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The phone rang at 3:00 in the morning.

Deepak was shouting over the phone, "Stuart! Stuart! You must come to India this year!"

"Deepak, we've come there every year for over 20 years, so why wouldn't we come this year?" I answered. "And stop shouting. And it's the middle of the night here, as you know--and what time is it in India? And what's going on?"

Deepak continued shouting, "Oh my friend, I have had a vision. It was magnificent! It will change both of our lives forever. I had to know you were coming. Sorry to wake you--please go back to sleep." Then, he hung up.

Chris was awake. "Who in the world was that?"

I repeated Deepak's mysterious call. Neither of us could go back to sleep. We got up and made coffee.

Deepak is probably my oldest friend in India. He is quite handsome--picture Richard Gere with black eyes, and with graying black hair and mustache. He speaks English with a Sean Connery accent.

Deepak owns one of the largest gem bead-cutting factories in India. Additionally, he supplies rough gem materials to other small cutting groups and helps them sell their finished output. Many of the clear gem beads sold by Fire Mountain Gems have come from Deepak.

To India...

Three of us traveled to India later in that same month. There was Doreen, who manages all products for us and especially loves the clear, India gem beads. Doreen is a jeweler and a beader. She has studied India gem beads for decades and is an expert on their current values. Plus, there was Sukdev (Dev), who handles translation, and is also a graduate gemologist. Dev specializes in the identification and grading of India gem beads. He can detect the most subtle indications that a stone has been dyed or otherwise enhanced. I came along because I am one of the rare men who loves to shop.

We arrived at our hotel in India in the middle of the night, after 32 hours of flying and layovers.

The next morning, Deepak's driver picked us up in an old Toyota sedan and whisked up to Deepak's offices.

"Whisked" is probably the wrong word. Picture narrow, pot-holed roads, covered with swarms of people, motorcycles, cars, trucks, busses, bikes, pedal cars, camels, goats, dogs, pigs and an occasional elephant. Additionally, the cows are sacred and wander freely. Perhaps "crawled" is a better word for our ride.

Deepak's home and showrooms are in different parts of a huge, white marble building. The showrooms are not open to the public, and occupy most of the floor at street level. The upper stories are living quarters for Deepak and his extended family.

Deepak greeted us like long-lost sisters and brothers. We were ushered to the upstairs dining room, where we were served Darjeeling tea, and questioned politely about the welfare of our company and our families.

The vision...

Finally, when we couldn't stand it any longer, Deepak got to the point. He did this by telling us a story about growing up as a helper in his uncle's downtown hotel. He told us how much he loved hotels--how every day, something new and different would happen. Deepak told us how he has always wanted to own his own hotel.

It seems the night before he called me, Deepak had had a dream of his hotel. He called his dream a "vision," and it was clear to him that he must fulfill this vision: get out of the gem trade and devote his life to the hospitality business.

Ever since, he has been busy with architects and designers, shaping the plans for his "mini Taj Mahal." He showed us plans for a 42-room, boutique hotel he has planned for the highest hill in his home town. He told us that we were the only people outside his family who had seen the plans. To allow us to understand his vision, he described the experience of a guest arriving at his hotel, which is to be called The Gem Palace.

First, they would be greeted by a salute from a tall, turbaned Rajasthani guard officer, who would take responsibility for their luggage, and guide them to the door. Their senses would alight from the perfumes of rare spices and the flowers within. Soft music would envelope them from musicians on drum and flute. As they proceeded into the lobby, the burble of the pond would grow more audible.

As the guest, you would be greeted at registration by a liveried officer who knew your name and spoke your language. The registration counter and the wall behind it contain the spectacle that gives The Gem Palace its name. They are entirely formed of heavy, backlit glass panels, with the light passing through a profusion of translucent, faceted gem beads. The artist's rendering showed it to be magnificent.

Deepak continued, "All rooms would face the central courtyard, where spas would be surrounded by gardens, alive with rare plants and trees, monkeys and peacocks."

"Well, what do you think of my vision?" he asked.

"Chris and I want to be your first guests," I respond.

Doreen added, "Please invite us all on Opening Day."

Deepak smiled. "Oh, do not worry, Stuart. You will be very special quests," he laughed. "Let me unveil my plan to you. You see, you get to pay for it!"

"No way!" I protested. "That would take a ton of money. We don't have that kind of money."

"You do not pay for the whole thing," he soothed. "You just have to help with the down payment. After that, the hotel can easily pay off its mortgage. And I am going to show you where you will get the money for the down payment." Deepak gave another big smile. "You see, I have thought of everything. Please follow me."

The vault...

Deepak took us down four staircase levels, to a subterranean chamber that none of us knew was there. Behind a laser grid was a huge door to a vault--the kind of walk-in vault that you see in a bank. When he turned on the lights behind the door, there was revealed a mammoth chamber that looked the size of our parking lot.

The room was filled with heavy steel racks. The racks supported an immense profusion of Indian gemstone bead strands--millions of them!

"This was to be my family's insurance policy," Deepak told us. "Our 'security blanket' against anything tragic ever happening to India. Now, India is doing just fine. I want to have you cash these in--sell them for me so that I can build The Palace.

We wandered through the racks. This looked like the most wondrous selection of gems that any of us had ever seen. Deep purple amethyst, tourmalines in rainbow colors, sky-colored aquamarines, peridots and citrines, looking so good you wanted to eat them. Wherever you went, light was flashing off of smooth and faceted surfaces--you didn't know where to look first. Dev found spessartite garnets in beads, as he noted, "Very unusual." Doreen let out a shriek, "Are these chrome diopside beads?" she asked. They were. None of us have ever seen beads like these before. Every quality was represented, but the majority of the strands were superior quality jewelry grades. I started out as a gem cutter, and I was fascinated by some of the unusual cuts.

Here's the deal...

Deepak sat us down on some cold steel benches. More tea appeared. He said that he wanted Fire Mountain Gems to sell his family's beads to their customers.

I said, "You need your down payment now. It would take us about ten years to sell all these beads."

"No," he told us, "I need the proceeds over a period of about two years. It takes that long in India to go through all the bureaucracy to build a project like this. I know how fast you normally sell these beads--remember, I supply you. For you to sell all of these in only two years, you will need lower prices--much, much lower prices. We will do this together. I will supply you at my cost, or below; you will add only a tiny markup. Each month, I will send you a portion of the beads. When you sell them, send me a portion of the proceeds. After two years, they will all be gone, I will have my hotel, and you will have something even more valuable."

"More valuable?" I questioned.

"Remember," he said, "How you have always told me that the secret to business is to create happy customers? I guarantee that you will have very, very happy customers."

Deepak waved his arms and told us, "I have an image in my mind about your customers--and they are all beautiful women."

"What makes you think they're all women?" Dev asked.

"In the image in my mind, they are all women," Deepak replied with finality.

Doreen asked, "How do you know that they're all beautiful?"

"Women who work with such beauty, and create beauty with their hands, are beautiful. Period. Do not be deceived by their outward appearance or their age or the language they speak. These are very beautiful women." He wiped his eyes and continued, "And I want all of them to come visit me at The Gem Palace."

Well, as you guessed, we went for the deal. It was irresistible.

The beads are arriving now, and we're putting them through gemological inspection and grading, and getting them ready for sale.

Dev has performed the initial sortation for grading. There are over 250,000 strands in this photo.


Some of the lots are good-sized and will probably take 6-8 weeks to sell out. Other lots are tiny, and could sell in less than one week. If this is the type of bead that interests you, we suggest that you check the listings about once a week. To see the list, go to the home page of our website. In the left column, find "Deepak's Gem Palace." This will take you to the current listing.

Purchases from this group are assortable with all of our products. See the All Assortable Pricing information page.

You take no risk. If any item interests you, order it. Get it to your store and inspect it. Feel it, hug it, make sure it's perfect for you. If not, return for a 100% refund or exchange within 90 days of the original order date on the invoice. See our Return Policy.

Think of the possibilities:

If you have ever invested in anything--stocks, bonds, real estate, precious metals or whatever, you know the value of your investment can go up or down. We are not licensed by the Security Exchange Commission to offer investments, so we can't call this an investment. But here's the deal: these products can very easily go up in value, but they can never go down, below what you paid for them--you can always just send them back for a 100% refund.

Customer Comments

We would like to share some of the customer comments we received in response to the article, "Deepak's Gem Palace," featured in an email exclusive. Please keep in mind that the comments expressed below are those of our customers and do not reflect the views of Fire Mountain Gems and Beads.

"Loved the article about the gemstones and Deepak. Also since my name is Dorene, can I go with you to the grand opening???

I can't wait to see the gems. I love making jewelry and Fire Mountain is my main resource for products. Thanks,"
- Dorene

"Amazing story! I love it and thank you for sharing!"
- Helen

"Seriously, guys? I got all excited about the "Gem Palace", reading your article about Deepak and thinking these were going to be great gems.

I go to your website, and all you have in the way of India gems is B grade? Really? I can get AAA grade gems on Etsy for far less a strand than your B grade.

Serious jewelry designers aren't going to give these a second look. You need to try a little harder and bargain a bit more with your suppliers to provide affordable, HIGH-GRADE gems. B just isn't good enough.

I hope to see better grade India gems on your website soon. Otherwise, it's Etsy for me."
- Jeannie

"OMG how absolutely exciting and wonderful!! The article is so well written, too. I look forward to acquiring these gems! Some of the D grade is rather iffy but I think it's about to improve. Deepak has a vision of heaven! Heaven is filled with gemstones I've heard. And he's so right about we women who love the stones to create beauty and make people happy with our creations...at a reasonable price."
- Claire

"Wonderful story about Deepak's Gem Palace! My great aunt lived in India for 40 years from the mid-20s to the mid 1960s and she told us many wonderful stories about the spirituality of many who live in India. She experienced many of these sorts of visions or intuitions while she was a missionary. I'll tell you one story:

My Great Aunt Mary got along with just about everyone in the various missions in India where she dedicated 40 years of her life to helping pre-school and high school children of the lowest caste have a chance for an education and a decent job. However, one woman was particularly shirking her duties and the burden was falling to Great Aunt Mary and the other teachers to pick up the slack from this woman's continuous failure to carry her workload. One day Aunt Mary was having her morning quiet time (something she taught us and learned from the meditation so common in India) and she had the thought, ''Take (this woman who had not been carrying her weight - let's call her Sarah) Sarah an egg.'' Aunt Mary dismissed this as a ridiculous thought to not only take something to this woman she was so annoyed with, but also because what good is one egg? She sat quietly again and again the thought came to her, ''Take Sarah an egg.'' For the second time she dismissed the thought and sat quietly again. When the thought came to her a third time, ''Take Sarah an egg.'' Exasperated, she got up and got an egg from a chicken in the back of the house and walked over to Sarah's house. She knocked on the door and held out the egg to Sarah and said, ''I felt I should bring you an egg.'' She felt so stupid saying this, and even more so to a person she was far from fond of. Sarah broke out into tears and sobbed that she had had nothing to eat for two days. She had given what food she was able to afford to her children and had no food or money to buy food for herself. She told Great Aunt Mary that she had been praying, ''If I could just have one egg, I will be fine.''

This story taught me about the interconnectedness of people and the importance of listening to that still, small voice.

I have been to India once and visited the pre-school and high schools where Great Aunt Mary taught in Madanapalli in Andre Predesh, India. There on the wall a half a world away was a picture of my Great Aunt Mary with my cousins sitting on her lap. Today, one of those cousins, inspired by my trip to India, has gone to India and has rebuilt a new Pre-school, and is in the process of re-opening the girls' high school. She has raised funds through the non-profit she started, Mission Partners International (MPI), which has 401c3 status. I am so proud of what she has done and that Great Aunt Mary's work with the poorest of the poor in Madanapalli continues today.

Deepak's story touched me because I have no doubt he will open his Gem Palace hotel. I hope to be a guest one day and meet him in person (what city is he building his hotel in?). In the meantime, it will be a wonderful experience to buy gems from Deepak's Gem Palace for my small jewelry business, Sticks and Stones, in The Villages, FL and know that I am helping make his vision a reality! Thank you for sharing Deepak's story!"
- Nancy

"I thoroughly enjoyed this story! It was fascinating to me, a novice beader, to learn how your company buys beads, the personal connections that are involved, and the history behind some of your product. The picture said a great deal as well.

Thanks for sharing!"
- Wendy


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