Blingin' in the New Year

Ever wonder what it feels like to wear $7 million worth of diamonds? Well, so did I. gave me the assignment of a lifetime: to write about gifts for the rich and famous, a story that, in my humble opinion, required some extensive research, product testing and above all else, living like a rock star for a week.

To get into the spirit of luxury, I began my journey into the high life with a stop at Jacob and Co., the exclusive jewelry store owned by Jacob Arabo, aka Jacob the Jeweler, the well-known blingmaster to stars like P. Diddy.

From $300,000 watches to million-dollar bracelets, I had my pick of what to wear, and I wasn't going to let this opportunity pass me by without getting seriously iced-out.

But like an overwhelmed 9-year-old in a candy store, I had no idea where to start. Should I go with the rose-colored diamond ring or the $30,000 necklace that looked like diamond icicles?

Fortunately, my decision was made easier when Jacob's wife, Angela, handed me a flute glass of Cristal champagne, as well as a rare 22-carat diamond ring, a $1 million bracelet and diamond earrings the size of walnuts.

I put them on and waited for Jacob to join me in a champagne toast.

"You look hot! You're on fire," said Jacob, who requested that I wear "big diamonds" in his presence.

"I like to spoil my customers," he said while sipping champagne. I barely heard him, as I was too busy gawking at the 34-carat, $1.1 million ring on my right hand.

Only moments later, I had become totally transfixed and transformed by the jewels. I began to smile wider. I sat with better posture. I even held the champagne glass by the stem, trying not to warm the bubbly with the heat of my hands.

I was in total diva mode, minus the hissy-fits and outlandish demands. It was a great start to a week of excess.

With a pink leather diamond-face watch and diamond necklace, Jacob sent me back into the world J-Lo style. And only seconds after leaving the store, I began noticing the lingering glances at my neck. Some looked envious, others perplexed.

"She looks too short to be Jessica Alba," one person said.

OK, maybe no one compared me to Jessica Alba, but I felt like a real hottie nonetheless.

This newfound sense of coolness gave me a brilliant idea. Just days before, I had attempted to buy shoes at Bergdorf Goodman, a swanky Fifth Avenue department store.

To my chagrin, I had stood there all but invisible to the salesmen and women who were too busy helping customers with Prada bags and engagement rocks instead of rings.

I marched back over there, like Julia Roberts' character did in "Pretty Woman" after being scorned by snobby saleswomen, and with my best "I don't see anything that I am interested in," turned down clerk after clerk.

That evening, when my husband came home from work, I greeted him with an eyeful of jewels and tales of shoe shopping. He asked if I had learned anything from my experience.
I said I had.

"Money might not be able to buy you happiness, but today it bought me a whole lot of fun."

Day 2: The Borgata-aaah

I woke up Saturday morning uncharacteristically jovial. No, I wasn't still high on diamonds (actually that's debatable). My newfound early-morning glee was mostly out of sheer anticipation. For the next 24 hours I was a VIP at the Borgata, Atlantic City's only Vegas-style luxury hotel, casino and spa.

At 11:30 a.m., Joe the limousine driver picked me up in a grey stretch limo equipped with DVD player, wet bar and above all else, fresh blankets and pillows.

Before I could even finish dreaming about swimming in a pool of gold coins, I had arrived at my destination.

Linda, one of several butlers who were at my beck and call, took me to a 3,000 square foot suite on the 40th floor. I had little time to enjoy the chocolate sculpture made especially for me by their head pastry chef, or wine and cheese spread out on the dining room table that seats 12. I was late for my spa appointment.

After the spa, where I received the Borgata Bliss, a 100-minute treatment that includes a scrub, bath and massage, I went back to the room to prune up in the marble shower. It was the size of a single-car garage and had a picnic-table size bench in it.

Dressed in a black Betsey Johnson slip dress and, of course, my Jacob and Co. jewels, I headed for the Borgata's Specchio restaurant, an Italian eatery with a modern twist. My feast began the way every meal should: with a bottle of 1988 Krug champagne.

Then came the appetizers: bread, wine, fish and my personal favorite, an off-the-menu white truffle ravioli, made with $1,500-per-pound truffles -- and I don't mean the chocolate kind.

Even chef Luke Palladino greeted me, a touch that made me feel like the hotshot I was pretending to be.

After more glasses of wine than I can remember, the red carpet was rolled out for me at Mixx, an on-site club that has special VIP seating. But as I haven't been partial to clubbing since my 21st birthday, an hour of groove shaking was more than enough.

I went back to the room to gorge on my chocolate sculpture.

Around 3 a.m., I decided to take a stroll around the casino floor. I put $5 into a slot machine, a move I immediately regretted. I had such a good thing going. Why take any gambles at this point in time?

Day 4: Smooth Sailing

To be a jet-setter you have to have the proper travel accommodations, which is why I spent the day cruising around town in a Bentley Continental Flying Spur, the high-powered luxury sedan lusted after by hip-hop stars and heiresses alike.

As someone who never really got the whole car thing, I had my doubts as to how much fun driving a $170,000 piece of metal could be. I figured the excitement of flitting around town in a Bentley would be solely based on the fact that it's a major status symbol. I mean, how much better could a Bentley be than a BMW?

Turns out comparing a BMW to a Bentley is like comparing a burger to filet mignon. From the second you open the driver side door, you notice the incredible details: the Breitling clock, buttery leather seats, fine wood paneling and paddles that allow you to drive the car without touching the steering wheel. Lest I forget the SIM card holder in the middle console, which turns the car into a technology hub.

Cosmo Lisica, the Manhattan Motor Cars salesman who had brushed up my automotive knowledge, took me for a behind-the-scenes tour of the property while a Bentley was prepped for me to drive.

We went up to the roof, which housed mostly Porsche 911s and Cayennes. As I wasn't so impressed, Cosmo decided to rev my engine by taking me to the Saleen, a $575,000 numbered racing car that can pass for an improvement on the Batmobile.

After a close inspection of the interior and a mock-drive behind the wheel, I had begun to see what all the fuss was about. In fact, I even requested to see the Lamborghini Murcielago, which like all other Lamborghinis was named after a Spanish fighting bull.

After my play-driving, I headed back down to the Bentley, which was now ready to let loose on the mean streets of Manhattan. But before I even had a chance to test out the keyless entry system, I froze. What if something happens ? What if I crash the car? What if I total the car?

In a fit of anxiety, I passed the torch over to Cosmo, who happily played chauffeur. I turned on the seat massager, buckled up and began what was to be the ride of a lifetime.

With little pressure to the gas pedal, Cosmo made this conservative-looking sedan fly like the wind. I was literally pinned to the back of my chair. I couldn't believe how a car could be so smooth yet so fast.

Every now and then, traffic would ease up and we'd really be able to let the car show off. I had that same rush you get when you experience the first drop on a roller coaster. I'm telling you, this car had G-Force and made Space Mountain look like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride.

Day 5: Up in Smoke

By the time Tuesday came around I had fully adjusted to my new lifestyle, meaning I inexplicably began using the word "ciao" and ordered eggs Benedict instead of pancakes for breakfast.

It's not that I planned on changing my mannerisms. It's just that every Joan Collins miniseries I had ever seen crept into my brain, forcing me to sound more British than New Yorker-ish (I didn't spazz out like Madonna or anything. I just used words like dodgy and brilliant instead of bad and good).

Besides, sounding the part was a necessary skill that I had to master before my 4 p.m. invite into Davidoff's exclusive smoking room, a place that opens its doors to only 35 select members.

I dolled myself up in Elie Tahari and French perfume and hailed a cab to Madison Avenue, a place where I think fit in well, thanks to the jewels and my newly acquired sense of importance.

At Davidoff, James, an employee, quickly led me to the back of the store where he then whisked me passed a velvet rope that stands before an elevator with the words PRIVATE on it.

We went upstairs to their little-known smoking quarters, a place where business transactions go down and men revel in the fact they are living the "good life."

Five plush leather chairs and lockers behind glass were the main decorative points of this unassuming room. The space was relaxed without being too inviting. The humidors and the burning $100 cigars added a sense of power and regalness.

David Kitchens, the general manager, came in with a box of Zino Platinum cigars, a favorite among connoisseurs. After a chat about the history of cigars and the cigar afficionado's lifestyle, he took one of those very expensive cigars and began unwrapping it just to give me an education on what composes a nice stogey.

"You have the wrapper, which is made out of tobacco, the binder to provide strength and flavor and the filler," explained Kitchens, as he ripped the cigar apart in order for me to see the various colors behind the Peru, Domincan Republic and Jacagua tobaccos.

"You are trying to use your sense of taste when experiencing a cigar. When your taste buds are wet they work best," he added, handing me a glass of 10-year-old Italian brandy.

I followed cue and swirled the syrupy liquid around, only stopping to smell the "hint of honey" that Kitchens was so fond of.

After taking a modest sip, I attempted to smoke a cigar. It took about three minutes before I got the hang of how to puff it and hold it, but before long I was reclining back with the brandy in one hand and my cigar in another.

I was looking like a real pro, which was my goal all along. You see, what my week of living the high life had taught me thus far was that being able to look the part is 90 percent of the battle.

Day 7: Feng Shui My Heart

Today was my last day of living large and I decided to keep it a little more Zen than usual. Rather than bopping in and out of Bentley Flying Spurs and Lamborghini Murcielagos, I invited Pun Yin, a famous Feng Shui master whose clients include Donald Trump, The Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and Salomon Smith Barney, to spiritually assess my life and apartment.

For those who have no idea what Feng Shui is, Encyclopedia Brittanica defines it as "Traditional Chinese method of arranging the human and social world in auspicious alignment with the forces of the cosmos, including qi and yin-yang."

Before her visit, Pun Yin requested my birth date and time and came up with an astrological profile based on my relationship with the five elements: water, wood, fire, earth and metal.

The soft-spoken Pun Yin explained that I was very metallic, meaning I should avoid white, gold, brass, metallic and silver objects, as I need to bring in other elements to help ground me.

After a week of wearing almost $1 million in gems, it was hard to think of trading in diamonds for whittled pieces wood, but I had an open mind.

I had spent the past week indulging in luxury, sipping the finest champagnes, driving tricked-out imported cars, all while dressed in Jacob and Co. jewels. I had embraced my materialism and experienced once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, but I hadn't grown any more level-headed. Perhaps jade and stone were the gateway to tranquility?

Usually, I'm not one to follow the spiritual trends, but there was something very alluring about Feng Shui and Pun Yin herself. She was dainty without being timid. Intelligent but not arrogant. She was ... Feng Shui.

By the time she had given my apartment the once-over, I had already begun rearranging the furniture in my mind. I was strengthening my energy, a good thing because in less than 24 hours I had to give back the bling and go back to being just another mild-mannered reporter.

In the end, I kept things the way they were, as I don't really have the time to uproot my apartment. Though my rugs and workspace are still as is, I took away something very profound from my encounter with the good life: No matter how much wealth you acquire, or Gucci pocketbooks you own, inner peace is the thing you can't live without.