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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.

October is for Opal


So, remember when I was living in New York City and studying gemology? Yeah, me too. One of my favorite phases of life. Ever. I miss the city a lot and the gemstones even more. Studying them, identifying them, subjecting my Instagram followers to pictures of them. Of course, the great thing about now working for a gemology institute is that my building is not in want of gemstone displays. They are, quite frankly, everywhere. And not just the laboratory area either (where, for example, just this week I was able to meet one of the gemologists who graded the Hope Diamond), but lining pretty much every hallway, too.

Most of the pieces I've seen now, through my various explorations of the building, but every now and then I come across one that has somehow snuck past me. Like this opal stunner that literally stopped me cold. I mean, just freaking look at it! And I'm not even an opal girl. Trust me, as a gemologist, I have my favorites--diamond because it's the BEST, star corundum for the asterism, rhodochrosite because it's so unique, turquoise and aquamarine for their beautiful blues--but opals have never moved me. Until this necklace, that is. Maybe it just takes 148 carats to get me there, but either way, this was a happy way to officially ring in the month that boasts opal as its birthstone. Happy October, everyone!


Saving the Best for Last


I'm a lover of jewelry (my readers will soon find out just how much), and the first time I went to DC, seeing the Hope Diamond was the highlight of my trip. I mention this experience in my next book, that of working my way through the gemology exhibit in the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. It starts with metals and mining, moves on up to various semi-precious stones (both faceted and cabochon), expands from there into a room of some of the most beautiful precious stone-riddled pieces you'll ever see (many owned and worn my famous royals), and culminates with a large case containing the Hope Diamond.

While in DC this past weekend, I was not about to miss out on a chance to see the Hope again, only this time I entered the exhibit backwards. I cut right to the chase. I started with the Hope Diamond. And not that it was any less sparkly this way, but I admit that everything I saw after that was kind of a let down. How could it not be? The royal jewels, the walls and walls of cut stones and rough, the nuggets of gold and platinum. After the Hope Diamond, who the hell cares? There is something to be said for saving the best for last.

It's not always possible to do this. One doesn't always know what the best even is, and consequently that it would be more satisfying to save it for last. And some "dessert first" people actually prefer that the best be first. Unless I have a limited amount of time and can only do/see/eat one thing (in which case I would have totally chosen the Hope Diamond), I prefer saving the best for last. And I've been thinking about this recently in light of multiple books by the same author. It's tough to consistently churn out amazing prose, and much tougher when an author's first book puts him at the top of the bestseller list. Because it's hard to keep up that kind of momentum, hard to meet the kind of expectations readers would then have. I recently looked up and bought other books by the authors of some of my favorites, and I haven't liked any of them as much as the author's first hit. I guess that's the price you pay when your prize piece gets put on paper first. Or when you start at the end of a Smithsonian exhibit. You've got nowhere to go but down.