Google Brian Quigley.
I went into a jewelry store on Black Friday. That whole sentence is ludicrous.
I rarely shop after Thanksgiving (or before it), NEVER brave the elements the day following it, and have no holes in my body screaming for a new diamond. With a medical alert bracelet on one wrist and a cheap watch on the other, I don’t participate in robbery from either side of the counter in jewelry stores. The most expensive piece of decoration I’ve ever worn doesn’t get to five figures, even with the decimal point.
This year, I broke all of the rules and followed the love of my life into one of them. A half an hour later I walked out without having spent a dime, despite the efforts of the soft sell ex-used car salesmen. My distrust of anyone who wears a suit or really nice dress anywhere except at weddings and funerals continues unabated.
I did, however, have my first ‘I’m thankful for …’ item for next year’s holiday table. Off to the side, clearly away from the jewels protected by glass, was the most valuable treasure in the store. He was dressed in clothing that might be passed over on a Black Friday in a Goodwill store. Those and the apron he wore over them were ready for the wash. So were his hands. All were tinted with the gray of a jewelry maker.
I imagine most large jewelry stores have one of these people. Many are probably better hidden than this one was. They are probably seldom noticed and even more rarely approached. He attracted me like a lug nut to magnet. Then again, I gather round kitchen knife and bird whistle salesmen. The experience always proves more valuable than the merchandise.
The things he made were nothing I’d wear, even in drag. Nor would my lady. They were good enough to place highly in competitions though. Brian Quigley showed me the award that had just arrived by mail that day. He said there were over 3,000 competitors, thirty of whom were invited to the award ceremony where twelve winners received their hardware. He got a second in silver jewelry design. He’s won other awards as well.
All started in response to my usual ‘where the hell did that come from?’ type of question. This time I wanted to know if there was a lapidary supply shop in town. The suits and dresses knew that their store sent their stones out to be cut somewhere but had no useful info other than a suggestion that I check the internet. I never thought of that.
Brian knew there wasn’t one and also didn’t mind if I watched him work for a few minutes. I’ve never been silent that long. One thing led to another, and another, and another. I know a lot more about a guy who struggled through high school but has a son who splits atoms. I was reminded about how things of quality are made too.
Showing me the necklace that won his latest award, he explained how the heavy piece of steampunk jewelry (Google that … no .. really .. Google it) started with the pieces on the ends that connect at the back of the neck. He showed me how each link, about an inch long, followed the contours of the human body in a matter that prevented the centerpiece from ‘popping a wheelie’ on the wearer’s chest. The explanation wasn’t long but it reminded me just how much attention to detail went into making something that worked right.
Given the right weather, I’ll take the same care in making a bottle of maple syrup for him next year when the sap flows. Given the reminder, I’ll apply it to my books as I write. If those do as well as his jewelry I’ll buy a piece of his work, even though I may never wear it. Right now, to get the rest of the picture, I’m going to Google ‘Brian Quigley’.