Jewelry hunt spreads cheer


POSTED: Thursday, December 24, 2009

Trying to do some good over the holidays was at once harder than Hildgund Jewelry president Bruce Bucky imagined, and more gratifying.

The jewelry company marked its 136th anniversary in Hawaii with a creative and generous three-island treasure hunt that involved 136 pieces of jewelry “;hidden”; — four a day — in white boxes placed in public spaces for anyone to take home, no strings attached. The value of individual pieces ranged from $100 to $8,000.

Some clues to their whereabouts were distributed by following Hildgund Jewelry on Twitter and Facebook, but many finders were simply lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.

The contest began Dec. 1 will end Dec. 31; 12 pieces will be stashed Christmas Day for lucky sleuths.

“;I didn't think it would be difficult to give away 136 pieces of jewelry when we came up with the idea,”; Bucky said during an interview Sunday morning. “;The goal was to make a bunch of people happy, but 20 days in, the work to give things away is not easy.”;

Those with social media skills and time to drive around town had an advantage, such that by midway through the game, the same people were finding multiple pieces. To be fair to the most people possible, Bucky sent out the suggestion on Facebook that lucky finders “;help spread the holiday cheer by giving our other fans a chance to find one of their own.”; The message received multiple thumbs-up.

SO FAR, Hildgund has received calls from about 15 percent to 20 percent of finders, the ones who don't follow Facebook. Facebook finders simply post their thanks online.

In the course of the giveaway, Bucky said he also learned how unnatural it is for most people to accept a gift with no strings attached.

“;Giving is great, but some people don't believe it can happen,”; he said.

It is also a sad commentary on our society that unattended packages have come to be associated with evildoers.

In one case, he saw a man reading and rereading the note attached to the box, which explained the reason for the giveaway.

“;He looked at it and looked at it. Finally, I said he should take it, but he said, nah, it was probably a joke, probably there was a bomb in it.

“;Other people would pick it up and start looking for an authority figure. That's the aloha spirit. They wanted to give it to somebody who could help find its rightful owner.”;

As part of the giveaway, 136 food vouchers were also offered to homeless people, also wrapped in the gift boxes topped with gold bows. Bucky said that on receiving one of the boxes, a homeless man thanked him but told him he didn't know how to read.

“;I told him it was a gift certificate for Subway and he started to cry. He said he'd never been able to eat there, but always wanted to go.

“;It's been a wonderful experience. I'd do it again.”;