Wednesday, February 27, 2013

15 Stories project: Mr Grey the Goldsmith, part II

If you missed the first part of this story, please read it here: Mr. Grey the Goldsmith, Part I

To continue...the year is now 1996...

The last six months of my employment with 
Mr. Grey the Goldsmith were rather uncomfortable. He wasn't dealing well with the pressures of his personal life or his business and his behavior became more manic and erratic.

At the same time,
I was growing restless. I was making about $2 over minimum wage while friends working on jewelers row in Philadelphia were making twice as much.  I still needed to work full time for Mr. Grey the Goldsmith plus part-time as a waitress so I could support myself (and my budding business). He had given me a few small raises over the almost two years of my employment, but it still wasn't enough. I had gently danced around asking for another raise with no luck---He didn't seem to have a desire or the resources to compensate me for what (I thought) I was worth.

I believe the beginning of my end with 
Mr. Grey the Goldsmith, ironically (or is it coincidentally), started when I got engaged. I don't remember whether Mr. Grey the Goldsmith offered to help us find a diamond or if I asked him for his help. Either way, he contacted his diamond dealer and had him bring over some diamonds for us to look at. After much thought and debate (about whether we even wanted a diamond), Ben and I decided on a beautiful Lazare Kaplan diamond, slightly under a carat. Mr. Grey the Goldsmith told me how much it would cost and I went home to have Ben write a check. (Which was way more money than we should have been spending at that time.)

In the meantime, I discovered that Mr. Grey the Goldsmith was making a profit off my diamond. He had added an additional $500 to the price of the diamond rather than just selling it to me at cost. Now, since...
  • I had been working for Mr. Grey the Goldsmith for over a year and a half and...
  • I wasn't making much money working for him and... 
  • I had to tolerate his strange behaviors...
I found the fact that he was adding on a "finders fee" terribly hurtful! I felt violated and taken advantage of. So on the day that I handed him the check, I told him that my feelings were hurt that he was charging me extra for the stone. Well...he did not have a very good reaction to my confession. His face turned beet red, he stood up from behind his computer screen and ripped the check up into tiny bits of confetti. (Oh, and I never did get a diamond.---There is a little more to the engagement stone story but it's not really relevant here.)

Yep, that was the beginning of the end.
A few weeks later the finale happened.

As I said, 
Mr. Grey the Goldsmith's behavior had became more erratic in those last months. On this day in mid December, he had an argument on the phone with one of his best customers. The customer, a local jewelry store owner, was complaining about the price of a custom piece Mr. Grey the Goldsmith had made for him. Mr. Grey the Goldsmith was screaming into the telephone, told the customer to F**k off and slammed down the phone.

I can not remember why I chose this volatile day to talk to Mr. Grey the Goldsmith about my financial situation---but I did. Did I plan on talking to him on that day anyway? Was I just looking for a fight? Who knows.

  • I remember standing in front of his desk as he stared into the computer screen.
  • I don't remember my exact words but I do remember being very calm and matter of fact.
  • I remember explaining to him that the salary I was receiving wasn't enough for me to pay all my bills. I told him that I feared that I would have to get another job to make ends meet.
That's when all hell broke loose. 
The events that followed are fuzzy but this is what I remember...
  • Once again, his face turned beet red.
  • He started ranting about how everyone was out to get him...his customers, his wife and me...
  • He began to throw things. When the stapler went flying I started to get scared.
I said nothing. I was just thinking,
"He's carrying a gun and he is completely wigging out. Is he going to shoot me in a blind rage?"

I said nothing. I simply packed up my things, left the building and went to my scheduled dentist appointment----since I was about to lose my health insurance and all. A few weeks before Christmas and I was out of a full-time job---but at least I didn't get shot!

Life is always full of surprises, a month later I received some great news...
To be continued...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

15 Stories project: Mr. Grey the Goldsmith, part I

I'm going to begin my 15 story project with a tale about the goldsmith that I once worked for. To protect his identity, I will call him Mr. Grey the Goldsmith. This story actually precedes my 15 year business anniversary, this story took place 18 years ago...

I began working for Mr. Grey the Goldsmith in the spring of 1995.  I had been graduated from college for two years and was working full-time for a beaded jeweler, part-time as a waitress plus was working on building my own business, when I received the phone call from Mr. Grey the Goldsmith asking me to come work for him. I was honest and explained to him that my ultimate desire was to run my own business and I had plans on doing craft shows but I would love to work with him and learn as much as I possibly could. He understood and I was hired!

Now let me tell you that I could tell from that initial conversation on the telephone with Mr. Grey the Goldsmith that he was an...interesting if not quirky individual. There were some good and some bad facets to being Mr. Grey's assistant/apprentice but it all taught me some valuable lessons.

He was full of entertaining stories which he would tell me over and over again...
  • about his amphetamine-fueled Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle riding days.
  • about his studies under the renowned silversmith, Hans Christensen.
  • about his affair with a professor at grad school.
  • about his old co-worker, the cigarette chain smoking master platinumsmith.
  • about his sailing adventures in the Caribbean.
  • about meeting his wife at dance lessons and doing the jitterbug at his wedding.
He was also full of idiosyncratic behavior which at times I found endearing and at times drove me crazy...
  • his habit of throwing trash on the studio floor, despite the fact that there was a trash can directly behind his jeweler's bench---knowing (and expecting) that I would pick up after him.
  • his habit of sharing far too intimate details of his personal life as if I were his marriage councilor.
  • his habit of leaving work several hours early to go to the bar, leaving me to lock up.
  • and more...
Another “little” quirk was his collection of firearms.  Mr. Grey the Goldsmith had a license to carry a concealed weapon and was always "packing heat." His wife and mother made him custom vests which fell lower on his hips---to cover his holster. He also had guns hidden throughout the workshop. There was a big black shotgun in the supply closet along with his ammunition stock pile,  there was a handgun hidden in the bathroom sink cabinet  and another handgun hidden behind the rubber molds in the casting area.  I think it's safe for me to say that Mr. Grey the Goldsmith was a little paranoid. With that said, I didn't feel terribly uncomfortable or unsafe--- He was educated in gun safety and laws and he did practice safe gun habits. In fact, he wanted me to feel comfortable so he took me to the firing range one day and taught me how to shoot a gun. (Now let me take this time to tell you that this is not a pro nor an anti gun post---although I do have my own opinions on the subject, this is not the time for that debate.)

As I said, I didn't feel terribly uncomfortable working in the studio with so many hidden weapons---until the end of my days working there.
To be continued...

Monday, February 11, 2013

Fifteen + years

What were you doing 15 years ago?
15 years ago...February 1998...

-I was living in a warehouse loft apartment in Philadelphia with my husband-to-be and driving a Ford Escort.

-I was working full-time for a production silver jewelry artist while exhibiting my own work at a handful of retail craft shows.

-And I was just about to participate my first big wholesale trade show, the Buyers Market of American Craft.

After that wholesale show, I quit my job...and went to work for myself full-time!

To commemorate this 15th anniversary, I am doing a few things throughout the year:
  • I am going to share 15 stories with you about this journey---the good and the bad. (I hope I can remember 15!)
  • I am going to have a 15% off sale for the entire month of             ! (To be announced. Stay tuned!)
  • I am having a giveaway on Facebook. If I reach 1500 fans by March 15th, one of those lucky fans will be randomly selected to receive a $150 gift certificate from Danielle Miller Jewelry! SO if you aren't a fan yet, please "like" me on Facebook!

The first of the 15 stories will be posted this week, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Amethyst: February’s Birthstone is the Stone of Royalty

Amethyst’s history is as rich as its brilliant purple coloring. It has been said that both Cleopatra and Saint Valentine favored amethyst. Cleopatra wore an amethyst signet ring while St. Valentine’s stone was engraved with the figure of his assistant, Cupid, a coincidence that Valentine’s Day is in February?

Amethyst comes from the Greek word “amethystos” meaning “not drunk” and while it was possibly believed that wearing amethyst would keep one from becoming intoxicated, most likely the Greeks were referring to the stone’s almost wine-like color. Will one of the remaining birthstones help ward off hangovers? Also symbolic of spirituality and piety, many people believe the wearing of amethyst allow one to channel positive universal energy.

Effervescence Pendant with amethyst
To be a true amethyst the stone must be purple though varying shades from deep violet to pure, clear lavender are perfectly acceptable. A member of the quartz family, amethysts are unique to different locales and many times gem experts can often identify the particular region, and in some cases even the particular mine a stone originated from. Historically the majority of amethysts were mined in Russia and were featured prominently in many royal jewels. Today while most amethyst are imported from Brazil and Zambia some stones are mined right here in the United States particularly in Maine, North Carolina and Colorado.

You’ll mainly see amethyst stones set as brilliant round cuts due to the often patchiness of their color distribution. Other shapes are permissible when the color is more uniform, but remember, all amethyst is always purple. "Green amethyst" has gained a lot of popularity recently, however, this name is misapplied. Green amethyst is indeed a member of the quartz family, but the true name for this leek green gem is Prasiolite.

With amethyst an affordable stone, it’s easy to invest in a stunning piece and feel like royalty every time you wear it!