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A Tough Break with a Happy Ending !

by michael ferguson

A few years ago, a woman fell in love with a beautiful opal ring on display in one of the finest jewelry stores in the world. Her husband remembered it and a year later, secretly bought it for their wedding anniversary.

On that evening, to her delight, he presented it, and she had only an hour to enjoy it before they joined a party at a restaurant.

During the evening, a friend at another table saw the ring and asked to take it to her table to show her guests.

While passing the ring around the table, someone dropped the ring on the hard tile floor ... smashing the opal.

The friend returned the ring and being of good character, she offered to have her insurance company pay for the damage.

The insurance company had her take the ring and opal pieces to a local jeweler for appraisal.

The local jeweler really was not qualified to appraise opal, and reported that the opal was originally flawed or had probably been damaged in the original setting of the stone, and certainly wasn't worth a fraction of the value being claimed.

The ring was returned to our jeweler, who immediately got in touch with me, bemoaning the predicament and telling of the story and the report from the other jeweler. (And not at all very happy ...)

Knowing the stone was from a very healthy and spectacular mother, I suggested that the stone and ring be sent to a 'gem laboratory' for a more professional opinion.

Within a few days, the gem lab returned a report that not only was the opal obviously damaged from the accident, but it was one of the most spectacular opals that they had ever seen, and was certainly worth the value claimed !

The insurance company promptly paid for the ring, and my jeweler took a great sigh of relief !

The man and wife were relieved too, but the woman was still in grief over the loss of the ring and knowing the reputation of the original jeweler, she promptly asked that a stone be found to replace the original, in the same setting.

Now anyone in the opal business will recognize the absurdity of this request. Not only is it unlikely that a stone still exists of the original material, but finding one that the woman would love as much, and cutting it to fit the setting, are all utterly impossible.

Fortunately, the original 'mother' stone was over one ounce, and I had cut several pieces that were closely matched, in size color and pattern. The ring and the broken pieces were forwarded to me and I was able to select a piece that I then cut into a shape that so perfectly fit the setting, that the jeweler had only to slightly close the bezel. ( I lost less than a carat in the process. )

The woman was ecstatic. Not only did she have the original setting, but she imagined the opal to be even more beautiful than the original.

Our jeweler, who by the way had been a bit unsure of the value of the opal and therefore was a 'difficult sell', was obviously delighted not only to have sold the ring twice, but to have received such independent confirmation of the value of the opal

And just to make things right, I re-cut the largest of the broken pieces so that he could fashion another ring from it.

But the best part is that I maintained my reputation, and I got to sell two stones to one 'bird'. The jeweler has become an avid opal-holic, and of course, my very best customer !

Oh yes...the price of the ring....over $35,000 :-)

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Last modified: July 8, 2004
Murray Willis