President's Petoskey stone hails from Petoskey gem shop

Betty Bailey and John Bessette describe when the President's Petoskey stone was purchased from the shop.

A photo of President Barack Obama tapping his finger on a Petoskey stone while speaking on the phone went viral this week after the White House photographer sent the image out in a Tweet.

That created a buzz all over the Internet about the stone: where was it from?

TV 7&4 asked viewers on the station's Facebook page if they knew anything about it. Within 5 minutes of that the phone rang. It was John Bessette Sr., a lapidarian, a person who works with stones and gems, at Bailey's Place in Petoskey.

"I polished that," Bessette said.

White House staff confirmed Bessette's story.

Bailey's Place in Petoskey is used to people coming in looking for gifts for someone special.

But in the summer of 2011, shop owner Betty Bailey said a woman came into her shop looking for a special gift. Without thinking Bailey helped her pick the Petoskey stone and wrapped it for her.

For all Bailey knew, that was the end of the story.

But when the woman came back months later and told everyone who she gave it to, Bailey and Bessette could barely believe it.

"She proceeded to tell me this story about the stone she bought and who she bought it for a special gift it was the president of United States," Bessette said.

"When someone says, 'I gave this to the president it's sitting on his desk', you kind of just sit there and say OK, you're a little dumbfounded at that moment," Bessette said.

The stone, from a humble little shop in Petoskey, was given to the President for his birthday.

The woman was the girlfriend of the President's personal photographer, Pete Souza - the man who tweeted a photo of the President tapping a Petoskey stone while making a phone call at his desk in the oval office.

"He liked it so well. He told Pete he was putting it on his desk which he did," Bailey said.

Bessette, an artist that works with Bailey's Place and the man that polished the stone, saw the photo online earlier this week.

Bessette said they had asked for a photo of the stone on the President's desk before, but was told it wouldn't be possible because the White House didn't want to endorse any businesses.

But when Bessette saw that photo online, he knew it was his work.