The Jeweller and The Elves

I thought I’d share this with you because it highlights something that we jewellers commonly believe, but don’t talk about except to other jewellers… a belief in Elves.

I was working on a diamond ring today when the large main stone suddenly “pinged” – i.e. shot off and disappeared. I was sure it had fallen into my lap tray, but after 15 minutes (a very long time when working to the clock) sweeping down my bench, lap tray, the floor under my bench and several metres around it, checking under all my equipment, in the pocket of my apron (I’ve even had a missing lump of gold fall out of my beard once!) and with the help of three other people (jewellers all lend an eye when this happens, using flashlights to check for telltale glints), it still hadn’t turned up. With everything swept down, checked and double checked, we gave up and went back to work.

So, I did the next logical thing and spoke to the Elves.

See, among jewellers (in the UK at least) there’s a commonly held belief that if a stone, piece of jewellery or interesting tool suddenly goes missing – especially if you just put it down a moment ago and looked away – then it’s the Elves. It’s not just Heathens either; jewellers of various faiths and none still secretly (and with a touch of embarrassment) believe in the Elves… because it seems to work. Specifically Elves though, not fairies or pixies or any other tribe of Hidden Folk. Always Elves. Even if they publicly scoff at such superstition, privately, when something goes missing inexplicably it’s probably “those bloody Elves again.”

The key is to address them out loud, agree that the missing item is beautiful, interesting, useful or strange, concur that of course they’d want a closer look, but state that you really need it back, if that’s okay with them.

Within minutes it will be back, exactly where you left it, or very obviously in a place you already looked at least twice. It’s strange, but it works… hence this secret belief. Oh, and remember to thank their generosity out loud too!

So, that’s exactly what I did. I’d given up on ever finding the stone, an antique cut that would be difficult and expensive to replace, certain to delay the repair by weeks – if a suitable replacement could be sourced at all. I cleared my mind, took a deep breath and addressed the Alfar.

I humbly and respectfully stated that it was entirely my fault for losing the stone, but if they would be so gracious as to help me, I could really do with finding it again. I thanked them and took a moment of silence to close my address.

Thirty seconds later I got a strong urge to look under my bench again. Sure enough, there it was, exactly where at least four people had checked and rechecked, on hands and knees, using flashlights. I thanked the Alfar and told them I will blót to them this evening, leaving butter on the Elf Stone outside where I live.

So, short story long, belief in the Elves is alive and strong amongst jewellers here in the historic Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham, even if nobody will admit to it. If you ever visit a jeweller’s studio and find it neat, tidy and all surfaces swept, then you can be certain the Elves have recently borrowed something!

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