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Sell With a Story: Beyond the Yellow Brick Road

As a child watching The Wizard of Oz in years, I was too mesmerized by the wonder of Dorothy finding herself in a magical new world to take in all the details. Emerald City? That I understood. Ditto for her Ruby Slippers. But yellow bricks? Only years later, watching the movie for the who-knows-how-many-times, did I realize that the bricks were gold. Ah, looking back, it’s clear the yellow brick road didn’t just lead to the Emerald City. It was priceless in its own right — the ultimate symbol of luxury, the substance of dreams.

Cal Brockman Goldmark Jewelers Portland Oregon Benchwork

Goldrush

Dorothy was far from the only person to follow a golden road. Throughout history, gold discoveries have launched rushes across continents, up towering mountains, or distant streams and rivers. When we look at Renaissance portraits of current fashion magazines, we see gold everywhere — particularly yellow. Most people can tell you they love gold — whether yellow, white, or rose — and why, but few know much about its long, illustrious history.

Walk Back Along the Yellow Brick Road 

We all know the vital role gold plays in the jewelry industry, but did you know our hominid ancestors — perhaps Neanderthals — discovered gold 40,000 years ago? This came to light when anthropologists and archaeologists studied ancient artifacts and paintings in Spanish caves, dating these treasures back 40 millennia. Among them, they discovered small gold nuggets. This rich yellow metal no doubt mesmerized those who first laid eyes on it as it has ever since.

In Days Long Past

In 5000 BCE, the Egyptians used electrum, a naturally occurring alloy of gold and silver ore, to make jewelry for both men and women. By 3000 BCE, gold jewelry appeared among the ancient Sumerians in Mesopotamia. In 2600 BCE, this same region produced the earliest example of lost wax casting, a funerary decoration for a long-ago queen. By 2500 BCE, gold chains emerged in the Sumerian city of Ur. And at this same time, the Egyptians discovered a wealth of techniques: filigree, granulation embossing, chasing, inlaying, molding, and engraving. South America’s Chavin culture used these techniques by 1200 BCE.

A Death Mask

Gold “death masks” originated in Ancient Egypt, where they believed the mask would help the deceased find their body in the afterlife. The most famous of these is King Tutankhamun. In the 18th century, a gold death mask was discovered in a mining shaft in southwestern Greece, known as Mycenae. Even though the mask pre-dated the Trojan War by 400 years, it was named the Mask of Agamemnon.

Did He Exist?

Agamemnon, the King of Ancient Mycenae, may or may not have lived outside Greek mythology, tragedies, and Homer’s Illiad. In mythology, he led the Greek army to the Trojan Wars, accompanying his brother Menelaus, Helen of Troy’s husband. But we have yet to make a specific match to a historical figure. The lesson learned? Mycenae was believed to be rich in gold. The mask and numerous decorative gold items discovered there indicate this was true.

Castaway

The Nazca civilization near the Peruvian coast perfected lost-wax casting around 500 BCE. This should come as no surprise because South America was rich in gold and silver, and a number of its ancient societies were highly sophisticated. 

Does the Sun Cry?

South America’s great Inca civilization believed it did. They considered gold as the “tears of the sun.” Can you imagine a more beautiful description? If so, please share it below. For me, this gorgeous image does justice to the precious metals, almost unearthly beauty.

Dorothy Got It Right

Between the Emerald City and the Ruby slippers, Dorothy knew how to pick the perfect gems to pair with gold. Centuries ago, when miners in Burma’s Mogok Valley discovered Pigeon Blood Ruby, the king had it set in 24K gold starting a tradition. Pigeon Blood — the finest shade of Ruby — has blue/purple undertones and the brilliant yellow of 24K cancels them out. This creates a peerless, vivid red, one of the most challenging shades to achieve.

Similarly with Emerald, high karat yellow gold enlivens Emerald’s brilliant green displaying it in its full glory. 

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Yellow gold also works magically with Alexandrite, Garnet, Pearl, Amethyst, and Sapphire.

2019 Bridal Engagement Ring Trends Yellow Gold Cushion Garnet Accented Ring
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Forever and Ever

I’m skipping over a long period from the Middle Ages through to the present. I’ll have to write another blog focusing on those lustrous years. Today we use gold for everyday jewelry, custom designs, sophisticated showstoppers, cocktail rings, and so much more. 

Perhaps the biggest gold category is bridal — engagements, anniversary and eternity bands, and wedding bands. It makes perfect sense. Because gold doesn’t corrode, ancient cultures considered it “immortal” — like the love a couple vows to live. We say, “till death do us part,” but love lives on in the hearts of all those whose lives the couple touches — forever and ever.


To learn more about Stuller’s precious metal offerings, visit our website!

If you enjoyed this historical look at gold, view some more of our Sell With A Story blog posts.

Sell With A Story: Aquamarine

Sell With A Story: Diamond History

Sell With A Story: How Are Pearls Formed?




The Big 3: Emerald, Ruby, and Sapphire Reign Supreme in the World of Gemstones

Year-round, Sapphires, Rubies, and Emeralds are the most sought-after gemstones. Treasured for their rich, brilliant hues, they have fascinated and bewitched all who lay eyes on them. Is it any wonder we designate them as the Big Three?

And during the holiday season, the demand for these breathtaking stones grows as we highlight in our Holiday 2020 brochure. We no longer refer to precious and semi-precious stones, yet Sapphire, Ruby, and Emerald remain precious in our hearts precisely because the finest stones are rare and costly.

I’ve often wondered if their holiday popularity is somehow related to the color of Christmas lights. But I think the opposite is true: our festive lights’ color captures the beguiling power of these jewel tones. We offer all three in Notable Gems™ and calibrated stones so you can meet all budgets. Here are some fascinating facts and tales that will nurture wonderful conversations with customers. 

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Sapphire

Ancient lore tells us that blue Sapphire brought spiritual enlightenment and inner peace. Sapphire also bestows wisdom, insight, and discernment to choose rightly when faced with obstacles and difficult situations. This jewel extended to the belief that Sapphire had the power to make peace between warring parties. Today, natural healers believe Sapphire has a positive effect on health issues, from hearing problems and inflammations to burns and cancer. It also has a calming effect, soothing a mind fighting depression and bringing joy to the wearer.

A Storied Sapphire

The Star of India — at 563,35 carats, one of the largest and certainly the most famous blue star sapphire — was discovered in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) two to three centuries ago. Moorish traders purchased the rough stone, taking it to India, then under British rule. They considered Ceylon a part of the Indian colony, and by rights, the Moors should have sold the Sapphire to them. Instead, they sold it to a European dealer. Eventually, it was mistakenly named the Star of India instead of the Star of Ceylon. The stone is famous not just for its size and flawlessness but because its sharp six-rayed star appears on both sides.

The Blue Belle of Asia

In 2014, this magnificent 392.52-carat antique cushion stone set a record for the most expensive Sapphire ever sold at public auction claiming $17 million. The peerless blue beauty was originally intended as a gift to Queen Elizabeth II on her coronation. But it never made it to her jewel collection, disappearing for a good number of years. In recent years, a Saudi investor purchased it for an unknown price.

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Ruby

Who can resist ruby’s luscious red? Throughout history, ruby has embodied all of life’s intensity: power, passion, and love. Kings, princes, and the wealthy sought rubies for their exquisite beauty, rarity, and prestige. Many rubies were not set in jewelry in medieval times but admired for their intoxicating shade. 

Not Just for Women 

Ruby was considered the essence of wifely devotion: a fire burning within, enduring challenges and temptation. And ancient warriors implanted ruby beneath their skin, believing it imparted both courage and invincibility. Not a bad combination to have on the battlefield. Others thought it bestowed perfect safety, cured diseases of the blood, and denoted integrity and generosity. It also had the power to warn its owner against danger — perhaps someone was trying to steal the ruby. Wow! That was a lot of responsibility, even for the “King of Precious Gems.”

Peak Hue

The ancient Burmese people first mined Ruby about 3000 BCE in the region around Mogok. They described the finest ruby as having the color of “pigeon’s blood,” a vibrant medium red with secondary purple hues. The Burmese set ruby in pure gold with its intense yellow color. The yellow canceled out the blue in the purple undertones, producing that rarest occurrence: a visually pure red. To this day, “pigeon’s blood” remains the most valuable ruby color. So much so that a large transparent ruby commands higher prices per carat than diamonds of the same weight.

Sunrise Ruby

This remarkable untreated pigeon blood Burmese Ruby is a rare 25.596-carat gem of the finest purity taking its name from a poem by Rumi, the 13th-century Sufi poet. In May 2015, it set a remarkable record for a colored gemstone selling for $30 million to an anonymous buyer. This price was three times the previous record for a ruby. Cartier set it in a platinum ring with shield-shaped diamonds on either side — a magnificent creation.

Savvy Marketing?

Ruby and Sapphire are both corundum. Color separates them with ruby’s hue from trace elements of chromium: the more chromium, the deeper the shade. Throughout history, ruby included all shades of red from light rose — a pink — to blood red. Historically, the lighter hues were considered “female rubies” while, the darker hues were “male rubies.”

Today in Asia, these lighter “reds” are still considered rubies. In North America and Europe, we call them pink Sapphire. The change happened in the late 19th/early 20th century. Why? A vibrant, medium red ruby is the preferred and most valuable color. This made the lighter rubies less valuable. But their beauty deserves its share of value. By creating pink Sapphire, jewelers didn’t need to compare it to ruby. Pink Sapphire has a separate category and standards getting its popularity from its much-loved vivid hue. That sounds like savvy marketing to me.

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Emerald

Let’s go back to the Emerald City of Oz and forget about clicking the heels of our ruby slippers. Let’s click our emerald slippers instead and enter a realm of captivating beauty that has long exerted a powerful attraction from the rulers of ancient India to today’s A-Listers.

The Ultimate Emerald Devotee 

Cleopatra’s passion for Emeralds knew no bounds making her the gem’s most famous devotee. Her love led her far beyond jewelry. She wore emerald encrusted robes — a luxury by any standard. And she gave loose emeralds as gifts to visiting dignitaries — all of them men. Between 1000 and 3000 BCE, the earliest emerald source was discovered in Upper Egypt near the Red Sea. This later became known as “Cleopatra’s Mine.” Was this the origin of her many emeralds?

“The Green of Growing Things”

The name “emerald” comes to us from the Greek word, “smaragdos,” which may originate from either the Hebrew word “izmargad” or the Sanskrit word “marakata,” meaning “the green of growing things” — fresh, vivid, radiant. I like the Sanskrit version, which communicates the lush range of emerald hues. Think of the first leaves of spring and follow this verdant trail to the richer shades of spruce green. Along the way, you embrace a world of growth that reflects emerald’s mesmerizing power.

Catherine the Great’s Necklace

The Empress of Russia was famed for many treasured. Add this 75.61-carat Columbian emerald necklace to her riches. She received it in the18th century and ultimately it passed through many collectors’ hand to reach Pierre Cartier. In 2019, it was auctioned for $4.5 million.

Kermit Was Wrong — Way Wrong!

Kermit the Frog famously sang, “It’s not easy being green,” but when you’re admiring an emerald, you realize he got it all wrong. In addition to its famous beauty, extraordinary powers have been attributed to emerald through the ages. Read these, and you’ll realize that all of your customers need to have emerald jewelry — the more, the better.

  • In the 4th century BCE, Aristotle wrote that emerald increases its owner’s importance in presence and speech during business transactions. 
  • Throughout history, many cultures believed emerald enhanced fertility and fidelity: not a bad combination.

By the Middle Ages, emeralds had the power —  

  • To keep a woman chaste — but not a man! 
  • Reveal truth and falsehood. 
  • Provided an antidote to spells, enchantments, and demons.
  • Foretold the future if worn on the left side — but not the right.
  • To make people more intelligent and honest.
  • To change hues alerting its wearer of danger.

Whichever of these jewels your customers want, you’ll discover a stunning array in our Notable Gems and our calibrated stones, which include lab-created sapphires, rubies, and emeralds to meet all your needs.


For more interesting facts about gemstones and more information about the Big 3, check out some of our previous blog posts!

Gemstones for All: Five Gemstones for Men and Women

Cursed Diamonds and Gemstones: All That Glitters Isn’t Gold

Sell With A Story: Fancy Colored Sapphires

Sell With A Story: Blue Sapphire Gemstones

Sell With A Story: Rubies

Sell With A Story: Emerald Gemstones




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Tips for Small Business Saturday

Any other year, this would be a straightforward post about making the most of this once-a-year celebration. You could be planning a store event to attract customers with holiday cookie trays, mulled cider, bowls of salted nuts, and other festive foods. But this is 2020. Let’s step back and assess how you can have a successful Small Business Saturday regardless of COVID restrictions. Here are tips to keep in mind.

Social Media Is Your Best Friend

Get your message out on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Let your followers know what specials and promotions you’ll have, posting pictures of your staff’s favorite choices for moms, sweethearts, daughters, mothers-in-law — the list goes on. Better yet, offer customers the opportunity to buy them on Instagram. If you don’t know how this works, read our post INSTAGRAM FOR BEGINNERS, Just in time tips for Valentine’s Day (Though written for a Valentine’s Day post, the method is the same.)

And for quick posts on busy days, visit Stuller’s Facebook and Instagram and share our professionally photographed holiday jewelry posts.

Spruce Up Your Website

Through this year’s ups and downs, we’ve learned that an attractive website will help your business no matter what’s going on. Some customers don’t want to enter stores, and some can’t due to restrictions. No Problem. Use social media, google ads, and emails to direct people to your website, where they can take advantage of store promotions and make all the purchases they choose.

Do you want your site to offer more jewelry? Stuller e-commerce solutions can do that. With a few simple steps, you can set up Showcase or iFrame jewelry, bridal, mountings, diamonds, and gemstone onto your website. For more info, view On The Web – our digital brochure that walks you through a variety of online solutions we offer, including Showcase and iFrame.

The Perfect Gift

This year more than ever, customers need celebrations — as we all do — to keep their spirits up. And they want that perfect gift for each person on their list. Do you have everything you need to meet a wide range of tastes and budgets? Stuller can help. We have a robust, in-stock jewelry position with plenty of choices that can reach you by Small Business Saturday. This is ideal throughout the holiday season.

Crowd Control Can Enhance Sales

Limiting the number of people in your store doesn’t seem like the best plan, but you can turn it to your advantage. Remember: most businesses will have the same rules to follow. Customers know all about these changes, and, hopefully, their impatience will stay in check. Let’s face it: fewer customers in the store frees you to focus on each customer’s experience making it more personal and successful.

Last, But Not Least

Small Business Saturday focuses on local businesses that have grown and shaped your community. What could be more local than sharing your business story, whether you’re a 4th generation jeweler or just starting? Create a PowerPoint with pictures and text that tells where you came from and how you reached this special day. Everyone loves a story, and chances are good you’ll share a few facts even longtime customers don’t know. This will start many conversations and help new customers feel they know you better.

So shine your brightest lights this Saturday and know Stuller is here to support you any way we can and throughout the holidays.

Happy Holidays and Happy Selling!




Merry Metals: Prepare Now for the January Repair Rush

Are we really just 37 days from Christmas? There’s no doubt about it. And as each passing day unwinds ever faster, Stuller will get you what you need just in time.  

So far in our Facebook Live series, we’ve talked about jewelry, bridal, and findings. In this week’s episode, we’re talking about fabricated metals with Kurt Jagneaux. He’s one of our metals gurus who happens to be Executive Director of Production Operations for Metals. Watch and listen while he discusses the merry metal products you’ll need now and come January when repairs begin in earnest. 



Experience Matters 

Thirty-five years ago, Kurt was a welder by trade when a friend who worked at Stuller told him he might enjoy working there with precious metals. That’s how his Stuller adventure began. “When I started at Stuller, we were smaller, and I like to think I’ve grown along with the company. I’ve certainly learned a whole lot about precious metals, and perhaps most importantly, I’ve had to come up with solutions to the inevitable challenges that come when working with precious metals.” In short, working with these metals involves as much art as science.

Down to the Wire 

Shop Stuller.com | Wire

And on the subject of time, Kurt says, “We fabricate more than 95% of our product here in our Lafayette, Louisiana manufacturing facility. So, during the holidays, we can get what you need fast, offering next day delivery on anything in stock. Our 40 different metal alloys produce about 5,000 SKUs, and at any given time, we have a lot of those available for shipping.”

January Repairs 

Shop Stuller.com | Sizing Stock

Kurt mentions that this metals information will be just as relevant come January when repairs take center stage. “That’s one of our two busiest months,” he adds. “We’ll be ready with the sizing stock, solder, laser wire, wire, sheet, and much more, so you can take care of business with ease.” 

SCS Certified 100% Recycled Metals (SCS: Scientific Certification System) 

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Kurt talks about the growing importance of sustainable metals, “Our customers want this information because even if their customers don’t ask, sustainability is a strong selling point. Over the years I’ve been here, I’ve seen the sustainability issue evolve, and it’s here to stay.” 
 

Environmental and Social Responsibility 

Stuller’s commitment to environmental and social responsibility includes using 100% SCS-certified recycled metals. Our Clean Scrap program offers another path to sustainability. “With Clean Scrap, customers can recycle their precious metals and diamonds choosing from three payout possibilities. As a matter of fact, right now through November 30th, we have a fantastic promotion going on,” Kurt says. “You’ll receive 100% payout on your Stuller account. That’s credit you can put towards new product for your cases.”  
 

Determining Precious Metal Content 

How do we make this determination for Clean Scrap? “Historically, fire assay is the most important method,” Kurt says. “But sometimes we use x-ray certification. This method bounces beams off the various elements in the metal to provide a breakdown. If customers request this method, we use it, and the same goes when we’re backed up in fire assay.”  

COMEX Gold Bar Supplier 

Shop Stuller.com | Gold Bar

For those of you interested in investing in gold, we sell COMEX gold bars. COMEX stands for the Commodity Exchange, and the bars have to be 99.9% pure gold.

Custom Stampings 

Shop Stuller.com | Stampings

“We’re very excited to offer custom stampings thanks to new design technology,” Kurt says. “In the past, this wasn’t possible because you had to order dozens to make it affordable. Today, you can send us any type of file, and we can convert it to create one or more custom stampings. It’s an excellent way for you to offer pendants, earrings, and charms exclusive to your business.” 

Speaking of Time 

We want to remind you that during the holiday season, we’ll have extended hours on Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM along with our regular Monday to Friday 8 AM to 7 PM. Don’t forget you can place orders on Stuller.com 24/7 — it’s always open for business. We’ll be closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. 

Join us next week when we’ll talk about Holiday Social Media Tips that will help you turn pictures into big sales.


Want to learn more? Check out these other blogs that give you a deeper look into Stuller Metals.

Trusted & Tested: Stuller is Your Certified Recycled Metals Source

Introducing the 2020-2021 Stuller Findings and Metals Catalog




Kicking Off the Holiday Bridal Season

Ready or not, the holidays are here. Christmas is just 44 days away and we are ready to ship you everything you need to deliver on every customer’s biggest wish. And with holiday romance in the air, what could be more on target than holiday engagements?

This is the fourth episode in our Holiday Learning Series, and this week, Senior Director of Bridal Alex Stuller delves into what is hot and happening in bridal fashions. CLICK HERE to enjoy her presentation on the most exciting new and popular trends.



New & Popular Engagement Styles

Yellow or white gold: what are brides choosing? Yellow has come back strong in both bridal jewelry and jewelry overall. It is also Alex’s favorite, so she is showing several styles in this rich shade. Alex also mentions customers’ trend towards larger center stones and CTW — wonderful for them and you! Here are the dominant trends. It is also worth saying that fancy diamonds are very much in fashion. Watch for triangle, marquise, pear shaped diamonds, and more.

Art Deco

Art Deco has been emerging as a trend over the past few seasons. Now it has come into its own, and our designers have met the challenge. We love the fact that these designs communicate extravagance and restraint. You will discover the halo-style below on page eight of our October Bridal and Bands brochure.

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Updated Classics

Timeless looks never go out of style, yet each generation adds its own special touches. Look for hidden gallery details such as elegantly understated hidden cross solitaire. From the top, it looks like a classic, and from the sides, it takes on a deeper meaning. The split-shank solitaire shown has been updated with sculptural detailing on the shank and gallery — luxurious touches that win hearts.

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Favorites from 2020

We have watched these styles fly out the door, and because many are flexible 3C designs, customers have a world of options. They can change the stone shape and size and choose from at least 13 metal qualities. You will see this stunning double infinity style on page 40 of our holiday brochure — an outstanding engagement choice. And you will notice that the accented style below features rose-cut diamonds, beading, and claw prongs — all important trends.

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Showstoppers

These designs will stand out and start conversations with everyone your customer knows. Yes, she’s definitely engaged. There is no denying that. And what could be more appropriate to a wintry proposal that this fabulous snowflake design? Its gorgeous dimensions sparkle with round and marquise accents that delight the eye from every angle. Does she prefer something dazzling and edgy? The asymmetric beauty will steal her heart away with its emerald cut center (or oval) and its bouquet of marquise and round accents.

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Stackable Anniversary Selling System and A&E Selling Systems

Irresistible stackables continue to take center stage, allowing each bride to build her unique look. And the best part? The more bands, the merrier. She can add to her stack for her anniversary, birthday, Mother’s Day, the holidays, or just because she feels like it. Our prototype Stackable Anniversary Band Selling System and our new Anniversary Band ($499) and Eternity Band ($399) Selling Systems let her try on many designs to find the one she loves — and give her ideas for future purchases.

And because these selling systems feature prototypes, you can offer her all these choices without investing valuable inventory dollars.

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Trends in Men’s Wedding Bands

Gone are the days when men’s wedding bands were predictably plain. Today men have many more choices, and they love it. Sometimes it takes him longer to choose his style than it takes for her to choose her engagement.

Classic bands

Classic hand styles still hold sway over a significant percentage of the band market, but today you are just as likely to see them with special finishes, laser patterns, or both. And do not forget engraving. If you have not tried our Classic Band Builder experience, now is the time to try it. Customers can watch as you make each change and try as many options as they please until they arrive at the one they want.

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3C Diamond Bands

Diamond bands have returned in a big way, and our 3C designs let men choose the stone shapes and sizes and the metal quality to achieve the right look. We offer a wide range of choices so they will be sure to find the one they want.

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Contemporary Metals

This contemporary metals trend continues strong as grooms look to them for personal statements and durability. Is he a rock climber? These are the bands to show him. They can choose from tungsten, titanium, cobalt, stainless steel, and our two new additions: tantalum and silicone. We are extremely excited to offer tantalum, a rare metal that can be both engraved and sized — highly unusual for contemporary metals. Silicone bands have a price that cannot be beaten and offer customers the unusual choice of 10 colors: black, gray, maroon, green, navy, royal, yellow, and various stripe combinations. Yes, they do come in women’s sizes.

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ever&ever® Bridal Program

No discussion of Stuller bridal would be complete without mentioning our extraordinarily successful ever&ever® bridal program featuring our flexible 3C designs so couples can customize to their hearts’ content. Alex closes her presentation by previewing ever&ever’s®enchanting new holiday video, which is part of its exclusive marketing assets.

If you are interested in this program, contact a bridal program specialist at 800-877-7777, ext. 2528 or visit Stuller.com/everandever.


Extended Holiday Hours

The holidays can bring a lot of stress, so we’re here to take some of that stress away. When you’re in a holiday quandary, we’re here to help.

Our customer experience team is currently available from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Central. On the Saturdays between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, we’ll be here for you from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Central.




Creative Journey in a White/Space

Khadijah Fulton, owner and designer of White/Space, has had a busy six months. On the one hand, the small group of manufacturing artisans that helped her with large orders and busy seasons had to close for California’s stay-at-home order. She found herself filling all orders from her successful e-commerce business. Amazingly, the orders kept coming in.

On the other hand, she has two sons, ages 5 and 10, who have been home and learning online, which regularly impacts her bench time. Let’s note that Khadijah considers herself a mother first and a designer second. “All of our routines have been interrupted, and it’s just as stressful for them as it is for me. My 10 year old does pretty well, but my younger one is in kindergarten, and online classes prove challenging. He’ll sit for a while, then get up to play or come to see me.”

Khadijah Fulton, Founder and Designer, White/Space

The Beginning of White/Space Jewelry

Ironically, Khadijah was a designer long before she had her children. She graduated from Parson’s School of Design in NYC, then spent 10 hectic years in the fashion industry as a designer for brand name clothing lines. After Khadijah had her first child, she wanted to slow down her life, arranging her schedule around her child. She branched out into jewelry as a way to express her creativity.

White/Space Continuity Ring
White/Space Continuity Ring in recycled gold

She tries to keep her White/Space bestsellers in stock, making other pieces to order. Like any number of jewelers who’ve found themselves busy during COVID-19, Khadijah attributes her business growth to a couple of factors:

  • First, with travel and cruises out of the picture and dining out limited, jewelry plays an even more vital role in celebrations and feel-good moments. And when people choose a gift, they often spend more than they typically would.  
  • Second, her loyal, supportive customers who want to see her through this difficult time. “I hope a lot of jewelers have seen this. And it lifts your spirits that these customers are thinking of you when we all have so much to process. With so many people at home, they feel more conscious of their choices. They want to support local businesses and businesses that align with their values.”
  • “The Black Lives Matter movement has also helped my business grow,” Khadijah says. “It focused attention on black-owned businesses, and I saw my orders surge through June and July. It’s more settled now, but I’m still busier than I was a year ago.”

Fortunately, she connected with an artisan jeweler who lives near her home outside Los Angeles, which helped her keep up with the volume. And recently her artisan manufacturers in downtown Los Angeles re-opened, so she’s working with them again. “For several months, I had to chain myself to my bench for evenings and weekends to get my work done, so I’m grateful that I can share the load.”

White/Space Pink Pearl Swingback Earrings
White/Space Pink Pearl Swingback Earrings

Looking Ahead

Khadijah sells her designs in selective retail outlets, and she’s recently taken on new wholesale partners. But facing the future, she wants to focus on building her internal team to continue growing her direct sales alongside these wholesale relationships. 

“I want to build my brand, and I’ll need a team to help me grow,” she says. “I’m looking forward to finding great people that believe in the potential of White/Space as much as I do.”

She would like to focus on a bridal offering and take on more custom design for 2021. “By having a team in place, I’ll have more time to focus on designing more styles that my customers love and creating even more meaningful pieces for them, which I find the most rewarding parts of my job. As designers and jewelers, we get the privilege of making vessels for their sentiments, memories, and most treasured connections.”

Behind the Name

When Khadijah named her business White/Space, she thought of it in design terms: an open space that invites creativity and personal expression. In the last few years, through the BLM movement, it has taken on other connotations.

“I’ve worked in ‘white spaces’ much of my adult life in a real sense, working for larger companies where I was one of very few (or the only) Black designer on the creative team, and now in the jewelry industry, which also has the same issues,” she explains.

“But working for myself, I’m excited to be part of the change that both industries need, building a visible, distinctive, luxury brand and doing it as a Black woman. Hopefully, in the future, young creatives of color will grow up seeing even more successful designers that look like them and will feel like they would be welcomed into our industry.”

So far, this approach is leading her in the right direction.

White/Space Oona Empress Earrings
White/Space Oona Empress Earrings


Read more about Khadijah in The Holiday Issue of From the Bench




Women’s Equality Day: 100 Years and Counting

The jewelry industry has many women business owners, executives, jewelers, and designers. And over the past 50 years, women have created a place for themselves in the diamond business — once the strict purview of men.

Here at Stuller, women make up 68% of our workforce. Our 11-person Leadership Team includes five women. I’m sure many of you can look at your businesses and see similar ratios. So it’s easy to overlook the fact that this wasn’t always the case in our industry or any other.

So, What Changed for Women?

After a hard fought battle that played out over decades, women won the right to vote 100 years ago today — August 26, 1920 — when Congress certified the 19th Amendment! This demonstration of women’s determination and persistence continues to pay off in our lives today through the women’s rights movement. We have a level of independence and autonomy that our great-great-great grandmothers could not have imagined. And the changes haven’t stopped as our lives keep evolving in new and exciting ways.

Decisions, Decisions

Today, women build careers — many not previously open to them. They marry later, buy their own homes, and when they see a piece of jewelry they want, they don’t wait for anyone to buy it for them. Engagement rings are an exception, but even then, women are more likely to participate in the decision.

This growing trend towards self-purchasing is increasingly relevant to our industry, and this seems like the right moment to celebrate all that women bring to the jewelry business.

Stuller’s 68% female workforce includes several women product designers. They create jewelry that’s inspired not only by industry trends, but by their own life experiences. Here’s a small sampling of pieces from 302® Fine Jewelry, designed to help women express themselves.

87329 turquoise bar earrings
Item # 87329

124329 stackable diamond ring
Item # 124329

A picture containing chain, mirror

Description automatically generated
Item # 87226


Interesting Facts About the 19th Amendment

from the National Women’s History Project

  • When did women begin the struggle for the right to vote? I had the mistaken impression it happened in the late 19th/early 20th century. In fact, the movement began in 1848 with a conference in Seneca Falls, NY. It took 72 years to achieve this goal.

  • Many of us know Susan B Anthony fought long and hard for the right to vote. But did you know that in 1872, Ms. Anthony defied the law and voted in her hometown, Rochester, New York? For this act of rebellion, she was arrested, tried, and fined. She refused to pay the fine, and the matter ended.

  • Did any states or territories give women the right to vote before the 19th Amendment? Yes, the Territory of Wyoming was first in 1869, followed by the Territory of Utah in 1870. The Territories of Washington and Montana followed in 1883 and 1887.

  • And last but not least, by how many votes did the 19th Amendment pass Congress? It passed by two in the Senate and 42 in the House.

Let’s celebrate this momentous achievement by congratulating women employees and customers on this exceptional day!




Moodlifting-Header

Elevate your mood with these jewelry trends

This year, life has thrown a wrench in our paths, and most of us have had our share of fears and anxieties nibbling away at our days. We try to stay positive, but this can prove challenging. How can we feel better and happier? Look no further than your fingers, neck, and ears — and encourage your customers to do the same.

We can delight in mood-lifting jewelry. Color holds a powerful sway over our emotions, so choose colorful gemstones that calm or energize us, as the case may be. Then we look for a deeply felt symbol that reflects our source of strength. As our eyes return to these pieces during the day, we’ll remember that we can find joy in unexpected situations and that we can tap vast stores of strength.

Joyful Colors

Colorful gemstones may not be magic, but they have a magical effect on us. We love the sunny warmth of Citrine, Turquoise’s calm tranquility, and Amethyst’s alluring hues. Pair them with lusciously designed jewelry in 14K white, yellow and rose, and you’ll feel your happiness barometer rise with your smiles.

mood-lifting-jewelry-Turquoise-fan-ring mood-lifting-jewelry-Turquoise-fan-earrings
72114* 87159*
mood-lifting-jewelry-rose-amethyst-diamond-necklace

87094*

mood-lifting-jewelry-white-citrine-diamond-crown-ring mood-lifting-jewelry-yellow-citrine-diamond-earrings
71974* 86950*

 

Symbolic Touchstones

When we lose sight of the forest for the trees, spiritual and symbolic jewelry brings life back into perspective, boosting our patience and awareness. Whether it’s an Eastern belief, a celestial reminder, a treasured emotion, or symbol of protection, each can re-orient how we see our day, and remind us to reach out to others.

Eastern Belief

mood-lifting-jewelry-yellow-stackable-yin-yang-ring mood-lifting-jewelry-diamond-accented-mantra-necklace
52250* 87257*

Celestial Influence

mood-lifting-jewelry-crescent-moon-and-star-necklace mood-lifting-jewelry-starburst-earrings
86843* 87331*

Treasured Emotion

mood-lifting-jewelry-diamond-love-ring mood-lifting-jewelry-white-rose-claddagh-necklace
653604 86968*

Symbol of Protection

mood-lifting-jewelry-diamond-hamsa-earrings mood-lifting-jewelry-eye-of-horus-necklace
652738 87229*

These options are just the tip of the iceberg of what you can offer.  Click here to check out more of our mood-elevating jewelry selection.

*dictates items available in platinum


Which of these pieces of jewelry brighten your day?  Let us know in the comments below!




Lab-Grown Diamonds Blog Header

Lab-Grown Diamonds: Let’s be completely clear, Part 1

As Lab-Grown Diamond (LGD) sales continue to grow with no end in sight, complete transparency — for you and us — has never been more important. None of us want to damage trust by selling a LGD as a Natural Diamond or a natural as a Lab-Grown diamond. LGDs are chemically, optically, and physically similar to Natural Diamonds, however they are created in a lab rather than 150 miles below the earth’s surface. LGDs have scintillating radiance, at a more attractive price. All customers need to know this.

lab-grown-diamonds-july-2020

In this first blog on transparency, we’ll look at how we make sure you know you are buying an LGD from Stuller. And the second blog will discuss your responsibilities when selling a LGD or LGD-set jewelry.

The following steps mark the individual efforts Stuller takes to provide you with transparency in purchasing Lab-Grown Diamonds from us.

Buy from reputable partners

If we don’t know exactly what we’re buying and receiving, how can we give you that same assurance? We purchase our Lab-Grown Diamonds from reputable vendors with a proven track record, and they are required to screen their product before shipping it to us. We back this up by screening all colorless and near-colorless Diamonds that enter our facility.

Stuller has a strategic service arrangement with GIA (Gemological Institute of America®). As an independent entity from Stuller, located in our facility, it is staffed by GIA’s screening specialists, who use GIA’s proprietary technology to perform the work. GIA’s instruments screen round melee diamonds in sizes 0.005 CT through 0.24 CT. The technology also sorts and color grades (D-to-Z) natural diamonds into color ranges.  You can learn more in our Diamond Screening Guide.

lab-grown-diamonds-july-2020-screening

 

Labeling

When you shop on Stuller.com, Lab-Grown Diamonds have their own clearly marked categories to eliminate confusion. All loose LGDs and LGD set jewelry — online and in catalogs and brochures — have the LG badge in a particular blue color. And all product descriptions include “lab-grown diamond.” If you shop by phone, our Diamond Specialists specifically address Natural Diamonds vs. LGDs and explain the differences so you can share this information with your customers.

lab-grown-diamonds-july-2020-badge
Lab-Grown Icon

Storage & Protocols

We store Lab-Grown Diamonds in separate vaults from our Natural Diamonds. And to avoid any possibility of mixing them, Diamond Specialists cannot have both types of diamonds on their desks at the same time.

Packaging & Invoices

We sell three levels of Lab-Grown Diamonds: large stones with a GCAL certificate or IGI report, large stones without reports, and melee. We store and ship the large LGDs with reports in a distinctive blue box that you can immediately identify as an LGD. The large stones without reports and the melee arrive wrapped in a blue paper nearly identical to the box color.

Your invoice will also state that you purchased one or more Lab-Grown Diamonds.

If you have any further questions about Lab-Grown Diamonds, call 800-877-7777, ext. 5 to speak with a Diamond Specialist.


Watch for the follow-up transparency blog later this month. It will address what and how you need to share LGD information when you sell them.




FTB-Education-2020-Summer-Blog-Heidi-Low

Heidi Lowe’s Unexpected Good Fortune

ftb Spring 2020 Heidi Lowe earringsWe feature Heidi Lowe in the new ftb on education, which is out now. During her 30 years as a jeweler in Rehoboth, Delaware, she has divided her time among custom jewelry for her clients, creating her own designs, and teaching jewelry classes both at her studio and universities.

With all the recent upheaval due to COVID-19, I touched base with her to see how she is doing. I was amazed by what she related.

The last time we spoke, her business had outgrown its 450-square-foot cottage/studio. Her contractor husband tore it down and is building her a 1650-square-foot shop with plenty of room to grow. Meanwhile, she had rented a tiny studio in a nearby town. ”I envisioned having time to focus on my own designs, and learn new techniques. Instead, I ended up busier than ever and able to keep the two younger jewelers I employ, working with me.”

Then COVID-19 hit. “I had no idea what it would be like or how I’d make it through,” she says. ”I figured it would be bad for my business, but beyond that, I had no idea. I have to say I didn’t imagine how well things have gone. I just had an amazing month. I’m busy every day, and I have a different focus.”

Heidi credits her long-time customers — some local and some who have moved away from Delaware — and her strong relationships with them. Before COVID-19, her studio and website featured 10-12 pieces by each of 50 designers she’d come to know over the years. She concentrated her work on her custom design clients, small collections, and her teaching.

Now she’s devoting herself to new designs and showing them on Instagram. “People message me if they want to buy a piece. Honestly, customers are buying everything I make. It’s out of the goodness of their hearts,” she says. “They want to be sure I’m surviving the shutdown. I find their concern very . . .” Her voice trails off.

She’s making most of her pieces in sterling with prices ranging from $150-$350. But she’s also had ten significant orders. “This involves phone calls and sending sketches and pictures back and forth until my customer is happy with the design. I’m inspired by how much they trust me.”

ftb Spring 2020 Heidi Lowe

She has a lot of work right now, and she’s using the opportunity to nurture her creativity. This is how she imagined this time while she waits for her new store. “I get better results, and clients are happier with what I create. It takes me longer to work this way, but I enjoy it, and customers are willing to wait.”

Heidi has always put extra effort into building close relations with customers, and during this challenging time, this work had paid off. “I’m naturally interested in understanding people, and it’s an important part of the designs I’m creating for them,” she says. “They want to know about me and my creativity because it makes each piece of jewelry special and personal.”

During this time, Heidi has given back to her creative community by offering her popular webinar, Abundance for Creatives, free. “Participation was incredible,” she says. “So I gave it twice. In one, I had 75 people, and 73 in the other.”

What lies ahead? Like the rest of us, Heidi isn’t really sure. She’s designed a line of gold jewelry and carved them, but she doesn’t want to cast he pieces until she’s open fulltime.

For more on Heidi’s store, click here.

 


Read more about Heidi’s passion for education in the Summer 2020 edition of From the Bench