Going back to work has been humbling, because I don't tolerate mistakes, especially mine, well. I strive to anticipate the owner's needs, display a mood sparkling as our gems, and master the paperwork with aplomb, but I'm furious with myself when I issue an inaccurate invoice or can't find a stone our database says is in stock.
The work feels like air traffic control, with of course, immeasurably less risk: no one dies if I don't ship his tourmalines until tomorrow morning. The owner is one of the hardest-working persons you'd ever meet, and devoted to her clients, whether selling a shy student a small citrine, or helping a luxury jeweler choose a pair of three-carat pear-cut sapphires. I want to match that professionalism.
I enjoy the work, and on days when I've accurately filled orders, served customers who thank me warmly, and fielded inquiries efficiently, even the aquamarines, who can be touchy and grand, are satisfied. (I give the stones personalities, just like pets.) I take notes about—shall we say—"opportunities for improvement", determined to get.it.right.
And doing this in French? I am fine in person; on the phone I'm like the dog in the Larson cartoon: sometimes all I hear is, "Bonjour, avez-vous blahblahblah améthyste blahblah 4mm, ou je voudrais blahblahblah, par FedEx?" I alert the caller that French is not my first language, the pace slows a bit, we proceed.
As far as jewellery knowledge to pass on goes, here's a tidbit you may already know: there's a world of gorgeous, less-costly gemstones out there, less publicized than diamond, ruby, sapphire and emerald, but terrific buys when well-cut and set, especially as necklaces and earrings.
Here are several examples; note prices don't include shipping or applicable taxes and duties. (As always, check return policies and contact the seller if you have questions.)
Zircon: Available in luscious blues, purple, red, pink; forget the high school class ring connotation of imitation zircon, and scout out these beauties. Sometimes I about weep when a stone carries the "semi-precious" pedigree, because zircons are just so striking.
Purple zircon drops on 2,000 year old Roman glass by Hadas1951; price, about $105:
Imperial variety. I chose this chain, produced in Jaipur by Shining Gems, to show that $25 can buy a pretty spring bauble. Of course at this price the 36-inch chain is gold-plate, but I loved the irregular cut of the 8-mm-1-mm Swiss Blue stones, and think it's a really fun piece.
Agate: In agates, a form of quartz, nature's hand is especially painterly. I like the Crazy Lace variety, with its dramatic banding; when Forest Book combines it with Kasumi pink rippled pearls, the earring is elegant yet relaxed enough to wear with, say, a denim shirt. Price, about $175.
Yes, I'll get pearls in here, I will!
Thanks for hanging in with me during this adjustment; next post is at whim, and I hope you'll stroll through to read.