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Lilly Ashraf looked up from a book of retro jewelry styles when the bell jingled above the front door of her shop, Juniper Junction Jewels. 


"Hi, Emma." She smiled. 


Emma Parker worked at Ruby Red's dress shop just up Main Street and Lilly had known her for several years. The adorably petite young woman was accompanied by a handsome man of about the same age, probably late twenties, wearing a lovestruck look.


"Hi, Lilly." Emma nodded toward the man. "This is Todd Griffin." The smile Emma and Todd shared was so intimate Lilly felt like she was intruding.


Lilly hadn't visited Ruby Red's in several months and hadn't spoken to Emma since her last visit. She had a happy hunch these two were in the market for an engagement ring. Lilly and Todd exchanged greetings while Emma glanced around at the displays. 


"I love your St. Patrick's Day decorations, Lilly." Emma grinned as she made a sweeping gesture with her arm. Lilly had tastefully decorated the shop with rainbows, little gnomes dressed in green and orange, and potted Oxalis, or shamrock plants. Each display window showcased a small, black, cast-iron kettle Lilly had filled with gold tissue paper. Nestled atop the tissue were pieces of gold jewelry and baubles. Lilly loved the whimsical, luck o’ the Irish vibe. 


Emma and Todd walked toward the back of the shop, where Lilly remained standing behind one of the glass counters. As they approached, Emma slipped her arm through Todd's and Lilly spied a ring featuring an enormous diamond on Emma's left hand. Her heart sank just a little. So much for that sale.


"Lilly, Todd and I are getting married."


"Congratulations! I'm very happy for you."


"Thank you." Emma pushed a strand of dark hair behind one ear. "I've been telling Todd you design jewelry. I wanted him to see some of your work." 


"I'd be happy to show you." Lilly walked around the counter and beckoned the couple to follow her to an upright glass cabinet standing along one wall. "I designed and created everything in this case. If there's anything you'd like to see more closely, just say so. I have photos of other pieces, too."


Lilly returned to her place behind the counter while Emma and Todd perused the contents of the cabinet. Emma pointed to different pieces and spoke quietly to Todd several times.  


Harry, Lilly’s assistant, returned to the shop from his lunch break a few minutes later. Another customer came in and Harry busied himself waiting on him while Emma and Todd continued to look at Lilly's designs. Finally, Emma looked up at Todd with her wide amber eyes and nodded. They both turned toward Lilly.


"Your designs are so pretty," Emma said.


Lilly beamed. "Thank you."


"We're going to be married next spring, about thirteen months from now," Todd said. "We're planning on a large wedding party and—well, Emma, you can explain the details."


"We’ll have eleven bridesmaids and eleven groomsmen, plus the maid of honor and the best man." She wiggled her fingers like she was counting. "Plus Todd’s mom, his stepdad, and my parents, so a total of twenty-eight people. We'd like to give each of them something meaningful to remember our wedding day, and we thought custom jewelry would be nice." She paused. "We’d like you to design and create the pieces for us. Would you be able to do that?"


In her peripheral vision, Lilly saw Harry's jaw drop. Her mind wandered for a fraction of a second while she pictured herself as a Loony Tunes character, with bugged-out eyes and blurry dancing feet. This was the commission of her dreams. It was huge and would take lots of time, but the income would be well worth the effort.


"Absolutely. I would be thrilled to take on a project like that." 


Emma clapped her hands together. "That's great. So, where do we start?"


"Do you have any ideas for the designs you want? For example, one for the women and one for the men?"

"We were thinking a different design for each person." Todd looked to Emma for confirmation and she nodded.


"So twenty-eight unique pieces?" 


"Yes.” Emma paused. "Is that okay?"


"Of course. Do you have ideas for the designs?"


"We haven't gotten that far," Emma said. "We were hoping you could give us some guidance."


"I can do that. Do you know what kind of metal you'd like to use?"


Emma glanced at her engagement ring. "I guess white gold. Right?" She glanced at Todd, who smiled and nodded. "That's what my engagement ring is made of. That way all the metal would match."


"That’ll be lovely," Lilly said. "Okay, next, do you have a theme in mind?"


"Something springy," Emma said. Todd nodded in agreement.


"Okay. So you want twenty-eight different spring designs made out of white gold." Lilly took up a pencil on the counter and poised it over a pad of paper.


"Well, no. I was—I mean, we were—hoping you could put some kind of stones in each one. You know, in spring colors, like pink and yellow and green."


This commission was getting better by the minute.


"So you want white gold settings with some kind of gems in each one?"


Emma nodded.


"This is going to be quite expensive," Lilly said. Might as well warn them before this dream bubble burst.


"My mother and stepfather are paying for the wedding," Todd said. “Don’t worry, they're good for it."


I hope so. "Okay. In order to keep their cost down, can I suggest using crystals or synthetic stones in the settings?"


"I think that would be fine." Emma looked at Todd. "This isn't a royal wedding. The attendants don't expect sapphires and diamonds for standing up there with us."

"You're right," Todd said. "Yeah, go ahead and use synthetic stones." 

"I think that's a good choice," Lilly said. "If you want to leave a number where I can reach you, I can get started sketching out some ideas. When I’ve completed a few, you can take a look and decide if I'm on the right track."


She exchanged numbers with the happy couple and promised to have three or four designs to show them within a week. Todd and Emma left the store arm in arm wearing happy smiles.

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