Diamond Earrings and Other Fine Jewelry

Diamond rings are the most common form of diamond jewelry, but diamond earrings, bracelets and necklaces are also quite popular. In fact, diamond jewelry has been around since the days of the Roman Empire, although it took almost 1500 years before diamond jewelers had figured out how to cut diamonds into attractive shapes that displayed their "fire," or shine and brilliance. Diamond earrings are but one way that people adorn themselves with this mystical, precious gem.

A Fascinating History

Chances are that the first diamond jewelry was from India. The tremendous geologic forces required to form diamonds exists mainly in regions of the world where one tectonic plate slams into another; the Himalayas, where the Indian subcontinent plows into Central Asia, is one such place. Loose diamonds from deep underneath these mountains have been known to appear in the rivers that flow south and westward from the Himalayas: the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Irriwaddy have all been sources of these rough, octagonal crystals.

Before diamond jewelers had learned the art of precision cutting, diamond earrings were not particularly beautiful; rough and dull-looking, they were nonetheless prized for their hardness.

One early example of diamond jewelry in the West was actually a crown made for a Hungarian princess well over 1000 years ago. One of the first diamond wedding ring was the one given to Marie of Burgundy on the occasion of her wedding to Archduke Maximilian I of Austria in 1477. It was not until over fifty years later however during the reign of Henry VIII of England that diamond cutting had reached a level that was suitable for jewelry such as diamond earrings.

Dull and Lifeless

If you had been buying diamonds back then, you'd have been disappointed; those early cuts did not show the kind of brilliance that we see in fine diamond jewelry today. It was not until the 1800s that art of diamond cutting had reached a level of refinement that allowed the gem's real beauty to shine through the way it does in contemporary diamond jewelry.

Fiery and Brilliant

Today, there are many different cuts to choose from when buying diamonds . Round cuts and square cuts both have characteristics in their favor, but a reliably new cut, called the "princess," has been gaining in popularity over the past thirty years or so. This particular cut combines the best features of round and square cuts, and causes the least wastage of all cutting methods – so the gem retains much more of its original weight. All three cuts however will make for highly attractive and valuable diamond earrings .

How Do Chef Schools Work?

Culinary schools give aspiring chefs their best shot at making it to the big time, especially those admitted by the American Culinary Federation. Just like any other profession, many of the better hospitality establishments base their hiring practices not only upon the length of education the applicant provides, but also where that education was obtained. Tuition runs the gamut from relatively inexpensive courses offered by local community colleges all the way to the Culinary Institute of America's breathtaking $ 40,000 price tag. And what does not tuition cover? Oh, just uniforms, textbooks, cutlery, and other necessary kitchen equipment.

Curriculum different from school to school, but most of the culinary student's time is consumed in learning the ins and outs of cooking by actually doing it under close supervision. Participants not only prepare food, but also learn how to plan menus, minimize food costs, buy food and supplies in quantities, and how to appropriately choose and store food. Learning proper hygiene and local public health rules also play a large part in a culinary student's education.

Classes are sometimes offered all day, taking a complete eight hours, while at some schools, classes are broken into morning and afternoon sessions. There are usually lectures, and then demonstrations followed by hands-on practice time with students applying the techniques demonstrated earlier. Some schools even offer part-time professional classes to accomodate working cooks wanting to increase their formal education.

A number of educational seminars are available, among them:

The American Academy of Chefs Chair's Scholarship – Ten $ 1,000 scholarships awarded each year

The American Academy of Chefs Chaine des Rotisseurs Scholarship – Twenty $ 1,000 scholarships awarded annually

National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) – Three annual $ 2,000 scholarships for high school seniors and undergraduate students

Because years of training and experience are needed to reach the level of executive chef in most well-paying restaurants, many students are serious about this profession beginning their training in high school through voluntary programs, then go on to a two- or four-year college or university. Apprenticeship programs offer more training afterward, and these come from individual eating establishments and are given by a personal mentor or from professional institutions and associations such as the American Culinary Federation.

Apprenticeship lasts usually about three years and is most often known as the years of "grunt work" – doing all the chopping, grating, peeling, slicing, and washing necessary to prepare the ingredients for the chefs. Even cleaning appliances, sweeping and mopping floors, and other seemingly unaffiliated "chef" work gets done by the apprentice as part of his or her learning experience. Often this "trial-by-fire" period separates the truly devoted caf├ęs-to-be from those who are merely good cooks.

It is not impossible to attain the status of executive chef without the benefit of formal education, but in today's job market, most establishments (especially the finer hotels and restaurants) now require some type of certification to work in this capacity. Like a degree of any sort, formal training in the culinary arts may not mean you are another Julia Child or Paul Prudhomme, but it does at least signify that you've got what it takes to get through the school. So stop trying to think of ways to take shortcuts, get your tuition together, and go learn what you need to attain your dream!

Personal Brand Marketing – Brand Buzz 101

I understand the importance of visibility. As a small business owner, being "known" can be the difference between a steady flow of revenue or closing your doors. Yet, being visible is not enough. Being remembered is most important and means you occupy some prime real estate in the mind of someone. Garnering "share of mind" means that you somewhere along the way that they sampled your character and competency and you became memorable.

Marketing, by definition, is creating an exchange environment. For an individual, that could mean breaking a referral, speaking positively on your behalf, a promotion or an introduction. Branding, by definition, is an emotion or image tied to a product. YOU are the product. Even in businesses, people are the brand and define the company, more than any mission mission statement hanging in the lobby. So, how does an individual create "buzz" for their brand for visibility and more importantly to be remembered so that they can develop credibility?

1. Know what makes you unique.

Whether you're job hunting or wanting a position on board of director's, you need to confidently know what value you bring to the table.

2. Get really good at communicating what makes you valuable.

Ninety-three percent of communication is tone and body language. Spend time on the words so that what you say and how you communicate are congruent with your value. Yet, know that communication includes your image, the way you present yourself, your workspace, your phone skills and even your lunch meeting etiquette. They must all be congruent with what makes you valuable. Any discrepancies will jeopardize your credibility and could produce negative word of mouth which is a problem that I will address in future articles.

3. Manage that communication.

If you're creating "buzz" around your brand, it will require you to proactively manage the communication. For example, if you're new to a company or a position you will need to build a credibility wall. Yes, a physical wall if possible. It showcases every plaque, certificate, service honor, licensing, certification and degree you've received. This wall is your visual third party testimonial on the character and competency of your brand. Since that wall can not travel with you, make sure that anytime you're honored for volunteer service or recognized for a contribution that a copy of the "thank you" letter, note or card be placed into you personnel file.

Even if you're on your own, these "proof of credibility" tools will take you far. As the vice president of a business concern in college, I invited speakers to speak to our fraternity for professional development. I asked each of them to write a letter for me about their experience working with me so that I could include that in my personal portfolio. Many of these speakers went on to become regional directors, chief operation officers, chief financial officers, company presidents and further that my portfolio has become quite valuable. Actively "buzz" your brand! Doing that will develop credibility; credibility will lead to influence; and influence with lead to leadership.

7 Ways to Experience Warmth This Holiday Sales Season

Feeling a little glum this holiday season? Many people do. Psychologists tell us that their client business really picks up around this time of year. Why is that? Are not the holidays designed to bring out the best in people? Do they really? Many people are lonely, even in a crowd, feeling isolated and apart from caring family and friends. Quite possibly, they feel that no one really cares or even cares enough to listen.

While these issues may vary as far and wide as the individuals in question, there is a common thread among all of us. That thread is purpose . In his huge best-seller, A Purpose Driven Life , Rick Warren outlines the case for purpose and answers the question "What on Earth am I here for?" Purpose make all of the difference and can supersede any circumstances as long as we do not allow ourselves to wallow in self-pity or selfishness.

Many salespeople experience a flood of negative emotions during the holidays. retailers notice both an increase in hostility and a decrease in patience and manners among customers. Field salespeople, often already excluded from their co-workers, often experience a discouraging slowdown in business and the customer's desire to put off purchasing decisions until after the first of the new year. Furthermore, these salespeople often are on the front lines of poor human behavior, sometimes falling victim to the wrath of an angry customer.

I submit to you that this Christmas season can be different and wonderful for you. You can make a real difference in your own life and affect countless others in the process. How? Simply do something positive for another human being without any expectation of payback or benefit to yourself. Start with the following:

1. Give of yourself.

2. Be a friend.

3. Lend an ear.

4. Provide a shoulder.

5. Pick someone else up.

6. Offer encouragement.

7. Smile

Did you note that none of these were financial or involved material things in any way? The truly important things in life seldom are. Remember, what comes around, goes around. We do reap what we sow.

So today, help out at your local soup kitchen, Salvation Army or faith-based facility. Invite a college student or military person with now to go over to your home for Christmas dinner. Look for opportunities to provide little services for others, often going unnoticed. In so doing, you will warm up and discover joy and purpose, leading to fulfillment and happiness this Holiday Season.

Try these seven activities and see for yourself. When January, 2008 arrives, you will be more than ready, emotionally charged, changed and expectant of a banner year.