I just watched the movie Gladiator on my birthday as a kind of restful break from work. It’s been years since I saw it and it was nice to just kick back and watch TV.
The movie was particularly special for me, because back in my jewelry designing days, Meg Ryan had commissioned a custom platinum cross for Russell Crowe as a Christmas present and I stayed up for days without sleep making it. As many might remember, Meg was deeply in love with Russell and this was her special gift to him as he was finishing the movie. They were both superstars, but for me they were just two people in love trying to find their way through the challenges of work and relationships much like all of the rest of us, and I just wanted to give them their dream! You see, while they both had just about everything one could want, what they wanted most was to create something unique to solidify their love … Something that they could keep close to their heart, and I could give them that!

I actually made a matched pair for them, one for Meg and one for Russell. Meg wrote a beautiful poem which I engraved on the backs of the two pendants which was deeply romantic and mystical. I was really touched by it!
After I finished Russell’s piece, I had to have a special courier fly it all of the way to Australia overnight to deliver it on Christmas Day, as Russell had gone home for the holidays.
Russell wore it on the night of the Academy Awards when he won Best Actor for Gladiator.
How lucky I was to play a little part in all of that, and to get to see that no matter how big or famous people are, they are just people like everyone else.

When I first started making jewelry, I worked on a TV tray and sold stuff at Swap Meets. I never had any formal training, but I believed that if I put myself forward and took a shot at it, I would succeed. My first jewelry tool set was a framing hammer from my carpenter days, a pair of my mom’s sewing scissors, a short piece of rail road tie (for an anvil), a $10 Benz-o-lite propane torch, a brick, and my mom’s nail file. It was a rough start, but as you can see, it paid off in the end.

So many of us are taught that we have to accumulate a bunch of big things to be able to launch a career. Degrees, equipment, training, and such. But I think the real road to success is simply believing that we have within us the ability to accomplish the impossible, and the having the confidence to go for it! Just my two cents

Patrick McCollum