By Maureen Bay
I have been privileged to be a part of a lot of lives!
Such is retail. You know you’ve been around for a good while when you have the grandchildren of your original clients coming in for presents for their sweethearts!
Jewelry is probably the most emotional gift one can give. Think about it: It marks occasions, signals success, says you’re sorry, immortalizes a date and speaks volumes about your personal taste. It’s just not the same when you buy a pair of pants.
Some of our most precious possessions are the pieces of jewelry we have inherited from our ancestors – no matter if they are costume or “real.” If your grandmother wore it, it’s the most valuable and dear item you have – basically irreplaceable. Handling these items is a big responsibility for me. I’ve never taken it lightly.
In over 30-plus years of selling “memories” I have seen it all. Couples have gotten engaged in my store, marriage ceremonies have taken place, estates settled (sometimes with mediation), rites of passage have occurred and young girls, led by their daddies, have purchased their very first Mother’s Day present (talk about memories).
I have reset valuable (both monetarily and emotionally) heirloom gems. One particular circumstance stands out in the crowd. I was approached by a longtime customer and local business owner to remove a square-cut, fine-quality emerald from her great-grandmother’s ring and reset it into a ring for her daughter. This was to be the centerpiece of her engagement ring that I would be making for her. Sounds easy right? The diamond and gold part were real easy but let me tell you about emeralds. Emeralds have a very fragile nature. They are vulnerable to pressure, heat and sometimes for no apparent reason at all, they will decide to crack! This emerald was beautiful but it had corners! We were able to get everything secure and all was fine and it was a gorgeous ring, but let’s just say that I can show you a few gray hairs that I can attribute to that young lady’s engagement ring!
I’ve always said that if I had to sell something, jewelry is the most fun, the closest insight into the human psyche. The observation of people begins at the jewelry store. Too small, too big, too much money, not enough money, too much like the ex-wife’s, it’s not at all like the one I had, I promise not to lose this one and I will treasure this forever! Just about every circumstance you can think of can be marked by a jewel of some sort. Like I said, fun!
Being in business so long has presented a few challenges over the years. There was the day that I had the ex-wife, the current wife, the stepdaughter and the girlfriend all in the store the same day – just missing each other by minutes! Who am I to judge? That might account for the nervous tic I developed that day! Anyway, that story will have to wait for the next time!
Maureen Bay, owner of Gem of An Idea at 740 River Road, is celebrating 30 years of being a jeweler in Fair Haven.