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I Love My Job! Forget the soup - I want romance

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

I Love My Job! Pass it on

Things are slow - painfully slow. And to borrow a phrase from Dolly Parton in the movie "Steel Magnolias," "I am so confused about what to do - I do not know whether to scratch my watch or wind my butt." The economy is terrible and people are scared. As I sit here wondering what to do to prepare for the Holidays, I cannot think of a year when so many people just dreaded the thought of the Holidays. With all this time on my hands I began to wonder - I know this can be dangerous, but I think I am on to something.

Conducting chaos

For six years my son played the up-right bass in his school’s orchestra. Ms. Lansue, an incredible woman, was his conductor. She never failed to amaze me, as I sat in the audience, watching and listing to 60+ children produce the most wonderful sound. Sometimes they produced more than just a sound; sometimes they electrified the air and caused goose bumps to appear on the arms of those around me.

I have always had a deep seeded admiration for her. The hours of rehearsal, lost sheet music, forgotten resin, broken instruments, sick students must make for some serious craziness. I find it hard to understand the hours, days and weeks of preparation that go into a 1 hour performance.

Then comes the performance – the long awaited heavily prepared for performance – and the spot light is on her. She stands before for the crowd. Her name is forever printed on the program – she is the “one” – the conductor. Her success or failure now depends on the next 60 minutes.

Will it be a success? That answer depends on two things – the students and the audience. WAIT – her success is in the hands of the students and the audience – how is that? How is it that her own success really has nothing to do with her? Now you’re beginning to see why I have such a deep seeded respect for her. What drives a person to an end goal to which the failure or success is still beyond their control?

I am drawn to music because it epitomized the word TEAM. It takes a group of musicians playing their PART exceptionally for a combined pleasing sound. They must enter the song at an exact moment with the correct tempo and strength of sound. They must exit on cue and await their next opportunity to shine. I cannot read or play music, myself, and I still do not know for certain what Ms. Lansue does as a conductor, but I can certainly identify with her.

As a custom jewelry designer I am the conductor of a team that drives for that one grand moment when we deliver that long awaited, imagined piece of jewelry that a client has chosen us to produce. As the conductor I will interface with the client. It is my name clearly and permanently printed on the door. I will do all the stone work and appraisal work, but most importantly I will assure that each of my teammates play their part flawlessly (or at least that is what the client will think).

To take a piece of jewelry from imagination to a finished piece involves several experts doing their part perfectly. As the conductor I have attempted to find the best of the best to be part of my orchestra. I have hunted the best wax carver and or CAD/CAM designers, the best casters, the best jeweler, the best bead stringers, the best photographers, the best packaging and I always stand accountable to doing my best gemological work possible and most importantly it is my responsibility to listen and work with the client to set the correct expectations.

Just like Ms. Lansue, I will suffer the excuses. I will suffer the excuses the exceptionally talented computer person will give for the CAD design not accommodating the characteristics and capabilities of the metal and gemstone requirements. I will suffer equipment failures of the casting firm and the mood swings of a gifted and creative jeweler. I will endure the hours of selection, arrangement, and stringing that the stringer requires. I will tolerate the perfection of the photographer that requires perfection when working with a dynamic subject such as gemstones. I will stress over the appropriate packaging that will enhance the grand presentation without distracting from the piece, and I will work diligently to assure that the paperwork is in order to ensure the wearer of the piece can wear it confidently, knowing that it is protected by the appropriate documentation and insurance.

Although there are several similarities to the job that Ms. Lansue and I do, there are some differences. I work with adults, and with adults come egos. My casting firm knows that they are good and shove me around with the, “you are a small fry” attitude. My jeweler knows that without him I would not have a business because few people purchase gemstones to carry them around in papers. My CAD guy fails to understand that just because the computer says that it is possible doesn’t always mean it will work.

I also feel that Ms. Lansue has a huge advantage over me – peer pressure. Imagine the looks that a bass player will give the violist who cannot join in on cue; or the tongue lashing the cello’s will give the bass players when they cannot keep a steady beat because they are having an off day.

I am currently working on a piece for a client that will be entered in a design competition. Due to organization and equipment problems with my casting firm I am 4 1⁄2 weeks behind in my project. Not only is the client unhappy, but now my jeweler, stringer, photographer and I have been seriously impacted. Our time with the piece has now been cut in half.

At this point I would love to have the ability to put them all in a room together and allow them the opportunity to tell the casting firm exactly what they think of the performance of their PART of this production. I would love to hear how the casting firm is going to make it right with the stringer that has 20 hours of work ahead of her and only 2 days in which to do it. Will they come and feed her family dinner and tuck her children into bed while she burns the midnight oil? Or do I have to accept less than her best work? Today it is the casting firm that has marched to their own tune, tomorrow I am sure one of my other teammates will fall short of an exceptional performance.

I cannot speak for Ms. Lansue, but I think I understand what drives me. It is the opportunity to do what nobody else will or can do. I am also driven to that one moment in time when I deliver to the client and the client is thrilled. I think I am a “challenge junkie.” Some might say I am a glutton for punishment.

On another note, I think if you look hard enough you will find that whether you do custom work or not, whether you sell jewelry or not, there is a team in any store that operates. If the person taking in a repair does not do it correctly, the jeweler has been set up for failure. No matter the position, it is a link in a long chain that eventually ends in success or failure; and no matter the chain there is always a single person who’s name and reputation rides on the performance of their team.

Today, I hope my team and I make beautiful music.

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Ugly Asset

I received a call from a client of mine. I could tell that I was on speaker phone so I chose my words carefully. He explained that he had a friend that had a diamond she needed to sell. He wanted to send her over to me to see what I could do for her. I told him that I did not buy diamonds off the street but would do what I could to advise her.

Buddy’s Big Give

You may not know Buddy or his jewelry stores in North Carolina but one thing's for sure, you can't miss his car. With big diamond magnets strewn all over it, along with the logo for his most recent promotion, no one can miss Buddy's car - and that's exactly the point.

Hearne’s Fine Jewelry sports a new location and thriving second generation

In the small, sleepy seaside town of New Bern, North Carolina lives a ‘gem' of a jewelry store. With 4400 square feet of store, more ‘bling' that you can blink an eye at, and a reputation for going beyond (think way beyond) what their customers expect, Hearne's Fine Jewelry has become a city tradition. As a second generation family-owned business, Hearne's proudly serves second and third generation customers; blurring the line between business and friendship. Hearne's is the epitome of a small-town business done in a big way.
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