Diamond pin for $3

One of our readers sent us a card she received from a company in Manhattan called J.E.N. Jewels. The card told her she could buy a "thrilling, heart-shaped, 14-karat gold-flash medallion containing 100,000 dazzling diamonds and a matching 14-karat gold-flash 18-inch necklace."

The price was only $3. She could pay by cash, check or money order.

If our reader failed to respond by March 15, she would no longer receive any solicitations. In order to receive the 10,000-diamond, heart-shaped medallion, she had to return the card by March 15 along with the $3 payment.

If she returned the card by March 8, along with $5, she would receive two medallions along with a surprise free offer.

Our reader wondered if this offer was legitimate.

We weren't able to contact the company by telephone because there is no listing for a J.E.N. Jewels in Manhattan. We did get in touch with the New York City Better Business Bureau, which has a file on the company.

The BBB has received complaints about the company alleging non-delivery of goods and difficulty in obtaining adjustments. The company has responded to those complaints.

We, of course, wondered what kind of diamond medallion our reader would be getting for $3. The person at the BBB with whom we spoke wondered the same thing. "What could you get for $3?" she said. She had not seen the medallion in question.

What the medallion actually looks like will remain a mystery. We're not going to waste $3 to find out.

Lead-based paint

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has published a fact sheet called "What You Should Know About Lead-Based Paint In Your Home" (item 467X, 50 cents.

For a copy send your name and address plus 50 cents to Consumer Information Center, Dept. 467X, Pueblo, Colo., 81009.

Lead-based paint is a major source of lead poisoning. In children lead poisoning can cause irreversible brain damage and impaired mental functioning. It can retard fetal development even at extremely low levels.

Lead poisoning can also increase blood pressure in adults. Early symptoms include unusual tiredness, irritability, loss of appetite, upset stomach, reduced attention span, insomnia and constipation.

If your home was built before 1980, you may want to have the paint tested before you sand, scrape, repaint or renovate. This is because the most harmful exposure comes from inhaling or ingesting the lead dust that is created as the paint comes loose from deteriorating surfaces.

Walking on small paint chips that fall on the floor can also create lead dust.