Approximately 30 days before Shavuos, my fondest friend, Joshua, a prominent diamond importer, invited me to his Fifth Avenue office. “Chaim, I want to show you a beautiful stone. Maybe you have a customer, and I am sure you could use the broker’s commission” (usually not more than two percent).
Before continuing, I am taking a step back to fill you in on my little-peg status in the gigantic wholesale jewelry business.
I wasn’t a diamond dealer or broker. My specialty was selling precious colored stones, specifically rubies, sapphires and emeralds.
As I entered Joshua’s second security door, I looked up at his strategically mounted camera and gave him a hello wave so he would buzz me into his private, well-lit office. “Shalom, Joshua.” My curiosity was heightened as he guided me over to his gigantic window overlooking Fifth Avenue.
Before handing me his little white stone envelope, he confessed to me that this stone has become a challenge to his previous successful buying skills, and thus he couldn’t turn it over in his customary one-two months. Instead, this diamond has gotten under his skin, and has been irritating him for over a year.
He carefully opened the envelope, handed it to me, and exclaimed, “Chaim, I know you are not knowledgeable of diamonds, so as you can see it is not a white diamond!”
As my eyes focused downward on this extremely large diamond (it weighed a little over ten carats), and as it changed hands into my domain, he said, “The color falls into a rare color classification: green-yellow.” (I later learned that had it been a yellow- green stone, it would have been more desirable and easier to sell.)
“Since you are a color-stone “meivin” (expert), I’m sure you recognize its beautiful color.” Unconsciously, this was an example of his inborn gift of salesmanship. “Yes,” I agreed, even though I didn’t recognize its beauty. To me, it looked like someone had left deli mustard out too long – turning it a greenish yellow.
I continued to scrutinize it, walked closer to the window, and focused my jeweler’s loop on its interior. There, smack in the heart of the stone, was a gigantic glitz.
“Josh,” I said hesitantly, not wanting to hurt his feelings, “it has a slight glitz, right in the center of the stone. Do I see right?” He replied, “Yes, Chaim, you see right. Maybe that’s why I haven’t sold it yet, and that’s the reason why I invited you here.”
“You mentioned this morning, coming in on the Monsey bus, that you have reserved a booth at the annual Colorstone Trade Show in Las Vegas.”
“That’s right. I will be flying out immediately after Shavuos, which will occur in about one month from now.”
“Chaim, I want you to take junior here with you to Vegas to try to sell it. Perhaps you will be my shaliach.” The price seemed reasonable, so I agreed to his terms. “Here, take it now.” He passed me the memo, the legal jewelry trade document that acts as a receipt, and signed it. I thanked him for giving me the opportunity to earn parnassah. “See you later on the bus, Chaim, and thank you,” he said.
The four weeks flew by, and just before Shavuos Joshua invited me to participate in all-night Torah learning with him in his shul. This was my first experience to stay up all night, and have a learned talmid chacham by my side. My Hebrew skills were very inadequate; however, Joshua took his time to explain every concept. When the sun smiled, I couldn’t believe the night had passed so quickly. I was on a metaphysical Torah high, together with Joshua my teacher.
My booth in the Convention Hall was in an ideal position, right next to the food court. I artistically placed my colored stones under the glass top for maximum eye appeal. In the center of my display I placed Josh’s stone on a bed of white cotton. I must admit that his ten-carat diamond really stood out amid all the supporting red, blue and greens.
The second day brought a stone dealer from Chicago to my booth who asked a lot of questions about the diamond. His last question, “Would you send it to me on memo [consignment] if I set up an appointment with my customer?” came as a surprise. I answered, “No problem, if your references check out.”