Adin Antique Jewelry presents: A Clear Case of Oops! (Errors and blunders from the world of jewelry.)

Adin Antique Jewelry presents:
A Clear Case of Oops!

(Errors and blunders from the world of jewelry.)

Click the picture to get to see this typical vintage Retro bow brooch with 3.30 crt diamonds and top quality emerald

Click the picture to read about this Retro brooch.

This week, in contrary to what you are used from us, we'll bring you something rather long to read. But we think you might enjoy it as much as we did.

We have an old friend (90+!) who comes from a respectable family of international precious stone and pearl dealers who could also count the shah of Brunei as customer. This friend kept a diary of his vicissitudes and adventures and he recently gave us a copy. It turned out to be a very interesting read. The following is one of those adventures....


A clear case of oops!

The year is 1943......
(Around the time the pictured brooch has been made)

When a foreign visitor goes ashore in Colombo the island of Ceylon, where by rights the very roads should be strewn with more gems than decorate the pages of the 'Thousand and One Nights' Entertainment, he is at once surrounded by a mob of evil smelling and noxiously persistent gem touts. Rudeness does not help at all in riding oneself of this nuisance, and I have known travelers who preferred staying on board during coaling time rather than face a small army of pestering gem vendors on shore.

On one of my periodical visits to the island I went ashore in company with several shipmates, and as usual the gem gang was there in full force to meet the passengers as they emerge from the ferry stage. In the twinkling of an eye, I and my friends were surrounded by a host of gesticulating, shouting natives, each more eager than the rest to introduce us to the amenities of the locality. As a side line these tourist guides all carried a supply of semi-precious stones, neatly done up in small paper packages, and –as of old– these thrust impetuously into our faces with invitations to inspect and buy.

This was all in good accord with certain deep-laid plans I had made while still aboard ship. After a moment, I exclaimed raising my voice to be head by first half a dozen and then by them all: “Look here, your fellows, if my friends and I really wanted to buy from you, you wouldn't let us! You won't let us budge. We can scarcely breathe. And as for looking at anything when a hundred of you show your goods at once, what a hope you've got! That's not the way to do business.”

This was not the talk they were accustomed to. After gaping at us for a moment they began to hustle us again, but a bit doubtfully this time. Then I said: “If you want us to inspect your goods, sit round in a circle, and we will take each of you in turn.” And they did it. After some scuffling and heated words, they actually formed themselves into a rough circle around us and I proceeded to inspect what each man held out in turn. Greatly wondering, they heard me recount in detail the manifold shortcomings of their stones. They could not make out at all the crazy white man who chose to sit in the broiling sun and who went to such pains to pronounce like an expert on their rubbishy goods.

When I thought that my chivvying had reached the limit of their patience, I drew from my pocket a magnificent sapphire, a rare specimen piece, from which I had long refused to be separated, despite most attractive offers. “Now, friends,” said I, “as you have shown me the best you have to offer, I will show you what kind of gem interest me, so that when I come again you will know what to bring me.” They all drew closer, but respectfully, for a good view of the stone in my hands, and those who managed to get a really good look broke into exclamations of astonishment.

“How much?” cried several with one voice. “Tell us what you want for it, mister. We know merchants in the town who will buy it from you.” For in the twinkling of an eye they were all brokers. “If I sell at all,” I replied firmly, “I will sell on the spot. Now, you boys know a good stone when you see one, as I can see, what about a deal with one of you?” At that there was a roar of laughter. A nimble-witted fellow called out: “yes, we will give you all we have got if you take sarongs in payment!” “Very well,” I said, “if you dealers won't buy, perhaps a European in the crowd would like the stone.” For by now we had attracted quite a lot of attention, and our transaction was very much Coram publico.

Addressing a portly gentleman, I said: “Perhaps you sir? You have seen this magnificent stone and you have heard what these experts have had to say about it. Will you buy the gem? I need spending money while I am in port, and if you buy it, your wife will thank you for it.” “Let me have a good look,” said the European. I placed the stone in his palm. He turned it this way and that and asked: “How much?” “Two hundred pounds,” I said casually, as if naming the price of soap. “That is a lot of money,” said the customer. “However I have taken a liking to the stone and I will take it.” There-upon he brought out his wallet, counted out the money and walked away with the gem.

It looked a very nice little transaction, but, you see, I had “planted” my customer and he had paid for my sapphire with my money. I soon found, however that good jokes must be paid for. Having seen me become rich at a stroke before their very eyes, the boys set up a great clamor. They had “assisted” at the sale and they wanted their squeeze. If it had not been for them, they said, I would not have sold the stone. Furthermore, as a stranger, I had poached upon their selling territory and owed them compensation. Bare they might be from the waist up, but they knew all the answers, and I now found myself confronted by a host of partners who must be paid out.

This was not quite too funny. But I managed in the end to retire with professional honor unstained, but minus all my loose silver. When I rejoined my confederate at the G.O.H., he insisted, being an opportunist, that the drinks were on me.

Antiqualy yours,

The Adin team
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