It dawned on me the other day I have been producing this column for around fifteen years now, I believe I debuted in the now defunct Marco Island Sun times. I tried to keep it informative and interesting at the same time, but one thing that really kept rising to the surface was the personalities of the people my staff or I personally work with on a daily basis. Human nature is a wondrous thing, and the fact is, I’m a baby boomer who will turn sixty-five by the time this paper hits the streets and needless to say, I’ve seen a thing or two.
I remember when gold was $35 an ounce. I have sold and created jewelry since the late 1960s and still do here in the year 2019. I have seen a lot of traditions fall by the wayside, innumerous popular designs and styles become unpopular, and things have really changed in my industry. I have dealt with some really nice people who were a pleasure to do business with and many a folk where it was my pleasure to see them leave and never return. You can’t please all the people all the time.
A lovely lady entered my shop who I never recalled seeing in the store before. She made several inquiries and made a small purchase. She then asked me if I was the author of the column in the Breeze, I confessed I was. She commented that she enjoyed reading my articles and that I was so sassy! I have to admit that I have heard the term, but I still had to look it up; it means impish, brazen, feisty or full of fun… Yup, that’s me in a nutshell!
I admittingly wield a sarcastic sense of humor (big secret!) and my original factory supply setting of patience is on fumes, but honestly folks, fifty years of dealing with the public will do that to you. I have heard it all, seen it all, done it all and not only do I have the t-shirt, but I own the hoody, sweatshirt and matching ball cap. In other words, my experience closet is more than full.
There is one thing that I never tire of, and that’s the delight (AKA, an emotion) that I feel when the eyes of the receiver fill up with tears of joy seeing the results of my finished creation made by these two hands and sore, but still nimble, fingers.
I recently enjoyed it firsthand when my wife’s first cousin was visiting us from Germany accompanied by the love of his life. He purchased from me a simple diamond engagement ring. It was a beautiful three-quarter carat round cut brilliant diamond set in a simple 18kt. yellow gold and platinum solitaire setting. He presented his love this ring at sunset on Residents Beach; she happily accepted his proposal. When they returned to my home, I was overwhelmed by the emotion and happiness of this couple, and especially Isabelle, she could not stop telling me, “How could you have known this is my dream ring and exactly what I wanted?” Love + emotion = my jewelry.
But sadly yes, emotion is now an almost forgotten part of the jewelry biz. The love and emotion begins when it is a conception to completion piece, meaning it is a one-of-a-kind creation, often made entirely by hand by a goldsmith like me or my son Andrew. It all begins with an idea, maybe a dream or momentous thought, or some doodling with pencil and paper and viola a unique design that ends up being a beautiful finished work of art in precious metal and gleaming gemstones created for you or her alone. Now that’s what I call love, thoughtfulness and caring. Picking a piece of junk jewelry from hundreds of thousands of so-called bargain jewelry websites with a swipe on your iPhone is not. In fact, it is about the most unemotional thing I can think of (although I did send my youngest daughter an all-in-one pasta maker from Amazon as a b-day gift that she absolutely adored!).
I can’t change what the future will bring, but I can hold on to the past as long as I want to. To some people jewelry is a gift for Christmas giving only, or in most cases, the gift is the latest electronic gadget. Thanks to the “It’s all about me generation,” most jewelry giving traditions are all but gone. I’m talking about emotional gifts of jewelry for important events such as weddings, the birth of a child, birthdays, communion, sweet sixteen, high school graduation and grandfather/father to son signet or family crest rings and even Valentine’s Day. Who out there even remembers a promise ring (that’s a pre-engagement ring for those of you who are clueless). I might sound like I have a mouth full of sour grapes, yet these old traditional gifts gave so much joy and happiness to many over the decades. It’s sad to see them go and probably never return. Nowadays you see teenagers go bonkers over a new cell phone that will be useless and out of style in six months.
Richard Alan is an old school designer/goldsmith and has been serving Marco Island and Naples since 1994. He is the owner of the Harbor Goldsmith of Marco Island and welcomes your questions about all that glitters. Visit www.harborgoldsmith.com, or call 239-394-9275.