A little more than a week ago, I heard the news that my mentor, Harold Tivol, had passed away. He was 92. If you’re from Kansas City, you likely recall Harold in his TV commercials. My favorite one is where it appears that you’re looking over the surface of the moon until the camera pans out and it turns out to be Harold’s bald head. Probably his most popular commercial is this one – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4ckFrrefFo – celebrating Tivol’s 100th anniversary.
With Harold, what you see is what you get. As funny as he was in his commercials, he was just as fun-loving at the store every day he was there. And he was in the store every day well into his late 80’s. He LOVED being in the jewelry business. He loved it not for the money. That was a nice by-product, but his love was for the gemstones that were mined and fashioned into brilliant colors of the rainbow, and of the craftsmanship that defines the art of jewelry.
Beyond all of that, though, was Harold’s love of sharing his passion and his instinctive need to tell the truth, the whole truth. Telling the truth required always seeking the truth. Harold was a perpetual learner and caring teacher.
My career began at Tivol in 1988 directly after graduating from the Gemological Institute of America. That year, Harold received the Modern Jeweler Lifetime Achievement Award. His smiling face was on the cover of one of the most recognized industry magazines. I wouldn’t discover how lucky I was to work under Harold until years later when I came full circle and rejoined Tivol in 2006 as the Senior Gemologist and Appraiser.
I recall my final interview with Harold before I was hired. He asked me to appraise his Cat’s-eye Chrysoberyl ring on the spot. It was his prized piece of jewelry. He wore it every day. It’s a heavy platinum ring with diamonds flanking the exquisite and rare center Cat’s-eye. I told him that I don’t shoot from the hip. A thorough analysis of his Cat’s-eye and diamonds and research of the markets for value would take time. He grinned his signature grin and said, “I like your answer!”.
During my second term of service at Tivol, Harold would come into my office to talk business and to see what jewelry I was appraising that day. During our conversations, we sometimes had varying opinions and we would debate. He shared with me his wisdom and experience. I shared with him new trends that were happening that affected us and our clients. Harold kept me on my toes, and I thrived on his challenge to always do my best. It really hit me during these later years how much influence Harold had on me during those first years in my career. He didn’t even have to try. It was contagious, his drive to hold a high standard of ethics, to give information to empower others, to serve in the industry.
Now that I own my own business, I think of Harold often. My business model is to serve others with a bit of humor mixed in and with the highest level of honesty, integrity, and professionalism. As I carry on, Harold will always be a part of who I am at the Appraiser’s desk. He will always be a part of me, period.