Ever wonder what it would have been like to be present at the Nativity?
For me, thoughts of darkness and the cold, hard ground, the hay, the sounds and smells of the animals with a peasant family huddled in the midst of it all, come to mind. People travel from all over the world to view the Church of the Nativity, the location historically believed to be the birthplace of the Savior, and now there is a family business and ministry enabling people to bring a piece of that birthplace with them, wherever they go.
Susan Stringer of the The Nativity Stones Collection contacted me and shared her family’s amazing history. They were entrusted with a limited number of stones from the cave where Christ was born, and see it as their mission to distribute them to faithful Christians around the world! We corresponded recently and she was kind enough to send me some beautiful items to examine for this post. It is an honor and a blessing to hold these pieces of history and help share the tale of this undertaking. Here is some of our dialog.
JC: Based on the size stones used in your finished pieces, how long can you continue to produce product? And as the nativity stones become more scarce, how will that impact price?
SS: “The Stones are limited as they were from a one-time excavation in the Manger Room in 1963 when my husband’s grandfather was given the stones by the Mayor of Bethlehem. We try to make the Nativity Stones available to people around the world at affordable prices. We will continue to strive to make it affordable no matter what the quantity we have left. When they are all distributed, our family’s job as the custodians of the Nativity Stones will be over and it will give us great joy to have been able to share them with others as a way to feel closer to our Lord Jesus Christ.”
JC: Are all your pieces the same design?
SS: “We have several different designs, but what they all share is that they all cradle an authentic Nativity Stone.”
SS: “ We are considering new designs for the future. My mother-in-law takes inspiration from her collection of vintage crosses and rosaries. For example, the Victorian Prayer Rosary, which she presented to Cardinal Ruini at the Vatican, was inspired from one she has had in her collection for many years.”
JC: Are the entire crosses made in the USA?
SS: “[At one point] we did work with a Los Angeles-based Korean-American Christian jewelry manufacturer in China. However, when we first started casting the Nativity Stones crosses, we had our own facility in Los Angeles and aside from the Nativity Stones themselves, the crosses were 100% USA made. The majority of the items currently on our website are proudly made in the USA. Unfortunately, it has become extremely difficult to find jewelry manufacturing facilities in the USA. We hope to be able to manufacture exclusively in the USA again.”
JC: Other than social media, how are you marketing the crosses?
SS: “We are currently featured on HSN. Back in the 1990s we sold them through direct response distribution, primarily through a documentary style informercial. We found it essential for our customer to truly understand the Nativity Stones’ story and their authenticity.
We currently offer the Nativity Stones on our website shipping mostly to the USA and Canada, but other countries upon request. In the Philippines, we have a local distributor who is handling our online requests there. We are also offered on HSN in the USA through Michael Anthony Jewelers. We’ve had a 20+ year relationship with this jeweler and he is the ONLY person we allow to use the Nativity Stones in his jewelry. He specializes in faith-based jewelry and is a close friend of our family, and in a handful of Catholic and Christian small stores and catalogues. Additionally, we have also sold them through church fundraisers, directly giving the proceeds to their ministries.”
You can see their beautiful jewelry on the website, www.nativitystonescollection.com, by clicking here. Imagine praying the Joyful Mysteries with one of their Rosaries, holding in your hand a piece of the cave were Mary cradled Jesus and contemplated those same events.
Each piece of jewelry is packaged with the stone’s story as well a Certificate of Authenticity. With Advent upon us, now is the perfect time to give the perfect Christmas gift. Think of someone in your life deserving of such a treasure and get ‘em before they’re gone!