Unrecognized Math Conversations

I had the pleasure of assisting Sarah Shah in her appearance on Great Day Houston yesterday.

While preparing for the show, I observed Sarah and the host, Deborah Duncan, in the makeup room having a conversation about math.

When I said to Sarah later, “that was an interesting math conversation,” she looked at me with anticipation, encouraging me to share what I heard. She had no idea I was referring to her conversation!

The math conversation was fully on-topic.

It was national thrift store day, and Sarah was going to share with GDH viewers some tips on shopping at resale shops. The topic of the show inspired their kibitzing behind-the-scenes about buying gold jewelry.

Deborah was talking about how there’s a difference (sometimes big) between the cost of the gold in a piece of jewelry, and the sale price.

The cost of craftsmanship should be close to its value.

9g of Gold in this Bracelet on QVC

Deborah was making the point that there’s value on the design of an object based on the workmanship that went into it. And this goes only so far.

Right now gold prices are around $1700 per ounce. Since an ounce is around 28 grams, gold is valued at about $60 per gram.

The QVC bracelet in the picture is 9 grams. It’s selling for $530 – pretty much exactly the value of the gold contained within.

If the value of gold for a 9 gram bracelet is around $530, charging $3000 for it means you’re paying about $2500 for the craftsmanship!

Unconscious math is all around.

It was a wonderful experience to see two intelligent, educated women having a lively and entertaining conversation about math. It was quite disheartening, though, that Sarah didn’t even recognize it. In a previous life she was a physicist.

How many other conversations about math are ignored? How many people who claim they aren’t good at math have these conversations every day?

Look around at your conversations this week. How many of them are about math? Share your conversations in the comments. And with your kids!

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3 Responses to Unrecognized Math Conversations

  1. Hi Bon, what a great post. You say that people use math everyday without even realizing it. You are so right. It’s such a normal part of everyday life, I don’t even notice where the math begins and ends…and I LOVE math. Thanks for noticing it and bringing it forward!

  2. Love your blog! I taught my daughter with living math and math conversations, though I didn’t use those terms.

    Interesting example, except I doubt this bracelet is 24 carat, 100% gold. Gold is around $1700 an ounce for pure gold. Most jewelry is gold alloy.
    If it’s 18 carat, it’s 75% gold; then 9 grams would be 75% of $540, or $405. So the piece allows 25% for craftsmanship, manufacturing and marketing. A bargain. But the piece may be only 14 carat, in which case it’s 58.5% gold and 41.5% for the labors. Volume helps–that’s math too!

    • Wow, thanks for the info. And for the kind words!

      I’m mostly a silver girl, so I wouldn’t have thought in any of those terms.

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