course, no one wants to seem foolish, right?
To begin, let’s keep it simple. First of all, you always want to be sure you have the dates correct for your prospective reservation at the correct hotel. In other words, have the basic information spelled out correctly before you even start. It seems like common sense, but you’d be surprised how often people will try booking a hotel room with faulty information.
You also want to be sure to try & book early. Even though this may not always be possible, it does help get things off your mind faster than waiting until the last-minute before booking. You also avoid issues of not having a room to reserve because of something on the calendar that is bringing people into town. An example would be trying to book a hotel near the beach during Spring Break season.
It pays to think about how you book so that you can avoid having to contend with overbooking, time crunches, and heavy travel windows. For example, if you are traveling on the weekend, try to book a room at a hotel that tends to have a leaning toward business bookings. In the same vein, if you’re traveling during the week, like to stay in a hotel that has more of a ‘resort’ feel to it. This way, you’re always trying to travel opposite of the general travel traffic.
Finally, here is some input regarding the online & discount booking apps & websites – it can go either way. You can actually save some serious money booking online in some way, but you may open yourself to being booked at a mystery hotel whose identity isn’t known until after the reservation is made. In some cases, you also have to act quickly to take advantage of hotel reservation deals in order to get the pricing, which you may not be in a position to do right away. It’s also important to know about being “walked” by a hotel. Getting “walked” means that if a hotel can’t fill your reservation, it will pay for a night elsewhere. Hotels overbook assuming that there will be “no shows”. Depending on how & when you book, your indirect/third-party booking leaves you as a low priority, and if you’re unlucky enough to have booked at a hotel where everyone showed up, you will be “walked”.
Surprisingly enough, booking hotel reservations directly with a hotel over the phone or through their own website is the best way to book in many cases & provides the most perks. Whether through loyalty programs, flexibility in price negotiation, or being a frequent guest, connecting the old-fashioned way seems to be the best bet for handling your travel lodging.

What Pet Vaccinations Are Needed?

Just as people need to have frequent vaccinations, it is important that you do the same for your furry, four legged friends. However, unlike with human vaccinations, where the types of shots needed are fairly standard, for pets the types or frequency can vary from species to species as dogs, cats, horses, etc. each have different needs. Yet. it is to be noted that there are mutated versions of some disease that while they may be primarily a dog issue, may affect a feline – and vice versa.
Common Vaccinations for Dogs
As mentioned, the vaccine action needed depends on the pet species. For canines, the primary shots you need to be concerned about include: canine parvovirus, distemper, canine hepatitis and rabies are considered core vaccines. Non-core vaccines are given depending on the dog’s exposure risk. These include vaccines against Bordetella bronchiseptica, Borrelia burgdorferi and Leptospira bacteria.
Common Vaccinations for Cats
Your feline friends has other needs. Talk to your vet about scheduling these pet vaccinations: panleukopenia (feline distemper), feline calicivirus, feline herpesvirus type I (rhinotracheitis) and rabies are considered core vaccines. Non-core vaccines are given depending on the cat’s lifestyle; these include vaccines for feline leukemia virus, Bordetella, Chlamydophila felis and feline immunodeficiency virus.
It should be noted that while these are all the commonly suggested pet vaccinations, that not every pet will be on the same schedule. For instance, if a puppy’s mother was healthy and then nursed the puppies, then some of the shots can be delayed. For cats who are nursed by a healthy mother whose immune system is strong, it is typically not necessary to begin vaccinations until your kitten is as much as 8 weeks old. Once your kitten or puppy reaches adulthood, it generally not necessary to vaccinate your pet but once every 3 years.
However, do be sure to talk to you veterinarian as there are some diseases that may be more common in your region, and thus require you to have your pet inoculated for some diseases more frequently then mentioned here. Also, as with human immunizations, there are often side effects that will need to watch for. Be sure to ask your vet of any specific indicators that your pet has had a reaction.
Having your pet vaccinated is a way you can be proactive in keeping your pet healthy and protecting them fro any potential sickness they may be exposed to. If you are unsure about what type of shots are needed for your pet, then be sure to talk to your veterinarian. They will be happy to help determine what approach to take.

Roofing Techniques – Have You Tried These?

There are several roofing techniques you can employ to assure that your project meets quality and code standards. These may apply to new roofs, re-roofing or roof repair. Depending on the task at hand you will employ specific tools and techniques to accomplish your goals.
Some of the decisions you make will have to follow municipal guidelines and laws, while others will be determined by your personal preferences. There a many online resources for the details of how to best implement the processes in protecting the life and functionality of your roof system.
The roofing techniques involved in laying down a new roof follow a fairly standard process. The first layer of your roof system is the sheathing. These are the plywood sheets you can see attached to the rafters in the attic. These provide the foundation upon which the rest of the system is built.
The next layer added is called the underlay. There are a variety of materials used during this technique with the most common being builder’s felt. This second layer is now required in municipal codes and provides added protection from the elements. The valleys, eaves, rakes and protrusions all get an application called flashing. This technique directs water away from these vulnerable spots.
The final step in roofing techniques is laying down the outer covering. These options include many varieties of materials and styles. Choose your contractor based on their experience with your specific choices. This way you are guaranteed that they will know the proper techniques for installation, because all roofing material has its own installation requirements.
If you are re-roofing an asphalt surface, for example, you must check the rake, or sloping edge, to see how many layers are currently on the roof. There are laws governing the number of layers a house is allowed to have.
There are differing roofing techniques for roof repair as well. Once you have identified a problem, you should research the specific recommendations for addressing the concern. Do not let the problem continue as this will result in more serious damage that will be costlier and more time consuming to fix.
If you have noticed a leak inside, go to the attic and search for the exact location of the problem. You can use a screwdriver to check the wood for rot in determining what degree of repair is needed. If you must replace shingles or tiles on the roof, learn the specific techniques for your particular materials…

Importance of Home Furniture

There are plenty of ways of improving your home but one of the simplest is through home furniture. Having new furniture can make all the difference to your home.
For instance, a brand new dining table can alter the whole atmosphere of your dining room and be a major feature for your family and guests to enjoy. Made from a variety of materials such as oak, pine, and glass there are so many different types to choose from nowadays. Stylish dining chairs can also add to the dramatic effect of the dining table, especially high back or leather chairs.
Sideboards can make space by removing clutter from the rest of the room. Lighter sideboards can brighten a room, while darker colors can be a main feature of your living room if it set against a light background of floors and walls.
Coffee tables can also be found in unusual materials, such as hand-crafted, colored steel or glass Coffee Table Aquariums. These can be very unique items of home furniture and can really make a personal statement.
Sofa Suites can come in many colors. Bright ones can really stand out, since most people choose comfort over design. If you can find a unique design as well as comfort then you will have everything. We all spend most of our time in the living room so this one place where we should express our personality and feel comfortable about who we are.
Stylish bedroom furniture can allow your bedroom to express your night-time self. Choose from an endless range of wooden, metal or even leather bed frames. Each of these can make your bedroom express a different side to your personality. Matching wardrobes and dressing tables can all add to your bedroom’s overall style. Units that have a lot of mirrors can make your bedroom appear much bigger than it actually is. Dark units can make a large room full of interesting shadows.
Here are just some of the ways that only a few items of new furniture can add to your home. Home furniture designs will always be changing and can add that extra sparkle of interest so you can get the best of making your home looking unique and part of what makes you who you are.

4 Features to Consider When Buying a Samsung Phone

Samsung is known for its state-of-the-art cell phones. Each year, the company introduces new phone with updated features. Not all features may be important for you as everyone has different likes and dislikes. Therefore, you may want to weigh all the features before deciding on a phone to purchase. Given below are the features you should consider.
Camera
If you use your phone to take pictures often, we suggest that you opt for a smartphone with a better camera. With Samsung phones, you get a rear camera and a front-facing camera. With the front camera, you can take pretty good selfies, and with the rear camera you can record high quality photos and videos.
Other features that you may want to prefer include the auto-focus, number mega pixels, and other settings that can help you take better photos.
Storage
If you use your phone for personal as well as professional use, we suggest that you go for a model that comes with bigger capacity. With more storage, you can download more apps, save more photos without worrying about running out of space.
The storage capacity of Samsung phones is between 2 GB and 64 GB. If you need to run more apps, make sure you go for a model with the highest capacity. However, you should keep in mind that models with more storage capacity are more expensive. So, if you are on a budget, make sure you consider the cost factor.
Screen Size/Resolution
With the passage of time, smartphones are getting bigger. Most users prefer a phone with bigger screen, but there is still demand for phones with standard screen sizes. Samsung makes phones that may meet the needs of all kinds of users. For instance, if you like smaller displays, you can go for models with a 3.14 inch display screen. On the other hand, if you are after bigger displays, the Galaxy Note can be a good choice for you as it has a 5.5-inch display. If you want to watch movies, work on spreadsheets on your handset, you may want to go for a bigger display.
Battery Life
If you are on the go most of the day, make sure you get a handset with longer battery life. The majority of Samsung phones provide long battery life based on whether the 3G or 4G is enabled. With most Samsung phones, you can enjoy up to 15 hours of talk time. If you use the phone to browse the web on 3G, don’t expect the battery to last more than a few hours.
If you want more backup time, we suggest that you consider the latest models of the popular series. However, if you really want your phone battery to last longer, make sure you use WiFi instead of 3G to access the Internet.
Conclusion
To cut a long story short, Samsung smartphones come in many sizes and colors. You may want to opt for the right smartphone based on your needs. The factors given above may help you narrow down your choices.