Business as Usual – published 4 March 2021 on 365 Tomorrows
This story was meant to be one in a series of entries in a fantasy business directory, somewhat akin to the old Kelly or Bloomberg directories meant for business to business connections my dad kept in his office. I had written the entire entry as an exercise during the 2020 Clarion West Write-a-thon. The narrative portion of the story – the ‘Off The Record’ entry – became my first ever publication with 365 Tomorrows. I’m posting the story as I first wrote here, but the link at the end will take you to the story as originally published on their website. Give them a visit. They have some good stories over there!
Company Name: Grimbello Bros.
Business Sector: metalsmithing, custom jewelry design and fabrication
General Business Activities: Grimbello Bros. is one of the leaders in the art and heirloom jewelry industry, specializing in one of a kind commissions for the discerning collector.
Retail Presence: None. Commission work only. All creations are bespoke.
Client Base: By appointment only upon recommendation by three other existing clients.
Annual Revenues: None available. Privately held, family-owned.
Business History: No public records exist to confirm the actual date of incorporation, however a review of tax rolls has determined that Grimbello Bros has occupied their current headquarters for at least 350 years.
Current Leadership: Unknown. It has been determined that the current generation of Grimbellos runs the day to day operations of the company.
Product Leaders: The firm has a well-founded reputation for creating statement pieces worn by royalty and nobility throughout the Middle Kingdoms. They carry the warrant as crown jewelers for at least three royal families. They designed the wedding set consisting of tiara, necklace, bracelets and rings worn by Princess Esmelie of Belmont in last season’s Wedding of the Century. The regalia worn for the recent coronation of King Jamis and Queen Marda of Cambria was their work, including the fine gold and silver embroidery on Their Imperial Majestys’ robes and the Queen’s gown.
Other Observations: Grimbello Bros. prides itself on the level of confidentiality it provides its clients. Grimbello’s makes no public acknowledgment of its work, and clients rarely do either, but they have a signature style that has proven impossible to duplicate by any of their competitors. It has been said there is no stone they cannot set, no design they cannot fabricate. The sources for their precious stones and metals are a secret as closely held as the company.
On the Record: Grimbello Bros. had no statement to make on the record.
Off the Record:
It was an odd commission, and no one but Grimbello Brothers had the wherewithal to pull it off. The client was quite specific as to the size and shape of a cask to hold the finest jewel in the kingdom. It had to be a masterpiece, she insisted, but more than that, it had to appeal to a particular collector of unusual taste. He wasn’t someone prone to public, ostentatious displays, but rather was a discreet connoisseur, someone whose recollection was hazy when it came to provenance, and had the means and connections to escape repercussions for the occasional questionable acquisition. Possibly she didn’t have the rights to sell this jewel to the collector, but then again, he lived far enough away that it didn’t matter.
In the generations our firm had been tapping the horde, we’d pulled out numerous stones and baubles too large, and possibly too identifiable, to sell through our usual channels. This commission would be a suitable opportunity to put them to use.
We couldn’t afford a hint of gossip, so we worked in small groups, first fabricating the cask out of imported cedar and plates of lead crystal, lined with burgundy silk velvet.
A sapphire tiara was converted into ornate hinges. Ruby bracelets became roses in the centerpiece, accented with emerald leaves recovered from a truly hideous brooch. We twisted, annealed, braided, and wound gold, silver and platinum wire into gossamer filigree webs across the top.
The last task was fabricating a cart fitted with a suspension system. After all, it wouldn’t do to have it damaged in transit, not after we’d invested more than a year to create something we hoped would last for eternity.
Then it was done. And it was stunning, exuberant, extravagant, and every other adjective which could be used to describe something so audacious in form and function. The client was thrilled, the future owner on his way. All it needed was one final component to elevate it to perfection.
She stumbled into our clearing three days later. Of course we knew who she was. We worked in a cave. We didn’t live in one. Eyes as blue as the most brilliant sapphire, lips as vivid and red as rubies, hair the color of obsidian, skin as white and luminous as the pearls which graced the handles. The tale she spun about her poor dead mother, missing father, evil stepmother and some huntsman should have softened any man’s heart.
But business was business.
We don’t know what was in the apple, but for a small percentage, Grimbello Brothers has been promised another one for our next commission. Seems the collector has his eyes on a blonde…