Sept. 11, 2011 was both a solemn and joyful day in the history of Union Diamond.
Ten years earlier, Scott Anderson, president and CEO of the online diamond jeweler, officially launched his website. The excitement of that moment was muted by the events that unfolded that morning, but they inspired him to keep moving forward.
“He kept telling himself that there was a reason all of this was happening, and that if he just made it through that day, he’d be okay,” says Union Diamond’s senior vice president Barbara Palumbo.
He would indeed be okay, as his company became one of the industry’s leading e-tailers—even winning Forbes’ Best of the Web early on in the company’s existence.
When it came time for him and his staff to celebrate Union Diamond’s 10-year anniversary, Anderson—who is originally from Wales and served in the British army—wanted to do something to support a good cause. A lot of good ideas were tossed around, including running a promotion to support October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but his mind kept gravitating toward the U.S. Armed Forces.
“He’s always had a soft spot for the military because of his background, and the events of Sept. 11 always hang in the back of his mind,” says Palumbo. “He sat us all down and said, ‘This is what I want to do.’”
Anderson told his staff they were going to award a platinum and diamond engagement ring worth $40,000 to one lucky member of the U.S. military. He named the contest “My Perfect Union.” Members of the military are encouraged to nominate themselves or be nominated by friends or family members through a video submission and/or essay submitted to the website MyPerfectUnion.com. The contest is open to both active duty and retired members of all branches of the U.S. military.
“When I immigrated to the United States of America more than 20 years ago, I had no idea what challenges and opportunities were in store for me,” said Anderson in a statement. “This great country has given me so much and I can’t think of a better way to give back.”
The website has already received more than 100 nominations. One of the most heartbreaking stories involves a service member whose wife was forced to sell her engagement ring just to pay the bills while he was overseas.
“We work with a ton of military kids who are just starting out, want to get married before they leave, or, since we’re online, buy something while serving overseas,” says Palumbo. “This promotion just felt like the right thing to do at the right time.”
The winner of the contest will be announced on Dec. 6. He or she will receive a designer engagement setting in platinum, with a D color, internally flawless diamond valued at $40,000. The serviceman or servicewoman will be awarded the ring in person by Anderson.
“For me, it is the perfect way to show my appreciation to the men and women who protect us. I want to hand this platinum ring to them, look them in the eyes, and tell them, ‘Thank you’ for all that they’ve done,” said Anderson.