Pierre is leaving. On April 17 he will close the doors to his boutique for the last time, pack up what is left of his wares and head south to some village I cannot pronounce.
Cher Pierre is another member of my small, elite army of enablers. He is my French-Buddhist jeweler. He is more than a maker of bijoux. Pierre is an artist, a philosopher, a comedian, a kind, gentle man. Tomorrow I have an appointment with him to appraise my jewelry for our insurance company -- all these years and I've never thought about putting Euro values on intrinsically sentimental objects, but I've been told it's irresponsible on my part not to do so.
(I've also believed no one could get past our two German shepherds to break into our house, although anyone who knows them realizes they'd be in the kitchen making canapes and uncorking the champagne for any thief who wished to pass through the front door or a broken window.)
Pierre has worked for the finest names on the Place Vendôme and can make anything one can imagine. He noted conspiratorially, "Over there they mark everything up 200 percent, my mark-up is three times my cost and labor and I live a very comfortable life."
He has turned jewelry I hated, unset stones and pieces of this and that into magnificent one-of-a-kind treasures for me and my daughter. He polishes, appraises and repairs pieces while maintaining a non-stop conversation then passes them back over the counter with a kiss on the hand and an au revoir. Payment is out of the question.
He always advised his customers that if they had old pieces of gold jewelry they no longer wore or liked, or a Louis coin at home, a new piece would cost them much less. He would melt down the gold and whatever remained after the new bijou was made, every last speck of dust would be returned in a tiny envelope with the new creation.
He always had small silver items, sometimes with a miniscule semi-precious accent, in a price range for children to give to their mothers. Sometimes a child would put a down payment on something and Pierre would save it in a drawer. When the child returned, the jewel would be in a box and wrapped exactly the way a diamond or an emerald would be. "Because just as much love, if not more, went into the cadeau from the child and it deserves to be as beautifully presented," Pierre said.
Over the last several days he put a huge "Liquidation" sign in his window and like crows we all flocked to see what we could buy for 50 percent off.
He let me shop before the sign went up. And shop I did, no precious stones but masses of quartz necklaces -- crystal clear and polished, rose in different shapes and sizes, strands of fat amethyst beads, lapis lazuli, fresh water pearls. That doesn't include the earrings, bracelets and pendants. There were no interesting brooches in case you're wondering why one or more were not included on my rampage.
To be perfectly honest I went berserk as my Reason-For-Living-In-France looked on in amazement and then handed over his credit card. I have enough bijoux for gifts for the next 10 years.
Pierre even converted, on the spot, some necklaces by adding pendants to them I found in the corners of his cases.
Pierre always reminded me that Buddhists believe something good always comes from something disappointing, but I think in this case it's probably the opposite.