#44 - Fill'er Up

Posted on Thursday, July 18th, 2019 at 6:09 am by LaLonde Jewelers

In late 1978 I was working my way thru college, going to school at night and working as a welder in the day.

I had an acquaintance whose father worked in the traveling jewelry sale business. He was a much older man and needed help carrying his wares and making sure that the goods were attended for insurance purposes. We traveled together through a number of Midwest states two to three days a week. This left me time to keep up with my welding responsibilities.

One day we were in Alpena, Michigan and a gemologist there asked if I would like to see this diamond under his microscope. I looked. I never saw anything so amazing. It felt like I was standing inside the diamond, like a little room looking at mirrors and reflections all at the speed of light. I was sucked in.

Walked out of that place and said to myself this man I am traveling with can sell diamonds and lots of them but how much does he really know about them?

I packed my bags and headed to Beverly Hills. Not really, it was Santa Monica where the GIA Gem School was located.

It wasn’t all that easy. First, I had to sell off things to raise money, then I found out that there was an oil crisis with rationing going on, with gas lines half mile long in California.

It didn’t slow me down, I welded an extra gas tank in the trunk of my Thunderbird and set sail.

My new and existing tank could hold 80 gallons. I didn’t have to stop for gas till Oklahoma. I felt pretty good, I figured if I ran low on funds I could sell some of my gas back to Mobil.

Well, I got to California and the Gem School, walked in and said, “I’m here and I want in”. Someone had canceled their spot for an upcoming class and because I was there I leapfrogged from a six month wait to ‘you start on Monday’. Now, at a young age I learned something, “timing is everything”. This allowed me to graduate six months earlier just in time for the tremendous upswing in the diamond market which pole vaulted me into the stratosphere. A six-month lag time would have been crucial to my expansion.

But as amazing as that was, the thing I loved most was my gas tank. Because I had out of state plates I didn’t have to follow the rules of odd and even days. This meant California drivers could only get gas every other day depending if their plate ended in an odd or even number. My fuel gauge always read full until the large tank in the trunk emptied. When the gauge would start to move I would get nervous and find the nearest shortest line and fill'er up.

What gas shortage?

The whole time I lived in Southern California I had no shortage of learning, guts or gas.

Written by Dan LaLonde, G.G., G.I.A.
Lalonde Jewelers & Gemologists
The Gem Expert