Mom an’ Pop?

As a kid I didn’t know who Ronald Reagan was, but I sure did like Alex P. Keaton. Capitalism makes sense to me and I have no problem shopping at places like Wal-Mart and Safeway. They provide jobs and offer a wider selection at a lower price, what’s wrong with that?

With that said, why am I feeling guilty about buying a ring from a chain store? Sure, it’s not Kohl’s where everything is always 75% off and the gems are manufactured in a lab using discount petri dishes, but it is a chain. I guess a chain jewelry store is just like a chain grocery store in that it represents a lack of originality. How many rings exactly like the one I’m purchasing are out there? My girl is unique and special to me, shouldn’t the token of my love be just as unique? Does an eccentric, bearded jeweler tucked away in the back room of a small shop like it’s still 1947 create a better ring?

I needed to know so I sought out an eccentric, bearded jeweler who hid himself away on a stool. The window of the otherwise inconspicuous storefront was bordered in a string of glowing red chili peppers. Why? I don’t know, add it to the list of questions I’m encountering. Inside, there was no coffee or umbrellas but there was a table covered with alcohol. No subtlety here, “Come in, get your drink on.” Though I do question why bottles of Jägermeister and Goldschläger populated the table. You have to love college towns – I hear on Fridays the winner of the beer pong tourney wins a cameo brooch.

The U-shaped display counter was about one-fourth the size of Shane Company’s display and one case was filled with turquoise pendants and bracelets. It’s a hippie college town. And that grizzled jeweler, he was in the back after all. Problem is he stayed there while I browsed the cases. I had to call him out of his hole to get a closer look at some rings. I asked to see a three-stone setting similar to the one that was waiting for me at the Shane Company.

“That’s $7,300,” he sighed looking through my sneakers and sweatshirt into my bank account.

“It’s beautiful.” And, he’s back with me. Praising an artist is like feeding a stray cat. Do it once and they’re yours for life.

“Yes, it’s palladium,” he handed me the ring. I nodded in admiration to mask my confusion. Wasn’t palladium the material that Black Panther used to create a temporary shield for Captain America?

“I was looking for white gold.”

A sigh. “This is better than white gold.” Uh-oh, now I’m poor and stupid. Only way to re-hook an artist? Ask them about their art as if it’s actually interesting.

“Oh, interesting. Tell me about the differences, please.”

“Palladium is as strong as platinum, but it won’t discolor her finger.”

“With that green ring?” Thank you, Zack Morris for buying those cheap class rings and turning everyone’s finger green.


“It’s nice, but not exactly what I had in mind. Do you have anything else like this?”


And that was that. I politely looked around at some pearls and sapphires, but as soon as enough time had passed so that my exit wouldn’t be rude, I bailed. I want to look at some other smaller stores, and some more chains for that matter, to make sure I have the perfect ring but this experience has strengthened my love of capitalism. Chains have the overhead and demand to keep a wide variety of items on hand and to provide those items at the best possible prices. Ideally, I’d like to find a medium where I pay a little more for a truly individual ring and support the mom an’ pop shops. I’m just not sure it’s possible.

Plus, what would Alex P. Keaton say?

Published in: on January 20, 2010 at 11:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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