Tom Shane's World

When I’m Not Buying Precious Gems

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Everyone’s idea of having a fun life is different.  Most of my friends live a very different type of lifestyle than I do.  Most have different value systems.  I learned a long time ago that, when everyone else seems to be wrong, you should check out the mirror and see the real problem.  But, anyhow, I try and have fun.

I am a very consistent person, and I seldom change my preferences.  I finish what I start, and keep promises that I make.  I love my work, and take pride in it.  Most people work to make a living, and hope to save enough money to retire so they won’t have to continue working.  I have no intention of retiring, as I love what I do, and I have fun doing it.  I travel the world, meeting interesting people everywhere I go.  I don’t travel as a tourist.  Most of the people I meet in my work are much like me.  We love what we do, and we are multi-lingual, and worldly.  We can discuss politics or economics on any level, and not show favoritism toward any of our home countries.

I confess that I have no personal love for jewelry.  But I love the things that I do with the jewelry.  Finding unique stones that no one else has, in interesting places, is very fun.  Negotiating very hard to get them at the right prices is a challenge, and a lot of fun as well.  Cutting those stones into shapes that maximize their beauty is a source of pride.  Designing jewelry for those stones, and indeed just designing jewelry, is fun.  Owning and running our six story factory in Bangkok where we produce unique styles of jewelry is fun, and challenging.

Owning stores throughout America where we sell jewelry is fun, and a source of pride.  We were the first retailer to offer loose diamonds.  We were the first retailer to have large, freestanding stores.  The fact that others have copied us (or tried to, I should say) is frustrating, but mimicry is the highest form of flattery.  I still think our execution is superior, and the customers vote every day on that.  Being the largest jeweler in each market we are in is how the customers have continuously voted, which makes it fun, (what I call pride of ownership).

Sure I take some time off.  I love the beaches all over the world, as well as skiing in Colorado.  And I will never forget, one day while skiing a few years ago, I had to stop and join a pre-arranged conference call.  So I laid down in the snow, just off of one of the groomed runs, and pulled out my cell phone.  I paid no attention to the fact that there was a ski lift not too far away from me, until someone with a thick New York accent yelled down at me, “Hey, you’re on vacation…let them wait a week!”  I guess he and I would not have a lot in common.  By now he’s probably retired, while I just spent the whole day working hard in Bangkok, buying sapphires. For him, relaxation was a necessary end to a life spent toiling in a job that he probably didn’t enjoy, whereas I have fun at my job and while I’m not working, I have an entire globe to traverse to find pockets of relaxation and entertainment. When you love what you do for a living, you never actually work a day in your life. The world gets smaller each year, but it is still large enough for both of us!

Tom Shane is the owner of Shane Co., the largest family-owned retail jeweler in the United States. For four decades Tom has traveled the globe buying gemstones, including diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and pearls directly from the gem cutters for Shane Co. He is the third of four generations of the Shane family to work in the jewelry business. Tom started learning the jewelry business at his father's side at age 12, assisting his father in his store. Tom opened his own jewelry business in 1971, establishing Shane Co. He was 22 years old at the time. In 1996 Tom was knighted into the order of Leopold II in the Kingdom of Belgium in recognition of his lifelong achievement in the diamond business. Tom currently resides in Colorado, but spends a great deal of his time abroad purchasing gemstones for Shane Co. You might know his voice from the Shane Co. radio ads which are the longest running radio ad campaign in history, or you might have caught him at a party with other Colorado celebrities in an episode of South Park.

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