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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
“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”.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 →
When passing by the Brilliant Designs booth at the JOGS Tucson Gem & Jewelry show, it’s impossible not to stop. Every piece is carefully tucked away behind glass, but Abdul Gardeezi and his wife will proudly pull out any of their ‘brilliant’ pieces for a closer look. Brilliant Designs has been operating in Tucson for over 33 years.
Abdul buys stones from all over the world. He then brings them home, and sometimes re-cuts the stones, adding more facets to bring out their inner fire. He says that it’s easy to buy commonplace stones by the carat, but he seeks out special stones for his designs… with the caveat, “if it’s not special, we will cut it to be special.”
Abdul sketches the designs himself, and a jeweler in Los Angeles, California, creates the finished jewelry for him. He used to do a show every weekend across the USA, but now he just does Tucson and a few local shows in Arizona.
The stones for his designs come from all over the world, including countries like Bangkok, India, Pakistan, Germany, Thailand, and many African countries. Abdul told me a story about some Tourmaline cabochons he brought back from Bangkok, which were then bought during the show by a group of out-of-country buyers from Hong Kong.
When I asked Abdul about how he learned his trade, he laughed and told me it was from “too much travelling.” When he traveled all over the world, he learned how to make things that nobody else could by observing with other jewelrs had created and noticing it was often missing a “catch” – something that would make a customer stop and turn around to take a second look at it as they walked by.
“I see someone will have this stone – but it’s not ‘Abdul’ – the stone doesn’t have fire, the diamond doesn’t have a fire, and so they say we will copy it from Abdul… but you have to have a certain stone, with a certain color, and a certain fire in it, otherwise… it doesn’t look good.”
Brilliant Designs carries older designs, in a style that you often can’t find anymore. Abdul says that customers get really excited when they see the more traditional designs in his work.
Abdul showed me a beautiful blue carved gemstone. Gemstone carving and engraving used to be considered a major luxury art form in the ancient world, and is now rarely found as a beautiful curiosity. Abdul says, “That’s why at any show, I don’t have much competition, because it’s very unique.”
When I asked him which of his designs were popular, he immediately pulled out a trio of three rings. The first was a ring with a clean marquise and diamonds. Abdul said because the stone is so clean, he had to create a very special design for it to make it stand out. The second was a fashionable man’s ring showcasing a green tourmaline with a very unique cut, surrounded by princess cut diamonds. The third was a Golden Sapphire set in 14kt gold, and Abdul says it’s very rare to find a ring like this… except at his booth.
The next ring he showed me sported a 75ct Unique Sapphire with good color, which naturally had a cat’s eye stripe down the center, something you don’t see often in that size.
When I asked Abdul about his newest pieces, his wife pulled out a large pendant that was almost glowing. He says the pendant is a museum piece, and that you can’t find a stone this big or with this color today. He says the cut is very good, and it’s a one of a kind and very unique.
JOGS Gem & Jewelry also interviewed Abdul four years ago at the Tucson show, where he shows off some more of his designs that have his signature fire. These pieces have come and gone from his display, replaced by newer designs and stones as they go into jewelry galleries and private collections around the world.
If you’re interested in talking to Abdul Gardeezy, you can call him at 1 (480) 580-5327. If you live nearby in the Arizona area, he also gives private showings to special clients, going so far as to inviting them into his house to show them his private collection.Read more →
When Ametrine’s stones were first brought into our JOGS office in Los Angeles, California, we were shocked by their beautiful color and clarity.
Many visitors to our show have never seen the eye-catching stone, which is a naturally occurring mixture of purple Amethyst and Yellow Citrine. It’s usually faceted in an emerald cut, with a 50/50 split that showcases the often seamless transition between the stone’s two colors.
Ametrine is one of our long-time JOGS exhibitors. At the JOGS Show I met with Ariel Gamboa and Miguel Toranzo, who spoke to me about their business from Bolivia, a beautiful country located roughly in the middle of South America, and bordered by Peru, Brazil, Chile and Paraguay.
Although the company is named after the uniquely colored stone, they say that the stone’s real name is “Bolvianita”, because it hails from their home country of Bolivia. They work closely through all steps of the process, starting with buying the natural stones, and then work with cutters and artisans from Bolivia as their business.
Ariel says the company started as a hobby. He was looking for great stones in Bolivia, to cut and make jewelry from. He wanted to make a big collection – with thousands of stones and 50,000 pieces of handmade jewelry.
Some of these pieces were on display at our show, and he showed me everything from raw uncut Ametrine to finished pieces of all shapes and sizes.
During our interview he proudly held up a large piece of raw Ametrine, to show me the way the colors are displayed in the light. Even the name of the stone is a portmanteau of the stones Ame-thyst and Ci-trine, and both colors of quartz are easily visible even in the raw form of the stone.
To show me the difference in the way the two colors can meet in the stone, he held up a second pinwheeled version of the raw stone, which had a more even proportion of the two natural colors.
Although Ametrine stones are often cut in a 50/50 split to showcase the stark difference in color, Ariel had pieces that showcased other proportions, including some of my favorites like tear drop pendants that held a 30/70 mix of gold graduating into a light heather-purple.
His finished jewelry with larger pieces of Ametrine varies from piece to piece – often taking advantage of the stone’s composition.
He showed me large oval-shaped pendant that didn’t have the usual 50/50 split, but instead seemed to glow from within due to the location of the honey-colored Citrine in the stone.
In his booth he also had pendants of all shapes and size on display, set in both gold and silver.
The Ametrine rings were one of the most fascinating types of jewelry he carried, because of their simple settings. Due to the stone’s striking color composition, it does not require a complex setting to stand out. Many of Ametrine’s rings spotlighted the stone alone with no extra ornamentation. The Bolivian designs are a mix between modern and traditional styles.
During our interview, Ariel asked me what kind of stone was my favorite – and I had to reply it was the enchanting Ametrine stone that had come into our office months before the show. We’d never seen anything like it – we asked, is it fake? Is it synthetic? And we were shocked to find out it was a naturally occurring coloration called Ametrine.
Ariel showed me trays of his cut stones – although he keeps a few raw stones on hand, they’re mostly for display and to show customers where their stone comes from originally.
He also sells the stone’s two halves individually as brilliantly cut Amethyst and Citrine, and other quartzes and White Topaz, which is so clear it appears to be made of glass.
If you are interested in speaking with Ametrine, they can be reached by calling their office in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, at +5-917-314-8483 or emailing Miguel Toranzo Claure at email@example.comRead more →
Recently at the JOGS TUCSON WINTER SHOW 2013, Sean Jordan brought out beautiful Wyoming Jade, considered the best in the world. Wyoming Jade was heavily mined between 1940-60 in the Granite mountains in Wyoming. Since Jade does not naturally occur in Wyoming, it has been found in deposits around the Granite mountains classifying it as a nephrite Jade. Which is a stone so close to Jade that it is basically the same thing, the only way to tell is through tests such as x-ray or chemical. This beautiful stone ranges from opaque to translucent and comes in many shades of green as well as black and white. This stone can go for $2-$75 or more a pound depending on the stone. Many places sell imitations and real ones are sold at very high prices. Come to JOGS Tucson Gen and Jewelry Show for the best prices on Wyoming Jade.Read more →
Miadonna & Co., a manufacturer of lab-grown gems and diamonds, have decided to open there first brick & mortar store in Portland, Oregon in July. This is a step in a different direction from there traditional online sales. CEO Anna-Mieke Anderson stated that lab-grown diamonds are more pure than traditional diamonds and that the companies goal is to rebuild countries affected by diamond mining.Read more →
The 40.5 ct. internally flawless D-color Golconda diamond necklace which headlined Christie’s Hong Kong Show did not sell for the estimated $10 million. There was an offer for $7.2 million but it was not sold as the owner wanted $8.5 million. Although, two records were still broken. A pair of Flawless diamond ear pendents weighing 25.49 cts. and 25.31 cts sold for $9.7 million breaking the highest price for a pair of ear pendants. Also a 6.13 ct green diamond ring sold for $3.64 million, an auction record for a green diamond.Read more →
Set daily leads and goals- Make sure your staff and your self have a daily goal for how many leads all of you want to acquire. Stress the importance of achieving this goal along with maybe giving prizes to those who go above and beyond.
Increase focus and pre-show and show events/promotions- Instead of giving gifts to everyone, let it be known that a special gift will be given to special customers. Those customers will come and spend time with you and will remember your booth among others at the show.
Gather only specific information- Find out specific information about your customers business tactics, such as who they cater to and where they are located. Include these details into the conversation to help you separate your hot/cold leads.
Make yourself interesting- Use different elements to make your booth look interesting and appealing to customers.
Show interest in customers- Start a quick conversation and ask questions before offering your product.
Make sure your trade show skills are on point- Memorize prices and product details along with proper approaches. Practice this with your team to build muscle memory.
Make sure your graphics are original and interesting- Everyone knows you’re selling jewelry, try to spice it up with something a little bit more interesting to make consumers draw you out from the rest. Also, put quick bullet points on your graphics as trade show attendees are known for there quick glances.
Keep up your appearance- Greet guests kindly, smile, walk around. Never let yourself or your staff sit down at trade shows. It will be very tiring at times but when you see your sales rise, you will see how worth it it is.
Keep track of Data- Bring tools with you that can be used to keep track of the data collected at the show. This data will be vital for you in making your next business move(s).
Do not loose your leads!- Keep track of your leads throughout the day. If you don’t have time throughout the day, then do it at night. All those interactions and faces can easily be forgotten with the constant heat of a trade show. The last thing you want to do is loose them.
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Always make sure your message is getting across to your customers- Online marketing can be tricky at times. Try and play around with some different strategies too see which one works best at reaching out to your customers. This may include e-mail campaigns, social media, or even organize events or seminars for customers. Experimenting can be costly at times but it is key, find what works and use it.
Have a clear purpose for your business- Make sure that your company has a clear purpose and a way to solve the customer’s problems. Do not shape your business around any problems the customer has and try to do a little bit of everything, this will not work. Make sure you are concretely proficient at one aspect before trying to branch out.
The right team of loyal individuals- With the online market constantly changing, Entrepreneurs need to make according changes to there marketing team. Failure in doing so could cause the teams marketing strategy as a whole to weaken.Read more →