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To see the world in a facet

Problems can sometimes appear bigger than they really are, but solutions are often right before our eyes. ANGELA HAN reveals how diamonds can teach us multifaceted solutions to multifaceted problems.

Have you ever viewed a diamond through a loupe and found its inclusion reflected on every single facet, only to turn it one degree and discover that the same stone looks completely flawless?

Depending on the angle from which you look, a single stone can magically transform its clarity from imperfect to perfect.

As one of the most refractive objects on earth*, diamonds can mirror inclusions across every surface – yet also conceal flaws in the very same way.

This attribute makes it all the more important to assess the stone in its entirety, without making a judgment based on incomplete information. It’s a valuable reminder that one facet certainly does not maketh the diamond!

Herein lies an enriching lesson for problems that sometimes feel beyond our control.

From old Talmudic and Christian scriptures to Marcus Aurelius and Margaret Atwood, many wise words exist about the illusory nature of perspective: we don’t see things the way they are, we see them in the way we are.

The diamond is more than just a token of eternal love; it can also act as a reminder to consider life from different perspectives. It is a totem to remind us that solutions can simply be a facet-turn away.

As nature would have it, this is the way we’re programmed, and unfortunately there is a great danger in believing that our perspective is the only valid one.

Personal viewpoints materialise through our own lived experiences, so it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture in the pursuit to solve a problem.

However, our survival and evolution relies on our ability to see things from multiple facets, which ultimately enriches our experience of life. The more we’re able to broaden our perspectives, the more we’re able to see clearly, and make better decisions.

The word ‘facet’ originated in the 1620s from the Old French word facette, meaning ‘one side of a multi-sided body’.

It was an industry-specific term coined for diamond-cutting but became popularised within the mainstream dialect in the 1820s to describe anything – and any one – with multiple sides and dimensions.

To acknowledge the existence of a facet is also, by definition, to acknowledge the rest of its multi-sided body; and in a similar vein, to acknowledge a problem is also to acknowledge that there is a solution.

Today, there is an air of caution as Australians confront the coming months without the government support that has been a lifeline for many throughout the past 12 months.

Much like staring at a diamond that is only reflecting inclusions, the future feels unclear and the path ahead onerous, given the prospect of increasing unemployment figures, consumers tightening their belts, and further expected business closures.

But this is not the entire picture.

Travelling throughout Australia this last month with the Jewellery Trade Days has been both inspiring and rejuvenating, as it provided a valuable opportunity to reconnect face-to-face with retailers and suppliers, and to exchange stories of our struggles and victories with our battles against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite immense uncertainty, many jewellers experienced surprising sales increases this past year, which has allowed them to prepare for any further unpredictable times that could lie ahead.

While at the Trade Days, a small Sydney jeweller told me how he was planning to close his store in April 2020 given retail sales had been in steady decline for a number of years and rent was unaffordable.

Foot traffic was down, and he didn’t have time to maintain and improve his digital presence; COVID-19 was the sign he was waiting for to opt out of physical retail.

As far as he was concerned, he had little motivation or incentive to continue with his store given the overheads. He explained that he had a great deal of excess old stock that he was planning to ”quit” via a rebranded online store, which is why he spent all his effort rebranding the online business and increasing his online voice.

However, as he began to re-launch the online store, enquiries came trickling through and his diary began to fill with private appointments to visit his physical showroom.

Seeing the demand for his physical store increase, he had to rethink closing his doors.

Instead, he relaunched the shopfront to match his new online brand and ended 2020 with a record year of sales.

Now he’s expanding his workshop to accommodate two new bench jewellers and hiring digital marketing staff so that he can spend more time focusing on the very store that he was going to close!

What was supposed to be the end of one chapter became the start of another.

There are many savvy – and lucky – operators who used the pandemic as an opportunity to rise from the ashes.

“COVID was a blessing in disguise – it forced me to change the way I view my business”, is a refrain I’ve heard all too many times over the last few weeks on the road; COVID-19 was the loupe that allowed them to view their business ‘diamond’ in a new way and reignite their excitement for the future.

Perspective helps us to accurately contrast the large with the small, the difficult from the easy, the major from the minor and the important from the unimportant. Without it, we cannot make good decisions or understand our place in the world.

Broadening our perspective helps us to formulate and refine ideas. Innovation and problem-solving all rely on the ability to view a problem from every facet.

There are many angles in which to look at a problem, but a solution is always achieved using a ‘try’ angle!

The diamond is more than just a token of eternal love; it can also act as a reminder to consider life from different perspectives. It is a totem to remind us that solutions can simply be a facet-turn away.

In a trade of incredible beauty and skill, it’s almost impossible to separate business from philosophy.

When there’s a problem that seems larger than you can handle, adjust your eyes and look at it from a different perspective – the problem might not be nearly as big as you think.

* Correction 22 April:  The light refractive index of moissanite is 2.65 and a diamond is 2.41, making moissanite the most light refractive object. It is important to note that most commercially available moissinate is synthetic.

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