A perfect example is The Star of Artaban, a 287-carat star sapphire currently housed at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History.
If you search the Internet for The Star of Artaban about all you will find is what I just told you above, as well as the “fact” that it was given to the museum in the 1940s by an anonymous donor who was believed to be a member of the Georgia Mineral Society.
But I know the real story.
When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead
I’ve just finished reading the autobiography of movie producer and concert promoter Jerry Weintraub, a fabulous page-turner entitled When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead.
Along with stories of working with Elvis, Sinatra, George H.W. Bush, Sydney Pollack and a host of other household names, Jerry included a yarn about his father, Sam Weintraub.
Sam was a traveling dealer in precious stones from the Bronx who, as the story goes, found the huge uncut sapphire at an estate sale and bought it for next to nothing. He could have had it cut and wholesaled for a healthy profit but he had a better idea. Sam decided to position that rock.
He had an expensive custom case built and dubbed the stone The Star of Artaban, invoking the name of the fourth wise man who never made it to the manger.
Sam placed the case in a strong box and called the local press at the next town he was to visit, telling them he possessed the fabled Star of Artaban and would present a public viewing at a given jewelry store on a given date.
On that day he arrived 30 minutes late – to ensure all the reporters would be present – in a Brinks truck with two armed guards as his escort. As customers cooed and cameras clicked he slowly opened the strongbox and case and put the star of the show on display.
The huge amount of foot traffic ensured a banner sales day for both Sam and the local jeweler.
He then forwarded all the press clippings to the newspapers in the next town he was scheduled to visit.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
The moral of the story is the power of packaging. The stone was legendary because Sam said so and then the papers agreed. Eventually no less an institution than the Smithsonian itself was caught in its sway.
What About You?
What’s your story? How’s your packaging? Is the press waiting when you arrive?
Maybe you just need a Sam to make you a Star.