Colored Diamonds: What to Know When Making Your First Investment

Like the old song says, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” These days, the beautiful and increasingly rare colored diamond can be an investor’s best friend, too.

Many investment counselors recommend including hard assets like diamonds in one’s portfolio.

Hard assets, which include things like oil, natural gas, gold, silver and real estate, can be an excellent inflation hedge.

Fancy colored diamonds have historically outperformed other hard asset classes. They’re recession-proof and they’re a good option for people looking for assets to hold on to for long-term growth.

Prices for the higher grade categories of colored diamonds have increased in the past 12 years, and the price for pink diamonds in the Fancy Intense color category has increased 1,000 percent for the same period.

Most people picture the traditional clear, colorless stone when they think of diamonds. But, diamonds come in a spectrum of colors — pink, blue, orange, purple, black and other shades. The colors are formed by trace chemical elements and particulates during the crystallization process: the presence of boron creates the blue diamond, while nitrogen produces orange and yellow ones.

The Argyle Diamond Mine in Western Australia is one of the world’s largest diamond producers. It’s the major source for the extremely rare and valuable pink diamond. Less than 1 percent of the Argyle diamonds are pink, making them highly desirable to collectors and diamond connoisseurs.

The Argyle supply of diamonds is being rapidly depleted and the mine is expected to cease operation in 2018. This in turn is driving global demand for colored diamonds — especially the pink diamond — and prices are expected to increase tenfold by the time the mine shuts down.

There are several key points to consider when investing in colored diamonds.

Grading A Colored Diamond

Color grading is one of the most important factors when appraising the value of a colored diamond. There are three criteria. Hue is the main color of the diamond: there are 27 hues. Tone refers to how light or dark the color is. Saturation, or strength of the color, is ranked in nine categories, from Faint to Fancy Vivid.

Physical Characteristics That Determine Value

Color diamonds are rated for clarity, which is a term that refers to the absence or presence of imperfections in the stone.

The price of a diamond is proportional to its carat weight.

The cut of a colored diamond isn’t a factor in pricing, but it does have an effect on color and carat weight. For example, the radiant cut produces a more even distribution of color.

Growing Your Investment’s Value

Setting an investment diamond into jewelry can increase its value. Higher demand for jewelry pieces drives up the resale price.

Although no two diamonds are alike, two that appear to be very similar can be sold as a pair at a higher value.

Authenticating Your Investment’s Grading

When buying a colored diamond, make sure that it has a grading report certificate from a reputable gemological organization.

How Your Business Can Prevent Check Fraud

The rumors of the death of paper checks have been greatly exaggerated. A 2016 article in the Washington Post noted that 97 percent of small businesses still use checks to make and receive payments. In addition, many larger businesses also use paper checks, including schools, medical offices, and building firms. For these businesses and others that still use checks, preventing fraud is a key concern. The following strategies can help reduce the risks.

Share Accounting Duties Within Your Organization

Image via Flickr by Cydcor

It’s disturbing to note that check fraud often occurs within an organization. You can minimize the risk of internal fraud by sharing your accounting duties among many employees.

Do not trust any one employee to oversee a financial transaction from start to finish. Get different people to write and sign your checks. The person who records your receivables shouldn’t be the same employee who opens the account department’s mail or who reconciles the accounts. When workers can check and double-check each other’s work, the chance of internal check fraud occurring is greatly reduced.

As an extra layer of security, you should be the one to receive your business’s bank statements. Evaluate each line of the statement, paying careful attention to the details of all checks written.

Carefully Inspect All Checks Received

Modern checks have a number of security features that are difficult to replicate on an ordinary printer. Encourage your workers to look for these features when receiving checks from customers.

Many have microprinted words, which appear like lines until you look closely. Heat-reactive markings that fade under the pressure of touch, but reappear seconds later, are also common. You’ll also usually see checks with holographic seals and intricate designs on the back.

Most personal checks don’t have all these features, but if you can’t see any of them, there’s a good chance the check is fake. Finally, look for a padlock on the front of the check, next to the amount line. This denotes a check meets the Check Payment Systems Association standard for security.

You’re well within your rights to refuse any check you suspect is fraudulent. Remember, banks can also refuse checks that don’t meet minimum security standards, so if you’re not convinced of a check’s authenticity there’s a good chance your bank will feel the same way.

Use Inks That Can’t Be Washed Off

Washing off ink with solvents is one common tactic used by fraudsters. You can stay one step ahead of them by signing your checks with ink resistant to these substances.

Use Tamper-Proof Checks With Special Security Measures

Many modern checks are much more secure than the paper checks of the past. If you’re concerned about security, use tamper-proof checks to make your business payments. These paper checks have a tamper-resistant security coating. If someone tries to alter the addresses or check amount, a visible stain will appear, rendering the check unusable.

As with all payment methods, accepting paper checks carries a degree of fraud risk. However, if you consider the following strategies, your business’s chances of becoming a fraud victim are greatly reduced.

Sources of unlimited financial freedom in retirement

Retirement does not always have to be looked at as a time of gloom and doom in one’s lifetime; with increasing dependency and flailing body that has been bitten by poor health and the harsh environments over the years. Equipped with financial literacy and having made proper financial planning before retirement, you can be able to make your retirement period the best you ever had in your entire life. It is during your retired years that you have the time to actually concentrate on the things that make you happy without worrying about a lot of responsibilities such as raising your kids, meeting deadlines for your bosses or even having to look for money to pay school fees for you kids.

If you financially planned your life well from a young age, by the time you are retiring you should ha e finished paying your student loans and the mortgage for your home. In addition, you should have also saved a substantial amount of cash to spend during your sunset years. But as we know, your savings will never be enough in an economy where the cost of living keeps rising every year. You therefore need to come up with better ways to continue growing your wealth even in retirement; so that you can have the peace of mind to concentrate on having fun as you age gracefully. Below are two passive income sources that you can venture into and ride in the wave of unlimited financial freedom in retirement.

Online trading of binary options

Online trading of binary options is a growing investment concept that has been simplified in such a way that anyone can easily learn it and start making money immediately.Lionexo online channels and other binary options trading platformsgive a step by step guide to new traders on the basics of binary options trading.  Later on you are introduced to more advanced trading skills through demo account; and eventually you transition and start trading on your live account.

In binary options trading, you are presented with a situation whereby all you need to do is to decide whether the price of an underlying asset will go up or down.  If you predict that the price of the underlying asset will go up, then that is referred to as a call option. On the other hand, if you predict that due to the prevailing market conditions the price of the underlying asset will fall, then this is referred to as a put option. Whenever you make the right prediction for the stipulated period of time, you gain; while on the other hand you lose if you make the price of the underlying asset moves in the opposite direction from the one you predicted.

The beauty of online binary options trading is that you can do it from anywhere in the world for as long as you have an online trading account and internet connection. In addition, you can make money both when the markets are rising and when the markets are falling; by either placing a call or put option. You do not have to wait until the markets are bullish to return profits in binary options; every market condition, including the worst of bearish trends are opportunities to make money. With some traders reaping returns in the north of 80% their initial capital investment you will be walking into a lucrative venture by investing in binary options trading in your retirement.

Investing in real estate

As a rule of thumb, you want to choose investment options that allow you time to be free and away from them even as they create more wealth for you in retirement. Investing in real estate provides such an opportunity; whereby you just need to buy or construct your rental property and start generating monthly rental income indefinitely in your retirement. To make it even more smoother to run your real estate investment, you can hire a property manager and let them be in charge of the daily operations at the property while you only receive your monthly check into your bank account. To get them to be disciplined, you should pay your property manager on a commission basis; so that they are motivated to work even harder and ensure maximum occupancy so that they optimize their commissions too.

If well implemented, the above two sources of passive income can chart your path to unlimited financial freedom in your old age. Online trading of binary options will allow you the freedom to travel anywhere in the world; while still making money on the go based on changing market trends. On the other hand, real estate investment will be providing you with a regular source of assured income; that you can use to pay all your regular monthly bills whether you are home or abroad travelling.

Analyzing The Cause Behind The Ever Climbing Stock Market

Since the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, the markets have continued to climb higher and higher. Initially, it was believed that a Trump presidency could potentially cause the markets to crash. This couldn’t have been further from the truth. Of course, it is also important to realize that the Trump administration is not solely responsible for the health of the markets. During the first quarter of the year, several major factors have helped to support the market’s climb. Below, you will learn more about these factors and their influence on the markets.

The French Election

It is downright imperative to realize that the upcoming French election and the events leading up to it have played heavily on American and global markets. During the leadup to the election, markets experience turmoil and volatility as Marine Le Pen led the polls. However, a shift has begun to take place and it has substantially helped global markets. The Centralist candidate Emmanuel Macron managed to secure a higher vote total than Le Pen during the first stage of the election process. This has helped to dim the fire burning for Le Pen and it has subsequently convinced analysts that a Le Pen president is unlikely.

Now that the European Union will likely remain intact, markets are rejoicing. While there is still some concern that Marine Le Pen could pull off the upset, Emmanuel Macron has proven to be a shining light for stocks.

Excellent Earning Reports

There are many political factors that can take the markets higher or lower. However, at its heart and soul, the markets are primarily driven by the economy and the performance of companies. Several companies have experienced tumultuous quarters, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at the recently released earning reports. In fact, recent earnings have helped to fuel the market’s rise, while simultaneously pushing the NASDAQ over the 6,000 point threshold. The kickoff was led by McDonald’s and Caterpillar. While the 6,000-point milestone might not be significant, it will undoubtedly give consumers and investors more confidence and this could result in stocks climbing even higher.

It is also important to take a look at the latest Nasdaq penny stocks. While they’re low at this point in time, they could easily climb alongside their bigger counterparts.

Tax Reform

It has been nearly impossible for the Trump administration to make it through an entire week without some type of political setback. This has led to increased volatility here and there. Nevertheless, investors are well aware that the markets could climber higher should Trump be able to get some of his agenda passed over the next few months. After healthcare fell through the cracks, the Trump administration quickly shifted their focus to tax reform. Now, the government has put out snippets of information about the tax reform plan and corporations are hopeful.

President Trump hopes to be able to decrease the corporate tax rate to just fifteen percent. This has definitely given hope to investors. However, it is important to remain skeptical at this point. Another setback for the administration could send the markets south in a hurry.

Four Guidance Points to Building Successful Family Business Governance

A 2014 survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 71 percent of family-owned businesses didn’t have procedures in place to resolve conflict issues.

Statistics such as these make it all the more imperative that family members in business together set up a clear and agreed-upon structural plan, a constitution for business governance as it were.

Items in this structural plan can include mission and vision statements, an employment policy, strategies to develop the next generation of leadership for the business, a liquidity policy, a succession plan, and information regarding any shareholder meetings.

Understandably, the details of what is relevant when it comes to successful family governance can change from business to business.  With that said, the below guidance points can prove useful for a wide range of family-run organizations. 

Independent Board of Advisors

Many family businesses have boards of directors comprised mostly or entirely of family members. Although boards of directors with this kind of composition can be successful, independent, non-family-related directors do bring value. 

Some family businesses ensure more balanced boards of directors through policies that limit the number of family directors.  Some also compliment their family board members with non-equity holding directors. If the governance structure doesn’t allow for outsiders on the board, setting up an advisory committee to the CEO that is composed of individuals recruited from outside the family may bring fresh perspective and expertise.

Avoiding Conflict During Management Changes

Policies that encourage meritocracy are certainly beneficial to any family-run company, especially when it comes to setting boundaries and avoiding conflict during times of management change.

The reality is that leadership change happens in most businesses.  Intelligently-run organizations understand this reality and plan ahead to make leadership transitions as smooth as possible.

To build on the previous point, outside directors and advisers can help make management changes smooth, after all non-family related advisors or directors can provide both the perception and the reality of objectivity during leadership selection decisions.

Regardless if a business is hiring new management from within the family or outside of it, new management should be in line with the organization’s culture and should be evaluated based on core leadership qualities like respect, integrity, quality, humility, passion, modesty, and ambition.

Transparency

To prosper, businesses need to raise financing from time to time and if a company is still private, that usually means depending on a bank to provide a loan. Family-run firms that insist on maintaining a veil of secrecy over their affairs will find it difficult to raise the financing needed to grow.

The so-called “family premium” — the idea that family-owned and -led businesses are stricter when it comes to standards, capital distribution and governance — is typically only applicable to entities with high levels of transparency. Conversely, opaque firms trade at a discount because investors simply don’t know enough about that business, especially those firms with governance practices that may be questionable in other respects.

A Well-Organized CEO Succession

When examining large family-run corporations that have failed in the past, CEO successions, or rather failed CEO successions, have played an unfortunate pivotal role.  When considering the integrity of their own CEO succession process, businesses should ask three questions: one, how vigorous is their candidate selection process and does it allow for the inclusion of multiple candidates?  Two, will all family members who are significantly part of the business be involved in the selection of the new CEO?  Three, what is involved when it comes to integrating and developing the successor in his or her new role as CEO? 

The latter point should be particularly emphasized if a new CEO is being introduced into the business who is not part of the family.  After all, this will be a leader who will not only have to efficiently and successfully integrate into the company, it will also be someone who will need to integrate into the family business dynamic and navigate the occasionally choppy waters of inter-family relationships.

The Reasons You May Be Declined for a Debt Consolidation Loan

When individuals begin to experience financial difficulties, one of the first things they do is consider contacting debt consolidation Toronto firms. This is an option for solving debt issues by lowering interest rates while also combining all debts into a single monthly payment that is more manageable for them. Although this is an excellent idea for many individuals, getting approved for this type of loan is not as simple as many people believe.

The following article outlines several reasons why a lot of people are declined when they apply for debt consolidation loans. Once you understand why you can be denied, you can discover what you can do to improve your chances of being approved.

Credit Score and Credit History Issues

This is generally the primary reason why you will be denied when applying for a loan to consolidate your debt. Once a lender receives your credit report, they will look for a history of delinquent payments, judgments and current debt collections against you. These are factors that can negatively affect your credit score.

If you have several outstanding high balances, they can complicate the problem even further. With so many deciding factors, you should take the time to research how credit reporting agencies calculate consumers’ credit scores.

Low Income

Typically, payments for debt consolidation loans are more than the minimum payment you are probably making on your credit cards. Unfortunately, by the time an individual realizes that debt consolidation is an option for them, they may not be able to make more than a minimal payment.

Were you aware that the minimum payments most credit card companies require are so low, you would be paying the balance off in decades and not months? This is true if you stopped using the card altogether, and simply made the minimum payment.

A debt consolidation loan does not give you the option of paying the loan off over the course of several years, unless the loan is secured by collateral like a home. In this case, the loan would simply be a second mortgage. These loan payments are scheduled so the entire loan can be paid off within 5 years. This will mean that every payment would need to be set at an amount that would allow you to pay it off within this period of time.

If it is determined that your income is too low to cover the estimated monthly repayment amount, you will be declined.

A Lot of Debt

Most credit unions and banks will generally only allow applicants to borrow no more than 40% of their gross yearly income. So, what does this mean? This means that should you decide to apply for a loan with your bank, the bank will combine the proposed loan with your current debt payments. This will determine if your TDSR (Total Debt Service Ratio) exceeds 40% of the total income you make before taxes. If the loan will place you at a percentage higher than this percentage, you will have to consider trying to apply for a smaller loan or even forgoing the loan completely.

If you have been denied a debt consolidation loan, consider asking someone to co-sign. You can always speak to a counselor to help you gain some perspective on your financial situation, along with ways to remedy your situation.

Ways To Use Money To Show Class and Style

When it comes to using the money that you’ve earned to present style and class to the people around you, there are definitely a few things that you can do to approach that end goal without coming across too strong. You’ll often notice that the people who have the most class and style aren’t the ones who throw it in other people’s faces, but rather use their lives naturally to share what they have.

Some examples of how you can potentially do this are to showcase nice furniture, buy understated jewelry, go to VIP events, stay humble overall with your clothing, and present food at your home in a way that people enjoy it to the max.

Showcasing Furniture

One of the best ways to show people where your style and class meter stands is by having great furniture at your house, including buying awesome chairs and tables. The perfect intersection of presentation is going to be when your furniture is practical, comfortable, and pleasing to look at. Higher quality furniture will tend to be more expensive if it either has some sort of history or is built to last as well.

Understating Jewelry

When you look at women and men to judge their approximate status in life, you’ll often look at their jewelry or accessories. Men will wear understated watches. Women will wear spectacularly beautiful jewelry, but it won’t be huge or gaudy. It will be detailed and perfectly matched to both outfits and situations. The better that you work with understated objects like this, the more people are going to look at you as a high-class person. Use this knowledge to your advantage when choosing your own outfits.

Going To VIP Events

Another way to show off your money in a classy and stylish way is to buy VIP passes to events. By doing this, you get to appreciate the essence of the entertainment, get to potentially go backstage and meet the people behind the show, and get the best food and drink a venue has to offer. You aren’t collecting stuff by spending your money this way, you’re collecting experiences!

Staying Humble With Appearances

Style and class are all about not putting yourself above other people. The best way to do this is to stay humble with your appearance. You can surround yourself with awesome things, but going overkill on your personal image is what turns people off and makes you look low-brow or that you’re trying too hard.

Presenting Food

If you have any sort of event at your home, a good way to use your cash flow to provide class and style is to really pay attention to food and food presentation. High-quality h’orderves on nice dishes go a long way in saying that you know how to treat your guests right.

Reigning in Expenses to Help Your Business Prosper

Most businesses are geared towards generating profit for their owners. A business’s ability to minimize costs, maximize revenues, and optimize profits determines how successful it will be in the market. When times are tough, businesses will struggle to attract new clients, and fixed expenses quickly eat into diminishing profits. During tough times, it’s important to evaluate the performance of the business objectively.

Sometimes it is possible to boost productivity, reduce costs, and increase profits by implementing change management. This can take the form of novel technology, job enrichment, a switch to cloud-based computing, or any other number of innovative solutions. Initially, there may be some resistance to change within the organization but once the new system is in place and functioning optimally it will be embraced by all. Cost-cutting measures are essential to the profitability of a company.

Characteristics of successful enterprises

The cyclical nature of business all but assures entrepreneurs that lean periods may be followed by prosperity. Provided a business sticks to its mandate of strategy-based objectives, a customer-centric focus, profit maximization (for-profit enterprises), and optimal use of scarce resources, it should always turn a profit. Of course, there is never a good time to rest on one’s laurels when running a business. Complacency has relegated many of the world’s finest businesses into the annals of obscurity. Successful businesses are always navigating hurdles, meeting challenges head on and embracing opportunities.

Outsourcing is a terrific way to reduce costs in a business. Many companies around the world are turning to freelance workers, consultants and recruitment agencies to provide for their temporary staffing needs. It is simply too expensive to nurture a team of workers from inception through their development and training. For this reason, companies are choosing to forgo all the costs associated with full-time employees and opt instead for professional consultants for their work needs. There are multiple areas that businesses can cut costs, including human resources, legal, accounting and finance, packaging, and manufacturing. Cost-cutting is also possible with bank fees. For example, international money transfers can be dramatically reduced by opting for non-bank sources of financing over traditional bricks and mortar financing options.

Managing debt effectively

An area of businesses that people tend to struggle with is debt. Debt is the monster that keeps on growing in a business, especially if fixed costs are high and business owners are locked into expensive rental agreements. When debt levels start to balloon out of control, and business credit card expenses are quickly adding up it may be time totake steps to debt consolidation.Just south of Canada, the typical American household owes $134,643 in debt. Unbeknownst to many, it is possible to consolidate debt by combining debt into a single monthly repayment. This is typically done at a much lower interest rate than the individual debt repayments on higher interest loans. Businesses can certainly benefit with debt consolidation because it is easier to manage a single monthly repayment than it is to manage multiple repayments. Additionally, debt consolidation results in lower payments every month.

These steps will certainly help you to focus on better ways to manage your business’s finances while maximizing your profits and achieving organizational objectives.

3 Ways To Save Money In Your Business Operations

Expenses from business operations are among the highest contributors to overhead in any business. According to the United States Census Bureau, the estimated annual operating expense of a grocery store is around $144,000 while those in the accommodation and food service business is around $559,700. While these are big numbers, the good thing is that a lot of these expenses can come from repetitive minor tasks. In other words, minor cost improvements in business operations can have a cascading effect which can save your business thousands of dollars each year.

Reduce Paper Consumption

Paper consumption is one of the biggest reasons why businesses incur massive operational expenses. Contrary to popular opinion, consumption of paper is in fact on the rise. According to one study, Americans consume as much as 500 lbs of paper per capita each year. Companies in the United States spend $120 billion annually on printed documents and forms. A major reason for this is essentially an improper execution of paperless strategies. Simply moving towards digital alternatives should help companies save several thousands of dollars each year in operational expenses.

Move Your Contracts And Invoices To The Cloud

Businesses routinely keep physical and digital copies of their contracts and past invoices for the sake of auditing and future exigencies. This is an operational expense that only increases with every passing year. Aside from the costs of storing these documents physically and digitally, such archives are also at danger of being permanently destroyed in case of fire or burglary. One way to insure the safety of these documents and also to reduce the operational costs is to migrate these documents to the cloud. Besides centralizing your document management, such contract management tools also help with better data protection and seamless collaboration. In terms of operational expenses, businesses can bring down the costs from several thousand dollars each month to just a few hundred dollars.

Doing away with a physical office

Does your business really need that swanky office in the CBD? Unless your business really demands it, it is a good idea to encourage telecommuting and BYOD at the workplace. Letting your staff work from home is a good way to reduce commuting time and also save on office space. This makes your employees more productive than they are at an office workspace. You could still schedule weekly face-to-face meetings with your employees by renting temporary office space at one of the many coworking spaces in your city.

But sometimes, one reason to lease an office in the expensive areas of the city is to establish your credibility among clients. For this purpose, you could look into a virtual office address service in your city. Such services let you advertise a commercial office address in the expensive areas of the city for a small monthly fee. Not just that, you can choose to have all packages delivered to this address get automatically rerouted to your actual business address.

Doing away with a hard copy of a document or saving electricity costs by asking your employees to telecommute might seem like a rather cheap fix to a complex problem. But, in reality, it is not. Paper, electricity and real estate are some of the biggest contributors to operational expense and reducing these go a long way in bringing down operational overhead for your business.

Building for Now and for the Long Term

It’s hard to miss the real estate boom that continues to characterize the housing market in Toronto and the GTA.  And the trends are for continued growth this year.  The Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) is estimating 104,500 to 115,500 home sales this year and sales in the first three months are in line with that so far.  Just this week, a Financial Post article commented on new construction hitting its highest levels in almost a decade.

It all makes for an exciting time for real estate developers. But, it’s also not without its challenges.  In my view, inherent in the mindset of developers working in Toronto now – and indeed, those working in any major city that is experiencing rapid, extensive growth – is the question: how do I build for today and for tomorrow?  In other words, we have to grow intelligently and consider not just what is good for Toronto and the GTA today, but what is good for the city and its residents twenty or thirty years from now.  In many ways, that means looking ahead and truly envisioning how our city will look like and, more importantly, what we want our city to look like.

Sometimes that’s not the easiest of tasks.

Instances of buildings that were looked at less than favourably by future generations of city inhabitants certainly exist within the history of urban development.  It’s also suggested that aesthetically displeasing buildings can impact one’s mental health.

There’s a psychology behind buildings and, at their best, buildings should reflect how people want to live and why.  They should also be built with the simple consideration that city residents will be living among the buildings we construct for many years to come and that these buildings will make a significant impact on how they experience their own city. 

For Mizrahi Developments, looking ahead and considering the long-term impact of the residences we build has been key to three of our most important fundamentals as builders: one, always being on the upswing when it comes to incorporating the latest green technology into our buildings; two, making sure that our residential buildings don’t just fit in or complement the neighborhoods we build in, but aesthetically add to these neighborhoods and visually enhance these neighborhoods; and three, offering truly customized upscale condominiums where condo owners can author the personal details of their new condominiums and enjoy their home for years to come. 

The reality is that building booms like the one we’re currently experiencing in Toronto come and go. Responding takes more than just meeting the more immediate needs of buyers. It takes understanding the importance of building structures that honor our past and community’s traditions, while setting the standards for design for the future.