Apr 20, 2016
Love at Ben Garelick Jewelry Store
Working in an independent fine jewelry store can be a lot like working any other place. You have your daily routines sometimes done on “autopilot.” Even surrounded by sparkling diamonds, glittering gold and the colorful shimmer of gems little irritations and annoyances can sometimes pop up during your day. Like anywhere else, we have deadlines and occasional miscommunication. Don’t misunderstand, it’s a great job- I’ve had enough others to know it’s a great job- still the “daily grind” is something you sometimes can’t get away from.
Then there are days like today that remind us that we enjoy unique benefits. I’m not talking about getting to be the first one to try on a spectacular Simon G. three carat diamond necklace (although that is nice!)
I’m talking about getting to see and hear men in love.
Stereotypically, men don’t seem to talk publicly about their feelings. Men just don’t gush. If anything, the deeper the emotion, the quieter most men I’ve known seem to get. Even when in our jewelry store, making the huge decision on which ring, we hear very little about the romance that brought them to us.
But today, two different men, at two very different stages of their lives, reminded me how lucky I am to work here, to witness men’s quiet but unquestionable emotion.
Early in our day a gentleman stopped in to buy a gift for his wife on their 32nd anniversary. I caught bits and pieces of his conversation with my co-worker as she helped him select diamond earrings and a necklace. Until one thing he said, quietly but unequivocally, made us both catch our breath. Years ago, he told her, his parents gave him a piece of advice he’s taken to heart. They told him that as long as you’re breathing you get to celebrate birthdays and Christmas, but celebrating every anniversary is the most important, because you have to work for them.
Long after he’d taken the silver gray package tied with a Ben Garelick blue bow home to surprise his wife, his words stayed with me. Sometime in the next day or two, maybe after dinner at a restaurant, or a walk, or a concert, or even just a quiet night at home, she’s going to open that little box. There is so much more in that box than diamonds and gold. There is a celebration of three decades of love and work, fights and compromises, support and tolerance. The contents of the little box are her husband shouting out to her that he’s happy to be working at this marriage with her. Whenever she wears those earrings and necklace he’ll be saying it again to her. “I love you. I choose you again and again and again.” When someone compliments her on her lovely jewelry she can thank them, and tell them that they were an anniversary gift from her husband. I suspect that she realizes this is her husband’s quiet way of shouting to the world how much he loves her and values their partnership.
A few hours later a young man came in to pick up the diamond engagement ring he selected months ago. He visited the store several times, painstakingly selecting the right setting, and the best, brightest diamond to set in it. He has been paying a little every week on layaway. His plans are now set and he stopped in to pick up the ring. We acknowledge how important this moment is at our store. The owner makes a practice of sitting down with the gentleman, letting him take one more look at the ring. He explains the appraisal paperwork and GIA report that accompanies every engagement ring that leaves the store. While my employer stepped away to get the little black box that this man likely will present the ring in, I stepped in to make small talk.
As most men are when picking up the ring, this young man had been quiet and fairly serious the whole time he’d been in our store. Then I asked “Do you have a plan for your proposal?”
At that moment, hearing that question, the biggest, most genuine smile spread across his face, and as cliché as it sounds, lit up his eyes. He all but babbled his plans to take his girlfriend away for a surprise weekend to a beautiful old world resort a short drive away from us. He had transformed, before my eyes, from a serious young man buying an engagement ring to a little boy anxious for his birthday to come. He was still quiet, but animated and excited for the surprise proposal he’s planned. He didn’t have to tell me how much he loves this woman- it showed.
Sometime this coming weekend, this man is going to open that little black box and produce a tiny but significant token of his love and commitment. The setting that he carefully chose to please her, the diamond sparkling at the center of it are a lasting memento of this life changing question. “Will you spend your life with me? Will you love me and work with me, fight and compromise with me, support and tolerate me? I want to do all those things for you...with you.” That bit of precious metal and ages old stone that have been crafted into a sparkling engagement ring will do the shouting for him, on the day he proposes and every day, I hope, for a long time to come.
Moments like these remind me that our jewelry gains value as it is gifted and marks special moments in people's lives. These diamonds and gold become treasures and family heirlooms not only because they are expensive and rare, but because they are strong, and lasting. They become family heirlooms, infused with memories and meaning. What a privilege it is to be a part of that process and to see and hear these men shout out to the world that they are in love.
Working in an independent jewelry store is not like working any other place. There are moments we are privileged to witness genuine love and emotion multiply the value of colorful shimmering gems, glittering gold and sparkling diamonds!