A woman recounts her spontaneous decision to become a jeweler and the perils of the profession.
Debut author Rubin found herself grateful for an enviable life as a “homemaker” with two beautiful children and a loving, successful husband. But she was still nagged by the feeling that she wasn’t entirely fulfilled: “So once again I found myself aching inside for something I could not define. Time on my hands was anathema to me. It was the age-old story of the overeducated housewife.” But then an opportunity serendipitously presented itself while she was on vacation in Mexico City. She met a jeweler, Mr. Roth, unhappy with his sales agent in Los Angeles, and the author convinced him to let her take over the role. Without a single college course in business or any training as a gemologist, she turned a part-time hobby into a thriving business, finally opening a showroom and then expanding it. Especially given her initial lack of experience, she encountered a breathtaking amount of skullduggery—it is astounding how many times, in one way or another, she was fleeced. Much of the book is devoted to a protracted legal battle Rubin waged against two former partners who she claims displayed “questionable ethics” that ultimately turned out to be “outright fraud.” Like the memoir as a whole, this remembrance is by turns rivetingly dramatic and achingly detailed. The author writes in engagingly informal prose, and while this story is an “age-old” one, her take is an uncommonly exciting and informative iteration. But Rubin shows a penchant for melodramatic hyperbole. More than once, she suggests her life may have been endangered by her legal contest with her ex-partners, yet there’s no evidence provided that was ever the case and it seems extremely implausible. In addition, while her accomplishments are undoubtedly impressive, calling herself a “rebel who tried to exceed the limits of normal boundaries” is surely an exaggeration. Nevertheless, this is an edifying peek into the sometimes-shady jewelry world, and should be compelling to those with an interest in that industry.
While it occasionally overwhelms readers with granular details, this memoir delivers a lucid exposé of the jewelry industry.