Mike and I attended a very fancy event some years ago. At dinner, we were fortunate enough to be seated next to a regional celebrity and his lovely wife. The celebrity regaled the table with stories of his book deal, and his television show. He was very charismatic, and we were charmed by him. They were one of those beautiful couples, entertaining, comfortable in the spotlight, and also kind. They made an effort to include everyone seated, to draw us all into the conversation. His wife held her hand up to show us all the stunning ring the celebrity had bought her, to thank her for all her support while he wrote the book, and for holding down the fort while he did the book tour, and the television show. At first, all I could see was sparkle. Then, Mike grabbed my hand under the table, and I just KNEW. It was one of ours. It was huge, and we don’t make that many huge rings, and I’d recognize our jewelry anywhere. They were passing it off as real, and doing a really good job of it, I might add.
Of course, we kept our cool. We complimented the ring, and his good taste, and her luck, just like everyone else present. As the meal progressed, the celebrity was asking everyone at the table about themselves – where they grew up, how many kids, what they did for a living. And I was dreading it. I knew he’d get to us eventually, and I just wanted dinner to be over. Start the music, the dancing, whatever! I didn’t want to put them in an awkward position, but I could find no escape. Anyway, it’s finally our turn, and Mike tells him we own an internet jewelry store, Orleans Jewels. Their faces just froze. Time stopped for them. We were fine with it. We’re used to telling people what we do for a living. But that poor couple was mortified. They were so afraid we’d blow their cover, which of course we didn’t. Mike and I just kept on talking while they took a second to regain their composure.
When the wife and I had a moment of privacy, she rushed to justify their reasons for buying fake. They were remodeling their home, putting kids through college, there were causes they wanted to contribute to. When she took a breath, I explained my position to her, and I told her what I tell everyone who contacts us. How they spent their money was nobody’s business. It did not negate their success, or her contributions to their family, or his appreciation of his wife, because they chose a cubic zirconia. I believe so strongly that unlike a genuine diamond, when you buy a cubic zirconia, it isn’t the price of the ring that brings it value. It’s the sentiment, the giving and sharing of the gift adds to it’s worth. Their choices, to update their home, to educate their children, to contribute to the well being of people less fortunate than themselves, those are all lovely things to spend money on. I encouraged her to be proud of the choice they’d made to buy a cubic zirconia. And I told her they didn’t need to worry, Mike and I had been keeping this particular secret for lots of people for lots of years!
She called me years later. She said she thought about that night often, and wanted to thank me for how we handled it. And then she said the nicest thing to me. “You know, Amy, it seemed so important that people think it was real at the time. But not anymore! Now, when anybody compliments my ring, I tell them exactly where it came from.” And that really affected me. Lots of people buy jewelry from us, but not that many admit to it.
So, don’t worry. If we see you around, we’ll be cool.