Erika Winters

Erika-Winters

I never thought that my curiosity about jewelry blogs would have taken me so far. I have met and read and interviewed so many interesting people, all from different backgrounds with the same confluence – jewelry. After all, the art of adornment goes back to the prehistoric man when shell beads were made to be used as a personal ornament.

Erika’s journey into the world of jewelry is fascinating. It was triggered by her future husband’s proposal; she became enamored with the symbolism of the ring and desired to learn more about all of it – and the rest, as they say, is history.

Josette: You have been an editor at Price Scope for almost five years. I am a big fan of your forum; I think it’s a great platform for the consumer and Mark Patterson has been featured and debated there a few times. Have you ever participated in a forum discussion as an arbitrator? Have you ever been prompted to write a blog post on any discussions in your forum?

Erika: First, thanks for visiting the forum! Pricescope is a unique site in that we bring together jewelers and consumers for active discussions on our forum. Our aim is to facilitate this dialogue but without any promotion from jewelers, so our members can speak freely and share their purchases and advice. We have a great forum moderator who keeps discussions in check. We don’t censor conversations, but we do keep things civil and encourage “polite” discussion. Do discussions get heated? Absolutely! Our Pricescope members are passionate about jewelry, and passion is a good thing! But “family friendly” language is encouraged, and personal insults or attacks are a no-no. It’s a forum, so debate is par for the course—and it can be both educational and entertaining!

About 4 years ago, I launched the Pricescope Jewelry Blog (http://www.pricescope.com/blog) to diversify and deliver topical content to our community members. (Pricescope garners roughly 500,000 unique visitors per month.)  My official title is director of communications, but I also manage all educational and contributor content (outside of the forum) and write the blog. I cover jewelry shows and love doing designer features. I also do a weekly blog pulled right from the forum called “Jewel of the Week” to showcase our posters’ jewelry pieces. I also love to examine trends on Pricescope vs. larger market jewelry trends. Pricescope consumers represent a niche “prosumer” group, so they really know what they want. And that includes engagement rings, as many women on Pricescope are selecting their own designs, and some are contributing to the purchase. So some of my blog posts examine the social factors that affect jewelry purchases and how people wear their jewels—like this one: Women – Do You Take Off Your Engagement or Wedding Rings to Advance Your Career? http://www.pricescope.com/blog/poll-women-do-you-take-your-engagement-or-wedding-rings-advance-your-career

Josette: We could say that theater, dance drawing and photography are all intertwined and that we can draw inspiration from each one. Did your career in the performing arts influence the way you design jewelry and what prompted you to design a bridal collection?

My career in theatre and dance absolutely influences my jewelry designs. A colleague described my engagement rings as like “a ballerina in mid twirl.” That was so lovely, as the rings have presence but also have this airy and light quality. Dance and dancers will always inspire me, as they embody precise movements with supple organic forms.

I designed my first bridal collection (http://www.erikawinters.com/) after a colleague asked if I’d like to design a line for her new online store. It’s funny, after getting my G.G. in 2008, I wanted to design more than anything, but I needed to learn. So I worked in retail, and then I started writing about jewelry and studying design in earnest over the next several years. So when my colleague approached me about designing, I was ready to go. I needed that push—that impetus—to foray into design. I designed my first collection of 12 engagement rings in about 3 weeks in November 2013. We launched the first four designs in February of 2014, and 8 have been produced so far.

Josette: Photography plays a big role in what you do, you take pictures of your own jewelry and others. How and why did you get started?

Erika: I do all of the photography for my bridal line. And I’ve shot retailer and designers’ jewelry for my blog and for their websites. Much like with designing, when I’m shooting jewelry I’m in my element—I can shoot for hours and it feels like no time has passed at all. I have an obsession with light and capturing diamonds, gemstones, and metal in multiple lighting environments. I also love a challenge and love to shoot in not-so-ideal lighting situations—like at the jewelry shows. At JCK and Couture, for example, I move from booth to booth and have about 20 minutes tops to shoot multiple pieces in some of the worst lighting imaginable. Every booth has different lighting! I don’t see it as a negative, though, as I love to find creative ways to bring jewels to life. I try to offer a different perspective on jewelry photography—that showcases the pieces naturally—without the usual white background and high contrast.

My work in theatre influences my photography as well—it’s all about the light, the presence, and the movement that you can feel, though the images are static. I’m self-taught. I’ve worked to develop a style over the last seven years. I started by shooting my own personal pieces. I’m always trying new things. It’s a process, and the discovery is the best part.

 

Josette: Looking at what you have accomplished so far where do you see yourself in a few years?

Erika: I see myself designing more collections and continuing to shoot jewelry. I’m in the initial developmental stage for a new (non bridal) line, and I’m starting to do custom design work. I love writing about jewelry too. I’ve always done creative work, and so it will continue  to evolve.

Thank you, Erika, for sharing your story. Through your work, I can see how much you love what you do.

Erika Winters Designs Thea Halo Engagement Ring

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Photo © Erika Winters

 

 

 

Talking Jewelry with Wendy Brandes

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I can’t believe I have neglected my blog for almost a month! I guess this is how much time it took me to recuperate after the Couture Jewelry show. So many friends to see, so many drinks to drink, so many events to attend and only a few hours of sleep – especially when you don’t want to miss a beat! Thank God it’s only once a year.

My new post is about Wendy Brandes,  a former journalist-turned-jewelry designer with an outgoing personality. When I saw her NY Taxi ring I thought of Jeff Koons famous Balloon Dogs and it triggered my curiosity about Wendy.

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Josette: You have attributed the inspiration behind some of your jewelry to pieces you have seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Do you think that a good design has it roots in history, or is it part of the evolution of an object?

Wendy: I’ve always loved the patina that gold acquires over centuries. It makes the metal look so lush. My first exposure to that was “The Treasures of Tutankhamun,” a blockbuster museum exhibit that came to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1978/79. The Tut tour was such a pop-culture phenomenon that when Steve Martin performed a funny song called “King Tut” on Saturday Night Live, it got to #17 on the Billboard charts.  https://screen.yahoo.com/king-tut-000000724.html. My father took me to the exhibit (I still have the coffee table book) and it was like an entire world made of intricately worked gold.

After that, I would always linger over ancient gold pieces on display, thinking, “I wish this were a store instead of a museum!” I wanted to bring it all home. When I started designing jewelry, I realized I could make pieces like that — even better pieces, in some cases, thanks to improved technology. For instance, I like the Egyptian swivel rings with a scarab on one side and an inscription on the other, but you can see the mechanism from six feet away. My Hathor swivel ring — with a center gem that can be flipped from turquoise to carnelian — has the mechanism completely concealed. No one ever guesses that the center swivels without my demonstrating it.

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That said, I don’t think design has to be inspired by history to be worthwhile. I actually have two collections in my own line. My ultra-luxe, 18K gold designs are the ones inspired by history. My WENDYB by Wendy Brandes diffusion line in silver is inspired by current events, pop culture and social media. I’m the queen of Emoji jewelry!

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Josette: Your jewelry has a lot of personality, your pieces always have a story behind them. You are truly a story teller with a lot of imagination. Do you think that creativity can be learned or is it given?

Wendy: Sometimes creativity has to be freed more than learned. Creativity can be suppressed by fear. You can be scared to attract attention, scared to risk criticism, scared to be different from everyone else. Worrying about potential reactions to your ideas stops you from exploring those ideas. You need to become convinced of your own value and let go of the external worries in order to create.

Josette: When I look at some of your pieces, especially the NY Taxi ring, I think of Jeff Koons. Would it be a stretch to say that you are the Jeff Koons of the jewelry industry?

Wendy: I just read Ingrid Sischy’s story on Jeff Koons in the July issue of Vanity Fair, pegged to the opening of a Koons retrospective at the Whitney Museum,  http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2014/07/jeff-koons-whitney-retropective. I was struck by the technical challenges of his work. In the 1980s, while working on his “Equilibrium” series, Koons got advice from the Nobel-Prize-winning physicist Richard P. Feynman on the proportions of distilled and saline water required to suspend basketballs in fishtanks. More recently, he’s consulted with  M.I.T.’s Center for Bits and Atoms. About his “Celebration” series, started in 1994, Sischy wrote:

“A fundamental problem with the ‘Celebration’ series was that the fabricating processes and the technology had not caught up with Koons’s visions. These evolving technologies are so sophisticated and so much a part of the work that the Whitney devotes an entire chapter to them, written by Michelle Kuo, the editor of Artforum, in the catalogue for the show. Reading about the CT scans, structured-light scanning, volumetric data, customized software, and personalization of fabrication technologies, I started to understand why all those people are needed in Koons’s studio.”

All of that to achieve something as clean-looking and “simple” as the famous Balloon Dog! I identified with this because my complex gold pieces require an enormous amount of labor from a team of people. The taxi ring, which is part of my Maneater ring series, called for a highly skilled wax sculptor; a mold maker; a metal caster; a gem cutter for custom-cut stones; a gem setter who can do a beautiful job setting hundreds of gems with a diameter of one millimeter or less; an engraver; and a project-managing jeweler.  I need artisans who are the best of the best for that kind of work.Plus there is my labor coming up with the design and monitoring it every step of the way, either approving or making changes to the work. (I rejected the first wax model of the taxi because I didn’t like its proportion relative to the shank of the ring.) So many consumers are used to judging the value of fine jewelry by the price of the raw materials or the presence of extremely large gems, but those are not the major costs with pieces like this. As a result, I take the time to educate people about what goes into the designs. Really, they need to be viewed as portable works of art rather than simple adornment. I am striving to create jewelry worthy of museum display. My dream is to go full circle and have my work seen in the place that inspired me in the first place.

Thank you Wendy for giving me the opportunity to get a look into your world, I have no doubt that your pieces will one day be displayed as work of art – in my mind you are the “Jeff Koons” of the jewelry industry.

Some helpful link that Wendy would like us to visit:

https://screen.yahoo.com/king-tut-000000724.html

http://www.touregypt.net/museum/tutl18.html

http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2013/04/king-tut-exhibit-new-york

http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2014/07/jeff-koons-whitney-retropective

http://wendybrandes.com/blog/2010/11/jewels-of-the-month-hathor-ring-and-earrings/

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Rachel Garrahan

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It was pure luck that I came across one of Rachel Grant’s articles. I was on an international flight from LAX and reading the Fashion section of the Financial Times; something I wouldn’t have done in my regular routine. I realized later that Rachel Grant was Rachel Garrahan who is a contributor for the Jewellery Editor, a great international blog that I follow on a regular basis. Rachel has a keen eye for beautiful things and is another one of us who fell in love with jewelry to the point that she became a goldsmith.

Josette: You describe yourself as a freelance writer, a jewelry designer and a goldsmith. Two very different fields with a creativity factor in common. Which do you like best being a wordsmith or a goldsmith?

Rachel: I know, they’re very different and I feel very lucky to be able to combine the two! I moved to LA 8 years ago from London 7 months pregnant with my first baby. I had been working in television and traveling a lot, and wanted to change things up so started writing and taking jewellery classes at UCLA with my wonderful instructor Ralph Goldstein. Making jewellery by hand is a very lengthy process- especially for a relative beginner like me – but it’s wonderful to wear something beautiful that you’ve made, or even better to give it to someone else. The writing satisfies another part of me: I love learning and getting out there and meeting talented people. I set up the blog as a home for my work – whatever it was – but I’ve actually been focused more on the writing in the past year. It’s been fascinating.

Josette: When did you first realize that you have a passion for jewelry?

Rachel: Dressing up was a passion of mine from an early age and I’ve always appreciated a bit (ok, a lot) of sparkle. At school I loved to design clothes and make beaded jewellery which I would sell to my parents’ friends and at the church fete. That got all put to one side when I went off to college (where I studied English and American literature) and it’s felt so good to come back to it!

Josette: As an editor, you have come across a lot of jewelry. How would you define today’s fine jewelry world and what is your opinion on artisan jewelry?

Rachel: It constantly amazes me how many original creations there are for such a relatively small accessory. It’s a joy to discover the way a designer – whether they be working for a major brand or making it themselves – has used new gem stones and materials, or reinterpreted an old style. As the consumer, you could go for a trend-based piece or something more classic, but either way you will hopefully fall in love with it and pass it down to the next generation.

As for the industry as a whole,  I think there’s a place for everybody whether it be the dedicated team at Van Cleef & Arpels putting in hundreds of hours into creating one piece to the artisan jeweller doing everything themselves. I recently spent a morning with Arman Sarkisyan for The Jewellery Editor, and truly could have spent a whole week with him. To combine such imagination and technical expertise is awe-inspiring particularly for someone who struggles with soldering regularly!

Josette: How important is the celebrity factor in promoting your brand?

Rachel: I think in today’s short-attention-span, social media world, it is very important. On the one hand we all enjoy the fantasy of the red carpet and it’s is a wonderful opportunity for jewellery lovers to see extraordinary pieces that don’t have much place in our day to day lives. On the other hand we should be under no illusion that the red carpet is an industry these days with many brands paying the celebrity and their stylist to wear their gown, earrings or even their nail polish. This naturally makes it tough for the smaller designer who doesn’t have that kind of marketing budget to get the same exposure. That said, there will always be room for talented designers as there are many people out there who will appreciate your work whether it’s worn by a celebrity or not.

Josette: The Couture show is around the corner, what are you most looking forward to at the show?

Rachel: That’s a tough question with all that amazing jewellery under one roof. I look forward to seeing everyone and the new pieces they’ve been working on. It will also be great to discover some new designers and give them a chance to shine!

Thank you Rachel! I have enjoyed reading your writings, and I hope that you continue to sit at the bench and enjoy making beautiful things!

Jewels du Jour

10153100_10101159755811857_1570662012_nThe first time I stumbled over Jewels du Jour blog, I was hooked! Hooked by the information, hooked by the beauty of the posts, hooked by the subjects of each posts. Natalie has done a tremendous job in choosing her subjects and keeping us on edge waiting to read her next post.

Jewels du Jour has the best daily feature on any blog that focuses on jewelry! I am sure that Natalie’s blog will be considered one of the top blogs in the industry. She already is my go-to when looking for information on a certain time period or a specific jeweler. I am so happy to introduce you to Natalie.

Josette: You studied economics at UPenn and now you are writing a jewelry blog. Were you always interested in jewelry? Where and how did Jewels du Jour get it’s start?

Natalie: Jewelry has always fascinated me, but never as much as it does now. Three years ago, I would have never imagined that I would be writing a jewelry blog. My passion for jewelry really started after I met my fiancé, who works in his family’s fourth generation jewelry business. After spending some time with him around his family, I realized it might be wise to know a thing or two myself so I could partake in their jewelry-centric conversations. As soon as I started doing a bit of research, I was instantly hooked. What makes jewelry so special for me is the artistry, the history and ultimately the story behind each piece that makes it so much more than the object itself.

I first used Pinterest as a means to catalogue pieces that I really liked or knew were important, and I spent hours pouring over auction catalogue archives to learn what designers were important, what type of gemstones were most prized, and so on. As my Pinterest account garnered more and more followers, all unbeknownst to my fiancé, I knew I was on to something. When my fiancé finally discovered my Pinterest account, he was shocked and amazed about how much I had learned and the neat pieces I had found, many of which he had never seen before, as well as the number of people following me. At his suggestion, I decided to start a blog and that’s when Jewels du Jour was born.

Josette: You write extensively about auction news; you write about the Collectors behind the pieces and the women who bought the jewelry. Which one of these women has influenced the jewelry industry the most by commissioning pieces from her favorite jeweler?

Natalie: This is a tough question to answer because there are so many influential women whose jewelry collections have impacted the industry. However, the one woman who truly transformed the jewelry auction business with the sale of her collection is the Duchess of Windsor. While I’m not a fan of her as a person, there is no question that she was an exceptionally fashionable woman with impeccable taste in jewelry. Her specially commissioned pieces from the world’s great jewelry houses, like Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels, are revered as some of the most brilliantly designed jewels ever made. What’s important to note is how involved both she and the Duke of Windsor were in the design process of each piece, personalizing the jewels with engraved notes and scrutinizing the designs to their personal tastes at each step.

When her collection came up for auction at Sotheby’s in 1987, the intense interest in owning a piece of her jewelry drove auction prices skyward and set a new record for a jewelry sale at $50.3 million – seven times Sotheby’s estimate. To give you an idea of how astronomical a figure that was for the time, the previous record for a jewelry sale was $8.09 million – for the collection of Florence Gould, the widow of railway magnate Frank Gould. The Duchess’s sale total would hold strong until 2011 with the sale of Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry collection. After the Windsor auction, provenance became both a marketable and profitable attribute to a piece of jewelry, ultimately adding more value to the piece.

Josette:  What is your favorite time period that you most like to write about?

Natalie: This is another difficult question to answer as I like to write about so many jewelry periods. But, if I have to choose only one, it would have to be the Art Deco era. Arguably an easy favorite, however, the 1920s and 1930s in jewelry design had so much going on all at once and is lumped in to the same period. Because of that, there is always something new or interesting to write about, whether it be Art Deco’s hallmark geometric and linear designs or the wave of Egyptian, Indian and Oriental-inspired jewels. The amount of pieces that were created during this period is truly astounding, it was a period of prolific design and manufacture – not to mention wealth – and because of this, there is a never-ending source of material to write about on the blog.

Josette:  When Mark & I were starting our business and living in New York City, one of our favorite things to do was to visit bookstores in lower Manhattan and buy old auction catalogs to further our jewelry knowledge. These bookstores are mostly gone now, and I feel that your blog has helped to fill the void. How do you feel about your blog being used as a historical reference for jewelry and what direction do you envision for your blog in the future?

Natalie: You, Mark and myself must be cut from the same cloth. When I was working in the city (the blog has only recently become a full-time gig), I was fortunate enough that my company’s office was located in the Union Square area – and a stone’s throw away from The Strand bookstore. I would go there during my lunch breaks almost weekly to see what jewelry books and/or jewelry auction catalogues had come in. Thanks to The Strand, my collection of jewelry books grew and I had more and more resources to turn to for my blog.

I’m honored that you consider my blog a historical reference and still can’t believe it has become a place of research online. When I started the blog, my initial intent was to create content that I myself would like to see on a jewelry website but hadn’t really found online at the time. I’m a history lover, so of course I love jewelry with a history, which means I usually do a lot of research from a myriad of sources when writing about it. It’s very important for me to get the facts right and I really do strive to maintain that integrity whenever I write the more in-depth, historical articles on the blog.

It’s hard to say what I envision for the blog in the future, it’s been less than two years since I first started and I’m honestly still amazed at how quickly it has grown and how widely it  has become known. One thing that I have really tried to focus on since leaving my full-time job for the blog is creating better content and being consistent with the daily newsletter. I think down the road I would love to curate a collection of jewelry and sell it through the site, but for now I’m just trying to keep pace as my blog continues to grow.

Thank you Natalie for being part of my blog and good luck! In such a short period, you have accomplished a lot. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for you and Jewels du Jour.

 

Adornmentality “a blog for people with jewelry on their brains”

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Great personality + extensive jewelry knowledge + sense of humor = Barbara!

She is also very humble about being one of the top saleswomen in our industry and very very genuine. I say that without knowing her well, I say that from reading through the lines in her blog.

Barbara, you have come a long way since rejecting “the bucket of steam” from the interview that changed your life – WOW!

Barbara’s blog is a reflection of her personality imbued with her sense of humor, to read it is to laugh and to enjoy the perks of our trade.

Josette: You had a pretty interesting start in the jewelry business working as a runner within the jewelry district of Philadelphia, learning all the facets of the trade and meeting all the people that are part of it. Was it coincidence that you picked this particular ad in the help wanted section to start your journey in the jewelry industry?

Barbara: (WARNING: cliche coming) I’m a firm believer in the old saying, “everything happens for a reason.” Coincidence, it likely was, but I believe you are in charge of your own destiny. Prior to answering that ad I had been a buyer for a local menswear chain in Philly so I was used to working with a mostly male clientele. I grew up with a stay-at-home dad and two older brothers so working with guys wasn’t difficult for me. When I saw the ad I thought, “Selling jewelry to men can’t be much more difficult than selling jeans to them. How hard could it be?” Clearly there is a major difference between diamonds and denim, but the backbone of the sale remains the same: if you believe in what you’re selling, they’ll believe it, too. There’s no hiding your feelings. The truth will be written all over your face.

Josette: You are in sales, and marketing, you are a people’s person, you are part of WJA and perhaps some other organizations. What advice would you give to a young person, an outsider starting in sales and marketing in the jewelry industry?

Barbara: Be genuine. To reiterate what I said above, if you believe in it, you can sell it, because as I have to remind myself daily, LIFE IS SALES. If you don’t believe in the product you’re pushing, then you’re with the wrong brand, or carrying the wrong line.  But you must also remember that you are a part of the sale. People aren’t just buying what you’re selling; they’re buying you, as well. They’re buying a relationship with you, and possibly even a friendship, so if you don’t show the real you, they’ll see right through it and that will damage your chances. Be sincere, and when necessary, humble. And if for some reason you screw up somewhere along the line, show humility. There is nothing people respect more than a person who admits their mistakes. Oh, and bring doughnuts. People like doughnuts. Never, ever, show up without doughnuts.

Josette: You describe yourself as a blogger, a humorist, a Tolkien reader and a shoe buyer extraordinaire, you write a blog for people with jewelry on the brain, you are director of business development for Gumuchian. How do you juggle all this and 2 kids?

Barbara: Good gracious, Josette… I’ve never really looked at it all written down like that before. My word, how DO I do it??? I’m kidding, clearly. The truth is, you are only as good as your support system and I happen to have the best in the man I call my husband. When I’m traveling for Gumuchian, he’s there to take care of our children. When I write a blog post, he’s there as my editor. And when it all gets too overwhelming, he’s there as my rock which is the most important role he plays. On top of all that, I watch very little television; maybe two hours max per week. I get up early and go to bed late and on the days that something falls through the cracks - like forgetting my son’s “Pajama Day” at school or not reading the expiration date on the milk jug – I forgive myself. That’s super important, I think. I think it’s okay to be human; to cry when necessary or scream on occasion. I’ve succumbed to the fact that as humans we are capable of so much, yet still, not everything. Once you accept that, you can almost become invincible.

Josette: What legacy would you like to have in “Jewelville”?

Barbara: That’s a great question and it’s one that really made me think. I guess, when all is said and done, as I sit in my rocking chair on some porch somewhere in Savannah, I would be content knowing that people remembered me as someone who made them laugh. I’d be happy knowing that my colleagues thought that I was funny, and fun to be around. As you know, my blog is largely centered around humor because I felt that a funny jewelry blog was a concept still mostly untouched. There are several educational jewelry blogs full of information with gorgeous pictures and facts galore, and people in our industry love that stuff; they eat it up. But not everyone is a student. Meaning, in school, you used to have the kids who were great at studying and then you had the kids who goofed off a bit and barely got by. I guess my blog goes after the latter (not that the former doesn’t read it) and speaks to those who like a little learning with their comedy. That’s the mark I’d like to leave. I want to be remembered as the funny jewelry blogger.

Thank you Barbara for being a part of my blog, I hope we will finally meet at the trade show!

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Gem Gossip

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The first time I visited the Gem Gossip website I knew that Danielle eats, sleeps, dreams and breathes jewelry – oh and wears jewelry, of course. She wears rings on almost every finger and each day the rings are different. I forgot to ask her how many rings she has worn on her fingers in six years….many more then me I’m sure. After all she is #showmeyourrings!

1-    What sparked your interest in Jewelry? (You talk about it in your bio without really developing, I feel that there must have been something that really was important that made you become so driven about it)

I’ve loved jewelry since I can remember.  My grandmother helped foster my love for jewelry with her yearly trips to Italy, where she would bring back a piece of 18k gold jewelry for each of her granddaughters.  I remember getting so excited to visit her when she returned home from a trip abroad.  I also loved learning about gemstones and my biggest teacher as a young girl was actually QVC.  I would watch their jewelry showcases and take in what the hosts were saying about the jewelry and gems.

2-How did the hashtag # showmeyourrings came about?

I started SHOW ME YOUR RINGS in 2010 on Gem Gossip after searching online for photos of hands with lots of rings on them.  I was disappointed because I found maybe one or two photos after searching for hours.  I thought I could ask my readers to send in pictures they’ve taken themselves, wearing their collection of rings.  I remember receiving my first submission in my inbox and getting SO excited that someone not only took the time to take a picture and send it to me, but also shared the same love as me–rings!

The SHOW ME YOUR RINGS project has recently reached 50 volumes and continues to grow.  With the popularity of Instagram and it becoming a hashtag, it now has a cult following.  The way it has taken off is crazy!  I am very proud of starting it and hope it continues to inspire collectors.

3-How do you describe your blog?

Gem Gossip is a 6 year old jewelry blog which focuses on jewelry trends, antique and period jewelry, celebrity jewelry, as well as exclusive designer interviews.  It is also a hub for gemstone and jewelry education, where jewelry enthusiasts can come to learn!  What sets Gem Gossip apart from other jewelry blogs is my experience in the field–I appraise jewelry full time and have been doing so for four years.  I am a graduate gemologist and love learning.  Treasure hunting is also my specialty, and I love sharing my jewelry-seeking adventures with my readers!

4-Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I have big dreams for Gem Gossip…I have done so much in six years since starting, and looking back at my first post to today truly blows my mind. I want to travel more and treasure hunt.  Expand my ring collection…maybe shoot for 1000 rings by 2024?!  Sounds like a plan! ;)

I know that Danielle’s dreams will come true, I have been there and I still eat, sleep, dream, breath jewelry. Good luck you have a great journey ahead of you!

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IDazzle, Monica Stephenson.

Two years ago I met Monica on Twitter, and again briefly last year during the Couture show. Although I was acquainted with her blog and read it on a regular basis, I eventually found out that she was familiar with our brand having worked at Fox’s Gem Shop in her hometown of Seattle. Interesting how social media has changed the fabric of life….

When I wrote my post on Jewelry blogs, I reached out to Monica who graciously helped me. Thank you again Monica. This post is dedicated to you!

1-Having worked in jewelry stores, you bring designers and consumers together. You have perfected your knowledge by studying gems and traveling as far as Africa, while blogging about an industry that can be archaic and luxurious at the same time. You have been through quite a journey that has lead you to finally owning your own showroom. Can you tell us how you got started and what inspired you?

I have been in love with jewelry for as long as I can remember.  While I was in college, I worked in a gallery that focused on jewelry as art, and as a Fine Arts and Art History major, I was officially hooked. I’ve worked in fine jewelry ever since, first in independent guild stores and then bridging technology and jewelry—which is as challenging as it sounds!

I started the blog www.idazzle.com about six years ago, when my children were very young.  I thought it would be a way for me to stay connected to the industry I love, in a way that would be more flexible than a retail or tech job.  I found that writing really resonated with me, and I love to tell the stories of jewelry and the talented artisans who make it.

Now I’m exploring new ways to work with jewelry and designers.  I have a beautiful showroom in Seattle where I can connect consumers with my favorite designers.  I am also inspired by my recent travel to the gemstone mines of East Africa with the upcoming jewelry documentary Sharing the Rough (http://www.sharingtherough.com).  I am working on a way that we can get the beautiful, fair-mined gemstones of Kenya and Tanzania into the hands of designers in the US and put that money back into education and the gem trade in Africa.

2-You write in-depth articles about various subjects. There is a lot of feeling in your writing and I get the sense that you want to bring the consumer closer to the product. How do you choose your subjects?

Thank you for the kind words!  I’m not sure I really choose subjects to write about—they choose me!  I have the luxury of being totally independent, so no one tells me what I have to write about.

Of course, I love to tell the stories of jewelry designers, so I mainly write about designers I have seen somewhere and admired.  I am also struck sometimes by trends that I see, or an idea will come to me as I read about fashion, the jewelry industry, or news in general.  For instance, an idea hit me when I read an article in JCK online (http://www.jckonline.com) about a survey that found most Americans do not want to pay more than $2000 for an engagement ring.  I thought it would be a good idea to write an article featuring truly beautiful, hand-made designer engagement rings that are under $2000 (http://idazzle.com/2014/03/24/engagement-ring-trends-beautiful-designer-engagement-rings-under-2000) .  I try to choose subjects that I hope readers will connect with, and that will add value to their lives somehow.

3-How did the name idazzle.com come about?

Ah, the name came about a long time ago.  I bought the domain name idazzle.com back in the late 1990’s just as the Internet was taking off.  It was relatively short, memorable, and could be protected with a Registered Trademark.  I loved the idea of dazzle regarding jewelry, since I feel dazzled by it, and the “i” was for the internet, since I envisioned an online business.  This was before the iMac, iPhone, etc.  I sometimes joke that it’s probably the most valuable part of my brand!

Thank you, Josette!  I can’t wait to see you and say hello at Couture!

And thank you Monica! I look forward to catching up to you at Couture!

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