By Michelle Graff

As the price of gold rises to just under $1,000 an ounce, articles everywhere, from the International Herald Tribune to The Ithaca Journal, talk about people selling their gold, be it a broken chain or a family heirloom, to make a few extra bucks in this down economy.

While I can't imagine being so desperate as to hawk my grandmother's brooch, the idea of gathering my old mismatched earrings to make a little money on the side is quite appealing. How much could that gold hoop earring that I lost the mate to close to a decade ago fetch me? At approximately three grams, that earring could garner about $100 according to the current price of gold. A pretty paycheck for such a little thing.

It is easy to see why those tight on cash might resort to selling their jewelry to make ends meet. But will this trend hurt the luxury goods industry? Perhaps.

Those buying an engagement ring in the coming months might have trouble paying for the same ring that they would have bought the year before without blinking. It might be prime time then to recommend alternative materials such as silver.

If the price of gold keeps skyrocketing, there might be more and more alternative materials used in jewelry-making, and up-and-coming designers might start to experiment even more with materials such as silicone, wood, silver and plastic until precious metals become more affordable again. I look forward to seeing if these artists rise to the challenge.

Earrings by Erica Molinari.

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