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Into the Mystic: Harwell Godfrey Jewelry

Lauren Harwell Godfrey follows her passions and imagination where they lead. Her life has been shaped by changes in direction, constant learning, and a series of successful pursuits. Today, as a well-known jewelry designer in the San Francisco Bay area, she creates mesmerizing designs of mystic beauty and vision. They express her love of color with distinctive gemstones, inlay, and enamel. This unique flair has brought her to the attention of numerous fashion magazines, including Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, The Zoe Report, Cultured, PureWow, Town & Country, and more. 

Born in Southern California, Lauren has spent much of her life in and around San Francisco, where she graduated from college and art school. It turns out, creativity runs in the family. “My grandmother was very artistic,” she says. “She was both a singer and a painter.” 

From There to Here

Lauren began her career in the advertising world as an award-winning Art and Creative Director. She thrived for more than 15 years then realized she had hit a creative wall. It was time for a change — quite a radical change. 

With a love for food and cooking, she attended a culinary school in San Francisco. Ever the artist, she wanted to become a food stylist. She worked at this for seven years, and during this time she began making jewelry. 

“I started making jewelry for myself with funky leather and crystal jewels,” she says. “I realized pretty quickly that this was my passion and the right creative outlet for me.” Lauren’s design knowledge meshed seamlessly with creating jewelry, and she began to see the vast possibilities of gemstones and precious metals. They would allow her to work at a much higher level. 

In addition to honing her design aesthetics and use of color, her years in advertising gave her a firm grounding in branding and developing a brand voice. She pursued this with the help of a friend and her business partner, professionals in this area. They helped her with brand development and more in-depth knowledge of the fine jewelry world.  

Pendant and ring (above) from Harwell Godfrey’s collaboration with sustainably mined stones from Muzo Emeralds. The 18K yellow gold pendant features a 23.12 CT Emerald cabochon center stone, cultured Pearls, Mother of Pearl inlay, and Diamonds. The 18K yellow gold ring has 5.20 CT step-cut Emerald center stone, Turquoise inlay, Pink Sapphires, Amethyst, Yellow and White Diamonds. 

Inspirations

Lauren collects textiles — many from Africa. “I’m fascinated by their geometric shapes and patterns, the power of their vivid colors,” she says. “As a woman of color, I wanted to highlight my jewelry in my own way. I felt these patterns would translate well into unique jewelry.”   

Throughout her different endeavors, Lauren has often asked herself what she can contribute that’s different and unique. What’s fun, unexpected, and engaging? Looking at her creations answers this question colorfully, artfully, and luxuriously. 

In July 2020, the New York Times interviewed Lauren and two other Black jewelry designers from different countries about the boost they received from these tumultuous times following George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement. “Personally, it’s been a powerful experience,” she said. “What happened in summer 2020 was supported by people throughout the country and around the world. People from across the spectrum reached out to support black-owned businesses and Harwell Godfrey attracted a wider clientele and more media attention.”  

She continues: ”I came into this business naively and felt surprised there were so few Black jewelry designers. This period has made me aware of more Black designers, and that has given me a greater sense of belonging. I think we all know there’s so much work ahead, but many of us feel a renewed sense of hope.”  

Giving Back

Lauren wants to give hope to others by contributing to causes she values. She has created three (so far!) sophisticated heart talismans, each dedicated to a particularnonprofit. All profits from the sale of these pendants go to the organizations World Central Kitchen, the NAACP and Futures Without Violence. While sketching these designs, she realized that the line of triangle inlay looked like a broken heart put back together. Each clip-on bail features a diamond-accented equal sign for unity. 


Where is Lauren headed? She’s an artist so she’ll follow her spirit and imagination to ever more exciting explorations of pattern and color. 

Learn more about Harwell Godfrey Jewelry online at harwellgodfrey.com.


View our blog posts to learn more about our Stuller customers and their unique journeys.

Jason Chandler Brings Estate Piece Back to Life

Beyond the Glass Feature: Valerie Madison Fine Jewelry

Beyond the Glass Feature: Dana’s Goldsmithing




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




Heidi Lowe’s Unexpected Good Fortune

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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




Doug Meadows Goes the Distance

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In late February 2019, Doug Meadows left the comfort of his Atlanta store far behind and traveled to Lusaka, Zambia. He’s there to teach a class of eager pupils, a group of young women ranging in age from 18 to 30. This was no ordinary class and not just because it was happening so far from home. It represented a goal Doug has worked toward through years of trips to African countries. He wanted to mentor businesses and share his jewelry expertise to help people improve their economic status and lives. He has been teaching this group for some years now.

Training Jewelers in Zambia

His students have a bare-bones workshop located in Lusaka’s slums. It has intermittent power, resulting in insufficient light. But the women are undaunted, happy to have a place to work, and grateful for the opportunities it gives them. Doug has helped them compensate for the power problems with battery-powered drills. They also have propane-fueled torches that he taught them to use. They do much of their work by hand.

The women create hand-fashioned jewelry from recycled copper that they sell to stores in Finland, South Africa, and a few in the U.S. But copper tarnishes and, as they seek to expand their markets, this poses a problem. “I’m a solutions guy, “ Doug says. “So, I immediately thought of gold plating the jewelry to elevate it, prevent tarnish, and broaden its appeal.”

Doug tapped his industry contacts to arrange a shipment of tools and supplies in August 2019 and returned to Lusaka in October 2019, to teach a group of the women how to do the gold plating. Unfortunately, the shipment was still in Customs only to be released the day before he left. That gave him one day to teach. Fortunately, he had brought a video of the training he did at Legor. He left this with them and promised to return for more instruction after the holiday season. Hence, the late February visit.

Dawn Close, the American missionary who runs the orphanage where the women live, has played a central role in supporting the burgeoning jewelry business. She has helped the women get grants to offset the cost of equipment and Doug’s travel, and she has helped them find markets.

As Doug reviews gold plating technique with a small group of women, the others continue to fashion their creations, completely engrossed in their work. It represents a level of economic independence and, most importantly, hope for a better future.

What He’s Learned

Doug says he’s learned more from these young women than they’ve learned from him. But I’m not sure they would agree. He’s taught them about gemstone faceting and lab-grown diamonds. He’s helped them get essential tools and how to use them. He’s helped them get and set up benches. And now he’s added gold plating to their skills.

“I’m blown away by what they’ve accomplished with very little,” he says. “It inspires me and speaks to their spirit and determination. I stay in regular touch with them and plan to help in any way I can. It’s been a gift to be part of this.”

His Own Path

For Doug, education is an ongoing pursuit. “Life is education. I’ve learned from everyone who has worked for me, from my customers, from jewelers I meet at conferences, and from business people I meet in my community and beyond.”


For the full story on Doug’s journey to Zambia, check out the Summer 2020 edition of From the Bench.




Dianna Rae’s Creative Haven

FTB-Education-2020-Blog-Dianna-Rae

ftb Spring 2020 Dianna RaeIn 2014, Dianna Rae opened Dianna Rae Jewelry in Lafayette, Louisiana, and it soon became the city’s custom design mecca. Its custom made interior is an airy, light-filled space that exudes her welcoming presence. And the cases feature stunning custom designs by Dianna and the store’s other two designers.

Custom Creation 

Dianna knew that to attract customers, she had to create a unique experience. For 35 years in the business, custom design had been her focus, so it made sense to devote her store to it. In addition to designing for customers, she and the store’s other two designers create the jewelry in the cases. “My love for unique colored gemstones leads me to create a variety of designs from funky to vintage,” she says. “The jewelry that I design for our cases centers around colored gemstones. I also do a lot of remount and special request designs for my clients. I listen to their story and help them turn that into jewelry.”

Opal Round Tableftb Spring 2020 Dianna Rae Customer Event

“Opals are intrinsically mysterious and vary dramatically in colors,” Dianna says. “Customers really respond to them because they seem to be alive. We began our gemstone education with opals and held it at the store.” Interest grew, and it wasn’t long before Dianna had to move the event to a local restaurant to have adequate seating. She has an opals expert come and talk about the different types while attendees look at a wide selection.

The store’s Gemstone Round Table uses the same format. Customers view a wide selection of beautiful and exotic gemstones presented by a gemstone expert. “When customers decide which opal or gemstone they want,” Dianna says, “we schedule an appointment to help them design a piece of jewelry that shows it off to best effect.” She offers each of these classes twice a year.

Designing with Customers

“Our goal with the design process is to bring out the client’s inner designer and guide them through the process step-by-step,” Dianna says. “Some come in with a picture of a piece they like, but with CounterSketch®, hand sketches, and Matrix®, we can show them many more possibilities. We help them achieve their goal of a unique design.”And clients love the process. When Dianna and her design staff use their CAD software, they enhance the customer experience by printing the jewelry on the store’s 3D printer.


For more on Dianna’s journey and why she loves calling Lafayette, Louisiana home, check out her full feature in the Summer 2020 edition of From the Bench.




Beyond the Glass Feature: Valerie Madison Fine Jewelry

Valerie Madison of Seattle-based Valerie Madison Fine Jewelry didn’t plan on entering the jewelry industry. In college, she pursued environmental science due to her deep love and respect for Earth, but along the way, she started making jewelry between classes and on weekends.

“I had a knack for it and knew my passion could take me far. After college, I continued making jewelry and made the leap to full-time designer and business owner in 2014,” she explains. “Making jewelry felt right early on, so I started planning for a future in it.”

 

Simple and Clean

Valerie designs one-of-a-kind engagement rings and works with clients across the country on custom designs. “I’ve developed a collection of modern, minimalist jewelry inspired by classic designs and new ideals,” she says.

“We offer gemstones and educate clients about what stones fit their lifestyle best,” she explains. If they’re looking for a specific shade or shape? “We can usually find that gemstone when they’ve been told elsewhere it’s impossible.”

Drawing on her respect for gemstones, science, and the natural world, Valerie put her expertise to use to make one thing a priority for her jewelry: responsibly sourced materials.

 

With a Purpose

“I’m a natural researcher, so I researched gold mining and its effects on habitats and communities. I realized I could apply environmental responsibility into jewelry making,” Valerie explains. “For instance, we use SCS-certified 100% recycled metals whenever possible, and we often use Canadian diamonds. The more we and customers ask for responsible sourcing, the more commonplace it’ll become.”

Even in the Valerie Madison Fine Jewelry studio, this mindset is apparent. A beautifully renovated, century-old building houses her studio currently*. With high ceilings, exposed beams, and lush vines crawling all around, the space is as natural as it is inspiring to her creative process.

Not only is this space utterly enthralling to behold — it’s also part of Valerie’s commitment to minimizing her impact on the world. “Our small studio has less sprawl in our surrounding community, so we make efficient use of our land,” she says. “We love our Seattle community and also the wider world.”

A few others things the team does to minimize their environmental impact include:

  • Using minimal packaging for their products
  • Incorporating recycled diamonds into designs

The recycled diamonds typically come from older pieces of jewelry, get regraded, and are set anew. “I will always prioritize the environment,” Valerie says. “And we’ll always use vendors who are transparent about their operations.”

 

Behind the Designs

Valerie’s creative process always starts with the stone. “My designs begin with my gemstones versus designing a setting and looking for one that’ll fit. I examine the gemstone, searching for special attributes, like iridescence viewable from only one angle, or a geometric profile.”

Once she has a clear vision of how to use the gemstone, she designs the setting, starting with what silhouette will best emphasize the stone. “I keep current trends in mind when designing, but I try to avoid things that may feel too dated someday,” Valerie explains. “We have a strong appreciation for gemstones and look forward to increased transparency in the industry moving forward. It’ll help us offer more gemstone options.”

 

Stuller is proud to support Valerie, her team, and her studio. To ensure jewelers like her have the recycled metals and other products they need, we have an ongoing commitment to ethical sourcing and sustainability, from recycled precious metals to our daily corporate operations in Lafayette, Louisiana.

 


* Exciting news: Valerie and her team will be moving to a new studio soon. Follow the Valerie Madison Fine Jewelry Instagram to watch their journey to a new space in the Madrona neighborhood of Seattle, Washington.

 

Read the full article about Valerie Madison Fine Jewelry in the Spring 2020 edition of Beyond the Glass.




Beyond the Glass Feature: Dana’s Goldsmithing

Dana Smith of Dana’s Goldsmithing had a successful business and committed customers. Yet leading up to 2018, she faced a creative and business crisis that led her to reimagine her store. Why?

Let’s take a look at her reasoning.

 

Realizing Her Vision

Dana sat down to identify the core reasons she needed to make changes with her business, and she came up with three main problems:

  • She was an early Matrix® adopter, yet 10 years later, she was still the store’s only CAD designer. Her long hours meeting customer needs limited her ability to grow her business.
  • She needed at least one more CAD designer, but her efforts proved fruitless. Part of it was her location in Port Perry, Ontario, an hour from Toronto. Few designers wanted to move there. How could she attract them?
  • With the surge of online competition, branding had grown critical, and she needed to identify and clarify hers to ensure the survival of Dana’s Goldsmithing.

After conversations with key staff and family, she started to define the future direction for Dana’s Goldsmithing. Working one-on-one with customers to create custom jewelry was her passion, and it would be the primary focus of her reimagined store.

Dana’s Goldsmithing Reimagined

As she researched store design, several of her industry connections referred her to Jim Tuttle, owner of Green Lake Jewelry in Seattle. His store is well-known in the industry for its unique aesthetic, imaginative integration of custom design, and functionality.

Dana called him, and he invited her to come and visit. She wasted no time booking her flight, and the visit gave her insights into what she could achieve: a customer-centered jewelry space that welcomed customers and put them at ease. She wanted to increase customer interaction with all aspects of the business.

Changes included:

  • 360° cases for an open, connected feel.
  • Two on-floor design stations.
  • A glass wall that let customers see the jewelers at work.
  • More technology: flat screens in the store and iPads for all sales staff.

The renovation doubled the shop’s size and opened up the second floor for an office/design area and a lunchroom.

Just as importantly, she and her staff reviewed all store policies to see if they were in line with their tag, “We make it personal.” Policies that didn’t accomplish this goal were modified to fit — or discarded. Dana says this clarified and reinforced their commitment.

“Working as a team was key,” she says. “We examined what we were saying and doing.”

 

Rediscovering Her Passion

With the store’s new look, feel, and branding, she hired two CAD model makers, three designers, and a second goldsmith. Today, the store communicates the team’s enthusiasm and excitement. They often have 50 to 60 custom orders in their queue, all in different stages of design and production.

Technology has opened up new business avenues. Dana works with customers over Skype, greatly expanding her reach. The result: “We’re all excited about our work and the store. Customers feel the passion, and they love it.”

What are Dana’s parting thoughts? “I took a big risk, and that’s scary. But the results justify it all. This experience renewed our passion and commitment to the business. I think we all feel that our possibilities are endless.”


Learn more about Dana’s Goldsmithing and her business adventure in the Spring 2020 edition of Beyond the Glass.




Meet Andrew Elawar and His Latest Jewelry Venture: Chrysella

Chrysella Andrew Elawar Blog Header

Although I grew up around it, I wanted absolutely nothing to do with the family business. As a little kid, it was the very last place on earth that I wanted to be. While all of my friends were doing fun and festive things, I dreadfully spent every summer and every holiday season helping my dad at his one-man workshop.

Chrysella Andrew Elawar Headshot

From inadvertently annoying the customers to purposely annoying my dad, I did it all. Ultrasonic cleaning was my preferred specialty coupled with haphazard ring polishing and ill-advised finger size consulting. In between all of that, I would take a nap or hang out at Ken’s Barber Shop right next door. My greatest feat, however, may have been managing to time the ebb and flow of all the stoplights across the street so that I could quickly treat myself to a well-earned kid’s meal without my dad ever noticing.

At best, I was a curious albeit mischievous jewelry apprentice. At worst, and in retrospect, I was likely a nuisance to my dad and the benefit of me being at the shop did not outweigh the detriment nor my fast food kid’s meal tab. Nonetheless, and to my astonishment, my dad kept encouraging me to “help” him at the shop. I guess he was teetering on the brink of hope and optimism that I would somehow miraculously take over what he started nearly 50 years ago.

Flash Forward

It was some time during my high school and college career that I begin working more and more at the shop. I still wasn’t convinced though, so I decided to follow my instincts and explore the world of politics and law— two of my interests to this day. I studied Political Science at the University of Virginia, graduated with distinction in 2012 and truly enjoyed every moment of my college career. After college, I worked at the shop while studying for the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). A Law degree was on the horizon for me! After all, isn’t that the quintessential degree for most publicly elected officials? I thought that I had finally found my calling.

By studying for the LSAT at the store and by virtue of sheer osmosis, my interest level and knowledge of the day-to-day operation of the business were on the rise. Also on the rise were my responsibilities and level of commitment both to the business and my law school endeavors. For a very decisive person, I was torn. Do I pursue my interest in politics and law? Or do I pursue my newfound passion for business?

Chrysella Andrew Elawar Customer Experience Ring

By now, I’m sure you’ve guessed which path I chose.

The Jeweler’s Path

I was extremely cognizant of the fact that the year was 2012, the economy was still in shambles, and I was entering the feeble world of luxury goods at the most inopportune time. Did I mention that I studied politics? That helped a lot!

Nonetheless, I rolled up my sleeves and began by tackling the daunting task of transforming “the shop” into “the store.” The intersection between gemology, jewelry, and technology was where I aimed to stand. Getting there would be a challenge, but I believed it would open many doors.

An old African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” With that in mind, I began forging relationships with industry leaders, business professionals, and of course, the world-renowned GIA®. In hindsight, I probably annoyed each person I spoke to and emailed to a molecular level. But it was all in pursuit of best practices, so it was worth it!

Chrysella Andrew Elawar Gemologist

A Graduate With Gratitude

Before long, I walked out of the GIA in Manhattan with a Graduate Gemologist Degree. Given the difficulty of the coursework and the time it takes to complete the degree, it was one of my proudest moments. Gemology is an intriguing field and has become a true passion of mine. I immersed myself in the world of gemology and jewelry and introduced state-of-the-art technology to the family business— DND Jewelers.

Before I go any further, I’d like to go back to my African proverb about going places. The truth is, I would go nowhere — fast or far — without the relationships that I strive to build with my clients. They are the most integral part of my business, and I am thankful for their loyalty, support, and unwavering trust. Without them, I may have been in a courtroom presenting a dreary case to an irritable judge, instead of selling a 5-carat diamond to a lucky buyer. My clients are what keep me engaged, challenged, and in the perpetual pursuit of providing the best possible product and experience at any given moment. Nothing makes me happier than seeing a smile on their faces.

Chrysella Andrew Elawar Customer Experience

The same sentiment extends to my family, particularly my dad, who took me under his wing while encouraging me to take risks and pursue my dreams. I have since moved on from his mischievous jewelry apprentice to being the bearer of his legacy that he worked so hard to build. His hope and optimism have miraculously transcended into reality.

Creating Chrysella

I had a vision of a new, ultra-modern jewelry store with few interior walls — a store focused on customer experience. So I opened Chrysella, my second store, which opened in November 2018. We chose a location across the street from the Apple store in Woodbridge, Virginia. One look at Chrysella’s sleek glass exterior and you understand that I found inspiration in Apple’s iconic openness inviting exploration — precisely the experience we want to offer.

When someone enters the store, we say, “Let me show you the shop. Let me show you the 3D printer. Let me show you CounterSketch® or come and see how the jeweler micro-finishes each custom design.” We include customers and share our passion for all aspects of jewelry creation. When a customer is buying a diamond or gemstone, we give them an hour-long class showing them the differences among a wide range of stones and presenting designs they can choose.

Chrysella Andrew Elawar Storefront

Inviting Customer Engagement

These days, I spend a lot of my time speaking to clients, consulting with them on custom designs, gemological services, and more. It’s about building relationships through customer experience. With custom jewelry, you don’t walk in and out, so I sit down with each customer, and explain to them, “This might take longer, but we’re going do it the right way.” I need to know who they are to understand their needs.

Over 15 years later, I still time the stoplights and run across the street. Only this time for a much-needed coffee! I guess the French are right­: plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose! “The more things change the more they stay the same!”





Feature Friday: Learn the History of Day’s Jewelers in New England

Feature Friday Day's Jewelers Blog Header

In 1914, Day’s Jewelers was started on the back of a dream. Captain Harry Davidson opened the first Day’s store on Congress Street in Portland, ME, after his ill health forced him to retire from a life at sea. His goal was to build a company that could stand the test of time. The business shortly became a family affair when Captain Davidson was joined by his three sons, Sidney, David, and Herman. Over the course of 30 years, the Davidson family opened an incredible 21 Day’s Jewelers locations throughout Maine— establishing the company as one of New England’s premier jewelers.

In 1978, remaining Day’s owners Sidney and David, both in their 70s, decided to begin the process of selling the business so that they could retire. Over the course of the following ten years, the brothers liquidated 21 of the 22 Day’s stores, opting to keep the Westbrook, Maine, location open.

Day's Jewelers Owners History

David Davidson and John Fickett working with a goldsmith

Welcome New Owners

In September of 1988, Jeff and Kathy Corey (does that last name sound familiar?), owners of Jeffery’s Fine Jewelers in Waterville, Maine, decided to purchase the Day’s Jewelers company from the Davidson family. Jeff Corey’s father Robert instilled a love of jewelry in Jeff, inspiring him to open his jewelry store with his wife Kathy. Perhaps it was destiny or mere coincidence that Jeff’s father once worked at the very same company Jeff would buy and run for 30-plus years! At that time, 10-year-old Robert Corey was hired to work at Day’s Jewelers as a custodian and stock boy in 1937; at age 19, Robert became the manager of the Caribou, Maine, Day’s Jewelry store location. Another nine years passed, and Robert left Day’s to open Robert’s Jewelry in Madawaska, Maine. Robert and his wife Enid raised seven children, all of whom worked in the business.

In 1989, the H.E. Murdock Corporation, a jewelry wholesaler, purchased Day’s Jewelers. The new owners of the company, Jeffery Corey, Kathy Corey, James Corey, and Mark Ford, together set out to reestablish Day’s Jewelers as one of New England’s finest jewelry companies.

Day's Jewelers Jeffery Kathy David

Jeff and Kathy Corey pictured with David Davidson

New England Jewelers

Day’s has since opened eight stores in Maine and New Hampshire; the original location of Jeffery’s Fine Jewelers in Waterville, Maine, became the first newly-owned Day’s location. The Westbrook store was closed, but the H.E. Murdock Corporation went on to open locations in Auburn, Augusta, Bangor, Topsham, and South Portland, Maine locations, plus Manchester and Nashua, New Hampshire locations. Day’s also has a bustling e-commerce side to its brick-and-mortar locations. DaysJewelers.com hosts all of the company’s products so customers can browse, order, or request to see items in-store from the ease and comfort of their homes, on their time.

As Day’s has grown, the company’s commitment to the time-honored values set into place by the Davidsons has remained steadfast. Value, opportunity, trust, and sentiment apply to each and every sale, product, and customer follow up, and is instilled in each employee at the start of their employment as well as continuously through their co-workers.

Day's Jewelers Waterville Circa 1945

Day’s Jewelers in Waterville circa 1945

Social Responsibility

Day’s has committed to the responsible, ethical, and sustainable mining of diamonds, gemstones, and metals. And because of this commitment, Day’s is involved with a number of programs to ensure that all jewelry their customers purchase is ethically mined and created. They ensure their customers receive the best value for their hard-earned money. As the Kimberley Process came into act in 2003, Day’s helped lead efforts to keep conflict diamonds from entering international trade routes. In the same vein, Day’s supports Earthwork’s campaign for No Dirty Gold, which supports human rights for the workers behind mining gold, and ensuring that environmental impact is minimal. The American Gem Trade Association monitors the mining and cutting of colored gemstones, and Day’s is a long-time member of the organization, supporting the responsible sourcing of these stones.

And of course, Day’s Jewelers turns to Stuller to uphold their ongoing commitment to sustainability.

Day's Jewelers Storefront

Day’s Jewelers storefront present-day in Waterville

Day’s Jewelers Gives Back

Day’s also supports its local community. In 2014, Day’s celebrated its centennial anniversary by raising $100,000 for the Jewelers for Children, an organization that benefits many children’s charities, including Make-a-Wish® and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

It’s been a long, one-hundred-year-plus journey for Day’s Jewelers, but the company wouldn’t thrive without the help of its incredible employees. In 2014, Day’s was honored to receive the Retailer of the Year award from the Retail Association of Maine. This award recognized Day’s continued growth in employees or sales, commitment of company resources to community projects, and creation of a positive work environment for all employees. Day’s was selected as one of the Best Places to Work in Maine in 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018, and strives to meet that goal again in 2019.


Day’s Jewelers strives to continue building a company that stands the test of time. As they continue to grow and evolve to be the best jewelers in the area, they remain committed to customer service and exceptional products. They’ve also managed to give back to their community, something all businesses in every industry should aim toward.




Break from Tradition: Offer Creative Ring Box Options to your Customers

Creative Ring Box Blog Header

Ring boxes often get the short end. While hours of consideration and effort goes into a single ring design, sometimes the ring box becomes an afterthought. But a creative ring box can result in a complete and memorable proposal. And who knows, it may even help to seal the deal!

It’s more than just a box

Few folks realize the endless possibilities when it comes to offering a unique and creative ring box. Sentimental keepsakes, for example, can be transformed into a creative ring box with some imagination and a little forethought. Imagine a couple whose true love began at a softball game. Did you know their exact baseball could become a key component to their perfect proposal?

Creative Ring Box Baseball Custom Earth Art Gem Jewelry

Meet Austin Moore and Shasta Palmer

Custom jewelry designer Austin Moore of Earth Art Gem & Jewelry works with clients to make creative ring boxes that hold special sentimental value. Austin goes above and beyond to offer advice and craftsmanship, helping grooms-to-be devise the perfect personalized ring box. Along with ordinary objects like baseballs, Austin has even created a matching Cinderella pumpkin coach engagement ring and box set. This personalized service also extends to fellow jewelers seeking something extraordinary. That’s right, Austin and his wife Shasta offer their creative ring box making/finding services to other jewelers at a reduced rate. Because after all, it’s more than just a box!

Creative Ring Box Carriage Earth Art Gem Jewelry

Austin’s wife, Shasta Palmer, also specializes in her own jewelry niche. She has a knack for acquiring opals and odd gemstones. She even holds a Master’s Degree in Industrial Technology and Packaging— the ideal qualifications to construct creative ring boxes. The duo started with silversmithing in 2009 as they poured themselves into their new interests. Flash forward almost ten years later, their passions have turned into a full-time specialty through their business.

Austin and Shasta Creative Ring Box Family Photo

Meet Austin and Shasta

Creative ring box possibilities are endless

Consider the deeper meaning boxes can convey. An engagement ring in a box shaped like a globe could scream, “You are my world.” Likewise, a heart-shaped ring box might suggest, “I’ll give my heart if you give me your hand in marriage.” Use these romantic ideas to bump your ring box sales to the next level. Jewelers often recommend the quintessential little black box, but instead, the possibilities are endless to make an outstanding proposal.

Creative Ring Box Treasure Earth Art Gem Jewelry

Other amazing engagement ring box designs should not be overlooked. Earth Art Gems & Jewelry also make treasure chest ring boxes, complete with lights and a recordable message option.

Make it personal

For your next ring sale, try to personalize the box with special messages, wedding dates, and names. And remember, a creative ring box also serves as ring bearer vehicles during the wedding ceremony. So, heed Austin and Shasta’s advice: Don’t be afraid to poke around to see what’s trending. Etsy offers a huge variety of movie and video game boxes like Pokémon balls, for example. These days, there are plenty of advances in ring box technology too— from 360-degree spinning to ones with LED lights and video recording capabilities to super slim designs that slip right into one’s back pocket.

Shop ring boxes at Stuller.com


Have you sold any clever ring boxes lately? Share your story with us in the comments below. Then, visit Earth Art Gem & Jewelry to see all that Austin Moore and Shasta Palmer have to offer.