Unusual times warrant unusual decisions, and if you are an avid reader of my column, many of you already know there is rarely a dull day at my showroom/workshop at “The Harbor Goldsmith” on Marco Island.
The strange or unusual things that happen always begin with who happens to walk in my door. My main reason for existence on the island is that by profession I’m a practicing master goldsmith, jewelry designer, jewelry salesperson, diamond setter, bench jeweler, engraver, watch battery installer, appraiser, a lifelong purveyor of important diamonds and precious gemstones, buyer of estate and scrap gold, boss of bosses and head janitor.
As you can see, I wear many hats in the store, only one of the hats I do not wear is that of a psychoanalyst. I do have a friend who is a psychiatric nurse—soon to retire—and I offered her to install a walk–up window in my showroom so she could continue her practice part–time. I figured with the endless stream of confused and tortured souls that seem to gravitate to this island… she would never run out of work and hopefully keep them out on the sidewalk instead of entering my place of business and force me to take advantage of nurse Jean’s services.
“Oh! How bad could it be?” I hear you say! It’s a jewelry store for heaven’s sake… One thing is for sure, I never run out of material to write about, and this column “All That Glitters” has been published for over 20-plus years now!
Decisions, decisions, decisions… It’s a fact of life at 680 Bald Eagle Drive.
“Is that all it’s worth? It belonged to my grandmother and she only bought the best!”
I’m looking at a ring that has literally survived five wars and a century of wear and tear. It was also missing the most important thing… the center diamond. It’s only redeeming factor was its value as old gold, a total meltdown, and its value to me is exactly $45. I have no idea what she expected to get for it, but she refused to sell it and left in a disappointed huff. If it means so much to her, then why is she selling it?
As she headed for the door, I then mentally blessed myself because of the bullet I dodged… The Collier County paperwork, photographs, I.D. process, and fingerprinting, not to mention the endless time involved in registering my windfall purchase online with the Collier Sherriff’s department is not worth the time and trouble for the measly profit I would make on it.
As I mentioned before, one of the services I render is the design and creation of made–to–order fine jewelry or custom made. I don’t do costume jewelry or fix rocks wrapped in shiny square wire some call jewelry. You can call me a snoot or a snob; I work with diamonds, precious gems gold, platinum and if I’m in a good mood silver. Tin, brass and glass is not my thing.
Sometimes folks bring in components I am expected to use in the new creation—such as loose diamonds and scrap gold from old or ugly pieces they have inherited or have bad mojo jewelry from a previous marriage. We will get to that subject a little bit later. Most of the time it’s okay, I can work the customer’s diamonds into the design, working with a deceased husband’s gold dental bridge, teeth and trying to make broken or bad quality diamonds look good is not okay!
To bequeath or not to… that is the question. This scenario comes up more than I want it to, but nevertheless, I constantly deal with it.
Great Grandma’s or Grandma’s precious diamond is on the line here, apparently junior hasn’t the money or the means to afford the purchase of his own diamond to present to the apple of his eye, let’s call her “Barbie.” So, he has his eye on the freebee Mom is reluctantly offering, which in many cases winds up being a very nice and valuable 1.50–carat family heirloom. Only problem is Mom’s not too crazy about junior’s choice for a bride. Let’s just say I have a knack sensing a mom’s discomfort. Personally, I feel the marriage is doomed from the start, especially since the wedding reception is probably at the nearest Perkins and the honeymoon’s in Mom’s spare bedroom?
“The Golden Child” needs to man up, get a job, find a place to live with Barbie, buy his own diamond then maybe consider getting married! My personal assessment here happened in B.C. (Before COVID-19), so don’t bombard me with emails telling me what a cad I am.
The diamond will be lost to the family forever when the bride soon hawks it for a one-way ticket away from “Ken,” her newlywed provider of nothing. I’ve experienced that new car smell last longer than most recent Millennium Marriages last. One of the reasons all wedding bands are paid in full before I engrave them and are nonrefundable after I do. I have learned that “Ken Loves Barbie Forever 2020” is not a very long time anymore.
There are also things I refuse to do; it usually involves tearing a family heirloom apart because the present inheritor doesn’t like it or thinks the piece is “too old” Ah, it’s an heirloom it’s supposed to be old!
I do my best to convince the person that destroying a perfectly beautiful piece of antique jewelry and make it into something new and utterly homely is a big mistake. I have even mentioned a time or two that the original owner is probably rolling in her grave over the fact you even considered doing this! A rule of thumb, if you have second thoughts about selling or scrapping a piece of jewelry, don’t do it! Once you sell it, scrap it, or worse tear it apart and redesign it… Nana’s ring is gone forever.
The names in this article have been changed to protect the not so innocent and keep me out of a courthouse.
Richard Alan is a designer/Goldsmith—among other things—and is the owner of The Harbor Goldsmith at Island Plaza and has been serving Marco Island and the surrounding communities since 1994. He welcomes your questions and comments at www.harborgoldsmith.com.