Friday, September 17, 2010


After a long night of difficult sleep, I awoke at 6 am to prepare for my first day at the GIA. I was nervous, exhausted, and excited. I showered, shaved, combed my hair, and donned myself in my best duds: lime green chinos, argyle socks, blue shirt, and my green & pink bow tie. I was 5 minutes late to the Orientation (blame it on the bow tie) but luckily they weren't going to start the speakers until 8:30. Lateness will not happen again.

Directed upstairs to a large conference room; I was greeted and given a packet of information and a name card - Paul Anthony Vermylen III. Along two long tables sat my fellow students. Some were already speaking in intense introductory conversations, and others sat quietly drinking their coffee and eating muffins. I joined the latter, feeling at the moment too dazed to be the social butterfly I usually never am.

The first part of the day was reserved for introductions and speakers - deans, alumni relations, student services, security etc. At 11am, we were given a short break to mingle with other students. Still unsure of whom to speak to, I went outside for a cigarette and met one of my fellow students, Jeff from Chicago. Back inside, and with one friend made; I met a guy named Matt who was telling a guy named Akshay about his National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) course. "I've done that!" I exclaimed, and so another connection was born. Akshay was from New York - enough said.

The four of us had lunch together in the cafeteria. Our conversations ranged from gems to beer to the unbelievably of what we were setting out to do. It is thrilling to meet others with the same passion for gemology and jewelry.

At 1 o'clock we headed for room 204, our classroom for the next six months, and sat down at our individual workbenches. There in front of me was a stack of books and jewelry supply catalogs, as well as a large gray toolbox. Three instructors stood in front, who had been in the industry for some 20-30 years.

For the rest of the day we did an inventory of our toolboxes. It was like Christmas morning, but unfortunately, though we could unwrap our gifts - we couldn't play with them. I was giddy through the entire inventory. For the past few years I have stared at the pages of jewelry supply catalogs, longing to own these tools, and more, to know how to use them. Now I own them!! And beginning Monday... I will LEARN!!!!

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