Time passes; seconds click by in the clock in the hall, marked by early morning shadows in the east windows. Day, day, time and another day passes with the sun casting blue shadows across the white snow. Looking out the west windows the sun sets and indeed another day is done. Pink spinel, white diamonds, yellow gold.
An Awakening at Age 67
I was fascinated by their beauty. I was sitting in a small glass walled office overlooking a narrow cobblestoned ally in Chanthaburi, Thailand. Across the street was an old city, weathered wood building surrounded by many broad leaf banana trees. We posted on the glass door a handwritten sign on an 11×8.5 sheet of white paper, who we were, where we were from, and what we were looking for – primarily blue sapphires. What appeared before me was 1,000 carats of a gem I rarely see in America, cushion-cut spinel. Bright, brilliant pastel, exotic shades, and colors of gems I’d never seen before. I was in my 60s looking at mysterious gems of such colors and quality that they took me from my 60s back to being a teenager and seeing natural gems for the first time. What truly blew me away were the prices. They were so reasonable it felt like it was 50 years before and I had just stepped into a time warp, a gem time machine.
I became giddy and started selecting gems like I was in a penny candy store. Keith, a veteran overseas gem buyer and who was leading this gem buying expedition just let me go, as I sorted and chose. After an hour and amassing a serious quantity of gems Keith said, “Do you mind if I do a re-sort and I’ll tell you what I think you should buy and what you should reject?” He did and pulled out 2/3 of what I had chosen. He said, “Now choose one at a time and I’ll show you why you should pass.” We did the jeweler thing with 10x magnification, studied cutting, inclusions, symmetry. Keith pointed out what I had missed in my excitement and I agreed with every call he had made. I ended up with 50 carats of exquisite exotic rare gems, rare colors. Keith on another day did a selection with a different group of spinel. He chose well. The gems selected by Keith appear from time to time in the jewelry he makes for us in the Clipper Ship Trade Wind Jewelry Collection.
A Word About Spinel
A word about spinel. Sapphire and spinel are sister gems, often found in the same geology. Their chemical composition is very close – sapphire is aluminum and oxygen; spinel has magnesium in addition to aluminum and oxygen. The gems are close in appearance, hardness is similar. They are both hard, tough, brilliant. Spinel seems to possess a wider range of colors in pastel shades. Very few jewelers in America are familiar with spinel.
About the Trade Wind Collection:
Where does inspiration come from? Where do the creative sparks for design begin? For Cross’ new Trade Wind Jewelry Collection, we find ourselves drawn into the story of Captain John Henry Drew, from Gardiner, Maine. Born in 1834, he grew up the son of a Ship’s Carver, and went to sea at the age of 15, eventually becoming Captain of a series of clipper ships, and traveling from New York to China and back home, when that voyage took more than seventeen months.
Instead of carving or knotting or other hobbies that were characteristic of sailors, this mostly self-educated man read books, memorized details from newspapers, and wrote about his journey—his literal and his inner journey. His hand-written and personally illustrated journals tell us of his longing for Maine, for his family, and for “making something of himself”. He is very much like you and me, and it makes his story that much more compelling. He savors apples from home, as tasting better than apples from anywhere else. He imagines the scene he might see looking in the window at home, where his family sits, and he chastises himself for not getting more done at home when he was there.
The jewelry in our Trade Wind Collection is made by his great-great-great grandson, Keith. This young man went to sea as well, at age 18. As part of his service to the US Navy, his travels took him to many of the same places his great-great-great grandfather’s clipper ships visited. Keith also had a hobby unconventional for sailors— he had a fascination for gems and he studied gemology. He studied so that when his service was completed, he could become a jeweler. As Keith traveled the world, he collected exquisite gems, and after leaving the service and returning home, he mastered the art of fine jewelry making.
It is now decades later. We met Keith for the first time in March, 2014. We were impressed with his jewelry, and as we talked further, discovered he had a clipper ship sea captain ancestor and became intrigued with the parallels of his journey in life with that of his sea captain forebear.
The parallels in the two stories are expressed in the jewelry itself—the exotic colors, the flow of the designs, the attention to detail which is something passed down in this family—whether it is to protect the ship, its cargo and its crew, or to create a design that will last and protect its valuable gems, giving the wearer the same pleasure we experience when a ship at full sail goes by. You can’t help but stop and exclaim, “Isn’t that beautiful?”
We were hooked by this story, and by the jewelry. We think you will be too. In fact, we’re posting pages from Captain Drew’s journals from the Voyage of the Franklin in 1868. Take a few minutes to join in the journey, and think of those you love most, and rejoice if they are right there with you.
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Orders Under $1,000 – Ship Free FedEx to arrive within 4 business days. Upgrade to overnight for $20.
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Any purchases you make on or after June 4th, through July, August, and ending on Labor Day, September 6th, 2021, we are extending our Cross return or exchange date to Labor Day Weekend, 2021 or 30 days beyond your purchase date, whichever gives you more time.