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Getting kids interested in gem cutting

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
were results.

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’

Mark, what a heart warming story and how proud you must be of your
two boys. You’re a great Dad and yes, when kids are not told that
they can’t touch or do something, it’s amazing what they learn.
Thanks for sharing with us. I always enjoy reading positve happy
stories and yours was a delight. I raised four following the same
principles and trust me, it was more than worth it.


Mark - you “rock” as a parent!!! My mother has always said my best
artwork is my 13 year old “performing art piece” - my daughter! She
has really gained self-confidence by making and selling jewelry. We
both hope to learn to cut some day!

She has been going to conventions with dh and myself in his business
since she was 3 months old, and the experience of travel and mingling
with adults, and seeing the work in selling a product is priceless.
I think there were a lot of benefits to the old ways of kids learning
a trade with parents that are lost in how we do things now. Too many
kids only see the money to spend, and not the work that went into
getting the money!

Best wishes to your sons and you.
Beth in SC