Paul Gephart  with his sharktooth creations

We were on our way through the beautifully green four-mile scenic drive near the town of Hilo, Hawaii, when we had a serendipitous moment. Out of nowhere, we came upon a quaint little store by the wayside. It was quaint as quaint goes. Small, shabby, and age written all over it, it was the kind of little shop that one just loves to discover.

We were in that completely relaxed mood where you go around looking at things, and stopping at all kinds of interesting wayside places, because there is no hurry to get anywhere soon. And in Big Island, Hawaii, we were on vacation. We were going nowhere fast. So we stopped at the quaint little shop, probably because we never expected to find a store on the scenic drive, passes as it does through rather dense rain-forest at places.

There was no one to be found inside the store. We browsed around anyway, and then we heard some mild sound from the back, like someone was chiseling away. It went: tuk-tuk-tuk, tuk-tuk-tuk. It would stop, and then start again. So perhaps there is someone there after all. We made some noise, shouted "Hello". And soon the door at the back of the store opened, and out came Paul Gephard, the owner of the store.

Paul was patient and showed us around his store, his vast collection of jewelry that has been made largely by him. In fact, that's just what he was doing when we came in, making jewelry in the workshop behind the store.

The jewelry that Paul makes is amazingly beautiful, and beautifully Hawaiian. With material like shells, black coral, beads, shark teeth, and some such, he makes real pieces of art. You can see some of the pieces on his web store-front: hawaiianartifact.com.

All I can say is that his web-store does not do justice to the art he has on display on the wood-brick-and-mortar store in Papaikou, Hawaii. So, if you are in Hawaii Big Island, do drop in there. I am sure you will meet Paul in his little workshop. If he is in the mood, may be he will even regale you with stories about the time he spent in Vietnam. But, most of you, you will perhaps remember this mild-mannered man long after you have left Hawaii, like I do.