Ornament design to be revealed at tree lighting

  • Local philanthropist and merchant Thomas Scanlin (center) spent a little time recently playing Santa to the community, gifting both Lumpkin County and the City of Dahlonega with complete sets of the Community Helping Place Official Dahlonega Christmas Ornament. Scanlin said he hopes the sets will be on permanent public display for all to enjoy. Accepting the gifts are (left) Lumpkin County BOC Chairman Chris Dockery and Dahlonega Mayor Sam Norton.
    Local philanthropist and merchant Thomas Scanlin (center) spent a little time recently playing Santa to the community, gifting both Lumpkin County and the City of Dahlonega with complete sets of the Community Helping Place Official Dahlonega Christmas Ornament. Scanlin said he hopes the sets will be on permanent public display for all to enjoy. Accepting the gifts are (left) Lumpkin County BOC Chairman Chris Dockery and Dahlonega Mayor Sam Norton.
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The season of gifting is in the air. Garland and red ribbon deck the square and the annual community Christmas tree is up, its boughs hung with glittering snowflakes, bells and baubles.
Christmas ornaments and the season of giving were definitely on the mind of Thomas Scanlin, owner of Studio Jewelers on the Dahlonega Public Square last week. Scanlin gifted the community by presenting complete sets—including this year’s yet-to-be-announced Community Helping Place (CHP) Official Dahlonega Christmas Ornament—to both the city of Dahlonega and Lumpkin County. His hope, he said, is that they are put on public display to be enjoyed by everyone.
“So many people have made it a family pilgrimage to come into Studio Jewelers to see the new ornament each year, and the display of all of them,” Scanlin said. “Now that I’m retiring, they won’t be able to do that any more. I’m hoping they can be on display at the Welcome Center, and Chris [Dockery] mentioned the new library. That would be perfect.”
“I’d love to see it at the Welcome Center for the community and visitors to see,” said Dahlonega Mayor Sam Norton. He added that may happen, but not before some way to protect the valuable gift is devised.
“Thomas is one of the most generous and philanthropic citizens in the community. When he gives a gift, it has value and meaning. And for the meantime we will display them at City Hall, where we can keep them safe.”
Scanlin is closing Studio Jewelers after 36 years of selling estate pieces and creating custom jewelry. For the past several years he has also donated his time to help create CHP’s annual ornament. They are a work of art, taking months to put together from concept to completion.
Beautifully crafted to be an accurate representation of an historic Dahlonega landmark, hand-assembled in America of solid brass, the ornaments have become coveted collectors items.
“The first one made, the Gold Museum, would now sell for $500 or more, if you could find one for sale,” Scanlin said.
Up until now Scanlin owned three complete sets—the one he displayed at Studio Jewelers each year, one for the store’s Christmas tree and one for his home. He has been offered $2,500 for one of his sets, but always turned the offer down. He chose instead to share them with the community.
And he plans to hang on to the one he has left to enjoy himself.
“I’ve been collecting them since the first, since 2008. The idea of having something tangible to hold in your hand to look at that holds the history of places of importance in your hometown—that’s meaningful—at least to me,” Scanlin said. “It gives me a sense of community, and it always makes me smile.”
Many in the community must hold similar feelings. The 600  limited edition pieces have sold out every year, and for the last two years, have all been gone by the second day after being revealed.
This year people may have a better chance of snagging one, as the CHP Board decided to issue 750 instead of its usual 600.
The price has also gone up, from $20 to $25.
“The cost of producing them has been steadily going up, and CHP has been absorbing the cost. But the bottom line is that this is a fundraiser,” Scanlin said.
Profits from the sale of the ornaments go to support CHP’s services to the community—a Food Pantry, Baby Pantry, Free Medical and Dental clinics, Emergency Assistance, White Christmas and Summer Food Program for the time children do not receive hot meals at school.
“I believe these limited edition ornaments will continue to be collectable, but I believe they have an even greater value. They have the ability to help others,” Scalin said. “When you purchase one of these ornaments you get a beautiful permanent reminder of some of the defining places and things that make this community unique and so very special, but CHP gets to continue its mission of serving those less fortunate. And isn’t that what puts the magic in this holiday season, that spirit of giving?”
This year’s ornament will be revealed Friday, Nov. 29, and can be purchased after the unveiling at Studio Jewelers, The Fudge Factory, Amy’s Attic, Hair Works and the Humble Candle.