Thursday, January 27, 2022

Ghosts from Christmas Past



Richard Alan

It’s astounding; I have actually broken my record number of diamond sales in just the first week of December. Could it have been my last column, where I may have either woken up or possibly humiliated some of the island menfolk, embarrassing them by mentioning the dismal offerings to their loved ones from recent Christmases past?

My apologies for the wakeup call, it was time to stop the holiday trend of giving a stuffed envelope or a worthless electronic gift that would break or be obsolete in three months. It’s time to revive giving quality jewelry gifts of substance! (Somebody had to say it!)

So now, offering my gratitude is in order. I’m optimistic that the rest of the month will go well. I have seen a dramatic difference in my shop by the quality of jewelry being purchased for Christmas gift giving; diamond earrings of all sizes, from $995 to several thousands, instead of cubic zirconia. Once again, round diamonds surrounded by a halo of smaller diamonds are in great demand, but so are simple three-pronged “Martini” stud earrings. And bless my lucky stars, something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime, folks are actually buying nice quality gold jewelry again, instead of selling everything they own that even resembles gold for a scrap out price.

The have-to-have jewelry gift of this Christmas season, notice I said “Christmas” because that’s what it always was to me, my family and friends, politically correct or not. (A “Holiday” tree? “Holiday” elves? I’ll spare you my comment on this subject.) Christmas cheer! Christmas carols! Christmas trees! Christmas shopping! Christmas parties! Christmas presents! It’s Christmas… For St. Nick’s sake!

Sorry, back to the subject of have-to-have jewelry gifts, by now the two stone diamond ring should be in full swing. It’s the first week of December as I sit here writing this article, and I have had several inquiries about the “together ring.” I am currently putting a very special two stone ring together, designed in 18kt. white gold, consisting with a fine one carat brilliant–cut diamond and a one carat Ceylon sapphire.

And for those gentlemen who are still befuddled on what to get her, a great last minute gift is my selection of “Marco Angels” created in silver or gold, plain can be encrusted with diamonds or gemstones.

And every island woman would love our special and exclusively designed “Marco Bracelet” in silver or gold or both, if they don’t already possess one.

I am reminiscing about Christmas seasons past, my ghosts you might say, and I’m trying to relate to my son Andrew (who by the way is perturbed because he is slaving at the bench in the workshop, pushing out Christmas gift orders, as I sit here writing). Andrew has no idea what being a goldsmith/diamond setter was like forty years ago, or what I still call the “Golden Age,” when I was around his age.

It all started right after Halloween, seven days a week, working at the bench twelve to fifteen hours a day, working like one of Santa’s deranged and disheveled elves. I remember one year I was too tired to leave the city (Boston) to even drive home, so I slept a few hours behind the showcase. Then, to my surprise, the next morning appeared. I sort of bathed in my tiny shop sink. I wasn’t looking too pretty. Thank heavens it was Christmas Eve morning!

What amazes me even today, is how my uncles and I filled the hundreds of custom made jewelry orders we received, not just from our own clientele, but also from many of the prestigious jewelry stores we serviced in the city of Boston and the surrounding cities and towns.

I can’t honestly remember my baptism of fire or my first year of getting every order done for the season or else! Because I was helping at the young age of twelve, and before I knew it I was running my own shop and business by the time I was eighteen! All I can remember was being dog tired for two months, and the realization of how was I going to keep up the pace my uncles had set. (My eldest uncle was in his late sixties!) These guys were like energizer rabbits, how did they do it?

We created beautiful handmade pieces from scratch out of gold and platinum, set with diamonds of all shapes and sizes. I can recall several times I would fall asleep at the bench, only to have a wet towel thrown at the back

of my head to revive me…Fun times? Black cof-fee was coursing through my veins back then.

I would spend hours setting diamonds in every kind of piece of jewelry you could imagine. My hands were red raw, and would, on occasion, cramp and become useless. It was a different time then. People did not come in a couple of days before Christmas looking for
a special custom order – they would only be laughed at, because even if they offered all the money in the world to do it, we could not squeeze in another order. Every minute was taken, there was simply no time left. No one slept more than a few hours. I commuted more hours than I slept, sometimes not knowing if it was sunrise or sunset.

Kodak moments at my Mom and Dad’s house on Christmas Eve were pictures of me passed out on the couch, eggnog in hand, while my kids, nieces and nephews tore open a few early Christmas presents.

I would sleep in a coma most of Christmas Day. “Oh look! Santa brought pajamas for Dad.”

A Golden Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah and a safe and prosperous New Year! To all!


Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of the Harbor Goldsmith located at the Island Plaza. Contact Harbor Goldsmith by phone 239-394-9275, or email, or visit their website at:

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