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There is a space that exists between ambition and success, the dull and delicious, static and fresh – a demure gap of inspiration that can catalyze global movements, or remain entirely invisible.

That space is called the AHA. A flash instant, in which our entire perspectives are shifted, swirled and flipped inside out – revealing a new playing field of ideas and opportunities.

My spicy soul sister, Shauna Mei, harnessed her AHA moment and launched AHAlife this past Monday. And curious minds all over the world will soon be kowtowing in gratitude.

AHAlife.com is a discovery platform of innovative lifestyle products built for savvy, socially conscious consumers. The experience they have created is unerringly reflective of how we are growing as a society. As our lives become more and more cramped with information and shiny new things, we naturally begin searching for ways to filter and curate. We yearn to cut out the noise, so that we can save time and focus on what’s most important, interesting, inspiring. Which is exactly what AHAlife does for the consumer palette. 

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Their mantra, “1 product. 24 hours. 100% inspiring,” leverages urgency, scarcity and crowd-sourcing to break the heavymold of e-commerce by creating a shopping process where the only sales pitch is one we make to ourselves. Because the real ‘aha’ behind AHAlife is their growing network of curators who suggest fiercely inspired products from all over the world.  And though that list of curators includes the likes of Diane Von Furstenberg, Tim Gunn and Vivienne Tam, anyone can submit products for consideration. The platform gives us the chance to be influential tastemakers, ultimately guiding ourselves to become a new generation of more sophisticated, conscious and self-generated consumers. You could say AHAlife is a tastemaker of tastemakers. And it is precisely this move that will be the source of their viral success.

Hey Shauna. You always said you loved when people make everyday objects beautiful. Well – look what you have done to the entire industries of e-commerce and media. You. Go. Girl.

There is a force that sits quietly, waiting to be noticed. A bolt of lightning willing the Earth to obtain a charge.

That force is called the AHA. It stops time, allowing us to discover and recognize a piece of life at its fullest. And it is that AHA that pulls our everyday ordinary into a state of infinite beauty.

*For more information, sign up to be a member at AHAlife.com

 
 
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A few weeks ago, Mashable put out an article on how to customize a few real life treats via the Internet. Among them: mix your own chocolate bar, smoke your own jerky, create your own pet-food, shoes, handbags, shirts. And the one that stuck out the most to me (other than the jerky): customize your own jewelry.

Say what?

Every girl likes diamonds right?

And boys (in many cases) are the ideal deliverers.

Thanks, pop culture. It’s because of you that I have this grossly generalized fantasy in my head:

Girl meets Boy.

Boy is smitten.

First date.

First kiss.

Move in.


“Dear Boyfriend,

When you propose, it will preferably be on a cruise to Costa Rica.

Think that’s too cliché? I’ll ask again when our mouths are full of lobster, and we’re riding a horse named Steve through the rainforest.

But most importantly, I would like you to present me with a 10 carat, princess-cut diamond in a platinum  setting . . . or was it a marquise in white gold with two emeralds on the side. Or maybe I . . .

On second thought. Don’t propose until I consult my jeweler to find out what the heck it is I want.

Love, your adoring, baby darling, shmoopie.”



Well, this is how it used to go in my head anyway. Except now, I want a wedding on the beach, and maybe a proposal that takes place on a ferris wheel. And the ring. Jewelry is either supposed to be extravagant or sentimental, right? So maybe expecting a bajillion-carat Harry Winston is a bit much. So, let’s go for sentimental. You know, like a test of how much the boy knows me. (It seems the boy never wins in my fantasies)

Except I haven’t found any jewelry that’s quite up to my taste and sentiment. Until now. Which is where Gemvara steps in – with the perfect combination of two things I love: bling and tech.

Everyone’s a critic and I am no exception. Owning a domain name and fingers with which to type a blog suddenly makes me an expert consumer, right? Well, it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. I want my cake and eat it too. That sort of thing. Which makes it no surprise that one of the first things I asked Cheryl Kremkow, Gemvara's VP of Content and Merchandising, was whether customers were uncomfortable with the idea of creating and buying jewelry online because they couldn’t try it on. I mean, half the fun of buying bling is putting it on and imagining the subsequent avalanche of compliments. Luckily, Kremkow was incredibly sweet, especially when pointing out that even if you are creating custom jewelry at a store, there is no way to actually visualize or touch the exact piece until it is too made – which is sometimes too late. But on Gemvara, you can pick and choose until you get it just right.  In fact, each gemstone has 16 different varieties, and there are eight different metals to choose from. So, take a standard ring, let’s say – a diamond with two supporting stones – add 16 different choices for each stone, and eight different metals, and thousands of designs: you do the math. The possibilities are endless. And here’s the cool part: you can SEE every single one of those possibilities, as long as your patience matches the number of times your index finger can click the mouse.

In fact, the endless customer stories Kremkow receives on a daily basis is proof of the platinum pudding that Gemvara is feeding a very hungry niche.

“One of the surprises for me, is the different colors of engagement stones. People want something different, and we can give that to them. Sapphire, amythest, emerald – even a black diamond. We’ve seen birthstones, and if it’s a second marriage and there are kids, the ring might even have the birthstones of the kids. I’ve discovered that people want to do so much more than just a diamond. There really are no rules. We want to help our customers express themselves. If you’re only going to do this once, you should do it right!"


So, I went online and expressed myself. Here is my wish list:

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Ok, so I happened to choose the most expensive engagement ring of the bunch. Lucky boyfriend.
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Thangka Pendant in 14K Rose Gold
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So many colors, so little time!
So that’s the bling part. Now the tech.

One of the reasons Gemvara is doing so well is because this sort of thing has never been done before. And one of the main reasons it’s doing so well now is that the technology is just starting to exist for jewelry designers. The CAD cam (computer aided design) is just now becoming more accessible. And along with CAD comes a whole new community of designers who are becoming well-versed in this tool. And that’s what tech is for right? A niche need surfaces; a tool is built to aid that need; a community is born to aid that tool; everyone goes home with a nice piece of bling.

And the women in tech? No women developers yet, although their Chairman of the Board is female, and a lot of their designers are women. But Gemvara is looking to expand their team, looking for: online marketers, graphic designers, front end developers, and people who are familiar with the CAD system, particularly those who use Rhino and Matrix design and manufacturing platforms. So if any of you ladies (or gents) are partial to the industry of bling, you might want to consider a Gemvara career. And if not, you can just join the rest of us who are relishing in the luxury of creating our own treasure troves of diamonds, sapphires, rubies and rivers of yellow gold. Not a bad way to indulge in a few hours online, I’d say.

For more info, visit Gemvara’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

 
 
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This past Saturday (May 8th) saw the Launch of Girls in Tech China

WHAT an experience:

Because I planned the entire event in Beijing . . .FROM New York.
Because I have an amazing team (special shout out to @acrosstheC and @eiyssa for being excellent mid-wives for the deliverance of #GITChina).
Because we launched an amazing #GITChina cocktail: Girls in TECHquila by @beijingboyce.
Because we had an amazing panel of female Influencers (Tudou, Wall Street Journal, Mobinode, Zebra Media) moderated by Twittamentary's @sioksiok
Because we officially announced the 2010 Search for Girl 2.0 (to be launched on June 1st).
Because it's history in the making. 


Video of the event will be out soon. Watch this space. 
 
 
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I'm all for some Robin, George, Juju and Sam in the morning, but Good Morning America is slowly starting to piss me off.

Mostly because I'm a Twitter evangelist. And because I actually use Twitter in a meaningful way. Which means I understand and have experienced the value and effects of sharing real-time information and connections.

So, when #GMA keeps inviting dumbasses onto their show, who say things like "I just don't get Twitter. I don't understand why people would want to know when you go to the bathroom and that you're drinking coffee," there is a lot of credibility to be lost. 

First, on the part of the dumbass who opens her old fart mouth and blindly comments on a platform she obviously doesn't use. Because if she did use it, she would know that while there is a population of other dumbasses who solely use Twitter as their personal journal of simultaneously creepy and banal entries, the platform has really altered communication as we know it. Ever heard of GOOGLE, lady? Maybe if you had, you would have done your research and found the thousands of stories of how Twitter has changed lives and industries, before pretending to be a snarky know-it-all and embarrassing yourself in front of millions. Where is the 'Dumbass' censorship when we need it?

Second, on the part of #GMA. Come ON, #GMA! Robin! I heart you, but why are you jumping on the stupid bitch bandwagon? You're better than that! Just because your guest has as much insight as a bucket of cement, doesn't mean you have to pour her into your news crevices and let them harden into painful clumps of permanent dumb. If she ate a hundred donuts, would you also? I didn't think so. You want to keep your svelte figure. Just like we Tweeters want to keep the Twitter love going. And it's hard to do that and watch your show at the same time. Because when you guys make ignorant comments and then adorable Sam actually USES twitpics as a form of news, it makes me want to turn to 'My Name is Earl' on channel 9 and then gauge my eyes out and pour homemade lemonade into them. And that would be bad, because then I would have to make more lemonade. And more importantly, I wouldn't be able to tweet and rant, and tell everyone that #GMA seriously needs to get their act together. After all, you don't want a bunch of seething digerati, coming after you with their 90-words-per-minute wrath. Because we'll bring it. And it'll be more than just a stylized picture of an angry blue bird on some random person's blog.

And third, sort of on the part of Twitter. You guys probably didn't know that your initial intentions of creating a space where people were talking about what sandwich they just ate would be crowdsourced into a Mecca of international sharism. And sure, you're famous now, and have a bajillion users. But from a how-can-I-make-my-business-better, or hey-let's-conquer-the-world, or even, the-right-branding-and-positioning-will-land-us-more-users standpoint - there is a LOT you could be doing to gain more market mindshare. Don't you have a department of people who think up ways to take over the digital world or something? You should definitely send them a memo entitled: "Let's find a way to show non-Tweeters, in layman terms, the value our platform can bring to them." You could at least try, Twitter. Because then I wouldn't have to write blog posts like this, and everyone's day would be better. Momma would be so proud. 
 
 
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What's better than delicious REAL chocolate that costs you just one calorie? 

Nothing. That's what.

Unless we're talking about a lifetime supply of white tuna sashimi. But we're not. So let's focus on breathing in chocolate particles.

Yes, breathing. 

*

Imagine this scenario. (It could happen to you)

You're in a cafe. You've just finished lunch. Salami on stale rye. You don't really like salami, or stale rye for that matter, but it's a crappy cafe and you realize you only have $2 to your name, which means the only thing you can buy is the bag lunch your server's mom packed. So you eat the salami, and wash down the rye with a glass of room temp tap water. 

Moral of the story: your lunch is below par. 

As you leave the cafe, stomach pouting, palette dejected, wishing you had a lifetime supply of sashimi (not salami), all of a sudden you realize . . . 

"Zut Alors! Le Whif!"

Passersby have to shade their eyes from the illuminant joy radiating from your face. They wonder what could possibly make anyone so happy. 


Then, they see this in your hand.


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credit: Phase One Photography

It's a lighter! It's a mini flashlight! It's a portable sanitizer! 

No, it's Le Whif, breathable chocolate! (available in pure chocolate, raspberry chocolate and mint chocolate)

Now before you whip out your judging stick and ruin your sweet tooth's chance for changing its life, be patient and read on.

Created by Harvard professor of biomedical engineering, David Edwards' ArtScience Labs network, Le Whif was launched in Paris this past January 31, 2010, as the world's only breathable chocolate. 

"Le Whif uses particle engineering to form chocolate in particle sizes that are small enough to become airborne, though too large to enter the lungs," says Professor Edwards. Its design is biodegradable, organic and contains less than one calorie. 

The design of this small tube of chocolate has been enhanced by the collaboration of university students, culinary artists and designers, and has  attracted global attention, launching in 32 countries. It is currently available online at www.lewhif.com for about $2.50. I'd say that's a small price to pay for innovation and ultimate mouth satisfaction.

*

So, I'm going to the exclusive NYC launch of Le Whif tomorrow night (Friday, March 11, 2010) at Dylan's Candy Bar on Third Ave.  And I plan on Le Whiffing myself into oblivion. Hopefully, the next time you hear from me, I'll have tales of how they found me under a table, covered in chocolate powder, hiding from the security guards because I tried to swipe everyone's Whif stick.

But in the meantime, I leave you with this picture, entitled: "the kick of coffee without the cup!" Yes. It's pure genius.


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credit: Phase One Photography
 
 
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CC Jen Wang
I was flying from Dallas to NYC a few months ago, and in attempt to travel lightly (a concept entirely alien to me), all I had were my laptop and coat, both stored in the above compartment. Little did I know this would be the first time I would want to be entertained instead of conking out before take-off, like I usually do.

As the flight attendant started motioning her diligent fingers down and across the aisle, movements both polite and life saving, my eyes started roaming towards the pocket in front of me. In attempt to be a good passenger, I feigned interest in the Safety Manual. But I just couldn’t get past the part where they tell you to put the oxygen mask on before helping others.


The only other thing in the pocket was the Skymall Catalog. Lesser of two evils, I thought, as I sighed and lazily pulled the magazine out. Who knew, that just 30 minutes later, I would find 12 products that would alter my life forever. 

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1) The Telekinetic Obstacle Course $99.95

Feel like testing the strength of your brain waves? The Telekinetic Obstacle Course makes your scientific wet dreams come true, with its eight obstacles of hoops, teeter-totters, baskets and chutes. Perfect gadget to get if you happen to run out of things to do. Or say. Or make fun of. 


 
 
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I've recently been feeling a little off-balance. Work and workouts are great - other stuff is not. By the time I get home, I just want to zone out on the couch until the morning - hardly apropos for getting anything productive done on the off hours. And I have SO much I WANT and NEED to do in those few precious off hours I do actually have. Like send out that artist release for the children's book. And call the people who have left me messages on my mom's voicemail box in Texas (how did they get that number). And pay my TRC website bill. And work on TIP (new, ultra secret project). And meet with British Ed to crank out our freaking songs so we can perform already.  And shower. And cook. And do laundry. And READ. And update you on ALL the things I am itching to write about. And. And. And. And yet, the only things I can manage to do are check my e-mails (but not respond to them), get my daily dose of NG and be a sack of shit for the rest of the evening.

So, my mind has been exploding on the inside - because it has somehow shut off in the process of all this working and working out. But lucky for me, I have alter-ego Jenny, who knows just what to do, most of the time. Knowing me best, as only me can know me, alter-ego Jenny (let's call her Benjamin) understands that I can't just go from couch lauder to productive Nancy. So, the other night, smart little Benjamin was like:

Why don't you plan a party?

And I was like: Say whaat?

(Yes, I talk to myself. Debate is the only way my better half will win)

Yeah, get your mind off your big couch potato ass.

Um, excuse you? I've been working out.

You know - give yourself something fun to think about, and the work you need to get done will just fly by.

Ohhh. Hm.

You know I'm right.

Yeah, well, maybe I'll try that concept. Thanks, Benjamin.

No prob, Blob.

Haha. Very funny.

*

Great. Get the guest list together. Buy the alcohol. Make a cupcake or two. And ta-da! Extensive Game Night at Benjamin and Jenny's! Followed by dancing and guzzling at whatever bars are lucky enough to house us. So far, the guest list is 15 and counting. I think my Beijing apartment can comfortably hold 10. Oops.

And all of a sudden, my mind is breathing again, and ready to be productive. Oh, Benjamin. You are so smart. Nothing cures flat-lining better than the prospect of some good ol' ridiculous, liver-blowing, FUN.

 
 
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It might be the thought of a chance at a second new year (Chinese New Year), although the first one wasn't that long ago, or it might be this week that I have all to myself, but there has been a very distinct urge tugging at my heart strings, pulling harder and harder as the days pass. This little feeling, maybe the size of a coin, radiates a heat that bakes my insides and traps me in my own body, waiting for me to release it. No, it's not  flatulence (you think you're so clever).

I finally figured out what it was on Monday evening, as I was lodged on my static-inducing, hair catching, lime green couch (provided by le landlord, since in China, many apartments come fully furnished, usually with odd pieces that were mostly likely the love children of Bai Ling and Kimora Lee Simmons - love you girl, but some of that Baby Phat's got to go). Anyway - what I figured out was that my little, hot, coin-sized, mental itch was yelling for me to do something different. So that’s what I decided to do, a do-different.

That evening after I made dinner, instead of inviting my usual dining mates, Movie or Internet, I strolled to the ugly lime monster, situated myself in the middle of its spongy cheeks, and ate in silence. Well, silence was relative, since the Chinese New Year fireworks brigade was stilling running rampant across the city, throwing explosives into the air every hundred feet. But I sat there, quietly chewing, and listened to the symphony of pyrotechnics, letting the echo of each whistle and roar settle serenely into my bowl of ground beef and onions. Upon savoring every bite, I learned this. Paying full and glorious attention to your food fills you up sooner. From the tiny spicy spouts on my tongue, I could tell that I had put in too much diced onion, and that the white, long-stemmed mushrooms made the beef slippery in consistency, and that for the first time in my short and unsuccessful amateur cooking career (i.e. client=myself), the beef was finally not over-done, and that maybe a little mustard would be good between the slices of cheese I had melted in the whole wheat tortilla.

Sure, eating in silence might be something normal to most people. In fact, it was normal at one point in my life, when I still lived at home, and all meals were at the table. But not once, in my independent, live-in-my-own-apartment, 20-something life away from home, have I ever eaten in silence. There are just too many distractions. And so my do-different quota was filled that night and the urge fell asleep. Until the next day.

Tuesday evening. I got curious and pulled out one of the frozen fish the Office had graciously bestowed upon me (Chinese New Year gift), cut open the bag, placed the fish on a pan, put a chunk of butter on top and stuck the whole thing in my toaster oven. 20 minutes later, I could hear a sizzling sound. When I pulled my dinner out, it didn’t look too bad, smelled good and seemed ready. Maybe cooking isn’t so hard after all, or so I thought:

The first few bites were pretty good, although Mr. Fish did seem a bit scaly. Hmm, as I got deeper, the insides didn't seem fully cooked, but hey, sushi's raw, so it couldn't be that bad for me. Right? But wait – what is this bulbous thing in the middle, right near the stomach area? Ew, is that the stomach? I dunno. Moving on. Mmm – this part is tasty. (Spit more scales out). Hey, this bulbous thing is getting to be pretty obtrusive. I sliced the thing open – it WAS the stomach, guts and all.

“Haha,” Bryant later laughed at me over Skype. “You’re supposed to clean the fish first.”

“How am I supposed to clean a frozen fish?”

“You thaw it out, dummy. In salt water.”  

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“What? I thought that if they sell it to you frozen, it was ready to cook.”

“Nope – they just catch ‘em and freeze ‘em.”

Grr. Ew. Gross. I’m never doing that again.

But in honor of my new do-different attitude, the next night I decided to tackle the two remaining fish the right way. After all, what’s trite about scaling and gutting a fish? Nothing, that’s what.

The next hour was filled with activities even more horrifying than discovering the stomach of a cooked fish. Mind you, I say horrifying because I am the type of person who gets itchy just thinking about bugs. The sight of anything with more than four legs will make me bolt; and worms, slugs, snails and intestines definitely make me throw up in my mouth. It’s just who I am. Anyway, I digress.

There is a good reason everyone who scales fish on TV is in full protective gear: apron, boots, rubber gloves, a rain hat and definitely a hefty pair of goggles. Those bastard sequins of nature got everywhere. Crevices I didn’t even know existed made friends with each little shit piece of confetti of the sea. And, god – I know I’m Chinese, but I am not eating that fish head. It’s one thing to be served a full, beautiful fish; it's quite another to have to prepare that fish. So, off with the head. Oh, but wait – the giant butcher knife I’m using isn’t sharp enough. Ok. What to do. I got it – get the scissors out. I’m not sure this is entirely correct form, but cutting and chopping are both methods of decapitating, right? Okay, head off. Purple guts are spilling out. Agh. Gag. Breathe. Hee, hoo. Hee, hoo. Now what? Right: filet it. Fish filet. Filet o’ fish. Jenny filets fish. How do I do that? Well, I’m not risking maulling my hand with the dull butcher knife, so scissors it is, again. Snip. Snip. Snip through the underbelly of Mr. Fishy, and right into the intestines. AHHHH. Ew. Ew. Ew. Nothing like fingers swathed in unfolding strands of black red goo. This fish better taste amazing. Okay – stomach and guts are out. Now for the fins. Cut that one off the side. And that one over there. Oh, and there’s another cute wittle one on the back. CrunchCrunch. Horror. Did I just cut through the backbone? I notice the fish still looks like a fish in my hands, not like those succulent salmon steaks that sit proudly behind the counter at the grocery store. Getting seriously faint on the inside. Still cutting through the backbone. Must. Get. It. Off. Crrrrrrrunnnch. (I’m pretty sure no chef has ever done it this way. Skimming off the top of a backbone, horizontally, seems pretty inhumane to me) Done. Phew. Sigh.

I would be the worst surgeon ever.

Suffice it to say, none of my recent experiences related to fish have been all that pleasant, but at least I experienced them. And although I’m still picking scales out of my hair, and touching fish guts probably doesn’t even faze you, I feel alive for having done it.

*

So, what exactly defines different?

do-different is a moment you reserve to:

1) take an action that has yet to make it on your portfolio of life experiences, or

2) do something not present in your daily life

With just these two rules, the options are endless. And the beauty is, they don’t have to be giant gestures of passion or zeal. They can be as small and subtle as chewing quietly on a couch, or wearing a pot over your head while lip-sinking to Janis Joplin (have you ever done that?), or if you prefer, even streaking down the road in nothing but your dignity and a pair of sturdy shoes. Whatever your do-differents are, as long as you keep at them, they will add up. One day, looking back, you will realize just how satisfying your time on this earth has been. They might have even saved your life.

On another note, do-differents are also particularly good for people my age. As 20-somethings, we are riding the line of adulthood, determined to transition without losing our youth. We try to play the mature card, which means waiting patiently for our successes to compile and reward us, and yet it seems Time can’t pass fast enough between our actions and the results we crave. The do-different world is the loophole for instant gratification, a sacred space where we can create experiences entirely unusual to our usual. And for those of us who can’t commit to weeks worth of a task, the do-different is just enough to get us to the next baby step. It doesn’t overwhelm; it just changes your life, and can in quite a significant way.

*

Standing in front of my kitchen window, open so as to waft away the looped visual in my mind of guts spurting out a fish’s neck, and trying to figure out what my do-different for Thursday would be, I peered through the screen; just below the window was a ledge holding an air conditioner of some sort - I almost climbed out on it. No folks, I did not end up squeezing myself through the two by four frame (I figured “different” shouldn’t equate to death on a rusty ledge), but the point is that I felt brave enough to do it. I had sanctioned out one moment of each day, where I was allowed to act on something entirely foreign to my daily routine, and having that moment made me feel alive and invincible.

Perhaps my do-differents may not be as exciting to other people as they are to me, but they don’t have to be – because they are just for me, an exercise to push myself outside my own box every day. Can you imagine if you did a do-different, even just once a week, for the rest of your life, how much more fun you would have? It's an exciting thought, figuring out something that seems so obvious, but really isn't: I create my experiences, my breaths of fresh air, my do-differents and my life. And so can you.


 
 
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A few weeks ago, Mashable put out an article on how to customize a few real life treats via the Internet. Among them: mix your own chocolate bar, smoke your own jerky, create your own pet-food, shoes, handbags, shirts. And the one that stuck out the most to me (other than the jerky): customize your own jewelry.

Say what?

Every girl likes diamonds right?

And boys (in many cases) are the ideal deliverers.

Thanks, pop culture. It’s because of you that I have this grossly generalized fantasy in my head:

Girl meets Boy.
Boy is smitten.
First date.
First kiss.
Move in.

“Dear Boyfriend,

When you propose, it will preferably be on a cruise to Costa Rica.

Think that’s too cliché? I’ll ask again when our mouths are full of lobster, and we’re riding a horse named Steve through the rainforest.

But most importantly, I would like you to present me with a 10 carat, princess-cut diamond in a platinum  setting . . . or was it a marquise in white gold with two emeralds on the side. Or maybe I . . .

On second thought. Don’t propose until I consult my jeweler to find out what the heck it is I want.


Love, your adoring darling baby cakes shmoopie.”

Well, this is how it used to go in my head anyway. Except now, I want a wedding on the beach, and maybe a proposal that takes place on a ferris wheel. And the ring. Jewelry is either supposed to be extravagant or sentimental, right? Well, maybe expecting a10-carat Harry Winston is a bit much. So let's go for sentimental. You know, like a test of how much the boy knows me. (It seems the boy never wins in my fantasies)

Except I haven’t found any jewelry that’s quite up to my taste and sentiment. Until now. Which is where Gemvara steps in – with the perfect combination of two things I love: bling and tech.

Everyone’s a critic and I am no exception. Owning a domain name and fingers with which to type a blog suddenly makes me an expert consumer, right? Well, it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. I want my cake and eat it too. That sort of thing. Which makes it no surprise that one of the first things I asked Cheryl Kremkow, Gemvara’s VP of Content and Merchandising, was whether customers were uncomfortable with the idea of creating and buying jewelry online because they couldn’t try it on. I mean, half the fun of buying bling is putting it on and imagining the subsequent avalanche of compliments, right? Luckily, Kremkow was incredibly sweet, especially when pointing out that even if you are creating custom jewelry at a store, there is no way to actually visualize or touch the exact piece until it is made – which is sometimes too late. But on Gemvara, you can pick and choose until you get it just right.  In fact, each gemstone has 16 different varieties, and there are eight different metals to choose from. So, take a standard ring, let’s say – a diamond with two supporting stones, 16 choices for each stone – you do the math. The possibilities are endless. And here’s the awesome part: you can SEE every single one of those possibilities, as long as your patience matches the number of times your index finger can click the mouse.


In fact, the endless customer stories Kremkow receives on a daily basis are proof of the platinum pudding that Gemvara is filling a very hungry niche.

“One of the surprises for me, is the different colors of engagement stones. People want something different, and we can give that to them. Sapphire, amythest, emerald – even a black diamond. We’ve seen birthstones, and if it’s a second marriage and there are kids, the ring might even have the birthstones of the kids. I’ve discovered that people want to do so much more than just a diamond. There really are no rules. We want to help our customers express themselves. If you’re only going to do this once, you should do it right!”

So, I went to express myself. This is what I just added to my wish list:
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Ok, so I happened to choose the most expensive engagement ring of the bunch. Lucky boyfriend.
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Thangka Pendant in 14K Rose Gold
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So many colors, so little time!
So that’s the bling part. Now the tech.

One of the reasons Gemvara is doing so well is because this sort of thing has never been done before. And it's being done so well Now because the technology is finally starting to exist for jewelry designers. The CAD cam (computer aided design) is just now becoming more accessible. And along with CAD comes a whole new community of designers who are versing themselves in this tool. And that’s what tech is for right? A niche need surfaces; a tool is built to aid that need; a community is born to aid that tool; everyone goes home with a nice piece of jewelry.

And the women in tech? No women developers just yet, although their Chairman of the Board is female, and a lot of their designers are women. In fact, Gemvara is looking to expand their team, looking for: online marketers, graphic designers, front end developers, and people who are familiar with the CAD system, particularly those who use Rhino and Matrix design and manufacturing platforms. So if any of you ladies (or gents) are partial to the industry of bling, you might want to consider a Gemvara career. Or if not, you can just join the rest of us who are relishing in the luxury of creating our own combinations of diamonds and sapphires and rubies and rivers of yellow gold. Not a bad way to spend a few indulgent hours online, I'd say.


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