My father had asked his father in-law many years prior for some money to buy gold. My grandfather apparently told him that was not a good idea and questioned how he was going to feed his kids and put clothes on their backs with gold. Ultimately, he lent my father the money and Nixon took us off the gold standard shortly thereafter, the gold became worth more, and my father started making jewelry out of it.
For as long as I can remember, my father told me when I graduated from college, he had a ring made he was going to give me. He said it was “one of a kind” – after he cast it, “he threw away the mold” and there was only one of that ring in the whole world. I believed it. Upon completing college, my father gave me the ring, again, claiming it was “one of a kind” and no others like it in the world existed.
Until I was at a meeting in Houston or Dallas, I do not recall, perhaps one I did not necessarily have to attend but wanted to see what the talks were about. On the rental car shuttle back to the terminal sat a large man with large hands and his left was perched along the top of the seats. On his pinky finger, sat my ring. The identical ring. We were approaching the terminal and I had to ask quick. “Sir, do you remember where you bought that ring?” Immediately, he replied “My wife is from Chicago, we bought it there.” “Any chance you might remember where or from whom?” I asked. “Oh yeah”, he replied, “Jewelers Row, downtown. 5 South Wabash”. Time was not on my side and I didn’t necessarily want to know but I had to ask, thinking he wouldn’t know and enough time would have passed he wouldn’t recall. “Do you remember anything about the jeweler who sold you the ring or where the store was?” As if on queue, “I do”, he replied, “Third floor, in the corner, by the restaurant in the building, big guy, nice man, Marty Kaplan I believe his name was.” He stopped to ask me before getting off the shuttle bus “Why?” “I was just curious, thank you for your time”, I replied.
A few weeks went by, and then a few more. Finally, I called my father. I mentioned this story to him, told him this gentleman was in his store, and described the building and him. He claimed the man was “full of it” and he must have confused him with someone else he actually bought a similar looking ring from. I reminded my father how he remembered his height, his mannerisms’, the great deal he gave him (or so the consumer thought) and the fact the guy was wearing my ring in Texas!
My father immediately went to “one of a kind”, “none other like it”, “threw away the mold”, “never sold the mold”. It went on for what seemed like minutes. The he stopped. I asked my father if there was any way he could have perhaps, maybe, in a pinch, sold more than one ring, cast it once or twice, had some in inventory as another piece to retail, anything, perhaps he made 2 molds or something.
After about 30 seconds my father replied “So, I sold a few, what do you want from me.”
Fast forward about another 10 years and I was opening a bank account in Charlotte.
The banker person scooted the documents across the desk.
And on his left hand was my ring. Or at least one that looked identical to my ring.
I began the process again – and sure enough he recalled my father, the store and “the deal” my father gave him. And he bought the same ring.
However, it doesn’t end there. Turns out he actually lost the original ring scuba diving and when they returned back to Buffalo, NY he went to his local Jared’s or some similar “chain” store and had another one made. In other words, the ring was being mass produced and sold at retail outlets from coast to coast. The one of a kind, only one in the whole world ring was in jeweler cases nationwide.