Sarah and I met through the young adult singles group at a church I went to 20-25 years ago. Like most people in the group, I eventually got married and lost touch with most of my friends and acquaintances. The last time I saw Sarah was at my wedding in 1993. That was a coincidence. She was attending a banquet at the same hotel/convention complex and saw the sign for my wedding on the door and she poked her head in to say hi. In 2006, I began my jewelry training at the local technical college. I knew she taught there and I hoped I’d run into her sooner or later. Well, it was more later, but to shorten the story some, I saw her at a bake sale and invited her to our student jewelry show/sale. She brought with her a beautiful 10x14 oval jade cabachon and a mangled ring that it once was set in. She said it was her mother’s ring (she had passed away) and could I make a new setting for it?
This was my first major commissioned piece, and in 14K gold which I had less experience working with than sterling silver. I found a beautiful filigree head that was about the size of the stone. She loved it as much as I did and so I ordered it. Unfortunately, it was a fraction too small for the stone. Now, my stonesetting experience at the time was limited to about 6 rings I made in stonesetting class, barely enough to get my feet wet at the skill. I put a few inquiries out to jewelry making forums on how to do this. As you may know, it is not typical to set cabachons in 4 prong settings but it certainly can be done. Getting written advice is definitely not as good as seeing someone else do it, but I plugged on with it SLOWLY.
Being a perfectionist and knowing the trials and tribulations I went through with jewelry class projects, I did not want to get ahead of my abilities. And I did not want to have to do things over or repair them in process. I did not work on the ring when I did not feel I could give it my best, so it took me awhile to complete the ring. Just when I thought it was completed I decided the stone hung over the setting too far unprotected on the ends. Now what was I going to do? After thinking about it for a few days, it dawned upon me to use the end prongs from her old setting which were still usable. I had some difficulties getting those on the new ring and one broke off once so I had to redo it, but I persevered and yesterday I finally delivered the finished ring to Sarah. This piece is a redesigned family heirloom that she will pass on to her niece someday when she herself passes on. The original end prongs that I used to solve a problem that had arisen in process gave the ring even more beauty and sentimental value.
So what point am I trying to make? Perseverance allowed me to provide her with a beautiful heirloom ring. Taking my time allowed me to work through the challenges without having to redo things over and over, or having to replace a prong or two in the process. Was it all a joyful experience as I was working on it, and did I feel guilty for how long it was taking me? No, and you bet.
But I sure was happy yesterday when I saw the smile on her face when she got the ring. That smile and thank you made it all worth it. And I got the challenge of taking on and succeeding at a project that I would probably never had attempted or finished on my own. And, despite some minor imperfections, I was very happy with the finished product.
So don’t be afraid to take on a challenge, but remember to be patient and persevere throughout the process. I think perseverance has helped me get or achieve most all the good things I have in my life and that will probably be true in your life as well.