The Embers of Encouragement

imageIt is funny I never had the burning desire to be a diamond broker until I was hired at the Shane Diamond company in Louisville, Kentucky. I just received my degree from Indiana University and was ready for the world. None of my college classes taught anything notable about this miracle gem that was created by intense heat and pressure, nor the happy memories they created when given and received.

To this day, I still ask myself if I needed that degree. Most of the other co-workers did not have a college education. Although it looked impressive on my resume, maybe it was my firm handshake that landed me the job.

After two years of college, it became embarrassing to tell my family or friends that I didn’t have a major. What would my diploma say, Successful Completion of Electives? By the third year I crammed economics, accounting, law and marketing. My diploma reads Bachelor of Science in Business. Indiana University in New Albany did not offer a degree for neither aspiring rock stars or jewelry store owners.

After the first week in the jewelry business my passion soared. I was actually making money for helping others purchase a symbol that would bring joy for the rest of their lives. I gobbled up books on gemology and sales techniques, and worked my way from vacuuming the carpet to managing a division in Kansas. I was still not convinced my now dusty diploma brought me there.

I was good at something. Giving guitar instruction, writing jingles, and performing in local bands never paid the bills. Even today, many artists perform for free, and not everyone will pay money for a music download. On the other hand, whether it be for pride in ownership, to express affection, or to symbolize a loving commitment, a person may invest tens of thousands of dollars on a precious object of beauty.

I moved to work at a California jewelry store in 1989. In front of a customer, I asked my new boss for expert advice on an engagement ring I was presenting. I had embarrassed him, for he later said he knew nothing about diamonds, and the business had simply been passed to him from his parents! He owned a chain of several jewelry stores and a shiny black sports car but had never looked at a diamond!

That was the motivation I needed to launch Gallery of Diamonds. I did not possess real estate, jewelry inventory, or the million dollars I felt was a comfortable amount to launch a jewelry store. I did have confidence, knowledge, and the determination to succeed.

Every successful person, I believe, has a glowing ember that encourages them to accomplish amazing things. Thank you, mom, for being that ember. The words “impossible” and “failure” have never been in my consciousness, and have always therefore been unattainable. Thank you, Carmen, my first love upon arriving to California. You have been my spark if a doubt ever entered my mind. Thank you to everyone who has ever worked for me. You have all been so faithful and instrumental in creating a place where thousands of families now visit every year.

I still glance at my diploma that hangs on a wall at Gallery of Diamonds. I also still wonder if I simply created my reality from that firm handshake, and by keeping wonderful and positive thoughts in my brain. It is notable that one great idea usually leads to another, and it is difficult to speak of Gallery of Diamonds without mentioning the Why Mom Deserves a Diamond contest. Dreams with good intentions and persistence always create great things.

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