I recently had cause to visit a series of jewellers at lunchtime in search of a gift for a momentous birthday.
Jewellery shops are not really my natural habitat so I took along a friend to compare notes.
We agreed that in our limited experience, a few sayings apply when buying jewellery.
1. Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but rubies and sapphires will suffice in a pinch.
2. All that glitters is not necessarily gold; sometimes it can be other expensive stuff; and
3. Bling, bling, why don't you give me a call.
Where the Abba reference came from I'm not sure, all I know is that when you start looking at jewellery, it's not long before you hear the drums, Fernando.
Because there's a lot at stake.
You're buying more than just a thing. You're making a statement. Sending powerful messages that will echo through time.
You want to get it right otherwise you'll pay, and not just in dollar terms, forever.
So no pressure, go for broke, or just go broke. The two interlink after a while.
But this was the kind of birthday that only comes round once in a lifetime.
Like every other birthday, really.
So the gift had to "bring it", in terms of emotional gravitas.
Moreso than a laptop, or a smartphone or a car.
Although there was healthy debate about that too.
Yes, there would be "excitement deficit" if the present couldn't connect to the internet or drive to uni.
But we were going for old school here.
The gift had to be heirloom quality.
Capable of being passed on through generations.
Able to be melted down in the event of apocalypse, to trade for food.
With that in mind, the search focused on that mythical precious metal trumpeted by Spandau Ballet during the '80s and made famous by Paul Harragon on The Footy Show.
The reason nations go to war.
What Olympians aspire to.
Why I try to black out so much music from the '80s, not to mention The Footy Show.
What do average palukas know about gold?
That certainly seemed to be the first question each jeweller asked themselves when me and my mate walked in the door.
The second being, are we gay?
That was after they'd sprung the security lock. And placed the ole "back scratcher" back under the front counter.
It seems peace of mind is a two-way street in the jewellery game; robbery being an occupational hazard, and bunkers de rigeur.
The closest I usually get to gold is the nightly commodity call on the news.
So it was fascinating to find myself in a mini-Fort Knox with an affable artisan explaining what that number means on the showroom floor.
For example, one jeweller held up a chunky piece of ugliness that I'd never ever wear in a million years, without my shirt unbuttoned to the navel at least, and was told it would cost a rather large amount of money.
This figure was based on the weight per ounce divided by grams and carats (not the Bugs Bunny type) and depending on whether it was new (never touched by Bugs) or "estate" (second-hand, possibly fenced by a guy called Bugsy).
The jeweller's job, we were told, was to not tell the customer what they want. But to help the customer get what they need.
If in describing what they can have it becomes, in the vacuum that is the customer's knowledge of jewellery, what they want, then it's hardly the jeweller's fault, is it?
Most start the sensitive journey of divining that need by asking the delicate question: "How much do you want to spend?"
A scary probe, particularly if the target of the gift is within earshot.
They then proceed to explain the concept of carats.
Twenty-four carat is pure gold; 18 carats is 18 parts gold, six parts alloy; and nine carats is nine parts gold, the rest kitchen scraps.
Well, not exactly kitchen scraps, but in this heady environment where value is only limited by how much you can pay, there tends to be a sliding scale of self worth dependent on the subtle raising of eyebrows.
People buy gold for many reasons, we were told.
It goes with their complexion. It's an investment.
They want the world to know they have colourful racing connections.
You would never want to generalise, but apparently Europeans, Indians and Asians won't touch anything but 18 carat.
Aussies prefer nine.
When asked why, I was told "because we're tight".
That seemed a little judgmental but suddenly I didn't feel so alone.
Other things to note included gold plating, tube gold and fools gold.
It was an enlightening lunch break and underlined one final saying.
If you walk into a jewellers and you don't know who the fool is yet, you're the fool.
Having said that, the gift went down a treat, and to quote the Chief: "That's gold."