Buying Guide For Ski Jackets

Types of Jackets

When shopping for a ski jacket you are going to find two different types that are available. One is an insulated jacket and the other is a soft shell jacket. The most common question that people have is, “which one should I buy?” The simple answer to this question is that there is no right answer. The reason for this is that each person has a different body temperature regulation. Some people will get hot very quickly and thus having an insulated jacket would cause them great discomfort. Others, however, are routinely cold and having an insulated jacket only makes sense because a soft shell jacket would leave them even colder. With this being said, the first step to selecting the jacket that is best for you is by determining if you are warmer or colder person by nature. Once this is determined, you can then move forward in the process of selecting your jacket.

Insulated Jackets

The construction characteristics of an insulated jacket include an outer layer that is waterproof and windproof, along with an insulated layer that is built directly into the jacket. The insulating inner layer is likely to be made of fleece, down, or a synthetic fabric such as Primaloft. Also, many insulated jackets will contain an additional insulator piece that can be removed. These types of insulated jackets are some times referred to as system jackets or 3-in-1 jackets.

The insulation that is found in insulated jackets is most commonly measured in grams. The greater the number weight in grams, the warmer the jacket will be. Insulation types can range as low as 30 grams and go as high as 800 grams, which is most commonly found with Down material. For people who are colder by nature, an insulated jacket is the most suitable option.

Soft Shell Jackets

Soft shell jackets are windproof, waterproof jackets that have no internal insulation and are highly breathable. Now, you might wonder why anyone would choose a jacket that contains no internal insulation. The reasons for this are several, one of which has already been identified; being a warmer person by nature. Another reason that one may choose this type of jacket is because they prefer to have added mobility that is not available with an insulated jacket. As soft shell jackets are usually worn over a base layer and a mid layer, soft shell jackets do not have the added bulkiness of an insulated jacket. This means that you can contain the warmth of your body via your base layer and mid layer, but have added range of motion.

A soft shell jacket can be worn on its own on warmer days or layered with base and mid layers for colder days. However, for extremely cold temperatures and extended periods of time outdoors, a soft shell jacket is probably not the best option, but the final decision is ultimately up to you. For more information on base and mid layers, please review our article on the importance of layering.

Waterproof Rating

Probably the most important characteristic of any ski jacket is the waterproof rating. This rating tells you how quickly your jacket will become saturated and begin allowing water to penetrate to the layers below. Waterproof ratings are measured and indicated in millimeters(mm). The level is determined by placing a tube filled on the fabric and filling it with water. The level at which the water begins to penetrate through the fabric is the waterproof rating. The higher the number, the more waterproof the jacket is and the longer it will withstand snow and rain. For a jacket to be deemed legally waterproof, it must achieve a minimum 1,500mm rating. Jackets can be rated as high as 20,000mm, but the average rating is typically between 5,000 and 10,000mm. Keep in mind that as the rating goes higher, so too will the price.

There are many different types of waterproof fabrics that are used on the market today. Among the more well-known materials that are used are Gore-Tex, Hyvent, and Event. What makes materials such as these so effective is that they contain pores which are larger than a molecule of sweat, but smaller than a molecule of water. This means that not only is the material waterproof, but also very breathable.

Breathability Rating

Just like the waterproof rating measures how effective a jacket is at keeping water outside, the breathablity rating of a jacket measures how effective a jacket is at transferring moisture from inside to the outside. The same fabric pores that help prevent water from penetrating inside a jacket, allow sweat molecules to escape and ultimately keep your warmer.

Breathability rating is measured and indicated in grams (g). The measurement is determined by finding the Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate (MVTR). The MVTR determines how many grams of sweat per 1 square meter can escape a jacket in a 24 hour period. The higher the number, the more moisture escapes and the more breathable it is. Entry-level breathable fabrics will have MVTR ratings in the range of 2,000-3000g. Fabrics at the high end of the breathability scale will have an MVTR around 25,000g.

Fabric Durability

Contrary to what many people believe, ski jackets are different than your everyday winter jacket. Yes, you can wear your ski jacket as your everyday jacket, but if you haven’t purchased a jacket specifically for skiing, you’re best not to wear the everyday winter jacket that you bought at the department store to the slopes. The reasons for this are several, but one of the most important ones is that your ski jacket is going to be far more durable.

Ski jackets are made of tightly woven nylon or polyester. Materials which are designed for high performance use in the elements of winter. Extended exposure to high winds and the wet elements of the winter is what makes the construction of a ski jacket different from your everyday winter jacket. This is also why you’ll find that ski jackets will cost more than a jacket you’d buy from the department store.

Seams

Fully Taped

Fully taped seams is exactly what it sounds like. All of the stitched seams have been taped for waterproofing. This is done with a waterproof tape that is glued on the interior and exterior of the seam. Fully taped seams are the best option if you want to be waterproof in these important areas that are prone for moisture. They will, however, cost more than jackets with critically taped seams. As an additional note, higher-end garments will offer Welded Seams, which are even more effective at protecting against moisture penetration at the seams.

Critically Taped

A less expensive option than Welded or Fully taped seams is Critically taped seams. Critically taped seams means that only some of the seams are taped and protected against moisture penetration. On a jacket this is not necessarily a bad thing, so don’t be scared off by the fact that not all seams are covered. As long as you don’t spend long periods of time in wet weather, or spend a lot of time falling in the snow, Critically taped seams will offer the protection you need.

Features

When shopping for ski jackets it is important to know that beyond how waterproof and breathable a jacket is, there are a number of features that you can expect to find available to you. In the following sections, we’ll cover many of these features so you will know what to expect when shopping from one model to the next.

Front Zipper Cover: This feature is sometimes referred to as a storm flap. The purpose of this feature is to cover the front zipper of your jacket to prevent the wind and moisture from penetrating inside. As the zipper can be a highly prone area for moisture, this is considered by many as a must have feature.

Powder Skirt: A powder skirt is an elastic band that is located inside of a jacket at the waist. It provides a snap closure in the front and is intended to keep snow from going up the front or back of your jacket. Additionally, it help retain heat and keep you warmer when you’re out on the slopes. This also means that if you’re starting to feel a bit warm, you can unsnap the skirt for a moment to allow heat to escape and cool you down, then snap it back up to protect against the snow. This features is considered by many as a must-have, and it is highly recommended for maximum comfort when out on the snow.

Hood: While not all jackets offer a hood, those that do will offer a hood in one of several options: attached (non-removable), detachable, or stowaway. Attached hoods are fixed to the jacket and cannot be removed. Detachable hoods offer the luxury of protection on windy or snowy days, while also offering the versatility to be removed on warmer or fair weather ski days. Stowaway hoods offer the same luxuries as a detachable hood with the difference being that stowaway hoods do not need to be removed from the jacket. Instead they will tuck into a designated area of the jacket.

As your hood is intended to protect your head and neck from the elements, you want to make sure that your hood can fit over your helmet. Your hood should have enough room so you can look from side to side, and it should also adjust for your helmet size so it isn’t too large or too small. The bill of your hood should be generous enough in size to shed rain from your goggles and eyes. Hoods, regardless of their style, are highly recommended for protection against the elements.

Wrist Closure: Wrist closures are one of the common adjustability features you can expect to find on jackets. Wrist closures will be present as an elastic, Velcro, snap, or thumbhole adjustment. This purpose of such an adjustment is to help keep cold air and snow from going up your arms. You will want to make sure that the wrist adjustment will work in tandem with your gloves.

Cinch Cord: Another adjustment feature that you can expect to find is a Cinch Cord adjustment. This is located at the bottom of the jacket and can be tightened so your jacket and pants are positioned closely together. This will help keep snow and wind from creeping up inside your jacket.

Pit Zips: Under arm zippers, or Pit Zips, are temperature regulating features that are present on many ski jackets. Pit Zips are zippers located under the arm that can be adjusted on the fly to help retain or release heat that builds up inside a jacket. If you’re cold, or the temperate starts to drop, you can close them up to help keep heat close to the body. On warmer days these can be opened up fully to allow heat to escape while you remain fully protected from the elements everywhere else. While not considered a must-have, they are certainly suggested if you want the luxury of regulating your core temperature easily.

Pockets

Electronics Pocket: Thanks to the influx in portable electronic devices (e.g., cell phones, personal audio players, digital cameras), having a pocket designated specifically for electronics is a must have for many. For others, it’s not a make or break feature. The important thing to understand is that pockets do exist for such items and they are certainly a convenience if you own such items. For those who enjoy listening to music while on the slopes, this pocket is extremely useful because electronics pockets have openings for wires to be run for headphones. This keeps the electronic device protected and the wiring internal so it is not ruined.

Goggle Pocket: Like an electronics pocket, the goggle pocket is designated specifically to house your goggles when you’re not wearing them. This pocket will also typically house a goggle cloth that can be used to wipe your goggles if they get foggy.

Additional Fabric Lining: On many higher-end jackets you are likely to find additional fabric lining the inside of the jacket. This added fabric liner starts at the wrist and extends down over the palms with holes provided to insert your thumbs. This added lining adds extra warmth to the palms and wrists.

Avalanche Rescue System: Built into a select number of jackets an avalanche rescue system can be an invaluable feature if you’re the type of skier who ventures into areas that prone to avalanches. Unlike a separate beacon system, jackets with this feature have a small, weightless transponder that is easily detected by a search rescue team. This feature is not necessarily a must have, but for safety is recommended. If you opt against a jacket with a built-in rescue system, you can always purchase a separate rescue system at a later time.

Hopefully all these guidelines will help you determine the best jacket is right for you.

4 Sure Ways to Grab a Vintage Mini Dress of Your Choice at Less Than $70

Usually, a vintage mini dress is a valuable piece. It reminds you of the trend during that era. Moreover, there are only few designs of them left today, so buying one could mean that there’s no other woman who gets to wear the same dress. However, because it’s rare, most of the dresses are expensive. They could be more than $50. Others may even be worth hundreds or even thousands.

If you’re desperate to own a piece of history by getting yourself a vintage mini dress, then you should listen to these tips:

1. Rummage through the old closet of your mom. Moms are very sentimental people. They have treasures that could be hidden inside chests, drawers, and old cabinets. Some of these items could be the vintage mini dresses that she used to wear when she was still young. You can ask permission to check out some few pieces and see if you are going to like them.

Because they’re already old, you may have to spend for minor repairs or even alterations. Nevertheless, the modifications will not be really too expensive compared to purchasing one in stores.

2. Know if there are garage sales. This is also another good place to scour for a vintage mini dress. Most of the home owners who hold garage sales are willing to dispose the old items they have to give the house more room for new ones. Furthermore, the previous owner of the dresses may feel that vintage dresses are already pass and would decide to offer them to you at a bargain price. Thus, you can save money with your purchase. What’s more, you can also haggle and ask for discounts. A lot of them would also agree on your terms.

3. Discover a hole-in-the-wall antique shop. A “hole in the wall” is any establishment that is out of the way. The place is usually obscure and thus difficult to find. To make sure that they can get sales from their visitors, which may seldom come, they are willing to drop their prices and offer you with discounts as much as 50 percent off the original cost of the product. You can get tips from friends who could also be into vintage mini dresses.

4. Buy it from eBay. There could be thousands of online stores out there, but eBay still remains to be a place to be if you’re searching for the best deals on any kind of item. Some of the members are currently selling vintage mini dresses, and you can bid on these items until the dresses will be awarded to you. If you don’t want to go through the whole bidding process, which may last for weeks, you can choose to look for vintage dresses that are labeled as “Buy It Now.”

Owning a vintage mini dress doesn’t only make you look cool, but it also makes you very unique. So go on, look for the one that speaks of your style and personality. After all, you know where to find them.

Selling Your Jewelry and Getting the Most For It

Selling Your Jewelry: Triumph or Tragedy?

Which is more fun, getting a root canal, paying your taxes, or selling your jewelry? Not much of a choice, but following is some knowledge that can take the frustration out of selling your jewelry. And answer the hard questions like: Will I receive a fair price for my jewelry? Or did I pay too much?

The two critical areas of knowledge to get the best price for your jewelry are the factors that determine the value of estate jewelry and the options to liquidating it. Does this mean you have to become a gemologist just to sell your jewelry? No. But some homework and note taking can mean a much higher price paid for your jewelry. Let’s start with what determines the value of estate jewelry.

Estate is a general term used to describe previously owned. That fact is one of the determining factors. Preowned jewelry by in large is not as valuable as new. Some people will never buy a previous owned engagement set for superstitious reasons. I have had clients who could have saved hundreds of dollars if they would have bought a preowned ring, but refused.

Jewelry is a style driven industry. Some styles are classic and stay around for decades, others last just a few months. Estate jewelry that is out of style can’t command premium price. In fact some styles are so out of favor that the jewelry’s only value is its intrinsic worth. The other extreme is that the jewelry could be antique. Antique jewelry is highly collectible and may require a specialty option to sell. Knowing if your jewelry is just old and out of style or an antique can mean the difference of hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

Condition is a major determining factor of the price received for your jewelry. Damaged and broken jewelry many times justify the restoration costs but most of the time damaged jewelry is only valued at its intrinsic worth. Jewelry repair in many instances is counter-intuitive. I have seen jewelry that has been mangled in such a way that the cost of restoration is minor and easily justified. On the other hand what appeared to be an insignificant problem rendered the jewelry unrestorable. Jewelry repair is one area you don’t want to be a “do it yourselfer”. Let the professionals do it, or it could end up costing you a ton of money.

Worn out jewelry impacts the value. It is a difficult repair to bring life back into a piece of jewelry. Most worn out jewelry is valued at its intrinsic worth.

Jewelry looks it’s best when cleaned. Properly clean your jewelry before showing it around. If you do not know the 100% correct way to clean your piece of jewelry let a professional jeweler clean it for you. Some jewelry stores may even clean it for free. Warning: the wrong cleaning can damage and even destroy jewelry. If your are unsure of how to clean the jewelry or gem, let the professionals do it.

Here are some cleaning tips. Never clean gold and gems in chlorine. Ammonia based cleaning products are used throughout the jewelry industry, but they can damage some gems. Try and avoid them if you can and know for certain if they well not hurt the gems in your jewelry. Use a mild soap with warm water and a soft toothbrush, then rinse thoroughly for most jewelry. A hard toothbrush and toothpaste or toothpowder will scratch gold and hurt some gems. The best cleaning tip is to know for certain the best cleaners to use on your jewelry and do it carefully.

The jewelry industry has been recycling for millennia. In fact some of the gold in your jewelry could have been in use since the time of Jesus. Damaged beyond repair jewelry is bought at its intrinsic worth. The intrinsic value is the metal (gold, platinum, silver) price plus any gems. The refining process used to recover the metal utilizes strong chemicals and has strict environmental regulations which impact the price given for metal brought to be recycled.

If you would like to know how to calculate the metal price and do the math read on, if not skip to next paragraph. The formula used to calculate the price is the metal price(the daily spot price) multiplied by purity(the true noble metal content) times weight(can be in ounces, pennyweights or grams). The purity is the karat of gold or percentage of noble metal (gold, platinum, silver). 24 karat is pure. 10 karat is 10/24 or.410 gold and the balance of weight is the alloys. 14 karat is 14/24 or.583 gold and 18 karat is 18/24 or.750 gold. Platinum most of the time is 90% pure and 10% alloy. Silver jewelry is usually sterling, which is.925 pure. The three units of weight used with precious metals are troy ounces, pennyweights, and grams. The troy ounce is equal to 20 pennyweights (dwt) or 31.15 grams. So here is an example; say the spot price of gold is $300 and a 14K ring weighing 10 grams would work out like this. $300 (spot price) X.583 (the fineness of gold) equals $174.90 per ounce divided by 31.15 (troy ounce to gram) equals $5.63 per gram times our ring of 10 grams equals $56.30. Just remember to subtract some refining cost and profit for the dealer and you can find out the intrinsic metal value for your jewelry.

Gems are an important part of jewelry. The estate jewelry value could be 99% determined by the gem. On the other hand the gem could add zero to the value. The two critical factors are the gem itself and the condition. Some gems have a higher value then others. A natural ruby is worth many times more then a synthetic ruby. Diamonds are generally more valuable then amethysts. Knowing your gem’s grade and rarity will help with understanding its value. The condition of the gem is critical to the value. Some chips and abrasions can justify the repolishing cost. But in most cases chips and scratches will render the gem unappealing and valueless. Tip: careful handling of jewelry retains a higher value then carelessness.

The overview of the determining factors of estate jewelry is style, condition, and intrinsic worth. Remember you don’t get paid for the jewelry in relation to what you paid but the condition and demand when you sell. Clean jewelry shows the item at its best and helps in evaluating the design and gems.
How to find the best way to get the most return for the jewelry?

Selling estate jewelry is the art of compromise. There is a balance between dollar paid and quickness of payment and ease of transaction. If you want the high price, fast and easy, you are dreaming. The higher the price gained from the sale of estate jewelry, the longer the time and more difficult the transaction..

Finding another consumer to buy your jewelry is the most profitable but the most difficult, time consuming and problematic. Walking into a dealer’s shop is the easiest and fastest way to sell but you are selling at wholesale or less. Finding the balance is a personal judgement call.

Each method of selling estate jewelry has it strengths and liabilities. Besides the price received for the jewelry, the time investment you have to make to sell the jewelry enters the equation. What are your time and energy worth? I have known people who have driven around town for two days just to make $20 more. Don’t over look the ease of transaction. Not all people decide to buy and pay cash on the spot. Some individuals take two or three visits just to make up their mind to buy. There could also be a measure of trust in shipping the jewelry across the country or even a payment plan could be the only way a person could afford your jewelry. The balance of dollar paid versus method of payment can be very tricky.

This list of ways to sell estate jewelry is not exhaustive. Personal creativity can show you the best way to sell your jewelry or one the more traditional methods may work out just fine. Examine your options and evaluate the benefits and drawbacks to find the very best way to sell your estate jewelry.

Auctions are the prestigious way to sell estate jewelry. There is an air of sophistication in liquidating jewelry through a major auction house. The nationally known auction houses like Christie’s, Sotheby’s and the like have pricey set up costs and standards. High end jewelry is best suited for these auctions. There are many regional and local auction houses that can sell estate jewelry in the mid range. Auctions can be very risky, because the end price is unknown, but the risk can bring a very positive selling price. The keys to selling your estate jewelry at auctions are finding the right house for your particular jewelry, knowing the best time to sell, and luck.

On-line auctions offer a lot of advantages and some risks. On-line auctions like e-bay are auctions conducted over the internet reaching a world wide audience. The cost of selling an item is modest if the object sells. Sales are not guaranteed. Which on line auction to use is a critical choice. The large auctions have many offerings and sales but it is easy to get lost in all that activity. Selecting the best category is another challenge. If you choose a smaller on line auction company, many potential buyers will not find your offering. The decision is best made with research on how your particular type of jewelry was sold. E-mail and ask other sellers if they got the price they wanted and how the selling experience was for them.

The trickiest part of on-line auctions is the actual transaction. Who will trust whom first. Normally the buyer sends funds, then the seller sends the item. The seller must also give a period of time for the buyer to return the item for a full refund. The transaction can be problematic or smooth. May all your experiences be trouble free, but the transaction problems I have tracked seem to run between 20% and 35% of the attempts have problems.

Jewelry brokers offer a professional service for a fee. Think of a jewelry broker as a hired professional working for you against a very sophisticated market like the jewelry industry. Make sure their allegiance is to you alone. Most jewelry brokers are highly trained in gems and jewelry. Jewelry brokers charge a percentage ranging from 10% to 50% depending on the type of service provided. Brokers can assist with a piece going to a top auction house or find a local dealer willing to pay top dollar fast. Some jewelry brokers also act as a dealer and buy out right for an immediate transaction. Jewelry brokers are usually found in major cities and include a jewelry and diamond finding service.

Pawn shops and secondhand dealers are another type of walk-in and sell option. Most work on a cash evaluation of the jewelry. The cash value on most estate jewelry is a percentage of the intrinsic value. The key to understanding this buying environment is the percentage. Some dealers pay close to 90% of the intrinsic value, while others pay as low as 33%. The only way to find the best price is to physically take the jewelry around to a number of shops. Then sell to the shop that offers the best value.

Consignment offers the incentive of a higher price when sold but the draw back of time. No one knows how long it will take or even if it will sell. The stores that offer consignment range from second hand bargain stores to elite jewelry stores. The type of estate jewelry you have dictates which store will attempt to sell your jewelry. If you have a high end piece in excellent condition the elite location could yield a fine return.

Consignment generally consists of a contract for the amount the jewelry will sell for and the percentage the store will keep. Some contracts have a time limit and who is liable if it is lost or damaged. You must know the details of the contract to understand what will and will not happen. Some stores will pay immediately, others pay after a set time or when you call. Find out what the process is if the store closes or moves. Many people have lost track of their jewelry altogether. Understand what the store’s liabilities are and yours. Also, find out how the store is going to sell your jewelry. If they will advertise it or just let it sit in a showcase. Make frequent contacts to keep your jewelry in the mind of the salespeople.

Newspapers offer individuals the best chance to sell to a retail customer. The classified shopping consumer, in all likelihood, comparison shops more then anyone else. They know the prices of your jewelry new and will pay a discount for a used article of jewelry. Also realize that the prices asked for in the paper are rarely achieved and do not reveal the true market value. Some times the jewelry is sold for very much less then advertised or never sold at all. But with some safeguards and timing the classified ad is generally one of the highest prices realized for average estate jewelry.

The retail customer is the highest price you could receive for your estate jewelry. The newspaper is one of many ways to reach the buying public with your message to sell. Public bulletin boards offer a inexpensive way to reach people. Look in your community or work place for bulletin boards. On line bulletin boards could also work out if you find the right one. Net working with friends and family might give a lead to someone willing to buy. Creativity is a powerful tool in reaching the public. Use your imagination and think who would be willing to buy my particular estate jewelry and reach out to them.

Safeguards are critical when selling jewelry to the public. First NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, and NEVER meet an unknown buyer in your house. Personal safety and protection against robbery should be your first priority. If you don’t have a way to meet the potential buyer at a public place, then do not sell your jewelry to the general public. Meet the buyer in a public place like a restaurant or shopping mall. I suggest the buyer’s bank, because if they wish to buy the jewelry they can go and get the cash now and finish the transaction. In addition the bank should have some security if something goes bad.

Fraud should be next on your mind. Cash is the best transaction, checks of all kinds can be faked. Also be aware of switching of jewelry, con men are on the look out for unsuspecting people.

Some other safeguards are notifying someone of the time and place of your meeting. You can even tell them you will call after the meeting just to check in with someone. It is helpful to have a mobile phone. If you have a pager it is a good idea to give that number in the ad. You get a call back number and they can’t find your home address. It is also a good idea to go with someone else. I have met people with another person standing in the background just watching. Sometimes con men work in teams and someone looking at the whole situation can see that it is a bad situation in time to help you not get taken.

I’d like to make one final point: most of the world is filled with wonderful people and everything should go just fine. Trust your instincts. Keep diligent and alert. Don’t take risks just to make a little more on the sale of your estate jewelry.

Selling your estate jewelry is not an everyday experience. Enjoy the adventure and learn some new skills. One very positive side effect of selling jewelry is you will learn how to evaluate jewelry. You will become a very wise jewelry buyer. Enjoy the journey.

Daniel Parisi
Diamond & Jewelry Broker, Gemologist