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Rough Edges, Inclusions and Fractures Add Their Own Beauty to Gemstones, Writes This Designer

A gemstone fresh from the earth can be mesmerizing in itself.

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BEING IN TUCSON during the gem shows in February is magical. Gem lovers, addicts and hoarders descend on the city with great expectations. We are all looking for our fix, and Tucson provides for us all with the perfect gem.

But what does that mean to you?

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It’s not like I can’t appreciate a perfectly cut flawless gemstone; they have their place. However, often, something like a flawless piece of Sleeping Beauty turquoise looks plastic to me, kind of like a beauty queen — pretty, but not all that interesting. I like a rock with experience! Some wisdom, fractures and veins. A scar, heartbreak and history. A stone that took an unusual path and carved its own groove despite the setbacks.

For the longest time, I thought I was alone. When I began working with raw crystals, “freeform” cuts, or heavily fractured and included stones, I didn’t get the best reception. Most of the time, people would say, “Oh. Um. Interesting.”

And we all know what that means. I had a handful of clients that sought me out. We were a fringe tribe; I loved them for “getting” what I was doing.

One of my favorite scores in Tucson was a strand of pale blue/green beryl crystals, heavily included with tufts of iron oxide. They were beautiful, simple with interesting natural edges. Each crystal was perfect on its own. Then, I managed to hit a home run! When I moseyed on over to see my favorite Italian cutter, I found he’d discovered the same vein from the same mine in Brazil, only this stuff was beautifully cut. I incorporated them together in a couple of necklaces: one for a special client, and the other one for me!

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Things are turning around. Last year, at one of the Tucson shows, an influential buyer took me aside and said, “We are looking for jewelry that looks like it’s been dug from the earth.” Music to my ears!

Speaking of music, the whole raw unrefined thing applies to more than gemstones. It’s instinctual for most of us. Primal. In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. a couple of years before his death, Tom Petty said that after he saw the Rolling Stones, he was inspired to go for it. “They were grittier [than the Beatles]; it was rawer. They were playing blues in this really energetic kind of raw way, but it wasn’t complicated. There wasn’t a lot of beautiful harmony involved.”

Gemstones and jewelry trends are indicators for our lives. The fact is, some of us want to go dig. Down to the primal part of being human. We crave that delicious, raw, watermelon tourmaline crystal slice with the rough edges. Dug from the earth.

Editor’s note: To view the jewelry referenced by Ksionda above, visit instr.us/lydia

Lydia Ksionda is the creator and designer behind the Leda Jewel Company, formerly of New Orleans and now back in her mother country of Canada. Lydia remains easily distracted by shiny sparkly jewels, food seasoned with love, and fancy schmancy cocktails. Please visit her jewelry site: ledajewelco.com

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Editor's Note

Why Excuses Are The Enemy of Learning

To get better in business and life, you must first embrace failure.

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“If you continue to be defensive every time I give you constructive criticism, you’ll never learn anything.”

I was in my mid-20s when a mentor and former employer said those words to me, and I’ve never forgotten the lesson. When you make excuses, you lose the opportunity to learn from failure and improve yourself.

It’s more difficult than it sounds. Human nature is to look outside oneself for a source of blame. No one wants to be thought of as “a failure.”

And yet, if you’re willing to bow to the requirements of wisdom, your confidence can only rise as your quest for improvement moves forward.

Our magazine is all about education, and we figured there’s no better teacher than failure — thus, you hold in your hands, “The Failure Issue.” Inside, you’ll find stories from successful businesspeople who aren’t afraid to admit how they failed, and how that failure was transformative.

For example, check out columnist David Geller’s story of how he went from near-bankruptcy to profitable through a cash-flow crucible. And read about David Nygaard’s odyssey from multi-store owner to personal jeweler and city councilman through bankruptcy and divorce.

It all starts with a willingness to learn — and if you didn’t have that, you wouldn’t be reading INSTORE. So read on, and prepare to get the most from failure!

Trace Shelton

Editor-in-Chief, INSTORE
trace@smartworkmedia.com

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

  • Have employees wear white cotton gloves when moving product around to keep skin oil off jewelry. (Manager’s To-Do List, p. 30)
  • Hold “failure reviews” when anything goes wrong in your business. (The Big Story, p. 40)
  • Keep a Failure Wall in a back room where you and your staff can share “growth lessons.” (The Big Story, p. 40)
  • In job postings, describe your company, your reputation and your goals. (Ask INSTORE, p. 62)
  • Reward your clients through a Brand Ambassador program that compensates them for sharing their enthusiasm for brands. (Cool Stores, p. 78
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Dave Richardson

Why Ignoring Young Customers Could Come Back to Haunt You

Sales trainer David Richardson says this is an opportunity to make a client for life.

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WHY IT IS TRUE: The 12-year-old spending $25 today might be back for an engagement ring in 10 years.
PLAN OF ACTION: Put him or her at ease and ask questions about the gift recipient. Treat them as though they were an adult, show them respect, and you just may have a customer for life.

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Commentary: The Business

How Failure Leads to Growth

If you don’t try, nothing will change, says growth expert Elle Hill.

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WHY ISN’T SHE breathing?” my mom asked the doctor, her eyes darting back and forth between the syringe and me. An injection and a few moments later, my breathing returned to normal, but my childhood never did. Instead, I began my carefully curated asthma life.

Everything I was allowed to do was designed to avoid the risk of failing. I was swaddled tight and never allowed to push beyond what we knew I could safely do.

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After university, I sat in my first apartment in New York City and made a decision that changed everything: I would run the New York City Marathon.

I’d go out every night after work, in the yellow light of the street lamps, armed with my inhaler and my steroid pills. And I would run. I would run until I heard the first wheeze. And continue until my breath became too shallow and I couldn’t run anymore.

That first night, I ran for four minutes. I stopped. I took my inhaler. I walked back home.

I had an ache in the pit of my chest, not from the wheezing, but from the fear of failure: I might do this night after night, and still not be able to run. I had never done anything I wasn’t sure I could do before. But if I didn’t try, nothing would change.

So, I repeated this for three weeks until I could run for 10 minutes. And five more weeks until I doubled that. In November of 1999, five months later, I ran the New York City Marathon in four hours and 35 minutes.

What I learned is how important failure is. It’s not a byproduct of success — it is the road to success. If you never fail, you’re playing it too safe. If you only act when you know you will succeed, you will never learn something new or reach your potential.

In the years after my marathon finish, I have had a new philosophy: I choose what I do next based on what intimidates me most. It’s why I started my own jewelry store, discovered it was a bad business model, and overhauled it. Each painful failure was a hard-won lesson that made me better, smarter, faster. And ultimately, I brought my company public in a $10 million IPO in less than five years.

Taking a leap when you can’t guarantee success is exactly what you must do to learn, to grow.

To succeed, you must first aim to fail.

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