I went with my family to Costco this past weekend. Our typical shopping trip there is in the $100 to $200 range. I’ve been eating almonds like crazy now that my wife has taken over my meals for the month, so we needed to stock up on that and some other low-carb foods.
Before we got to the groceries, we passed the electronics section and the jewelry section. I knew that Costco sold high-end items, but this took me by surprise: a 6.55-carat solitary ring for a cool $329,999.99. There’s only one. I guess there’s little point in mass-producing these.
Who buys these?
I don’t know if I’ll ever spend this amount of money on a single purchase. I haven’t yet, and I’ve bought two houses. (That was my wife’s comment, actually: “That’s a house!”) This might just be Costco pushing the envelope on what they can get people to buy. If someone buys, awesome for Costco, and probably awesome for the person buying it. Not that I could ever tell, but it probably is a pretty good deal for what it is. This is Costco, after all.
This is years of disposable income for me, so I’m not who Costco is marketing to (though if I were to come up with $330k I’m sure they wouldn’t argue!) Certainly Costco is marketing to people a heck of a lot wealthier than me.
But how much wealthier? Someone who’s worth $1 million? $5 million? $10 million? More? I’m guessing that it would be someone worth at the very least $50 million who would buy this ring. It’s probably not someone on the lower (!) end of the millionaire continuum. It almost has to be someone who’s made it so big that $330k is maybe a week’s pay.
In Stop Acting Rich … And Start Living Like a Real Millionaire, Dr. Thomas Stanley reinforces the facts: millionaires, on the whole, don’t buy what we think they’d buy. They buy Timex rather than Rolex. They buy at Kohl’s rather than Saks Fifth Avenue. They drive a Toyota rather than a Mercedes. And they’re probably more likely to buy their buy a ring at a pawn shop than new at Costco.
Dr. Stanley builds up the case that, except for extremely rich (“glittering rich”) people, purchasing status symbols like luxury cars, watches, wines, etc., are inconsistent with true wealth. While impostors spend money and time trying to look rich, millionaires buy wisely, and spend their time becoming rich. Go figure, huh?
The two really wealthy people I’ve met
I’ve met a couple of people who could easily afford that ring. But they choose to use their wealth not for expensive trinkets but to acquire and develop things that others can enjoy. They’re both real-estate developers. One regularly entertains civic and service groups on his paddleboat. It’s quite a ride. The other built (at least one) park, and other community-use facilities. He bought out most of one part of an estate auction — much to the annoyance of many other bidders there — to outfit a library he built.
There’s no end to the money that can be spent on expensive platinum-plated gold baubles, but the people who buy them also have to produce. Otherwise, they won’t stay rich for long.