A Saint, A Jeweler, And a Perfect 10

Joel and I recently drove north to Minneapolis to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. What took us to Minneapolis, you may curiously ask? Well, it was to see The Jeweler’s Shop performed at Open Window Theatre. Open Window Theatre is an intimate, minimalist, Catholic — without being hit-you-over-the-head Catholic — swanky theater. Please, do click over here and read more about their mission. They are truly doing some AWESOME work, and I’m looking forward to following their progress.

But back to the show we did see, The Jeweler’s Shop, a three-act play written by Karol Wojtyla, now better known as St. Pope John Paul II. I wasn’t aware of this book until about three months ago, and now thanks to the Well-Read Mom book club, I know all about it! When this year’s book club list came out, The Jeweler’s Shop was the one I was most excited to read. In it, Wojtyla explores relationships between men and women, the joys — and pains — of love and marriage. It’s a poignant and poetic play about the mysteries and pitfalls of human love through the lives of three couples.

The book club isn’t scheduled to read The Jeweler’s Shop until April 2015, but it just so happened that it was playing onstage at OWT over the same weekend as our tenth wedding anniversary. In celebration, my husband bought us tickets, and we headed north to to see it. On our drive, we read the book aloud together (I read, Joel drove), and we were both moved. Every word of it oozes with meaning as if hand-picked, à la St. John Paul II.

(And if I can offer a reading tip, specifically to you married folks out there, read the book with your spouse if you can.) 

After our read-aloud, I said to my husband, “Wow, would that every married or engaged couple read and be moved by the wisdom here.” It’s one of those books that will remain with me for a very long time. As one reviewer said, it is “an indispensable meditation on the mystery of marriage.” As our Church plans for the 2015 World Meeting of Families, The Jeweler’s Shop feels like the right book for these times, and I’m quite anxious to discuss the book with my Well-Read Mom friends. But April! Do I really have to wait until April?!

* * *

As we set out for our journey to Minneapolis, and before we had even gotten out of the ‘burbs, Joel hands me a present. I opened it to find a most beautiful, one-of-a-kind pendant, designed and handcrafted by our favorite jeweler, Mark, who is also godfather to our daughter Lydia.

Now I wouldn’t typically blog about jewelry, but it’s just so cool how it all comes together that I want to share — from St. John Paul II’s feast day being the same day as our anniversary, to seeing the The Jeweler’s Shop, then receiving a beautiful piece of jewelry from our favorite jeweler right here in Des Moines — the dots are all connected for a blogpost, and let’s be honest, the posts have been few and far between around here lately, so I’m running with this one!

So here’s my necklace. Isn’t it purdy?

10th Anniversary Wedding Present

Local readers may recognize the shape of the pendant. It’s similar to the logo for the Diocese of Des Moines that was designed for Pope John Paul II’s visit to Iowa back in 1979. It represents the seasons, fields, and seeds planted.


I asked Mark about the inspiration behind his design, and with his permission, here are some of his eloquent words.

I was hoping for something JPII inspired. Obviously your anniversary being on JPII’s feast day, as well as the affinity you both have for him, was a primary influence. That’s when the image of the Diocese’s cross designed for JPII’s papal visit in 1979 seemed perfect.

The original design for the cross was to reflect the four seasons. While I admit it didn’t strike me at the outset, I thought about how this is true of our lives as individuals and married couples. We all pass through different seasons.

The debate on what metal to use came down to cost efficiency versus using a metal worthy of such a design. Ten karat white and yellow gold were used. Joel and I agreed the design should be made of gold and ten karat is economical and sturdy. The number ten didn’t strike me until reflecting on it now. That so much of your lives has happened in the Diocese of Des Moines makes it all the more meaningful.

For the stone at the center, I went with a diamond that in the trade would be considered 1/10th of a carat. Diamond is the traditional ten year anniversary gift. Again the size incorporates the number ten. From a design standpoint, the center helped mask the challenge of “cleaning up” the four corners where the two metals meet. Reflecting back I see more symbolic significance. The diamond setting is at the point of the cross where the metals are united. I see the Trinity. I see the Sacrament of Marriage where two become one through Christ. In your lives, you have both endured the heat and pressure which turns carbon into a diamond. While you might not always feel “polished,” you both still reflect “the light.”

I’m speechless and so honored that Joel trusted and enlisted Mark to handcraft such a special gift for me. If it isn’t obvious, Mark receives a perfect 10, 5 stars, 2 thumbs up, and 1 big tip of the hat from me. Des Moines-ites, the next time you’re in the market for some jewelry, give Mark a call at Marcia’s Gems and Jewelry. And if the above doesn’t convince you that Mark’s your guy, well then, there’s this:

I love that jewelry can be a deeply personal thing. When someone gives a gift that I have created, in an awkward sort of way it is also a gift from me. I pour out whatever limited ability I have into a project, and I do recognize my abilities in craftsmanship are limited. I care deeply how it is received. When the receiver shows their appreciation for the gift, I need nothing more. It’s not just about getting paid.

It’s a good thing he’s so holy because I suspect that goddaughter of his is going to be a firecracker …


  1. How fun that everything tied together for the two of you to celebrate a wonderful 10th anniversary! I was excited before, but now I’m REALLY excited to read The Jeweler’s Shop in Well Read Mom!

    • WOW! This post just keeps getting better! In addition to all of the beautiful connections in your post, now I find out that the jeweler is THE Maria’s husband! How cool! What a precious, beautiful gift with so much meaning. I love Mark’s explanation of it all. Thank you for sharing this story with all of us. Joel, way to go!

      My high school theology teacher told us about The Jeweler’s Shop and how he read it with his wife, too. I’m looking forward to reading it in April with my Well-Read Mom group, and even more so with Philip. I’m sure it will spark some great discussion.

      Happy belated anniversary to you and Joel, and cheers to many more!

  2. This is such a beautiful story! Congratulations on your anniversary, and here’s to many, many more! So fun to have known your love story from the start and you continue to be an inspiration.

    I am going to recommend this book to our Marriage Encounter Core group – and also buy a copy for my brother- and soon-to-be sister-in-law! She loves JP2. It’s perfect.

  3. Thank you so much Lisa Schmidt and Deacon Joel Schmidt, for your friendship and kind words. It was truly a privilege to play a part in the celebration of your anniversary. May you be blessed with many more years together in this life. In regards to our Godchild, it’s only appropriate we were chosen for the rebel child. :)

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