The Family Stone
Some of my earliest memories as a kid were from when I would come into my father’s office and he’d give me a few parcels of tiny sapphires. I’d sort them in color, size and count how many were in each bag and update our stock records.
Back then we used pencils and erasers (I used the eraser a lot). I remember the lighting wasn’t so great and the chairs were wooden and stiff. We really did use phone books back then so I could get over the desk or I’d sit with my knees on the chair so I could hover over the stones. We used old world post-office style desk lights that looked like make-shift medical operation room as the loomed over my head as I would inspect the stones almost searching for a piece to a puzzle.
My dad wouldn’t let me use the tweezers to pick up the stones, instead I’d use a small metal stick to sort and count each one. I’d get tired of the same color and small sizes and ask my father to let me look at the big stones in the safe that I could hold with my hands. But my dad was super busy and he would almost never go out for lunch; he’d be on the phone constantly, all while examining cutting jobs and gemstones while wearing magnification glasses around his head as he gave his expert opinion on how to fill customer orders properly.
Then one day after a long day of sorting and counting my dad called me over to the safe room.
I remember the first time my father showed me ‘The Family Stone’. I must have been maybe 7 or 8 years old at the time.
Man it had such an impact on me.
He pulled out a worn and old crumbling stone paper that was jam packed with something inside of it like a walnut.
He slowly unfolded the paper as to be extra careful in taking risk that it could drop. He held it close to his chest as if he had a baby in his arms.
Then I saw huge flashes of blue and white light explode from a blanket of cotton which the stone rested. A 50ct round blue zircon. Incredibly cut and massive in size, the gem was absolutely glowing and screaming with fire in every direction. It was the first time I really saw a gem stone.
I was speechless, but I wanted to hold it!
My dad said, ‘this one isn’t for sale Michael. It’s been in the safe for a long time. This is the family stone’.
My grandfather started selling white zircons and white sapphires way back in the late 1930’s and 1940’s before imitation diamonds were available/invented.
For a lot of years white sapphires and blue zircons were a big staple of the family business. I felt pride that my father would hold onto something that he felt was more valuable than money. He could have sold that stone for a good profit at anytime, he had many many offers for it.
I think that it’s a great tradition to have a family gemstone. In fact I like to think that each family member should consider having one that represents themselves. One day when we’re gone this gemstone can be something that is beautiful, something rare and something appreciated – much of like what we hope of our own lasting legacy of memory to those that we loved in life most.
The ‘Family Stone’ that my father showed me is something that reminds me today of all things good that I associate with my father and grandfather. I’m still hunting for my family stone. I know I’ll find it when the time is right and when I can afford to show it to my kids and say ‘this one isn’t for sale’.