in a child's eye, anything is possible. they haven't learned
negative things yet, so you can hand them a stone, give them 30
seconds technical instruction, a minute on safety, then get out of
the way, and let them go for it.
both of sons have been cutting since age 4 - cabs, carved, whatever.
the results were about what you would expect for age 4, but they
last 2 years, we have been taking the duplicates, extra material,
etc to the buena vista rock swap, in colorado, in august.
2 years ago, I had an extra ultratech faceting machine for sale. In
our enthusiasm, I neglected to mention a price for the machine. i
dissapeared to look at agates, leaving david (8) and robert (6) to
sell and play chess. when I returned about 15 minutes later, i knew
that something was up, as there was no machine anymore, yet here was
david, proudly holding a $100 bill in one hand and 3 $20 bills in
the other, extremely proud of himself that he had negotiated the
price up from $100. what a lesson! of course the purchaser stopped
back later just to make sure that was ok
last year, after I purchased 3 or so estates and collections, we had
a whole moving van of stuff to sell. We decided in advance that 1)
the boys would each receive 10% of sales to spend on games, video
stuff, whatever; 2) 40% would go into their college account, and 3)
we would not tell anyone about the college fund, as when selling it
might not sound very authentic
so, robert, age 7, was in charge of chess playing and accounting;
david, age 9, in charge of sales. whenever someone was totalling up
a purchase, they would have to negotiate with robert, who in spite
of small size was sticking to his prices. david, whever he would get
bored would announce 'I am going to sell something' grab a
micrometer or whatever, ,and dissappear for a few minutes, then
return with cash in hand, or occasionally a coin or something that
he traded for. in the end, we probably had the highest sales of
anyone at the show! I showed robert how to calculate gross profit
(sales - show costs - gas expense), and we learned a lot.
now, at age 8 and 10, both them know most gem materials by sight,
they can cut, move metal, solder with the torch, cast (although I do
the actual molten metal slinging) - but the most important lesson
is that they know that they can do things that most other kids can
only imagine. In addition to the technical skills, they have learned
important business and people skills along the way.
After 35 years of cutting, the best gems I have ever produced are
named David and Robert.
So, encourage a child. Nothing else is even close.
Mark Zirinsky, Denver
'private cutter buying rough and collections'