Billy & Akaisha
It is said
that Luck is when opportunity and preparation meet.
It also takes a keen mind, willingness to take a chance, and the
ability to actually see that opportunity when it's offered.
Over the many years we have visited Thailand, we've frequently seen
Roger relaxing by the pool at our Bangkok hotel. Maybe he's having
breakfast or reading The Bangkok Post over a beer. But we
never really spoke with him other than giving the usual head nod or
hello. Then we started seeing him at
our Chiang Mai Guest House and we were intrigued. He looked so laid-back, mysterious
and completely integrated into his life here in Asia, that we just had to know.
ROGER IN HIS POOLSIDE OFFICE CATCHING UP ON THE LATEST NEWS IN THAILAND
So, for the price of a beer, he told us his story.
People’s lives are often
woven together with scraps of seemingly unrelated talents and uncoordinated
In 1971, at the age of
twenty-two, Roger was an out-of-work carpenter. Hearing that Germany was building
a village for the Olympics at the time, he eagerly took advantage of that
opportunity and flew to Munich. He learned German, got to know the city and
made some hard cash.
Then in the
middle 1970’s he found himself hitchhiking in the American
southwest, literally out in the middle of nowhere, with only
$38 Dollars in his pockets. He was picked up and given a ride by
a man who couldn’t promise to take him all the way to his
destination, but only about an hour further along the road. Now,
when you are out in the middle of the desert, what could possibly be
only one hour further down the road?
A SAMPLE OF ROGER'S UNIQUELY CARVED AND ARRANGED
mine" the driver said, and he would be taking a hard left off
the main road. It was there that he was to pick up some turquoise
stones to sell in
Roger’s interest grew, and since he had no pressing schedule,
he wondered if he could go along for the ride?
Roger ended up buying
a pail of turquoise (a bucket of rocks, as he put it) for thirty of those
cherished $38 in his pocket. He went home and sold that lode for $60 bucks,
doubling his money. Good deal.
Excited to buy more blue stones to sell,
Roger returned to the
desert, but the miner approached him with an even better offer.
buy these rocks from me,” he said. “I’ve got a business proposition
for you. Every time I leave my mine to go into town to sell my
stones, people come in here and steal from my mine. How about if you
dig some turquoise out while I’m in town selling and I’ll give
you half of what you pull out, for your pay.”
Sounded like a
good arrangement to Roger, and voila! he became a miner. He learned
the ropes from this man; how to mine turquoise and how to cut the
ROGER'S ARRANGEMENT, SET IN 14 KARAT GOLD FOR A RING
continued to sell his turquoise and purchased some machinery to cut
these rocks himself.
And he worked
all the trade shows.
He then met a man from Nepal
who wanted to do some jewelry
import/export. Roger said “I can do that!” and
explained that he cuts gems, well, er, stones, anyway… and he and the man
went off to Nepal.
They ended up
working together for a year, and Roger learned more about the
business of gem cutting and selling. He now knows how to tell if a
gem is of quality, what occlusions are, and what to look for in
color and type. He can rattle off the official names of gems, and
the countries where the best ones can be found, which brings him to
Thailand, world-known for their rubies and sapphires.
UNPOLISHED RUBIES AND SAPPHIRES SOLD LIKE HOTCAKES
With all this
new information and expanded talent, Roger returns to Germany to sell one and two karat
rubies to jewelers there. But he is not part of the upper crust gem
breaking into this field can be difficult. Although he does well and enlarges
his business to supply London, he discovers that the ‘have- to- be-
perfect’ world at this level of jewelry selling and cutting is
boring. To him, there is more intrigue in the ‘rough’ stones that
are discarded and
disrespected - the ones that other gem cutters throw away. It was here that
Roger saw value, fascination, and more importantly, potential.
He begins to utilize
the discarded rough stones and brings the higher level of cuts to their
‘imperfect’ colors and shapes, with the lines, cracks and shatters proudly
featured. He specializes in odd configurations, refusing to make
‘perfectly matched sets’ but rather, offers ‘compatible’ stones and
arrangements for those who crave a more artistic flare. This becomes Roger's
trademark, and his business
THE CABOCHON CUT
ROGER WAS KNOWN AS THE MAN WITH THE BEST 'CABS'
But there are
Some years ago
on the day before one of his many trips to Germany and London to
sell his loose stones, he went to his factory to pick up the rubies
and sapphires that should have been polished and cut. His workers
had left him high and dry without polishing the stones left in their
care. Roger only had a half-shipment of dusty looking gems, like
ocean washed glass one finds on the beach. Rather than cancel his
trip, he collected them as they were and brought them to Europe anyway.
Into the high class jewelry stores he went, showing his ‘new line’
of unpolished gems. The jewelers snapped them up! Setting them in
unpolished gold to compliment this 'rustic look', these pieces now sold for $1,000 pounds each!
It's an honor and a pleasure to
meet such a dedicated craftsman. One of the many rewards of
traveling is one never knows where conversation over a beer will
Decades later, Roger
is still selling his distinctive gems. Shipping worldwide, both loose stones
or pieces placed in settings are available. Roger can be reached via email
at RVNHill@yahoo.com or by cell phone
089.214.9304 - And tell Roger we sent you!
To read more
interviews with Expats, Early Retirees and Interesting Characters,
About the Authors
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are
recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of
finance and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their
they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991.
They wrote the popular books,
The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and
Your Retirement Dream IS Possible.
information about financial independence and travel, visit our
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About Billy & Akaisha