R.I.P. Vaughn Benjamin
The story of Akashic Jewelry
The irony is, in the beginning, I had absolutely no interest in designing jewelry. I thought it be tedious and time consuming. However, I was introduced to the value of gemstones at the impressionable age of 17 years, by a mysterious man of East Indian descent that came out of my life just as quickly and wondrously as he had entered. I only knew him by the name in which he called himself, OM, true story. The story of OM... One day my brother Reg and I, while walking on Broad street toward Erie avenue (Philadelphia), we noticed a very unusual boutique. Although we had frequently walked up and down that street, hundreds of times, for some odd reason, we never noticed it. Excited about the hookah pipes in the window, we imagined all the many possibilities and went inside to inquire. While exiting the boutique OM specifically approached and requested that I come to work with him at the store. He later gave me a vending license and invited to trade and sell anything in the boutique at any location of the city where the license was valid. What an offer! Barely of legal age and being granted all the tools and necessary resources to be a complete entrepreneur. And so, it was, that summer I ate home cooked Indian cuisine and learned to meditate daily after a full day of absorbing sunlight, newfound purpose and leadership skills. OM had become consistent in his efforts to treat me like I was his son, as he would grant me several gifts daily, from musical instruments to what later paved the way for an entire cultural phenomenon, an entire handbag filled with expensive gemstones. At the time all I could see were a bag full of colorful rocks. I recall wondering to myself, why is he giving me these, as he made his best effort to instruct me to see them, as one day I would become more aware. Toward the end of that summer, a fire burned down the entire strip, destroying every store including OM's boutique. My relationship with OM slowly dissipated after that, due to circumstances that at the time I was unable to comprehend. I later began to share the gifts that Om had given me with other people in my community. I figured the gemstones could make nice jewelry even though at the time I did not even know they had any value, beyond my imagination. I passed a small bag of gemstones out of the many that I had in my possession, onto someone who I thought to be a friend who called himself WARLOCK. Little did I know that name, although it has since changed would have a profound impact on my reality in ways that I no longer care to discuss. As Tom Hanks stated as portrayed by the character Forest Gump, "that's all I'm going to say about that." Along with the gift gemstones, I shared my ideas for using them to design jewelry with the self-proclaimed WARLOCK, combined with the efforts, kindness, and creativity of a woman from overseas, named Nou Ra who was a fashion designer and tour manager for “The Legendary Root Crew” at the time, the first seeds were planted, and Akashic Jewelry would soon be born. Keeping in mind, I had absolutely no interest in the hands-on approach of jewelry design; I was a visionary with great ideas but did not care for the thought of sitting still for too long. There were a few occurrences in my life that lead me to the level of expertise that I practice today, taking into account that making money was last of my ambitions that motivated me.1. I was offered contracts and grant funding to build after school programs in the Philadelphia school system. In most cases as much as I desired to employ others with these contracts, some people were just not ready. Therefore, I took it upon myself to teach jewelry design to the children. With all my materials paid for, I had no interest in selling jewelry; I only wanted to teach the skill to the children. 2. I responded to an ad that I saw seeking a jewelry designer. It is important to note that I initially responded to the ad with the intention of referring someone else for the position. However, again, I found myself alone in my offer and I needed the work anyway, so I reluctantly took the position, best move that I could have made. Working for “Wanna Buy Watch” introduced me to a new level of discipline and business knowledge that would later become a model for Akashic Jewelry. I worked 8 hours a day sitting in one place assembling intricate designs based on prototypes created by a woman named Deborah Barilla. While our relationship was short lived, I gained a wealth of insight that I know continues to work to my advantage. Last, but not least, the final determining factor that motivated the business of Akashic Jewelry was the exploitation of others. Several years had gone by since I met Om, and I had begun to watch the ideas that I shared with other people be mishandled and abused. Arrogance and greed had set in and money became the main motivating factor for those closest to me. I would hear comments made such as, "let's go to this festival and milk em' for everything they got!" To this day I cringe inside when I think of those words. By that point I had learned more about the value and healing properties of gemstones, however I watched as my peers would give over exaggerated metaphysical theories knowing that their primary goal was "let’s get this money," as it was said behind closed doors. Having been forced to address my own financial burdens, I walked a very fine line between giving it as it was given to me, and generating the necessary income in order to move in effectively in society and build a legitimate business structure, and so it was, the legacy of Akashic Jewelry was born, setting into motion an entire movement that continues to inspire and empower people worldwide.