I don’t remember my first day. Not clearly, anyway. Some time in late winter or early spring of 2013 I walked in the door to day one of my future — not that I had any idea at the time. I was in a period of transition: living in a new town and state, a newlywed, my previous career plans blown to pieces by the change in location, adrift and in need of some terra firma.
It didn’t take me very long to realize I had metaphorically tripped and fallen over ass-backwards into an industry and career that would evolve into a passion, maybe even a true calling. The women around me in those early days — a career salesperson, a master bench goldsmith, a gemologist, and others — collectively formed a foundation so solid it’s carried me to the present, ten years hence.
From retail I sailed onward to technology and manufacturing, design, buying, analytics, planning, merchandising, and of course writing, writing, writing. I met more influential people along the way, building myself a set of ironclad moral standards, work ethic, and a broadened sense of purpose within an industry that so easily distracts from the lurking troubles and ugly truths with shining baubles and a frothy, PR-enhanced exterior.
It’s easy enough to fall in love with jewelry, but staying in love when the blinders are ripped off and you’re forced to confront the people and ideologies with whom you inherently disagree… that takes something deeper, more significant. I’ve had to dig deep within myself on more than one occasion, asking if I had the temerity to withstand the pressures and uncertainty a field like this can bring to bear.
Ultimately, it was once again the people who managed to bring my head around and keep me here. It is impossible to acknowledge and thank every mentor, executive, blogger, instructor, sales rep, designer, analyst, CEO, secretary, lapidary, benchie, and colleague (maybe in my memoirs someday, huh?) who has extended their influence and helped to shape my path. There are incredible people running outstanding organizations here, and their clear-sighted dedication never ceases to impress me as I work to follow their examples as best I can.
And don’t think for a moment there hasn’t been any fun — these folks know how to party. Year after year, the good times roll in Vegas or Tucson or Madrid or wherever else we gather for wining and dining (sometimes dancing, sometimes wandering the Strip at 2am only to run a 5K on it three hours later). We even manage to sneak in a few lengthy conversations about the state of the world, the weather, our homes and families, and whether or not the Red Sox will ever win another championship (obviously yes).
There’s plenty of virtual ink to spend on the tough times too, both as an industry and in our own lives. The cycle of good years, mediocre years, and oh-shit years is exhausting and occasionally baffling, but it’s our collective ability to pivot and roll with the punches that keeps the boats mostly afloat. I’ve learned to take the lessons from downturns and apply them when the sun shines again, which has proved to be a valuable skill in just about every job I’ve held. And I’m certainly glad I was able to lean on friends and coworkers during a personal rough 18-month patch (mom’s cancer, job loss, divorce), complete with commemorative jewelry and a not insignificant amount of bubbles (“in victory, you deserve Champagne; in defeat, you need it” commonly misattributed to Napoleon).
Ten years in, and there’s still so much to do. My ambitions and goals have shifted over the years, but as I’ve been told countless times, a decade in this business is considered a young upstart at best. I’m here because of the potential: for women, for innovation, and for just me as a gem nerd who is constantly fascinated by the science, business, and beauty of this world. This stuff is a joy to write about, and at the moment, I’m very lucky to do that every single day.
And I’m here for the people, the countless opportunities to expand my education, the vast tangle of globally-interwoven entities, and yes, the beauty and wonder of taking a raw natural resource and following its complex journey to personal treasured memento. To all of the people I’ve encountered along the way thus far, I thank you and thank whatever fortune that crossed our paths.
Jewelry has a place in the human experience, and because of that, our humanity is our strength. Whether we’re celebrating a new love or an old one, perhaps a love that’s lost or love that’s ended, a love of a person, a place, a thing, maybe even a love of love (too much?), we’re eyeballs-deep in the emotional interplay of everyone who has ever reached for a sparkly thing and it made them feel something. Perhaps in the end, that’s really why I’m here.
Featured image: taken by me at the The University of Arizona Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum. It just seemed appropriate.