John’s Story (Continued…)
Fresh out of college, I was now doing piecework on my own, with regular visits to Buzz who helped with tips and encouragement. Since I was an independent conttractor and not an official employee, I did work for other people as well. I got jobs and more lessons from Joe Borden, another well-known San Diego cutter. I was soon earning a living cutting gems, including rare and popular stones such as tanzanite, tsavorite, and rubellite tourmaline. Little did I know that these stones would loom large in my life two and three decades later.
I was fortunate to become known in the industry and soon had gems placed in major collections and museums, including the Smithsonian Institution, the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History and others. Every rough was a new challenge. I created unique “cuts” which have since become standard in the industry.
But that’s not why I was in that LAX terminal on December 6, 1975. I was flying to Texas to visit a female friend. As the escalator took me up to the next level, I found myself staring at the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. She was tall and thin with expressive brown eyes and the most amazing cheekbones. I thought about love at first sight and how I used to scoff at it. One look at Laura and I became a true believer.
I soon discovered there was much more to Laura than her beauty. I loved her energy, her creativity and her devotion to her family. At our very first meeting, she was sitting in the airport writing to her little sister. As I got to know Laura better, I became even more certain that I wanted her in my life forever.
We were married on August 3, 1976, in Camarillo, California, by my friend Pastor Meal Keller. Pastor Neal and I had gone through high school and college together and we were also surfing buddies. We had a small wedding with only our family attending. Laura’s relatives were too far away. Someday we hope to renew our vows with lots of family and friends around us.
Together as life mates, we decided to devote all of our energies to building our gem business. We were young, under-financed and madly in love. Our confidence in each other dispelled individual self-doubt and made us a strong unit. Together, we were adventurous, fiercely brave and undefeatable. After all, as they say, “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.”