Almost a year ago, my best friend Flash and I entered into a wager. While travelling in 2011, I had bought some blue rocks from Northern India which were sold to me as Sapphires. Call me a Muppet but I believed the Kashmiri man and his pale brown eyes, I believed his finely woven yarn; how they were an absolute bargain, how you wouldn’t find others of their size and quality for their price. I mean they were just so sparkly, so sparkly and so big – I couldn’t resist. I didn’t resist. I parted with £150 for the pair.
Fast forward six months and Flash and I were in London having one of our usual debates/arguments. Which went along the lines of this:
“You’re an idiot – of course they’re not Sapphires. How much did you pay?”
“Ha, ha, ha. There is absolutely no way that they’re real.”
I had to say at this point, I agreed. The last time that I had taken precious stones to a jeweler it hadn’t gone well. I wanted to get a ring that my great aunt had left me insured. Gold, studded with diamonds and sapphires, it was my most prized possession. I walked into the shop, opened the antique box and stood back proudly. The jeweler walked past and looked excited. The ring was going to be worth an absolute fortune, I was sure of it.
“This looks like quite a piece.”
“Yes, it is beautiful isn’t it? It was left to me by my great aunt, so it’s very special,” I said proudly.
He picked it up and took it to the back to have a look at it through his special magnifying lens. I waited. ‘£1,000…£1,500,’ my mind debated. ‘It’s got loads of diamonds – maybe £2,000.’
He returned and delivered his much anticipated verdict: “This is a show ring.”
‘A show ring…yes it does look rather showy, perhaps it’s worth more, £3,000,’ I thought happily and asked: “A show ring? So how much exactly is it worth?”
“A show ring. As in it’s completely fake. I’m afraid it’s not worth anything.”
My pride took a severe bashing as I tried (unsuccessfully) to look like I couldn’t care less. As I tried to laugh it off.
Anyhow, though I had this embarrassing story in my closet, it wasn’t enough to deter me from having an argument with Flash. Even if I didn’t believe in their validity, that wouldn’t stop me from pretending that I did. And that’s what I did.
“Well, I think you’re wrong. I reckon they are real actually.”
“100% they’ll be worth under a tenner.”
“£400 – £500,” I retaliated, to which Flash returned a patronising laugh.
“Would you be willing to back that up?”
(Oh oh) “Yes.”
(Oh god) “I don’t bet with money, it’s distasteful (nice one). How about a Sportman’s bet?”
“How about this: whoever loses has to buy the other breakfast?”
“That sounds good to me, but how are we going to know who has won?”
The answer lay a ten minute taxi journey away; in London’s precious stone capital Hatton Garden. Fifteen minutes later, I was back in the same situation that had left me humiliated all those years before. But this time it was worse, this time I also had a smug Flash standing behind me. I handed over my plastic bag to the old man and braced myself.
After what felt like an eternity, he looked up from his glass and said: “Well they’re Sapphires.”
Relief washed over me and I turned and gave Flash one my own smug smiles. Flash wasn’t defeated yet though: “So,” he questioned the jeweler “how much are they worth?”
“About £100 a carat.”
Flash turned to me, “Well they’re closer to a tenner than they are to £500!”
“No, no,” the jeweler interrupted, “£100 a carat – and these are 10 carats.”
Maths has never been my strong point, but even my mental arithmetic could cope with this. I turned back to Flash, “£1,000! They’re worth £1,000!”
After thanking the jeweler and taking back my legitimate sapphires we left. Back on London’s streets, Flash wasn’t finished with me yet:
“Yes, fine, you were right about them being sapphires, but you were actually as far out on what they were worth as me. So technically you didn’t win the bet.”
“Oh whatever, I have sapphires, real sapphires! I don’t care.”
“Well, how about I buy you breakfast and you buy me breakfast.”
And that’s exactly what we did. Which brings me to this blog’s title – which no doubt you were wondering about. We went to the Apostrophe opposite St Paul’s and bought each-other an almond croissant and now, whenever I have an almond croissant (like just now), I think back to that day and smile.