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Armando Gonzalez





Save a life one day, size a ring the next; it’s all in a week’s work for jeweler Armando Gonzalez, who doubles as a superhero. Or at least as a lieutenant and paramedic with the Miami-Dade Fire Department, where he works sometimes sleepless 24-hour shifts and drives home to the Florida Keys at dawn. He then transforms himself (costume change required) into a retailer and bench jeweler for the next 48 hours.

 onzalez, who has been a firefighter for 27 years and a jeweler for 13, says most firefighters have second jobs, but owning a jewelry store was kind of a fluke. In the early ’90s, his part-time job was in real estate. “A friend of the broker used to come in to the office to sell jewelry, kind of like the Avon lady,” Gonzalez says. Gonzalez became a regular customer and introduced her to the guys at the station, too. Eventually, though, the Avon lady of jewelry wasn’t available for house calls. “I thought, what the heck, I’ll sell to these guys myself. Why not? It’s just another way of making money. I never thought about it as a career,”  
Gonzalez says. After a couple of false starts trying to buy wholesale inventory, he learned about jewelry trade shows and founded Blue Marlin Jewelry, later opening a store in Islamorada. 
“It turns out I have a good eye for jewelry,” he says. He went through jewelers repair school, took GIA classes and is now an AGS jeweler with seven employees at the thriving business.  
Still, he remains loyal to his first career too. “It’s very rewarding to be able to hold someone’s hand and help them when they are looking you in the eye and saying, ‘Please help me, don’t let me die.’ I’ve delivered countless babies and had many named after me. And I’ve been all around the world on urban search and rescue operations.” 
His most harrowing experience? Watching a helicopter break apart over his head while he searched for plane-crash survivors in Colombia and narrowly escaping death himself. That puts a tough day in the jewelry store squarely into perspective. — Eileen McClelland 
7:15 a.m. I leave my fire station after my 24-hour shift, and head down to my home in the Florida Keys to shower before I go to the store. 
8:30 a.m. I finally get home; my station is 45 miles from my house.  
9:30 a.m. I’m showered and I kiss goodbye my gorgeous wife, Jill. She just got home from taking our children to school. I wish I could have taken them, but I have an appointment with one of our reps today, Scott from Chopard. I know it’s going to be a busy day because when I’m at the station, the repairs begin to back up. 
10 a.m. As my amazing sales staff is bustling around the store doing all of the last-minute checks and balances, I create my list of things to do today. 
11 a.m. Our Chopard rep comes in and we are excited to show the staff some of the luxurious pieces that I spoke with Scott about getting for the store. 
12 p.m. I order lunch for Scott and the rest of us. 
1:30 p.m. Scott readies to leave as I help a lovely couple with a diamond education. 
2 p.m. I go into the back to get repairs finished before our rep for Cheri Dori, Nissan, comes in to show new pieces that they will be showing in Vegas. 
3 p.m. Nissan is here and he shows us all of the newest pieces, and he and I discuss what we’re definitely going to run with. 
4:30 p.m. Nissan leaves, and I jump on the computer to check e-mails, update, and do a virus scan. 
6 p.m. I gather the reports that I need to go over at home and grab my INSTORE magazine that I have not been able to get to. 
7 a.m. I need to do my “Honey Do” list, starting with the yard, before I go to the store. 
8:15 a.m. I take the kids to school today and give my wife a break, then head to the store to start my ambitious day of goals. 
9:15 a.m. At the store I check my list from yesterday and make my new list for today.  
10 a.m. Call in hours for employees. 
10:30 a.m. I’m at the bench and starting on my repair box. I have several ring-sizings, earrings to repair and general chain-soldering. 
12 p.m. I ask the girls what we are doing for lunch but they are too busy to answer me (luckily). So, I just go ahead and order food that I know they would like.  
1 p.m. Back to the bench. 
3 p.m. Finally, I get to the computer as my favorite team (The Blue Marlin Jewelry Girls) call back the repair clients and invite them back to pick up their pieces. 
5 p.m. I answer e-mails and forward sales to each one of the salesgirls in a rotating fashion so that each has the opportunity to shine. Now I have to go because my son has a play date I want to take him to. 
6:30 a.m. Arrive at the fire station, in the office checking e-mails and my roster for today’s shift, do a face-to-face with the off-going officer regarding the station, the Apparatus (a 2,000-gallon Advanced Life Support Fire Truck) and the latest goings on since my last shift (three days ago). 
6:45 a.m. We get a call — difficulty breathing, 78-year-old female with a history of heart failure. I have half my crew and half the off-going crew. We arrive, treat the patient with oxygen and IV and release her to rescue for transport to the hospital. 
8:15 a.m. We start heading back to the station, and we get another call about an overturned vehicle and people trapped. We arrive and find everyone is out and OK. We examine all patients, then clear the scene after Florida Highway Patrol arrives. We help to move the cars off the road. 
9 a.m. We arrive back at the station with the rest of my crew there. The station is cleaned and breakfast is served. 
9:20 a.m. We have morning briefing and I advise the crew of the events scheduled today. 
10 a.m. We get a call — grass fire near a house. 
10:06 a.m. We arrive, extinguish the fire and gather information for the report. 
10:45 a.m. Pulling back into the station after filling up the truck with water, another call comes in: It’s a heart attack, a 58-year-old male, not breathing. 
10:49 a.m. We find our patient unconscious, not breathing and no pulse. We start CPR and I request backup. 
10:59 a.m. Rescue arrives. We already have our patient intubated, IV established, and we administer medication through the IV to revive him. The patient showed no signs of life upon our arrival, but now has a blood pressure and a pulse. 
11:12 a.m. Rescue leaves the scene en route to the hospital with the patient. We start cleaning up the scene. 
11:30 a.m. Heading back to the station, we are dispatched to a house fire. 
11:42 a.m. Arriving, I notice heavy fire coming from the house as we are turning the corner. I check with the chief on the scene, and he advises that they need our water. We hook up to a hydrant and do a 600-foot hose lay of 5-inch line. 
1:30 p.m. I am interviewing the homeowner gathering information for my report. I learn she was cooking lunch and went outside to get her husband and forgot about the oil on the stove. Once she remembered, heavy smoke was coming out of the house.  
1:50 p.m. Fire investigators arrive. 
3:10 p.m. Arrive back at the station, jump in the shower and then get caught up on reports. 
5:30 p.m. Call comes in — car accident. En route we are getting updates on our computer. Arriving we find two patients walking wounded and one very pale and diaphoretic (sweaty) with very low blood pressure. After assessing the patient’s injuries and condition I decide to airlift him to a trauma center where he can get immediate surgery. 
5:50 p.m. We land the helicopter, release the patient and head back to the scene and start the cleanup. 
6:20 p.m. Arrive at the station, some of the crew start cooking dinner, I start on the reports and check e-mails. 
6:40 p.m. Receive a call from rescue that our heart-attack patient is alive and on a respirator.  
7:30 p.m. We sit down to eat, take a few bites and receive another call, this time — childbirth. 
7:33 p.m. We arrive at a gas station down the block and find a lady in the backseat of a car advising us that she has already delivered. Quickly we remove her pants and find an infant trying to take a breath. We suction the baby’s nose and mouth and she starts crying. We clamp the cord and cut it as the transporting rescue arrives.  
8:30 p.m. As we’re finishing cleaning the station, the front doorbell rings. It’s someone wanting a blood pressure check. 
10:10 p.m. I make my bed and hope for some sleep. 
1:10 a.m. We get a call — unconscious person. 
1:16 a.m. Arriving, we find a diabetic who is unconscious and unresponsive. My crew starts treating the patient. 
1:30 a.m. Rescue takes our patient to the hospital. 
2:15 a.m. After finishing my report, I again attempt to get some sleep. 
3:59 a.m. Call comes in — auto fire. We arrive and find an automobile fully involved in fire. We find no one around and thankfully no one inside. 
4:45 a.m. Arrive back at the station, finish my report, thinking it’s time for coffee. 
5:10 a.m. I lie down and pass out. 
6:15 a.m Alarm clock goes off. Time to get up and brief the oncoming officer. 
7:10 a.m. Coffee in hand, I’m on the road home. 
7:10 a.m. Leaving the fire station, I head down to the Keys, a ritual I do three days a week. The morning air is crisp and clean, and the ocean and bay on either side of me as I drive are so calm, like a mirror. I am really fortunate to live in such a beautiful place. Paradise! 
8:30 a.m. I arrive home and take a shower.  
9:10 a.m. Off to the gym.  
11 a.m. I’m at my desk, getting things ready for the day. 
11:30 p.m. I jump into the back to get a start on my repairs. 
12:30 p.m. Wow! I sure had a lot of watch batteries to change! Here comes Dave from Steven Douglas with a cheery hello and donuts for everyone. 
1 p.m. As I am still looking at all of the amazing designs that Steven creates, business has been busy enough to require my attention to clients as well. I show some prospective clients some of our new diamond tennis bracelets and our opera diamond tennis necklace. It feels great to help people find just what they want.  
2:30 p.m. We finish with Dave and bid farewell. Still busy with clients. 
3 p.m. Is anybody starving? I order pizza for us.  
3:30 p.m. I finish some new repairs that have come in and now I am calling back these ladies who have called me because they want me to do a special appearance at their restaurant. They are having a members’ only fishing tournament and have asked us to show a few pieces. This will be fun! 
4:40 p.m. Our very talented Arca rep (coin dealer) John calls me and tells me to look online at some new pieces he has to see if I would like them. We have had many people interested in this designer so I am excited to see what he has before he shows these one-of-a-kind pieces, at the Las Vegas show. First pick, that’s really thoughtful of him. 
5 p.m. Sending e-mails, checking out our website to see how things are looking, updating our computer again, and asking the girls if I can help anyone. 
5:30 p.m. I speak with several people who want me to advertise with them.  
6:10 p.m. I grab some bills to look over while I’m at home and I take a few catalogs to share with my wife, with some interesting things I thought would be good for our store. I love my wife’s opinion. 
5:30 a.m. I wake up early, so I head over to the gym to work out and pick up repairs. 
6:30 a.m. Back at the house I feed my fish, take the dogs out for a walk and then I join my wife on the back porch and we take in the ocean as we sip our coffee together and catch up. 
7:30 a.m. I grab the reports and my briefcase to get it ready to take with me to Vegas, and then I take the kids to school. 
8:30 a.m. I am heading to the store and I get a call from one of my buddies at the fire station who forgot his anniversary. I tell him I will find her size in our notes, and I will order him the anniversary ring he wants from Tycoon. 
9 a.m. While the girls finish setting up the store, I decide to help them by receiving some inventory that came in yesterday. 
10:30 a.m. A longtime client comes in and asks me to help him design an elaborate dolphin necklace. I love to help design new pieces when I get the chance. I work up the drawing, piece it together in back and give him an estimate. 
11 a.m. I call California and speak with Torros and Diamond Dave regarding my friend’s ring. 
12 p.m. A couple comes in and asks if we could clean their watches for them.  
1 p.m. A quick bite to eat, and I check e-mails. I have many new clients ordering pieces online. 
2 p.m. My daughter calls and wants me to pick her up from school when I’m done. 
3 p.m. Some friends come in and ask if I can do some appraisals on their jewelry for insurance. 
3:30 p.m. I start working on appraisals. 
4:40 p.m. I’m off and running to spend the night with my family before I head up to the station again. 




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