Wow, 2008 is a year I would rather forget. Besides buying/paying customers, the year seemed to be missing something. Something was just not right and I could not put my finger on it. As I closed up the shop Christmas Eve, for a much needed break, I came home with the intent of NOT thinking about work, jewelry, or the industry. To distract myself I decided to spend my time updating my bedroom.
As we began to dismantle the room so that we could reach the walls for new paint, our challenge was not the bed but a cedar chest that has stood at the foot of our bed since our first Christmas together some 23 years ago. As my son and husband carried the chest from one room to the next my husband grunted, “What is in this thing?” I replied, “Us.” Interested he opened the lid and found boxes of letters among other things. As he randomly pulled out a letter and began to read it, we both turned bright red and got a giggle out of the profession of true love that I had written to him 20 years ago.
Needless to say the rest of the day was spent flipping through little notes, cards and long letters. It was delightful walking back into a time when our biggest problem was not seeing each other for 5 whole hours. It was embarrassing to read how you would just die if you could not get a kiss soon. It was refreshing to read about emotions and feelings so freely and privately expressed.
As our now grown children came and went through the kitchen that day, it was my son that figured out that the more worn letters were the most “juicy” letters. Obviously, they were the best as they had been carried the longest and read the most. He also noted that reading Mom’s letters were not much different than reading his sister’s. My daughter read a few and in so many words had to admit that maybe I, kind of, sort of, did know how she felt when it came to her boyfriends or a lack thereof.
As I rolled colors of paint on the walls, I began to reflect on the event and I came to realize that this generation will never have that. They will never discover a hidden note in the pocket of their jeans that says, “I love you because…” They will never sit in the kitchen sipping coffee and giggle over a box of long forgotten love letters. They will never open up their day-planner and find a note that says, “Have a great day, then meet me at home for dinner and …” Today, everything is electronic – e-mail, instant messenger, and 5, 10, or even 20 years from now will be lost, obsolete – never to be read again.
I must confess that as I painted the walls seemed to get bigger and my mind did wander back to the industry. I thought about my most recent diamond buying customers and how such an awesome, sacred, loving experience has been reduced to a conversation of alphabet soup. Potential brides send the hopeful groom in with demands – “1 carat or better.” Expectant grooms are reduced to feeling cheap and overwhelmed by the science and grading system of diamonds. I reflected on the volume of paperwork, the dangers of undisclosed treatments, insurance and certificates and became discouraged and angry. How could we as an industry make something so natural and beautiful so difficult?
With this question in mind, and a well rested body (acquired from my now beautiful bedroom), I marched off to the office. I had accepted the fact that I was old fashioned and crazy, so there was no second guessing my plan. I missed the surprise of a letter in the mailbox. I missed the feeling of being impressed that someone ACTUALLY took the time to gather the paper or pencil, write the letter, place it in an envelope, address the envelope, buy a stamp and send it off. What an ordeal it was, but it was so worth it. I miss the romance of being surprised by the expression of his heart. It made me feel special. It is what separated me from all the other ladies in my husband’s life.
This year we have one mission – put the romance back into life. Alphabet soup will be the LAST thing I mention in my sales pitch on diamonds. I want to hear about her, his love for her and their dreams. I will sell diamonds – not papers. I want to celebrate love – not the fact that getting the ring is one more thing he can scratch off of his list. I want to go back to a time when the real question was, “Will you marry me?” not, “Do you like the ring and will you accept it?” I will encourage my hopeful grooms to express their heart through words they took the time to think of – not read off of an e-card. I will assist in this adventure by not only helping them find the right diamond, but by giving to them a few blank cards. I will encourage them to write by reminding them that spelling and grammar never count against them when they simply take the time to LOVE someone.
Tammy L. Williams, Graduate Gemologist of GIA, also prizes her membership in AGTA. She is President of J D Jewelers, a salon private jewelry business located in Suwanee, Georgia and the Southeastern Rep for Global Diamonds. Tammy is very active as a speaker and authority on Gemstones and Diamonds. Whether in her laboratory at J D Jewelers, on the lecture circuit or writing about her experiences in business, her love and passion for gemstones becomes contagious. If you’d like to contact Tammy, please e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.