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Diamond Amongst Junk
by Alice Chackoletti

When I tell people that I found a diamond necklace at a garage sale and bought it for around 5% of its market value, most people do not believe me.  What many people do not know is that you can find a lot of valuable stuff in thrift stores and garage sales, by people who do not know the REAL value of things they are selling!  For example, I recently read about someone buying a 2000-year-old Roman artifact at a Texas Goodwill for 35 dollars – they had to send it back to a museum in Germany. 

In my youth, I heard people say, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend”.  However, that was not my life or desire for my future.  All I wanted to do was to get a good “useful” college degree, meaning, one that I could use to get a well-paying job, easily.  My goal was to be able to support myself and not be poor for the rest of my life or depend on others to take care of me!  So, the concept of getting engaged (with a diamond ring) or being married in my early years was not a high priority, compared to having a well-paying job/ career.  Education was the key to getting out of poverty, in my view.

Over time, I did get my diamond from my future husband, when he asked me to marry him, a few years into my career.  By the way, there is a short story that goes with my engagement.  I almost blew the engagement moment because of my unending curiosity!  Since I was NOT expecting a ring at all, I suggested that we exchange a Christmas present on Christmas Eve and I would NOT give in to him saying NO.  He wanted to wait till Christmas day to exchange gifts.  After I continued to ask, he agreed to exchange a gift after he gets cleaned up and looks more presentable; I thought it was kind of ODD for him to make such a big production out of an early Christmas gift exchange.  Okay, whatever it takes to get an early Christmas present, I thought.  So, while he was getting ready in this old apartment, I decided to snoop around and look through all his possible hiding places, for my “early” gift.  He heard me open different drawers, as I was getting frustrated looking, in all the WRONG places!  Since he did not even have a normally heated apartment, as he and his roommate kept the place at very low temperature, to save on the heating bill, I wanted to just leave.

Finally, he took out a little box from the warm sleeping bag that he kept under the bed and got down on his one knee and asked me to marry him!  I was TOTALLY surprised and of course I said YES!  My life changed forever, after that.  It was the most expensive gift, I had ever gotten in my life. Then I gave him his “early” Christmas present, which was a lighted YO-YO! Hahaha!  My friend had convinced me to buy this toy, as a gag gift for him that same afternoon, when we met for lunch.  He still keeps it around so he can share the story with kids (and maybe grandkids, one day).

Fast forward a few years: We were married and had a couple of kids and I decided to be a stay-at-home mom, for a few years while they were young.  After they were in school, I had the opportunity to do other adult-only stuff like go to the stores, bank, Dr. appointments, exercise, etc. without dragging kids along everywhere.

On such a Friday morning, after the kids were off to school, I took a couple of hours of “free” time I had to head out for a quick shopping trip, as well as a stop at the local bank.  Along the way, I saw a “garage sale” sign in the neighborhood and decided to follow the signs to see what bargains I could find.  Once I found the sale location, I realized that the lady holding the garage sale was someone I had already known.

Soon after I arrived, one of her neighbors walked over to the garage sale and declared that she had a “diamond necklace” for sale!  “Who sells diamond necklaces at a garage sale”, I thought. She also said, “I do not know if I should set it down or just hold on to it because someone may walk off with it” – so, I asked her to let me look at it to see if it was real or NOT.  I held it next to my wedding ring and decided that it could be REAL.  However, I needed someone to verify before I could be sure of its authenticity – I asked her how much she wanted for it.  She said, “I don’t know; maybe like 100 dollars”.  Seriously?  How real can it be if she is trying to get just 100 dollars, for a diamond necklace?  She mentioned that it was a gift to her daughter from the daughter’s ex-husband; so, the daughter gave it to the mom to hold on to or use it because she did not want to be reminded of him anymore.  After a while, the mom decided to just sell it at this garage sale!  What are the chances that what she said is a true story and that it is a REAL diamond?

I quickly wrote her a check for 100 dollars and asked her to wait another hour or so for me to deposit the check, as I was on my way to the bank.  The check could “bounce” if she deposits it before I have a chance to put the funds into the account!  Because I was acquainted with her neighbor, she decided to trust me and wait for me to come back to let her know I had put the funds into the account.

My first stop was at the jewelry store close to the bank and grocery store – I asked them to look at this necklace and tell me if it is a REAL diamond. The jeweler said YES, it is real!  Then I asked how much do you think it is worth, along with the 14-carat gold necklace.  He said maybe like 1800 dollars.  I was glad that it was a REAL diamond and gold necklace. Then I stopped at the bank to make the deposit and decided to skip the grocery shopping that day.  I returned to the lady at the garage sale and told her the check was GOOD and she could deposit it any time.  So, I drove away as a happy customer wearing my new gold and diamond necklace. 

Several months later, I saw the same lady at a social community event, in the neighborhood.  She told me her daughter was so very UNHAPPY with her for selling her diamond necklace for ONLY $100.  Oh well, you win some & you lose some; I gave her what she asked me to pay for it!  Even now, I still think it is the best bargain finding in any of my shopping!  Of course, my daughters are awaiting for me to decide who I will be leaving it to one day, when I do not need/want it anymore.

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