Posted on Thursday, October 11th, 2018 at 7:33 am by LaLonde
In 1972 I traveled to Europe and Africa I was 19 years old. I was traveling with a friend Brian. We had limited funds and we learned how to stretch them. We had a car, so we would drive and sleep in the car and about every third day sleep in a cheap hotel so we could refresh and take a shower.
It was early December and getting cold, so we headed south for warmer weather. We ended up in the Canary Islands. We had to stay there for about a week waiting for our visa’s so we could continue to Morocco on the African continent. While we were waiting in Las Palmas we were approached by a Spanish street hustler who wanted to sell me a ring. He showed me the ring and it looked nice. We were standing in front of stores in the middle of the block in the business district. He took the ring and scratched the glass window. Well everyone knows that diamond will scratch glass. I thought maybe if I could buy it cheap enough, I could resell it and make some money. We dickered on the price and I beat him down to what I thought was right for me, five pesetas which was the equivalent to two US dollars. I gave him the money and got the ring. When I looked down at the ring my first thought was “it's not the same ring”. I looked up to talk to the guy, he was gone THAT QUICK! I am convinced he jumped down a manhole.
We went into a jewelry store and they confirmed that the ring was worthless. I had just given this guy about a tenth of my total wealth.
We got our visa’s and continued on to Africa, while holing up at a small frontier town at the Spanish Sahara and Moroccan border. A Moroccan came to me and asked if I wanted to buy some Kif and he opened a bag. I could see that Kif was marijuana so I pulled out my new gaff ring and traded it for the Kif. I thought I could sell the Kif and make some money. Well we smoked some and never got high. We found out we had gotten the male plant and that we might as well have been smoking hemp which they make rope out of. Well I was 0 for 2 in this venture!
I did learn something…stay out of the drug business. But more importantly was the look on that Moroccan’s face when I showed him the ring. The way his eyes lit up.
A few years later I was sitting in Gem School at GIA and I found out something interesting.
Glass comes in a lot of different hardnesses depending on the amount of lead used in the process. You may have seen old leaded glass windows in 1900’s homes and churches. The glass windows will sag and leave swirl lines. That is because the large amount of lead in it makes it softer.
I also learned that glass will scratch glass because of the varying hardness.
Wish I knew that when the Spaniard sold me the ring.
But I did become a gemologist, and I never forgot the romance of jewelry and the look in the Moroccan’s eyes. To this day I show clients pieces and I look at their eyes and I see it, I see it in their eyes.
I think now that if I went back to the streets of Las Palmas and found the grandson of the Spaniard still plying the family trade, I don’t think he could beat me a second time.
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