Chapter 1 : Life and Love (Continued…)

John’s Story

My early life was idyllic. I was born in San Diego and spent my childhood there. I remember blissful hours at the beach and of building forts in the beautiful, then developed Del Mar hills. My love of the ocean led me to surfing, a sport I sitll enjoy. I always enjoyed building things and when I grew a litter older, I began to make my own surfboards as a hobby. Some of the friends I made in those days have remained my lifelong buddies. I guess you could say I was a real California guy! Sun,surf and sand. Who could ask for anything more?

        Then at the age of 13, I discovered another passion. My father, Robert, was a mineral collector and through him, I became interested in gem stones. He owned one of the most famous demantoid garnet crystal specimens in the world. He had purchased the gem in the early 1970’s and it was featured in the Italian Dictionary of Minerals. A private collector, who is also a friend, now owns the demantoid crystal.

        My father’s hobby captured the interest of our entire family, which include my mother, Rachel, my brother, Robert Jr., and my sister, Marilyn. I am the youngest of the three children. We traveled around to trade shows together and I learned to love the field of gems. When I was seven years old, the entire family cruised to Europe. It was at that point in my young life that I developed wanderlust, a trait that has remained with me.

        After graduating from San Diego State University, I decided to learn gem cutting. I studied diligently for four years and I was tired of books and theory. I worked part time while attending college and saved up money to buy my dad a faceting mechine, which is used for cutting gems. It turned out that my dad really didn’t enjoy cutting bu I was intrigued. The result of faceting was both visible and tangible. What a change from school! Then, an opportunity came along that set me on the road to my future. Through his involvement with gemstones, my father had met Buzz Gray, one of the foremost gem cutters in the country. Buzz told my dad that the company he worked for needed cutters and encouraged me to apply. He went so far as to put me up at his house for two days while he helped me learn the basics of faceting. I picked up the rest on my own, through trial, error and sixteen-hour days.


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