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More Precious Than Diamonds

The day dawned sunny and warm. My daughters bounded from their beds, golden-haired and bright-eyed. They greeting my sleepy self with their little trio singing a chorus of “Moon River”, a song I’d sung to them as a childhood lullaby.

Moon river, wider than a mile
I’m crossing you in style some day
Dream maker, you heart breaker
Wherever you’re goin’, I’m goin’ your way
Two drifters, off to see the world
There’s such a lot of world to see
We’re after the same rainbow’s end, waitin’ ’round the bend
My huckleberry friend, moon river, and me.

I’ve always loved the song, with it’s soft, flowing melody and dreamy lyrics. As a child, it always made me want to flee all the cares of life and go outside for an adventure filled with sparkling sunshine and puffy clouds. I smiled, anticipating the adventure we were about to have today. How appropriate that they are singing THAT song! I thought.

Later that morning, all decked out in dresses of black or sparkly blue, adorned with faux pearls and shiny rhinestones and tiaras, we arrived in front of Tiffany & Co., where other moms and daughters gathered for our adventure. Giddy with delight, we giggled our way through juice and pastries, snapping photos while enjoying the Tiffany’s window display and role playing Audrey Hepburn’s opening scene from the iconic film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Leading up to the day, I had shared with my girls a lot about the real Audrey Hepburn (not her movie character). We learned how Audrey had survived a traumatic childhood in wartime Europe, how she had became an actress against all odds, how she had always pushed the limits of her incredible talents, and how she had gracefully led charitable efforts with UNICEF around the world.

As a mother of four daughters, I’m always looking for real role models for them. I want them to know they can be anything, do anything, achieve anything through hard work, passion, and maybe even a little bit of luck. Audrey’s grace, her poise, her hard work, and her willpower are something I would love for my daughters to admire and learn from as they grow into young ladies.

When we finished our breakfast outside Tiffany’s, we headed into the store, where we were greeted by Tiffany & Co.’s Brittany Myers and Emily Pollard. Our little ladies were given a specialized, kid-focused tour of the store, and together with Brittany and Emily, we explored the history of this famous place, as well as its importance in American history.

Emily told us that, while Tiffany’s may be known for its one-of-a-kind jewelry and glittering engagement rings, there’s much more to the story. The company was founded in 1837 by Charles Lewis Tiffany with a loan from Tiffany’s father for $1,000.

We passed around a photo of the New York based Tiffany & Co, with it’s signature clock above the entrance. We learned that when the flagship store opened in New York City, Tiffany himself unveiled the huge clock, held up by a nine-foot high statue of Atlas. That clock established the “New York Minute”, by which everyone in the city set their timepieces. To New Yorkers, the Tiffany’s clock is seen as a symbol of the innovation and energy of New York City. How fun!

Brittany, a GIA Graduate Gemologist and a gem expert at Tiffany & Co, told us more about diamonds. As we went along, we focused on how each of the children are like diamonds on the inside, and we encouraged them to listen for clues about who they are inside by learning about diamonds. We were there to uncover not only knowledge about diamonds, but also life lessons for our little ones.

We discovered that diamonds, like people, come in all shapes, sizes and colors. And all of those differences is what makes each and every diamond beautiful. The Tiffany yellow diamond, for example, is one of the largest yellow diamonds ever discovered, and it was weighed in at 287 carats. One part of that diamond adorned the necklace worn by Audrey Hepburn in her publicity photos for the Breakfast at Tiffany’s film!

My hand wrapped around my four year old’s hand as we passed around a large glass replica of a diamond. Wide-eyed, the children listened to the story of a diamond’s birth. Diamonds are formed deep inside the earth for a billion years or more at tremendous pressures before being pushed to the earth surface by volcanic activity.

 

 

Diamonds, we learned, are precious because of what they’ve been through. All the pressure and heat inside the earth shaped them into something beautiful. I felt tears welling up in my eyes, remembering the many life moments when I felt the pressure was too much all around me, the heat more than I could bear. “The heat and pressure formed the diamonds; that’s what started their journey toward becoming beautiful.” I could hear Brittany saying.

“What are these?” a little voiced asked, pointing to the tiny shelves inside the diamond. “Facets, little shelves cut into the gem, each reflecting light and brilliance,” Emily replied. “And each diamond has it’s own flaws too. Every diamond has imperfections.” We moms looked at each other knowingly, feeling the power of that statement and imagining how we would use that as a life lesson for our girls when looking back on this shared moment.

The word diamond comes from the Greek word “adamas,” which means invincible or indestructible. Kids were fascinated to hear that diamonds are the hardest natural substance in the world, and the only thing that can shape a diamond is another diamond. I thought about my mother, a woman of strength and dignity who has been through many of life’s hells and come out shining and more beautiful than ever––as only a true diamond could. She helped shaped me, I thought. I couldn’t help but wonder if I am strong enough to help shape my four daughters’ minds and hearts. Only a diamond can shape another diamond…

I saved that thought to ponder at another time, and I was drawn back into the moment as Emily showed the kids “The Four Cs” of classifying a diamond: Carat, Color, Clarity, and Cut (the table, the crown, the girdle, the pavillion, and the culet). Kids took turns trying to guess the different colors and parts of the diamonds in front of them. I chuckled as I remembered the Winnie the Pooh quote I’d read the night before, “We didn’t realize we were making memories, we just knew we were having fun!”

 

At the end, Brittany and Emily brought out something magical! Each little girl received a Tiffany’s bag. Inside their bags, the little girls found a pretend diamond which was balanced inside a special ring box nestled inside a Tiffany’s box which was adorned with their iconic white satin ribbon. Watching each of the girls open their gift from Tiffany’s was absolute magic.

As I watched my little one cradle her pretend gem in her tiny hand, I whispered in her ear, “My darling, this is to remind you who you are on the inside––precious and beautiful. You never have to wear jewelry to be beautiful. You are stunning already because of who you are. But if you DO wear diamonds one day, know that they are only a small reflection of the beauty you are inside.” She hugged me tightly, her arms warm around my neck.

My oldest daughter’s hand was suddenly in mine, her Tiffany box perched between her hands. “Mom, when I’m big,” she asked, “Will a boy give me one of these and ask me to be his wife?” I stooped down to her level and said, “Maybe. And if he does, only say you will marry him if you know inside your heart for sure that he will treat you like the princess you are, a priceless treasure beyond compare.”

I watched as my middle daughter sat on one knee, and I could see her little mind spinning as she opened her Tiffany ring box. She has just been a flower girl in a friend’s wedding, and she has been talking alot since then about the vows they took when they exchanged rings. “Mommy,” she asked, “What did vows did you and Daddy promise each other when you got married and gave each other rings?” I smiled, saving my answer for later.

 

Later, we stepped back into the sunshine after leaving Tiffany & Co––our hearts full and our memories fresh. This experience was so much more than a normal adventure on a Tuesday morning, so much more than something to do to fill the hours. It was a shared moment with our daughters to remember for years to come, with so many life lessons to draw out. Those little faux diamonds are each a symbol of a memory, a simple reminder of the short years we have with our children to help shape their hearts, their values, and their self-worth. These children are each far more precious than diamonds. And we won’t let them forget it.

That night, as we tucked our daughters into their beds, my husband and I sat beside them and read them our wedding vows – our promises to each other to love and protect, to hold dear, to stand firm, to fight for each other, for family, for love. Quietly they listened, thinking, processing. And finally, as we turned off the light, I found a lump in my throat as I looked down at my own diamond sparkling on my hand, still a symbol of our love after all these years. My diamond on my hand is precious, but even more precious to me are my four little diamonds tucked tightly in bed and sleeping soundly.

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