#13 - Great White North The 49th State

Posted on Thursday, May 10th, 2018 at 7:57 pm by LaLonde

At one point I told you that I would share some of my experiences with you. And I got to thinking, I spent 10 years making three trips each year to Alaska to appraise jewelry. I could fill page after page about that, but today I will fill this page.

A gentleman came in to the store where I was appraising and had some items which I appraised for him. Then he asked me in confidence if he could ask me something. He claimed that he had a map that showed the spot where Calamity Jane had buried her treasures. He said there was gold and gems to be found.

He claimed that they were just above the Canadian border in Alberta. This seemed reasonable because she spent years as a scout for the army, worked with buffalo Bill and lived in Montana and South Dakota. Well I wasn’t about to go out into the Canadian woods with this guy, but I did tell him that if he was able to find the treasures I would be happy to help him sell them. I never heard from him again.

Another fun story from the mid 80’s, when things were very different than today, I had a client in Anchorage, Arleen, a wonderful woman who wanted to update her diamond ring. I had done appraisals for her, so I knew her ring size. And I had a 2 carat diamond, set into a ring and sized it to her size. I brought it from Hawaii where I lived, walked into her place of business, said hello and put the ring on her finger. She started screaming about how great it looked and started showing it to her customers who were passing through.

We spent the next week dickering over payment and I ended up with cash, three walrus tusks, a 38 revolver, some memorabilia from the 1964 earthquake and gold nuggets. What a pleasure it was doing this deal. Today the revolver would raise some eyebrows. Back then you could buy a gun in Alaska without government approval. But the thing that amazed me the most were the gold nuggets. One weighed 1.5 ounces and one weighed around an ounce. The lesser of the two was worth more because it was angular and had more character than the more oval shaped larger nugget that was nondescript. This is what the public buys.

And it didn’t stop there; I left Anchorage with my booty and flew to Juneau to continue appraising and ran into an old-time miner. He sported a white beard and leathered skin; a real sourdough. I showed him my nuggets and he hefted them and said, “this one is 90% gold and 10% silver; the other is 85% gold, 10% silver and 5% copper”. I was amazed.

I left Juneau and flew to San Francisco. Back then they had a helicopter service called SFO that flew to Oakland California. I’m on the helicopter with the pilot and one other gentleman. I look over and the gentleman had on as big a ring I had ever seen a man wear. I asked him what kind of a ring it was. He pointed to it and said Super Bowl champs - Oakland Raiders. I said you look too old, and he said he was the offensive line coach. I reached into my stash and showed him my nuggets. He was impressed and asked if I was worried to carry them. I said your ring is worth a lot more than these.

Life can be a lot of fun with all the people you meet along the way.

Written by Daniel J. LaLonde

© LaLonde Jewelers 2018