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
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
“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.”
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
Ming says that when it comes to Jade, customers enjoy being able to pick up matched sets of bracelets and necklaces.
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.
If you are interested in talking to Chinese American Arts and Crafts, please call 510 333 5762.
The Turquoise Engagement Ring that has Stood the Test of Time, from Bella Fine Jewelry
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
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.”
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
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
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 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
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
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
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 [email protected] or called at 505-259-6666.
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.
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.
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
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 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 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.
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.”
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.
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
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
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
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
“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”.
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 [email protected], 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.
Brilliant Designs with an Inner Fire in Sapphire and Tourmaline
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 in Tucson, and this makes their [x] show with JOGS.
Brilliant Designs booth at JOGS Tucson
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.”
Ring by Abdul Gardeezy
Abdul sketches the designs himself, and a jeweler in Los Angles, 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.
Ring by Abdul Gardeezy
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.
Tourmaline Pendant from Brilliant Designs
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.
Ring from Brilliant Designs
“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.”
Abdul’s wife at the Brilliant Designs Booth
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.
Carved Gemstone from Brilliant Designs
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.”
Set of three rings from Brilliant Designs: left – marquise ring, right: men’s Green Tourmaline ring, bottom: Golden Sapphire ring
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.
75ct Unique Sapphire with Cat’s Eye, also known as “chatoyancy”
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.
Museum piece from Brilliant Designs
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.
Set of blue rings and pendants from Brilliant Designs
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.
Beautiful Ametrine from Bolivia, the Bi-Colored Gem
When Ametrine’s stones were first brought into our JOGS office in Los Angeles, California, we were shocked by their beautiful color and clarity.
Ametrine is a natural mixture of Amethyst and Citrine
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.
Ariel Gamboa and Miguel Toranzo at their booth at the JOGS Fall Show
Ametrine is one of our long-time JOGS exhibitors, and has been showcasing their product at our show for [x year]. 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.
Ametrine’s stones and artisans are from Boliva, in South America [map, photo]
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.
Raw Uncut Ametrine
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.
Pinwheel raw Ametrine
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.
Triangular Ametrine pendant
His finished jewelry with larger pieces of Ametrine varies from piece to piece – often taking advantage of the stone’s composition.
Oval pendant with central yellow glow
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.
Ametrine pendants in different cuts and styles
In his booth he also had pendants of all shapes and size on display, set in both gold and silver.
Ametrine rings, see center for simple settings
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.
Cut Ametrine, a naturally occurring gradient
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.
Cut Ametrine Stones
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.
Cut Amethyst for sale at Ametrine’s booth
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 protected]
Patricia Perez of Designer Jewelry Firm ‘Talia Jade’ Interview
One of the great reasons to visit JOGS during the Tucson Gem and Jewelry Show is the abundance of quality jewelry designers. Their styles and knowledge are invaluable to the wholesale buyers and retailers across the globe.
Patricia Perez is certainly one of the most popular designers at the show, and with good reason. In this video, we have a great conversation with her about the styles and materials she brings to the table, along with some tips for the buyers who visit.
Featured in this video are some really beautiful pieces. They incorporate a wide variety of materials including sterling silver, stainless steel, Italian leather and a variety of gemstones-including topaz and opals- both cut and cabbed. Join us while she explains which necklaces and bracelets are helping set the trends in the industry, and how to best select them.
High-end Jewelry with KP Jewelers
One thing we always enjoy, is to see the culmination of generations of endeavor in any field, especially in jewelry. Here, in KP Jewelers, we have a firm that has been in business for generations–4 at least–producing some extraordinary jewelry. Fortunately, this firm has found a home at JOGS every February, and their presence draws some top-dollar clients.
Why do they flock to this firm? What is it that appeals so strongly? Designs based on a rich history of the combined cultural influences from Europe and India both. KP Jewelers uses the influence of 17th and 18th century treasures and the particular stylish flair that is indigenous to sub-continental India. Using skills and techniques that have all but died out in the rest of the world, this firm has its diamonds cut in the style of old, especially using ‘mine cut’ diamonds. These are set in 14k gold which is then dressed with sterling silver-which imparts a gorgeous and warm glow to the piece, letting the diamonds do the sparkling.
Take a few moments and join us in admiring the fine creations from this jewelry firm, and perhaps you too will feel compelled to come visit them…
KCT Implex and Gems at JOGS 2012
We have the pleasure here of speaking with Rajeesh from KCT Implex, a Bangkok firm specializing in semi-precious and precious stones. Due to a limited amount of time, we only had the opportunity to discuss a few of his stones, but even such a short chat brings out some interesting information.
Our conversation focused mostly on the citrine, ruby, and cubic zirconia arrayed on tidy white trays at their booth. Feel free to listen as we discuss the markets for various stones and the qualities they desire. For example, citrines-the beautiful yellow/gold stone, great for using in silver jewelry, are more popular in their light yellow form amongst the Asian market, with Europeans and Americans preferring darker yellows in their rings and pendants.
There is more to hear and to learn, and the dealer is a knowledgeable and friendly person to talk with, so please join us in enjoying this video.
Joryel Vera Premium Sterling Jewelry Collections
In the world of jewelry retailing, there is a huge variety of choice, and a myriad of price points to consider. At the annual JOGS Show every February in Tucson, the world’s buyers find ample selection. For those buyers looking to purchase ‘fashion’ jewelry, but hoping to avoid the label and quality of ‘costume’ jewelry, there are few design houses equal to Joryel Vera. Taking pride in keeping their designs affordable to a wide swathe of the market, while maintaining impressively high standards, this firm is one to watch. Wholesale jewelry for the mass market, designs suited to ‘fine’ jewelry, using premium affordable materials.
In this video, we learn about those steps which are taken–higher grade semi-precious stones, thicker rhodium plating, sterling instead of white gold–and the thinking behind their 11 separate lines of jewelry.
Buying Quality Native American Jewelry with Indian Touch of Gallup
Here we get to speak with one of the better known large dealers of Native American jewelry–Indian Touh of Gallup, represented by Mike Aish. After many years of bringing their wares to the Tucson Gem Show, and four of those years exclusively with JOGS, these folks have shown they really have what it takes to make it in this competitive market, and we were fortunate to have them walk us through a little of what they’re experience has tought them.
Mike, representing the third generation of this family-run business, tells us about what he notices in the general trend of the jewelry market. Currently, he’s seeing a resurgence of the ‘vintage’ style, echoing the era of the 60s and 70s. Though the combination of sterling silver and turquoise seems timeless, there were general trends over the years, and Indian Touch of Gallup’s designers and Native American artisans are busy bringing times gone by into the here and now.
We also discuss the pitfalls of the market as well as the hidden treasures. How do we avoid buying fakes? Why invest more in authenticity if the materials are the same? Take a moment with us and learn these things and more!