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MAR
03

For Frank

I moved to town when I was 9 years old, and while sometimes I think I must have come off as a bit of a freak to the local jeweler (what kid is this interested in jewelry?), mostly I think my passion for his work must have delighted him. 

I always planned to follow in his footsteps, to become a jeweler. Life happened differently, of course, but when I finally wised up and decided to pursue my dream, even if a bit late to the game, it was Frank whom I called to get advice about training options. He'd gone to GIA, so I did too, and while a perfect end to this story might have been me buying his store, a slightly less perfect ending is me winding up in the sparkly industry of gems and jewelry after all; of seeing Frank at various tradeshows throughout the country; of being able to talk shop with this man I've long admired.

Me wanting to make him proud could be a classic case of someone meaning much more to me than I did to him, but I still hope on some level that I succeeded; that the thought of this Graduate Gemologist's clumsy start as a shy salesperson cleaning fingerprints off the jewelry cases of his store made him happy. I dedicated my second book to him ("For letting me in, for showing me the ropes, and for always being so sparkly.") and after he read it, he told me he hadn't realized my time in his store had meant so much to me. But that's the thing about life, about plugging along doing the thing you are passionate about, however ordinary it is to you. Because you never know who you are influencing, what young person is taking note and making plans based on the appeal of your everyday. You never know when your ordinary will be someone else's sparkle. That's what Frank was to me. And I will miss him.

If you are a professional, I encourage you to find a young person who finds your ordinary sparkly. Be a mentor, a friend, and let's do what we can to pass our passions down the line to those who come after. And if you knew Frank, my hometown jeweler, I trust you feel as lucky as I do.

OCT
01

Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho

Look! It’s me at a mine!

I’m a gemologist so you’ve got to give me this one, but seriously, this was a fun day. Granted, my back and arms ached from all the lifting and hunching, and I forgot to put sunscreen on my ears, but there’s something incredibly satisfying about digging for gems when you know each bucket full of dirt and rock could be the one that unites you with a sparkly crystal that’s come straight from the earth. There’s also something incredibly satisfying about standing in the very tunnel where certain gems (in this case, morganite and kunzite) were first discovered. Again, I’m a gemologist.

Even for those who are gem-clueless, I still think this is a fun day. And it won’t take long to get the hang of what you’re looking for. Not just because gems are, well, COLORED, as opposed to the gray and brown of rock and dirt. But also because they grow in characteristic structures that make them (and their smooth, flat surfaces) pretty easy to pick out. And most mines that let you come dig will let you keep anything you find. Keep your expectations realistic…mines really only produce certain kinds of stones…and rarely anything crazy big…but to me it’s worth it for the possibility. (Plus, how often can you get away with wearing a shirt that says "Dirty Girls Rock" on the back and have it be so gemologically apropos?)

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