My Wife’s 25th Anniversary Gift

My wife Linda and I met while attending the University of Minnesota Duluth and started dating in January, 1988. Since UMD is on the shore of Lake Superior and since we’ve both had an affinity for the big lake, it’s always been a special place for us. We spent our honeymoon in a cabin in the upper peninsula of Michigan and we’ve toured the shores of Lake Superior many times over the years.

In August, 2016 I took my family on a vacation to the upper peninsula of Michigan to hike the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. We stayed at a resort just outside of the park on the shore of Lake Superior. Every night my family and I would walk the shore of the lake. One evening I saw a very white stone just under the water on the water’s edge that really stood out from all the other darker colored rocks. It looked so out of place that I thought it was a man-made object. However, when I picked it up, I realized it was an almost perfectly round piece of white quartz rock. I decided to put it in my pocket and I never told anyone I found it as I thought I might do something with it. 

Dave's Romantic Idea: A Custom Necklace

In December, 2016 I had the thought of making it into a necklace to give to my wife for Christmas. However, with only 3 weeks to go before the holiday, there was no time. Then in January, 2017 I decided to make it into a necklace to give to my wife for our 25th wedding anniversary in July. That’s when I came into Jewelry by Johan to see if they could help me with my project. I met with Janetta who was excited to hear about the gift and helped me get my ideas down on paper so that they could begin the design process. Since I had to keep this off my wife’s radar screen, I had to pay for the piece in cash and it took me 3 months to pay it off. It wasn’t until the end of April that they started work. The necklace was completed in June and it’s just amazing! The folks at Johan did an incredible job of turning my ideas into reality! Thank you Johan Jewelry!!

Custom Anniversary Necklace Made from Stone

An Extra Special Touch

While the necklace was being made, I decided I needed something nice to put the necklace in so I designed a simple clamshell style gift box.  The gift box is made from black walnut wood and both halves of the box have a heart shaped cavity milled into them that creates the space to hold the necklace.  Since the box needed some “dressing up” I had our designer at my work create an ornament design that would be laser burned into the inside the box.  A laser shop in Crystal, MN did the laser work and they did a very nice job!

Custom Engraved Box

The necklace itself has a lot of symbolism built into it, so I wrote a letter that describes all the symbolism and I had that letter laser etched into a silver-looking metal plate that is mounted on the top of the gift box.  A laser shop in St. Paul, MN did the work and it turned out beautiful!  The heart shaped cavity inside the box is lined with red velvet and I was able to get a laser group at my work to cut the velvet for me.

Finally, I needed a box made so that I could wrap the gift.  To get that done, I asked a friend in our package engineering department at my work to make a small custom cardboard box.  I thought the box looked a little plain, so I made a custom label to put on top.  That label was printed by a friend of mine that has access to an ink jet license plate printer at my work.  He printed the label on reflective license plate sheeting in 4 color graphics.

Custom Box for Dave Grubbish

Overall, the whole project took 6 months to complete and no less than 10 different people and local shops contributed to making it happen! There were many issues along the way where I was either unsure I could get it done the way I wanted and/or very thankful I started the project when I did! In the end it came out beautiful and I hope my wife will love it as much as I think she will. Whatever the case, I had fun putting it all together and she is definitely worth every bit of effort that went into it. I love her more than I can describe.

The Big Surprise

A few weeks before our anniversary, my wife and I traveled up to Madeline Island on Lake Superior (just outside of Bayfield, WI). While we were touring on the island, my wife insisted on walking through all the gift shops and when we were in the last shop, I noticed her looking at a small rack of necklaces. I asked her what she was doing and she turned around and showed me a necklace that was almost exactly like the one I had designed!! Yes, it was the same necklace but instead of one round stone inside the spherical helix cage, it had three small stones and the necklace band was leather just like the one I got for her! Luckily, she didn’t buy it and so I ushered her out of the store as quick as I could. Later that evening while we were having dinner on the island, she thought seriously about going back to the store to buy the necklace but didn’t because I convinced her the store was already closed. That was a close call! 

All along leading up to our anniversary, I had been concerned that my wife might be on to my little secret so in the last few days before our anniversary, I told her that I didn’t get her anything. Her response was “Good, because I didn’t get you anything either!” With that relief behind me, I had to determine how I was going to present the gift to her. So on the day of our anniversary, we went hiking along the north shore of Lake Superior but my wife said we needed to get back to the cabin by 3 PM so that we could clean up and then drive in to Grand Marais, MN.

I agreed and said that I would get in the shower first so that while she was in the shower, I could take time to set the gift and card on the mantel of the fireplace what was in our cabin and I told her that when she was done getting pretty, I wanted to take a photo of her in front of the cool fireplace. When she came out of the bathroom, she saw the gift all wrapped and was completely surprised!!! She cried for at least 2 hours after opening it up and remarked how similar it was to the necklace she saw on Madeline Island! We ate a nice dinner that night and then built a fire on the shore of Superior outside our cabin and sat out there until midnight watching the stars and listening to music. It was a perfect setting and my plan could not have unfolded any better if I had tried.

Linda Grubbish on Anniversary Trip

One last note: The funny part about her wanting to drive into Grand Marais was that it was her intention to drag me through all the gift shops to see if she could find a necklace just like the one she saw on Madeline Island!! That mission was never realized and she has almost never taken off her new necklace since I gave it to her. I just hope she loves me as much as her gift!

Tagged: Gift Ideas