Why waste money on sparkly baubles?

Model wearing a diamond necklace © iStock
Jewellery, cars, art… the obsession with ownership

In the Daily Mail, Tom Utley recounts how, against his better judgement, he wound up paying £265 for a pair of shoes. Having left home in search of “a new pair of black Oxfords” for work, he found himself in a smart shop where prices for black Oxfords start at £195 for a pair, rising to £265 in the middle of the range and well over £300 at the top, according to the quality of the leather.

Utley says he’s never spent more than £75 on a pair of shoes for himself. (I believe him: neither have I.) But finding himself standing in this snooty shop, and remembering the advice he was once given by the legendary editor, Sir John Junor – “One piece of advice, Tom. Frugality is generally commendable, but it is the most foolish of false economies to buy cheap shoes” – he found himself presenting his credit card with “an attempt at a nonchalant smile”.

I’d probably have done the same. I’ve been given similar, Junor-style advice, couched in terms of an old adage: never stint on your shoes or your bed; you spend your whole life in one or the other.

But if expensive shoes are daft, at least shoes have a point. The same, as Giles Coren noted in The Times, cannot be said of jewellery. He had been reading a small item in the paper about Simon Cowell losing “jewellery worth about £1m” in a burglary. Well, it hardly deserved a long item. “Probably just a couple of bits Simon had lying about… I mean, compared with the £8m of ice they took off that sex-tape bird with the big bum in Paris… it’s practically laughable.”

What, wonders Coren, is wrong with these people? Nothing wrong with being rich and spending money on “beautiful, massive great houses all over the world” and planes and food and servants “to do all the tedious things you had to do for yourself when you were poor”.

But spending money on jewels to the value of many hundreds of people’s salary combined? That is surely madness, especially as the kind of “sparkly baubles” we’re talking about have no intrinsic worth and often seem to be produced by “murderous exploiters” in some lawless republic. The whole jewellery fetish, says Coren, fills him with sympathy for the robbers who take it from the likes of Cowell and Kardashian.

I see his point and also how his argument can be extended, as he does indeed extend it, to the whole business of pointless ownership, be it of jewellery, expensive cars… art. (Why not just go to a gallery?) Coren says he himself owns nothing and, while he’s exaggerating, the sentiment is right: we put too much stock on ownership and not enough on experiences. The question, as a letter to The Daily Telegraph put it this week, is whether “we own our things, or they own us”. Not owning things is more relaxing.

• On a different, perhaps contradictory, note, I’m with Celia Walden in The Daily Telegraph magazine who puts in a sensible, much-needed defence of those of us who like clutter. What’s wrong with keeping old things and “toppling towers of memories”? All the bossy anti-clutter brigade have done, says Walden, is find yet another way for the guilt-ridden middle classes to “purge themselves by applying a diet and deprivation mentality to personal space”. Hear, hear.

Tabloid money… dimbo British luvvies weigh in to the presidential campaign

• “Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter says Donald Trump, posing in a luxurious, £1,000-plus Loro Piana cashmere sweater for one of the magazine’s photoshoots, was asked to take it off but refused, thinking it might disturb his extraordinary, comb-over hairstyle,” according to Ephraim Hardcastle in the Daily Mail. “So they had to cut the sweater off his back. Does The Donald wear a hairnet at night?”

• “A bunch of dimbo British luvvies have been over in the US, campaigning for Hillary Clinton” to become the next president, says Rod Liddle in The Sun. “Dame Helen Mirren, Sienna Miller and Emily Blunt were at a fund-raising bash for the stone-faced harridan. I’ll bet the American people are really impressed at being told what to vote by air-headed Brits, with whom they have nothing whatsoever in common. Especially by Ms Blunt, who took out US citizenship – then said she regretted it because of how horrid the Republicans are. Silly cow. Imagine if Tom Cruise came over here and told us what way to vote. My guess is that every time Sienna and the rest open their mouths, the Trump vote rises a little.”

• Embattled Sir Philip Green, the former BHS boss at the centre of a scandal over the collapsed firm’s pension fund, must “long for the gentler days of Tony Blair’s government”, says the Daily Mail. “In 2003, he forked out £18,000 for a game of tennis with Blair at an auction organised by Labour fundraiser Lord ‘Cashpoint’ Levy. Blair then gave the green light for Green’s knighthood.”

• The time has come for Prime Minister Theresa May to call a general election and “bury all the whining, cheating, anti-democratic Brexit-denying pussies that would love to thwart the will of 17.4 million British people and keep us in the European Union”, says Tony Parsons in The Sun. “Call a general election now, prime minister, and bury for all time the referendum deniers in your own party.”