Rare & Unique Jewels from Takat

It all begins with a passion for rare and extraordinarily beautiful gems and diamonds, a family trade and unbridled commitment of the Takat Family since 1955. We search all corners of the world for treasures of color wonder: gems that tell stories through the intensity and brilliance of their color; gems that become part of people’s lives so they can further tell stories of love and commitment. To do them justice, we design dreams around them, imbuing them with our family knowledge and reputation. We work closely with the most reputable and responsible partners to ensure the highest standards of quality and ethical processing.

In the hands of our trusted craftsmen, each gem is carefully considered; their expert eyes, skilled hands with decades of training further enhancing nature’s stunning color and beauty through perfect proportioned cuts and designs.

The process of creating one-of-a kind jewels is a balancing act of finesse, artistry and understanding. A jewel that bears our company name is a testament to our inspiration, love and desire that each piece finds the woman it’s meant to, and that its unique nature beckons something special in her soul, and for generations after her.

TAKAT’s jewelry has been showcased on celebrities across the United States, including Joan Rivers on The Tonight Show, Melissa Claire Egan from the The Young and the Restless, and Mayim Bialik from The Big Bang Theory.

TAKAT’s company founder, Haji Nisar Ahmed Takat, comes from an ancient Indian family of precious stone craftsmen. They originate from the historical city of Jaipur, renowned for its roses, which speaks to the poetry, passion and compassion that inspires this family. He was a special man. In his blood ran a passion for exquisite color. He had heart focused on continuing the family trade and building a future for his family, and an eye for gems that would yield the most impressive results. He was also committed to doing right by his employees and clients. In 1955 he opened his first precious stone cutting and polishing business in Jaipur, and in 1976, with sons Siraj Ahmed Takat and Rafeeq Ahmed Takat joining the business, he began trading operations. Today, that original location remains as the TAKAT world flagship.

In 1994, Siraj and Rafeeq decided to explore fine gem trading on a global level, taking their father’s company to trade events around the world, attending the major fairs from Hong Kong and Beijing to New York, Las Vegas, Paris, Basel, Milan and Dubai. Soon after, the brothers established an office in Bangkok. By 2000, Haji’s grandsons were ready to make Takat a Three-Generation commitment and family business, with Rayaz and Irfan opening offices in New York and Hong Kong, respectively.

TAKAT remains a family business founded on providing exceptional gems and jewels, excellence of craftsmanship and service to its clients. Each TAKAT creation is made with meticulous attention to detail and quality, balancing a classic approach to design with the latest developments in technology. The TAKAT style incorporates timeless elegance in a wide selection of distinctive jewelry designed with daring combinations of color, precious metals and gemstones, and innovative materials.

TAKAT is also synonym of going far beyond what is expected or customary. The Takat family believes in treating all people with respect and dignity, and strives to create and foster a diverse and supportive environment in which individuals can realize their maximum potential within the company. Their motto: “Our business success is a reflection of the quality and skill of our people.” They are dedicated to building a better future for their customers and employees and are honored that many of the world’s finest jewelers and collectors trust them to source and create exclusive jewels for them.

Read more

Kameyab Imports: Cut stones, cabochons, beads, finished jewelry and more

“Kameyab stands for quality,” Rolando tells me as he shows me the highest quality gemstone beads locked in a showcase at his booth at the JOGS Gem & Jewelry show. “We try to search for the best quality. The quality that we have – that’s what brings the customers back to us.”

jogs-kameyab-turqoiuse-pendants

Kameyab primarily sells cut stones and cabs from all over the world. Argentina, South Africa, China, Mexico, Kameyab originally started 20 years ago in a garage, but has grown quite big since including an 8,000 square foot showroom in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“The good thing about Kameyab is that we go straight to the mines, get the rough material, and do all our own cutting, which is very important for our customer to prove to them that what they are getting is the real stone.”

Some of Kameyab's high-quality stones locked away in a showcase at the Show Some of Kameyab’s high-quality stones locked away in a showcase at the Show

Rolando was happy to show me the different types of stones Kameyab had for sale. At Kameyab’s booth were heaps of cut stone beads, and piles of cabs. Their most popular stones are Larimar, Rhodochrosite, Turquoise, Lapis, and Peruvian Opal.

Kameyab Beads Kameyab Beads

“If they want to learn more and want to get more experience about where the stones come from, how process works, what do you do with this, everyone at Kameyab is more than happy to explain the process on any of the stones.” Rolando explained to me that although the stones come from mines all over the world, most of them are sent back to China for high-quality cutting.

Kameyab Larimar Cabs Kameyab Larimar Cabs

When I asked Rolando what keeps people coming back to Kameyab, he said, “The quality. The quality is one of the best points for us. We try to search for the best quality. The quality that we have – that’s what brings the customers back to us.” He says customers often start researching what makes a quality stone after visiting Kameyab for the first time.

A selection of Kameyab's beads A selection of Kameyab’s beads

In their high-end showcase Kameyab had a large variety of stones on display including Australian Opals, Red Corals, Sugilite from Africa, Jelly Purple Opal, Peridot, Lapis, Peruvian Opal, and Larimar. Rolando said customers especially enjoy the Jelly Purple Opal for its light color.

Kameyab Jewelry Kameyab Jewelry

If you’re interested in working with cabochons, Kamyab is a great place to look for inspiration. At their booth, Kameyab has finished sterling silver Balinese jewelry made with the stones they sell, so artists can see what exactly they can make with the stones for sale.

Peruvian Opal Sterling Silver Necklace Peruvian Opal Sterling Silver Necklace

“Many people are inspired by that stone because it’s so earthy looking,” Rolando says about a Peruvian Opal piece.

The Kameyab booth at JOGS, which spans across a large area of the show The Kameyab booth at JOGS, which spans across a large area of the show

“Successfully we’re here, the company has grown so much, we’ve been in business for this long. Kameyab succeeds because our customers.”

If you’re interested in seeing Kameyab’s beads, cabs and finished sterling silver jewelry, you can visit them at the JOGS Gem & Jewelry show, or visit their website at www.kibeads.com. Kameyab Imports Inc. can be reached at 505 821 6217.

Read more

Vintage Native American Squash Blossom Necklaces from Indian Touch of Gallup

When it comes to Southwestern wear, Indian Touch of Gallup is the real deal. Omar Ayesh, representing the third generation of his family-run business, told me about how his grandfather got started in the jewelry business over 45 years ago.

Silver Bracelets from Indian Touch of Gallup Silver Bracelets from Indian Touch of Gallup

“He was a trader in Gallup, New Mexico, that was driving from Denver, Colorado. He stopped in Gallup, traded some blankets for some jewelry, and one thing led to another.”

Turquoise Necklaces from Indian Touch of Gallup Turquoise Necklaces from Indian Touch of Gallup

Indian Touch of Gallup’s jewelery is all made in New Mexico, a state that straddles the border between the United States and Mexico, tucked between Arizona, Colorado and Texas. “We use all natural stones, we use all sterling silver, we make sure everything is handmade, and designed, and presented from the artisans out of our area.”

Vintage Squash Blossom Necklace form Indian Touch of Gallup Vintage Squash Blossom Necklace from Indian Touch of Gallup

Not all of the pieces that Omar sells are newly designed. Some are vintage Native American designs, including many traditional Squash Blossom necklaces from the 1960s.

Squash Blossom necklace with White Buffalo stone from Tomaha, Nevada Squash Blossom necklace with White Buffalo stone from Tomaha, Nevada

Indian Touch of Gallup also sells newer versions of the vintage designs, with modern details and non-traditional stones. Omar showed me a Squash Blossom necklace made with White Buffalo, a hard-to-come-by stone which comes out of Tomoha, Nevada.

Turquoise pendants from Indian Touch of Gallup Turquoise pendants from Indian Touch of Gallup

Omar’s been in the business for a long time. “My grandfather’s been doing this since the mid sixties. My father’s been doing it, and I’ve been doing it since I was 12 years old.” With a family business comes experience, and when I asked Omar what made Indian Touch of Gallup stand out, he replied, “The quality of the stone. That’s the difference. You use a good quality stone, it’s a big difference. As for as what sells the piece – it’s the stone. People fall in love with the stone, they fall in love with the piece.”

Turquoise Necklace from Indian Touch of Gallup Turquoise Necklace from Indian Touch of Gallup

Not only are the pieces designed and made in New Mexico, many of the stones are from the area as well. “The Turquoise is from the Southwest and all around the world. Mostly American Turquoise, Tibet Turquoise, Mongolian Turquoise, Mexican Turquoise, and stones from all over.”

Indian Touch of Gallup's booth at the JOGS Gem & Jewelry Show in Tucson Indian Touch of Gallup’s booth at the JOGS Gem & Jewelry Show in Tucson

Indian Touch of Gallup mostly caters to wholesale buyers. “We deal strictly wholesale. We want people to come, buy, resell, and come back for more. Gift shop, jewelry store, trading post, boutique, salon, anyone who wants to sell jewelry.”

Wraparound Butterfly Necklace with Boulder Opal Wraparound Butterfly Necklace with Opal

During the interview, Indian Touch of Gallup’s booth was packed with customers viewing the Native American jewelry. One of the show-stopper pieces was this butterfly wraparound necklace, inlaid with sparkling Opal.

Cobblestone Turquoise Cuff designed by Wilson Dawes Cobblestone Turquoise Cuff designed by Wilson Dawes

Omar showed me some of his most interesting and popular pieces afterward. His biggest was a handmade cobblestone Kingman Turquoise cuff, designed by Wilson Dawes, which was designed to fit up to an 8 inch wrist. “What makes it so unique is that each piece is individually cut, and it gives it a very 3D modern look.”

A smaller version of the Turquoise cuff from Indian Touch of Gallup
A smaller version of the Turquoise cuff from Indian Touch of Gallup

We interviewed Mike Ayesh at the JOGS Gem & Jewlry show back in 2012.

If you are interested in seeing Indian Touch of Gallup’s jewelry and designs, their showroom is located in Gallup, New Mexico (105 W Highway 66 Gallup, NM 87301). Indian Touch of Gallup and Omar Ayesh can be reached at (505) 722-6807.

Read more

Jewellenium, The Millennium of Jewelry

Micropavé. Peekaboo earrings. Cubic Zirconia from Switzerland and .925 silver with 24kt gold plating. These were the types of trends I found at Jewellenium’s booth at the JOGS Gem and Jewelry show.

Micropave gold-plated rings from Jewwllenium Micropave gold-plated rings from Jewellenium

Jewellenium’s name is more than just a portmanteau of “Jewelry” and “Millenium” – it also stands for the future-facing goals of the company.

An array of Jewellnium's designs An array of Jewellnium’s designs

Started in 2000, the business has been chasing trends for 16 years, without losing its focus on traditional designs.

jogs-jewellenium-sets Jewellenium’s most popular traditional pieces, Cubic Zirconia necklaces and earrings

Jamie Lee from Jewellenium showed me some of their latest at the show. The trendy pieces are created Jewellenium’s 7 designers, all from Korea.

jogs-jewellenium-cricles Micropave Necklace and Earrings from Jewellenium

Micropave was the first trend Jamie showed me, in an earrings and necklace set with hundreds of tiny gems. “There are normally 2, 4 or 6 prongs holding the stones, but this is 16 prongs holding a 1 mm stone.” Jamie explains that the tiny stones are so small that their jewelers require a microscope to set them.

Crystal Bracelets from Jewellenium Crystal Bracelets from Jewellenium

Crystals bracelets were the second, and she says these are incredibly on trend right now. They’re stretchable, and very easy to take on and off.

Peekaboo Earrings from Jewellenium Peekaboo Earrings from Jewellenium

Peekaboo earrings were her last. She says although the trend is starting to wane in Europe, it’s only just picking up in North America and very few vendors carry them yet. Peekaboo earrings are a play on traditional earring style, allowing a secondary piece of earring to show behind the ear. Jewellenium’s take on the new earrings has a very small earring in the front, and a large globe in the back that peeks out from behind the wearer’s ear.

Jewellenium's Booth at the JOGS Gem & Jewelry Show Jewellenium’s Booth at the JOGS Gem & Jewelry Show

If you are interested in seeing Jewellenium‘s fashionable high-end jewelry, you can visit her showroom in Buena Park, California (8382 Artesia Blvd, #B). Jamie Lee can be reached at (714) 222-0147.

Read more

Extinct Giant Killer Clam Shell and Giant Baroque Pearls Coming to the JOGS 2017 Show!

Though a story of kindness and generosity, The JOGS Tucson Gem and Jewelry show this year will have a unique find on display – two ancient giant baroque pearls and a giant killer clam shell, which will later be up for auction. Both these special finds are being brought to the show by Volker Bassen, who dreamed of one day finding a giant pearl of his own.

“I left Sweden and came to East Africa in 1990, visiting Kenya and Tanzania after having been to Morocco and Tunisia. Africa had always fascinated me, by the age of 8 I declared to my mother that I was going to move to Africa one day!

I fell in love with East Africa at first sight, this is the true Africa I remember telling myself. It was all I had ever dreamt of and so much more. The friendliness and positivity of the people, despite all their hardships and poverty struck me and I felt a special bound and admiration for them.

I got involved with different coastal communities, helping where I could, learning to think outside the box in order to implement some rather innovative projects which I felt could improve their living standards, especially among the youth. I had always been considered being an entrepreneur by my family and friends, now I was becoming a philanthropist as well, an inevitable progression that fulfilled me, defining my personality.

Over the years I have spent close to a million U$ in public-private partnerships, promoting marine conservation, developing aquaculture projects such as Spirolina and Tilapia fish farming as well as supporting local orphanages and schools. My motto is “no one can do everything but everyone can do something”

In 2004 I met Nimu, a wonderful Kenyan woman who was to become my wife. Together we have 3 beautiful children, Samuel, Siv and Noah.

I have always felt drawn to the sea and the Indian Ocean is simply stunning with it’s unique marine biodiversity.

Here is the birthplace of the world’s larges fish, the whale shark and I have devoted much of my time to protect these gentle giants, setting up the East African Whale Shark Trust in 2005, dedicated to conservation and education.

Locally the whale shark is called Papa Shillingi, according to the coastal Digo tribe legend, God was so pleased with his creation of the whale shark that he sent his angels down from heaven to sprinkle silver coins upon it, thereby it’s name; Papa Shillingi which means ‘shark covered with silver coins’ in Kiswahili. With more than 5000 scuba dives under my belt another big passion of mine is underwater photography and filming as this gives me the opportunity to share my adventures with other people like yourselves.

The Eastern Indian Ocean also used to be home to the world’s largest clams, Tridacna Gigantea, a predecessor to today’s giant clams Tridacna Gigas which can be found in and around the South China Sea. I have been collecting fossilized specimens of these amazing giant clams ever since I first saw them back in 1990. “God doesn’t make them anymore” they became extinct around 180.000 years ago when sea levels suddenly rose by 20 meters. Since these clams were dependent on sunlight as they lived in symbiosis with an algae growing on the clams mantle, converting sunlight to sugar for the clam to feed on, they sadly starved to death as not enough light reached the algae.

Although rare, they are occasionally found deeply embedded in ancient fossilized coral reefs, sometimes several kilometers inland.

My dream was to one day find a pearl inside one of these clams having seen baroque pearls from the Tridacna Gigas clams, most notably the Pearl of Allah, also known as Pearl of Lao-Tze. Giant clams produce the biggest pearls in the world, not surprisingly, being the largest clams in the world. The Pearl of Allah, with an estimated value of up to 50 million U$, I figured that if I ever managed to find a pearl from the T.Gigantea, it would empower me to finance community projects on an even larger scale.

Then one day, 2 days after my son Noah was born I was visited by one of the Digo tribal chiefs and as custom has it, he presented me with one of the largest clams I had ever seen as a gift to celebrate the birth of my son. 4 years earlier when my son Samuel was born that same chief gave me the biggest clam in my collection with a staggering weight of 612 Kg, once cleaned and polished it weighted 355 Kg, the biggest giant clam in the world! It took us a week to clean out the giant clam as it was full of calcified lime stone, almost as hard as cement. To my surprise  I found a blister pearl the size of a tomato followed by a smaller one, I just couldn’t believe my luck, 2 pearls in one clam! I decided to call the largest of the pearls ‘Pearl of Noah’ and the smaller pearl ‘Pearl of Siv’ naming them after my children. I couldn’t believe my luck, it was too good to be true but sometimes things just are I was told by my wife.

Still, I wasn’t sure if they were indeed baroque pearls, I guess I was in a state of disbelief, so I had them sent to GIA (Gemological Institute of America) in New York to verify if they actually were real pearls. After about a month I received an email from Dr Chunhui Zhou, senior researcher at GIA. He wrote to me confirming that the 2 samples I had sent him were indeed baroque pearls! He describes the 2 pearls as “very interesting and unique” and asked me if GIA could be allowed to publish their lab-report about these pearls in their upcoming scientific journal Gems & Gemology.

Needless to say I was thrilled and gave him my consent.

With 1256 carat the Pearl of Noah is the largest T.Gigantea pearl ever found while the Pearl of Siv with it’s 758 carats is the second largest T.Gigantea pearl in the world. Although not as large as the Pearl of Allah or some other baroque pearls found in T.gigas clams, the uniqueness is what defines these two pearls.

The pearls are now in Switzerland to be dated, I estimate them to be between 200.000 to 240.000 years old, making them the oldest baroque pearls ever found. Once that is done I intend to put them up for auction together with the clam they were found in. I am also auctioning off the world’s biggest clam in a bid to raise funds for a maternity ward. After all, if it wasn’t for the kindness and generosity of the Digo tribe I would never have found them. I am a big believer in karma.”

Volker Bassen also has a charity and 20% of the revenue from the sales of any clamshell (including pearls) goes towards different community outreach projects in Kenya. He supports the Born Again orphanage with 68 children aged between 5-16, a local school and a myriad of other projects related to the health and well-being of those who are most vulnerable. Some of these projects include the treatment and prevention of Jiggers, a parasite in Africa that often affects children, and his newest project, which will help allow girls and women experiencing their menses to stay in school and retain their jobs. “The stigma surrounding menses is making hundreds of millions of women suffering, we need to change that, period!” If you are interested in purchasing this amazing find, you can rest assured that a large percent of the proceeds will go to a great cause.

Luxury washbasin, every piece is unique, nothing beats it!

Volker Bassen will be auctioning off his Giant Killer Clam in Tucson. The shell of T.Gigantea is traditionally a very exciting find, as its white shell can be used to create unique works of art, and is often used as a rare but environmentally-friendly replacement for ivory. Some unique uses for the shell include turning it into either a display piece, or even a one-of-a-kind luxury bathroom sink!

Tridacna Gigas clamshell art from the Island of HaiNan. The price of these amazing carvings have skyrocketed after the Beijing Ivory Carvers Association started using fossil Tridacna Gigantea from Kenya, the perfect alternative to Ivory.

Tridacna, also known as part of the seven treasures of Buddha is thought to bring good fortune and health to its wearer according to ancient Chinese belief, perfect for making unique jewelry.

 Volker Bassen’s giant killer clam Tridacna Gigantea shell and two giant baroque pearls are a must-see at the JOGS 2017 Gem and Jewelry Show. The Show is located in Tucson, Arizona, and runs from January 26th to February 6th. Tickets are available for purchase to the public, and are free for registered wholesale buyers.
If you are interested in attending the show, register today!
Read more

Mermaids, Octopuses, Toucans and Frogs in Silver, Turquoise and Malachite

Jose Majul says inspiration comes from nature. “In my home town where 90% of the people work on silver, there are small people who are big designers and big artists. You always find something new.”

jogs-majul-mermaid-small Mermaid Necklace from the Sea Life Collection, Turquoise and Silver

Majul Jewelry’s newest designs set in silver show fantastical creatures from the sea, from starfish to shrimps to mermaids.

jogs-majul-sea-life Necklace from the Sea Life Collection, Turquoise and Silver

Every piece is hand made in Mexico, and much of the Turquoise comes from Chihuahua, a northern Mexican state that borders Texas and New Mexico.

jogs-majul-frog-necklace Frog Necklace from Safari Collection, Malachite and Silver

On display at Majul’s booth was also their new Safari collection, which included one of their most popular sets, a large silver frog necklace with a softly-shaped chunk of malachite representing the frog’s green color.

Frog Set from Safari Collection Frog Set from Safari Collection, Malachite and Silver

The matching set also included a cuff bracelet in the form of a frog, and a pair of earrings.

Toucan Necklace from the Safari Collection,  Silver and Mixed Stones Toucan Necklace from the Safari Collection, Silver, Opal and Mixed Stones

Jose Majul is no stranger to the jewelry business – his grandfather and his father before him all took part in starting the company, all the way back in 1937, as part of more than five generations of family business in Mexico.

Left, photo of Taxco, Right, map showing Taxco, the birthplace of Majul Jewelry, and Chihuahua, where a majority of Majul Jewelry's Turquoise is mined [map][photo] Left, photo of Taxco, Right, map showing Taxco, the birthplace of Majul Jewelry, and Chihuahua, where a majority of Majul Jewelry’s Turquoise is mined [map][photo]

They brought their business to the United States in 1987, where it now resides in San Francisco, California, but the heart of the business is still in Taxco, Mexico. “We are happy to have loyal customers. We have had customers since we opened the business in 1987 and we still have some – very few but we always get a new people and new customers and they always come back with us.”

Majul Jewelry Contemporary Design in Silver, Pearl and Cubic Zirconia Majul Jewelry Contemporary Design in Silver, Pearl and Cubic Zirconia

Jose’s newest collection is is simple but elegant, a contemporary line made with silver, Cubic Zirconia, and pearls. By the time I had interviewed him, most of the pieces from this collection had already sold out.

Copper Designs by Majul Jewelry Copper Designs by Majul Jewelry

In Arizona, the Copper state, Jose also sells Southwestern-style designs in Copper and Turquoise.

Silver Pendants from Majul Jewelry Silver Pendants from Majul Jewelry

Majul Jewelry is primarily a wholesale business, selling to boutiques, galleries and jewelry stores. At their booth at the show they had thousands of different silver pendants on display, from abstract hammered shapes to designs inspired by nature’s creations. Every single piece is handmade, artfully blending traditional Mexican forms with contemporary designs.

If you are interested in seeing Majul Jewelery’s products, you can view them in person at our show, or visit www.majuljewelry.com. Majul Jewelry can be reached at 415 553 4108.

Read more

Lightning Ridge Australian Black Opals

Matti Tikka got into the Opal business by finding an opal worth $2,800 in Australia with nothing more than a screwdriver.

“Forty-two years ago I was holidaying in Lightning Ridge. And we spent three weeks with my wife on the field. Before I left I told a Miner named Andy – “I would like to have a taste of mining.” so he was laughing, gave me a screwdriver, and there was a hole, a 4-feet hole, in old Cochrane, and he said “just dig there” so I went down.

New South Wales, Australia New South Wales, Australia [source>

"Where do I start digging? There was sand-band on the wall, that's usually where opal appears, and then he went away laughing you see...

"15 minutes later I'd dug a little hole, got a piece, and you know, two-thousand-eight-hundred dollars."

Matti told me about how he then brought the Opal to a cutter, and due to his ignorance of the business, the cutter stole the heart of the opal from him. Matti was a very happy man though - he was able to take all $2,800 and invest it straight into his first new car, a brand new Ford Falcoln.

"Then I told my wife - you pay rent in Sydney, I'm going to go start mining."

A selection of Matti Tikka's Opals [source>
A selection of Matti Tikka's Opals [source]

Matti Tika now sells natural Black Opals from Lightning Ridge at show 3-4 times a year, making the long flight from Australia to the United States. He has since found opals worth $50,000 – $60,000, though he claims he’s never found any “really expensive ones” after his first discovery.

An older photo of Matti Tikka in Australia with a Kangaroo
An older photo of Matti Tikka

True black opals only come from one place and that’s Lightning Ridge, New North Wales, Australia. There are claims of Black Opals from other locations, but the real thing can only be found in the Lightning Ridge mines, according to Matti. Matti owns his own mines, but he’s been reducing them over the years, and now keeps his business simple with a “couple fellas” working on one of the mines. He says good black opals are not “cracky” type of opals.

Opal Ring from Tikka Opals Opal Ring from Tikka Opals

The prices for opals start lowest at blue, blue-green, green-orange, orange, orange-red and red, and combinations of those. All Black Opals have a predominantly dark background that ranges in color from dark gray to blue-black, which allows the Opal’s secondary colors to stand out. Although the prices range based on color, color preference is often up to the buyer. “Some like it blue, some like it green, some like it red, and so on,” Matti tells me.

An Opal with a unique pattern, from Tikka Opals An Opal with a unique pattern, from Tikka Opals

Matti Tikka’s customers often consider buying Black Opal an investment. “They are the only stones in the world probably, in my opinion, that they never reduce the price, only increase.” Tikka Opals range from $200 to well over $100,000.

300ct Black Opal in Blue from Tikka Opals 300ct Black Opal in Blue from Tikka Opals

I asked Matti what an expensive stone might look like, and he picked up a beautiful blue-purple 300ct specimen. The stone shifted colors as I held it up to the light, from a dark vivid purple to a bright royal blue.

Black Opal with Red from Tikka Opals Black Opal with Red from Tikka Opals

He says that because of the difference in color and cut, smaller stones with more of a reddish hue may be worth just as much as the larger blue one he showed me.

Matti Tikka at his booth at the JOGS Gem & Jewelry Show Matti Tikka at his booth at the JOGS Gem & Jewelry Show

When I asked Matti about why his customers come to him, he said, “Probably pricing. My prices are really good prices because we are selling mainly to wholesalers.”

Tikka Opals can only be seen in the USA at shows Matti Tikka attends, including the JOGS Gem & Jewelry show. Matti Tikka can be reached  in Australia at 011-61-7-5546-9324.

Read more

Beautiful Burmese Jade

Their story was simple – their family had once owned a manufacturing factory in China, but once they moved to the United States they had to begin anew.

Ming and his family at their booth at the JOGS Gem & Jewelry Show Ming and his family at their booth at the JOGS Gem & Jewelry Show

Siu Ming Cheung represented Chinese American Arts & Crafts at the JOGS Gem & Jewelry show, and told me a about his family’s history in the industry. “When we first moved here we tried to find something to do, we finally decided of doing our own business, which is jade.” He explained that going into and industry that was already familiar to them was a lot easier than starting from scratch. The difference this time was that everything would be handmade

Hand carved Jade beads from Chinese American Arts and Crafts Hand carved Jade beads from Chinese American Arts and Crafts

“Everything here is hand made, hand crafted,” Mind explained as he picked up strands of Jade to show me. ” We have a wholesaler to buy it from Burma, then we bring it back to China, then we make a custom design.”

Burma, where Jadeite comes from [photo] Burma, where Jadeite comes from [photo]

At their booth, they had a variety of different Jade items for sale including solid bracelets, round beads, buttons, and a few non-Jade items like hand-carved wooden ornaments and gold-plated decorations.

Hand-carved wooden ornaments from Chinese American Arts and Crafts Hand-carved wooden ornaments from Chinese American Arts and Crafts

Ming says that when it comes to Jade, customers enjoy being able to pick up matched sets of bracelets and necklaces.

Handmade Jade Bracelets Handmade Jade Bracelets

Burmese Jade is a variety of Jade called Jadeite, which is only found in Burma. Its closely-related Jade sibling is Nephrite, which comes from all over the world.

Rough Jade from Burma [source]
Rough Jade from Burma [source]

If you are interested in talking to Chinese American Arts and Crafts, please call 510 333 5762.

Read more

The Turquoise engagement ring that has stood the test of time

Frank Amini didn’t start in the jewelry business. “Over 25 years ago I was selling gemstones to manufacturers and retail stores that produced jewelry that I admired. At the same time I thought I could make better, more interesting designs.”

Bella Fine Jewelery pendant and rings, Opal, Turquoise, Diamond and Gold Bella Fine Jewelery pendant and rings, Opal, Turquoise, Diamond and Gold

5 years later, he put his ideas into production, designing primarily fine jewelry designed and made in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His designs prominently feature clean inlay designs in gold, opal, Turquoise and Diamonds. “I try not to call what I do jewelry – it’s more of an art, it’s what I consider art, and people who buy this type of jewelry in the industry buy it for the art and not so much just for the Diamond and the gold – you can get those anywhere. People do wear it as art. And that’s where the satisfaction came from.”

jogs-bella-turqoiuse-necklace Some of the pieces for sale at Bella Fine Jewelry

Bella Fine Jewelry prides itself in bringing to the market products that are made in the United States. It’s extremely difficult to product the type of jewelry Frank designs – it’s very labor intensive, with many hours of work put into each piece. Frank says that in all his years of being in the industry, he could count the number of manufactures that produce similar jewelry on one hand.

Frank Amini at his booth at the JOGS Gem & Jewelry Show Frank Amini at his booth at the JOGS Gem & Jewelry Show

In his showcases, Frank had a mixture of jewelry that he had designed himself, and pieces that he had designed for Bella to help fill niches in customer demand.

At the show, Frank Amini also had many rough stones on display At the show, Frank Amini also had many rough stones on display

Inspiration for Bella Fine Jewelry comes generally from the fashion industry when it comes to colors. Although you’ll find a few colored gemstones including Sapphires, Rubies and Tanzanites in Frank’s work that follows current fashion trends, the blue hues of Turquoise and Opal are what ties his collection together.

When I asked Frank to show me his most popular piece, I didn’t expect the story that came with it.

Bella Engagement Ring

“My number one selling product is this ring.

“This ring is a very unique ring that was originally designed for a friend that wanted a very unique engagement ring. So I thought about the design process, what I came up with was two halves of a circle and I imagined the circle being the earth, coming together, at one point, but you can still see the separation, what gives every individual their own identity.

“That’s where the inspiration came from as you see – two halves are coming together, and they’re joined at the center, and the center represents whatever stone should the individual choose.

“Whether it’s a Diamond or a Tanzanite or a Sapphire, it is a symbol of bringing the two together. Bringing the two partners, the couple, together bound by that center common goal. That common goal should be happiness.

Bella Engagement Ring
Bella Engagement Ring Designed by Frank Amini

He says that the ring was designed over 12 years ago, and that the design has not changed since. It acts as a symbol of union that has lasted over a decade.

Recently designed ring from Bella Fine Jewelry, Opal and Gold Recently designed ring from Bella Fine Jewelry, Opal and Gold

Frank also showed me one of his most recent designs, a larger Gold ring inlaid with Natural Australian Opal.

“This is a ring that is very simple – it is a very elegant ring, that could be worn in a daily basis should the individual choose, but its also sophisticated and elegant enough that you can wear it with your evening wear and be more of a fancy cocktail look.”

Opal's color in sunlight
Opal’s color in sunlight

He handed me the ring and told me that the man-made lighting on Opal doesn’t do it any justice, and that you really have to bring his rings into the sunlight to see their true beauty and color.

Ring from Bella Fine Jewelry, Opal, Diamond and Gold Ring from Bella Fine Jewelry, Opal, Diamond and Gold

If you are interested in seeing Bella Fine Jewelry and Frank Amini’s designs, he has two retail locations, one in Santa Fe, New Mexico (50 E San Francisco St, 1-505-983-7779), and one in La Jolla, California (7884 Girard Ave, 858-551-8822). Frank Amini himself can be contacted at bellafinejewelry@yahoo.com or called at 505-259-6666.

Read more

Southwestern Inspiration in Opal and Tiger’s Eye by Absolute Jewelry

Ed Lohman from Absolute Jewelry creates labor intensive inlay work with various semi-precious stones from around the world. His unique and artistic pieces on display at the JOGS show each have a story of their own, and no two pieces are alike. Some of his signature pieces include miniature works of art inspired by the culture of the Southwest, including the Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellers in Colorado and the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico, all carefully inlaid in Turquoise, Opal and Tiger’s Eye.

jogs-absolute-jewellery-inlays Past work from Absolute Jewelry, Pendants and Bracelets

Ed says that before the recession, he made very expensive, very labor-some sterling silver chains. Now he knows he can sell a one-of-kind piece much easier than something that he makes 500 of. The pendants, rings and earrings sold at Absolute Jewelry are made in Cebu, an island located in the middle of the Philippines. Ed told me about his shop in the Philippines, where he provides his highly skilled team of 60 jewelers and lapidaries with social security, paid vacation and maternity leave.

jogs-absolute-jewelry-horse-small
Horse pendant by Absolute Jewelry with Opal and Tiger’s Eye

The stones themselves come from all over the world – Ed prefers quality stones over cheap stones that are readily available. He’d much rather look through 300 stones and buy 1 or 2 of them, than buy low-quality stones for nickels and dimes.

A showcase of inlaid bails from Absolute Jewelry A showcase of inlaid bails from Absolute Jewelry

One of the things I noticed about Absolute Jewelry‘s designs were the bails on many of the pendants – the intricate work on pendants was often extended to the bails. When I asked Ed about it, he told me that many other jewelers find it easier to use a simple silver bail, because it requires a lot less time, effort and skill. Ed says Absolute’s Jewelry was made this way from the beginning, because he wanted to make sure he wasn’t making something everyone else had. He explained to me how difficult it was to cut the stone to fit the curved bail, first from the inside, then the outside, to make it fit perfectly with no filler materials in between. Ed says each piece has between and a day and a a day-and-a-half’s work put into it.

Ed and his booth at the Jogs Gem & Jewelry Show Ed Lohman and his booth at the Jogs Gem & Jewelry Show

At the show, Ed sells his work to both individual buyers and wholesale buyers, but he explains that he only gives his wholesale prices to those who come in proof of their business, most of whom own gift shops. “Most of the people I deal with are people I’ve dealt with over the years. They’re repeat customers. They sell my goods, they have no problem selling them, they come back. That’s a valued individual.”

Past work from Absolute Jewelery, possibly inspired by the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona Past work from Absolute Jewelry, possibly inspired by the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona [photo]

When I asked Ed to show me some of his most popular pieces, he was happy to bring me around his booth and pull out some of his pieces, but by the end of the show many of his collections had already been partially sold-out. One of my favorites was a series based off of the hot air balloons, which he says sells very well in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which hosts a 9-day international balloon festival every year.

jogs-absolute-larimar Left, Larimar Pendants, Right a beach in the Caribbean [photo]

Larimar, a beautiful light blue stone only found in the Caribbean, is one of Absolute Jewelry’s most popular stones. Ed sells two types of Larimar pendants – a simpler design with an inlaid bail and silver all around, and a second that’s framed with Arizona Turquoise. He says the first is for someone with more conservative tastes, the second for someone who really wants something that stands out and is really unique. The stone’s popularity comes from its color – “it’s a color regardless of the clothing that you’re going to wear, it stands out.”

jogs-absolute-jewelery-charoite-siberia Left, Charolite Pendants, Right, mountains in Yakutia, Russia [photo]

Showcased nearby was pendants and earrings featuring purple Charolite (also known as Charoite), from Siberia, a stone that is roughly the same color as dark Amethyst but trades opacity for pattern – its visual texture is reminiscent of antique marbled paper.  Another popular stone collection was Rainbow Moonstone, which had almost sold out by the time our interview started.

jogs-absolute-jewelry-cliff-dwellers Left, Ring inspired by the Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellers, right, the Cliff Dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park [photo]

Absolute Jewelry also had pieces that featured the Cliff Dwellers of Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado. In the year 750 AC, the Ancestral Puebloans dug home into the Mesa Verde cliffs to gain shelter from the 110 degrees heat and the freezing winters.

Bracelets inspired by the Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellers Bracelets inspired by the Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellers

If you look closely at Absolute Jewelry’s pendants, you’ll be able to see the windows and doors of the Adobe dwellings inlaid in sparkling Opal and Tiger’s Eye.

Pendants inspired by the Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellers Pendants inspired by the Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellers

When I asked Ed how he got into the gem and jewelry business, his story was far from ordinary.

“I was 12 years old. The neighbor was cutting stones in Oregon. Down the street was a sand and gravel company. They get big rocks and they crush them – it comes down the conveyor belt all wet. And if you look at it as it comes down, you can see magnificent stones that are going to be set in cement. I would go there after school – the stones would go by at 90 miles per hour, but I could pick that stone out – you gotta train your eyes”.

Ed Lohman in his workshop
Ed Lohman in his workshop

He says at home he owns six 55-gallon drums filled with Oregon-type agates and different materials. At home he also has a workshop, with thousands of stones he can pull from when creating new designs.

Ed Lohman in his workshop
Ed Lohman in his workshop

“I can do what I want when I want because I have the resources, and nobody else can do that because nobody else wants to do all that work. It’s much easier to make something simple than difficult.” He laughs, touching on his heritage, “I’m Polish – I gotta make things difficult.”

“I learned almost everything in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Durango, Colorado in the late 60s, working with artists. By learning on the job – that’s the way to learn. Anyone wants to learn the jewelry business, you learn by working with someone. By working with different artists, you learn different techniques”.

jogs-absolute-pendants Past work from Absolute Jewelry

Absolute Jewelry can only be found at Gem & Jewelry shows like JOGS or in gifts shops – it can not be bought online or through a catalog. Ed explained that he values the artisan-wholesaler relationship, and only sells his work at shows for this reason.

At our 2012 show we interviewed Trisha Watson from Absolute Jewelry.

Absolute Jewelry can be contacted at edlohmandesigns@yahoo.com, and can be called at 480-437-0411 but only during show dates. To view their show schedule, click here, or visit Ed’s booth during the JOGS Fall or Winter Gem & Jewelry shows.

Read more

Contact Us:

Address: 3750 E. Irvington Rd., Tucson, AZ 85714
Billing Agent: 650 South Hill Street, Suite 513
Los Angeles, CA 90014, USA
Phone: (213) 629-3030
Fax: (213) 629-3434
Toll Free: 1-877-GEM-SHOW
Web: www.jogsshow.com

JOGS Show:

JOGS International Exhibits, LLC
3750 E.Irvington Road
Tucson, AZ 85714