I have proof that if you intensely hold a thought in your head for a long period of time it will become true.
In 1993, shortly after I opened Gallery of Diamonds jewelers which now resides in Santa Ana, CA, I began a writing contest for school kids. Since I was adopted as a child and never knew my birth mother, I wanted to give kids the chance to show their appreciation for their own moms. It was, after all, the encouragement and love of my adoptive mother who gave me the confidence to open my business. After working as a diamond merchant for a decade, the tiny store was launched with a few rings, necklaces, loose diamonds, and the naive but calculated determination to succeed in the jewelry business. With old fashioned pencil and paper, school kids who most creatively honored their moms would be rewarded with the grand prize of a quarter-carat diamond.
That was 27 years ago. I was 33.
Today, the Why Mom Deserves a Diamond contest has inspired nearly half a million kids to pause and reflect on why their mothers are important in their lives. My adoptive mother is no longer living, but I’m sure she would be proud in knowing that she not only inspired her only son, but also the parade of families who now come to Gallery of Diamonds every year for the Why Mom Deserves a Diamond experience. Each year, two kids are selected to receive diamonds to give to their mothers, thousands of second and third-place winners are rewarded with other gemstones.
Each winner is required to come recite their words, then select their gemstone prize and place it into their mothers palm. Although the moment is brief, it is a cherished moment that remains nestled in our lives that is constantly filled with noise and pandemonium. It was soon realized that the most important prize of the contest was not the loose diamonds nor the colorful gemstones. The greatest prize was the words the child had written and the lifelong memory of hearing those words spoken.
The power of intention is a remarkably strong force, and I am so thankful to be a witness to tell this story. I am writing this in 2018. I am 60.
We knew it required money to expand a noble cause but we were not sure where the money would come from. Other than offering a vehicle for young adults to express themselves, we simply wanted to increase goodwill and to give Gallery of Diamonds a deeper purpose. Today I am certain the reason Gallery of Diamonds became the nation’s leader of mothers jewelry was because we originally never planned on selling anything! The jewelry designs today were born from the desire of mothers who wanted to preserve the memories of their child’s accomplishment into a lifetime keepsake. A great lesson was learned that I can now recommend for nearly every fledgling business- discover the need first, create the product later.
Ideas usually breed more ideas. Sometimes one needs to be dramatic to make a point. In 2010, to show our camaraderie, my staff playfully photographed themselves under a controversially large black and white umbrella. Today, the raising of the umbrella is a gesture to honor our mothers and all those who are significant in our lives. It is also a symbol to remind us that in knowing we are loved, we can each fully live our unlimited potential, or FlyUp. A new foundation was born, and FlyUp has now become a fresh approach about determination and positive intentions that we bring to Orange County schools during assemblies or Career Day.
Every year on Diamond Day, right after the two grand prize Diamond Winners are rewarded, the winners, their families and teachers, along with my staff journey around the lake that is adjacent to our headquarters. With arms held high we hold the black and white canopies above our heads. We call it the Umbrella March.
To those who are younger, 60 may seem old. At that age it is still possible to run and jump. Although physical limitations can prevent us from running as fast or jumping as high, our minds sometimes become more illuminated. If anyone reading this has witnessed the life-changing moment of being a gemstone winner, I’m certain you will agree that this event is needed more than ever in our modern world that seems to sometimes slouch into indifference.
Please join us in our mission to allow every child to be able to express their words of love to all those who are significant in their lives, to remind them they are loved, and to realize they can FlyUp. You can write a blog, inform your school (in Orange County), share this post, or be a supporter by donating as little as five dollars through the Why Mom Deserves a Diamond website.