Author: jordanrayne

The Importance of Lab-Grown Diamond Education for Retail Professionals

The Importance of Lab-Grown Diamond Education for Retail Professionals

I stand by this statement: Professionals in the jewelry industry need to understand laboratory-grown diamonds.

Whether they sell them or not.

But where is the accurate information? Most online resources are perpetuating the dissemination of misinformation to achieve sales, whether it’s for the benefit of the mined or lab-grown industry.

Jewels of the Trade Podcast Ep. 001 – Lab Grown Diamond Education featuring Julia Griffith of The Gem Academy

A couple of years ago, the FTC made an issue out of lab-grown diamond dealers not being clear in their advertising when calling their product “sustainable” (sometimes omitting the term lab-grown in some of their advertising), which the FTC at the time considered an “unsubstantiated claim.” We’re seeing a discrepancy in information between the two “sides” of mined vs. lab-grown, and most companies can’t answer their customers’ questions without a thick layer of bias.

Many sellers, some even at the retail level, are claiming lab-grown diamonds are “sustainable” among other things without having a clear idea of where lab-grown diamonds even come from. 

Meanwhile, natural diamond sellers are often confronted with half-informed customers while sometimes unequipped with the knowledge to respond in an educated manner. 

So how are lab-grown diamonds really made?

What should they be called? How should they be sold?

And more importantly.

How should they be valued?

And how are they identified?

All of these questions and more are answered in The Gem Academy’s educational courses on Lab-Grown Diamonds including The Ultimate Online Course on Laboratory-grown Diamonds and Retailer’s Guide to Laboratory-grown Diamonds.

Regardless of what sellers, media outlets, and YouTube say…There is a truth when it comes to laboratory-grown diamonds, and it’s not as simple as we’d all like it to be. The best way to refrain from generalizing what is a very broad concept is to be educated well enough to answer specific questions about the subject.

Customers every day are being fed misinformation regarding both natural and laboratory-grown diamonds, and in the case of lab-grown diamonds, this misinformation is seeping into the trade as well. We can’t stop YouTubers and bloggers from perpetuating myths about our industry, but we can better equip industry professionals and especially our employees to educate our customers. 

Lab-grown diamonds are not made in a microwave.

Lab-grown diamonds are not indistinguishable from natural diamonds.

Lab-grown diamonds are not too “new” for the secondhand market…

… This is why if you are in the business of buying diamonds off the street, you must know how to determine if they’re natural or synthetic.

And what about HPHT diamonds that test as synthetic moissanite? 

Yeah, that’s a thing.

Our industry is facing a new landscape of obstacles in diamond buying and selling, client education, and social media, marketing, and branding.

If you own a retail store or a pawn shop, I strongly advise investing in The Gem Academy’s courses for your staff.

For more information, check out our newest podcast interview with Julia Griffith of The Gem Academy about lab-grown diamond misinformation and how to better educate the trade.

And don’t forget to sign up for The Ultimate Online Course on Laboratory-grown Diamonds or Retailer’s Guide to Laboratory-grown Diamonds for retail professionals.

Here are some helpful blog posts written by Julia Griffith of The Gem Academy which you might also enjoy:

HPHT laboratory-grown diamonds that test as “synthetic moissanite”

How much cheaper are laboratory-grown diamonds compared to natural diamonds?

How to tell if a diamond is natural or laboratory-grown (just by looking at it!)

Laboratory-grown diamonds 101: An introductory guide to what, why and “how much?”

3 Tips for Selling Jade

3 Tips for Selling Jade

Why Jade?

Selling jade is selling an experience, an enigma, and a story.

It’s no wonder jade is referred to as “the inscrutable gem.” Anyone who sees it loves it, but not everyone is comfortable selling it. This is understandable, as the culture and history associated with jade is not always known but is nonetheless respected.

Jade has been revered all over the world for thousands of years. It is tough enough that ancient peoples used them as tools, and so alluring that one Chinese emperor marched 100,000 men to find the secret jadeite mines of Burma.

It’s appearance is surreal.

It’s texture is addictive.

And it’s story is more intertwined with history than any other gemstone on the planet.

Seeing it is loving it, but understanding it is something else entirely.

This is the conundrum faced by many American sellers.

We know you want your customers to love jade as much as you do, so how can you explain something so inexplicable?

Here are our 3 Tips for Selling Jade.

#1. The jade customer is discerning, so be prepared to explain your knowledge if warranted as an assurance of your skills as a jade salesperson.

Here are some important things to know about jade.

  • There are two different gemstones called jade: Nephrite and Jadeite.

Nephrite is the jade of ancient China, whereas jadeite captivated Chinese nobility more recently in the 1700s.

  • Both jades are the toughest gemstones on the planet, and both are suitable for everyday wear with jadeite being slightly harder to scratch than nephrite.
  • The only jadeite worth buying (and it certainly is worth buying!) is natural and untreated. Jade is one of the most commonly imitated gems in the world, so proper documentation is absolutely essential when making a jade purchase. Most jade on the market is ‘B Jade,’ which has been acid-bleached and filled with polymer. ‘B Jade’ is not valuable, it is brittle, it’s color is not permanent, and the acid can leak onto the wearer’s skin. Not just buying ‘A Jade,’ but having proof that the stone is natural is of the utmost importance.

#2. Consider the lighting.

Many jade customers have their own penlight or will expect you to have one. Not only is it customary for jade shoppers to shine a line through it, but they will probably want to see it under different lighting conditions including sunlight. Jadeite is translucent, therefore it is highly affected by the type of lighting in its environment. One of the things that is most magical about jade is watching it seemingly change as you walk from room to room.

If your customer asks to shine a UV light through it, know that this is an unreliable method of detecting polymer in jade. Surprisingly, not all polymer (‘B Jade’) will fluoresce, and interestingly enough there have been natural jade specimens with some fluorescence. While this is not a reliable test for authenticity, some customers may still want to do it. Be prepared to show them a gem report if they are concerned about the jade being natural.

#3. Don’t overuse the term “imperial.”

How annoying is it when someone refers to an ‘L’ Color diamond as a “canary?”

Extremely.

Just as uninformed customers (and sometimes professionals!) refer to any yellow diamond as canary, so do people refer to any green jade as “imperial.” Only client education will correct this over time.

Imperial Jade is a term that should be reserved only for the highest quality of green, translucent jadeite. Imperial Jade sells in the tens of thousands to millions, so please don’t take this nomenclature lightly. 

Treat the term “imperial” with the same respect you apply to “canary,” “pigeon blood,” and “padparadscha.”

If your store is interested in selling natural jadeite jade, you can read more at

https://masonkay.com/

And don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!

Testing Your Jade Roller At Home

Testing Your Jade Roller At Home

REAL OR FAKE

Are Jade Rollers made from REAL Jade?!

To anyone who knows how rare and valuable jade can be, it’s probably no surprise that most jade rollers found in stores are actually quartz or some other simulant.

I’ve scoured the internet for information regarding the authenticity of jade rollers and predominantly found erroneous information that seems to imply jade rollers are commonly genuine.

HOME-TESTING MYTHS

Here are some of the common myths regarding jade roller authenticity and the truth behind them.

Myth #1: If you drop a jade roller and it breaks, it is probably real.

Fact: Jade is harder to break than almost all other gemstones.

Jadeite and nephrite are two of the toughest natural minerals on the planet. Can they break? Sure! But if they can, so can their simulants which are irrefutably less tough. 

The most common jade simulant on the market is quartz which can also break if it drops on a hard surface, and is definitively more likely to break than jade.

Please don’t drop your jade roller. Whether or not it breaks is dependent on a variety of factors including height, angle of impact, the surface it lands on and more. Whether your jade roller is real or fake it can break, and truthfully it is less likely to break if it is jade rendering this myth extremely misleading. (Marketing, am I right?)

Myth #2: Color is an indication of authenticity.

Fact: Simulants can be dyed to mimic jade color.

It’s 2021 and there are some damn good fakes on the market — particularly in quartz. Fake jade can be painted, dyed, and made to look quite like jade. Colorless quartz can be dyed any color that jade can be and that’s a fact.

Unless it definitely looks like it’s not jade (for instance, if it is pink or some other non-jade color), color is not a reliable indicator. I strongly suggest taking a look at the Mason-Kay Jade Colors of Jade Chart.

Myth #3. If a jade roller is cool to the touch, it’s genuine.

Fact: Quartz and many other simulants can also be cool to the touch. 

While jade is cool to the touch, it can warm up — particularly from contact with skin. With this being said, jade can be warmed and simulants can be cool. Temperature is not a reliable indicator.

Myth #4. You should look for Jade Rollers that say “natural jade.”

Fact: People lie. A lot.

Plenty of simulants are touted as “natural jade,” “imperial jade,” and even called “jadeite” and nephrite.” As it turns out, people do lie sometimes.

Myth #5. If your facial roller doesn’t scratch with a knife, it’s genuine jade.

Fact: Quartz is as hard to scratch as jade is.

The reason people use a “scratch” test is because steel is typically a 5-ish on the Moh’s Scale of Mineral Hardness. Because nephrite is a 6-7 on the hardness scale and jadeite is a 6.5-7 on the hardness scale, they can both scratch steel but not the inverse. Regardless, the absence of a scratch on your facial roller is not conclusive testing as quartz is actually a 7 on the hardness scale. This means that a stainless steel knife can’t scratch quartz, and therefore can not distinguish jade from quartz.

HOW TO TELL IF YOUR JADE ROLLER IS FAKE

Here are some common indicators that a jade roller is not natural jade:

-Low Price. If it’s $20 or $30, it’s probably not jade. However, with that being said, it might not be jade if it’s $80 either. Simulants are sold at all price points.

-Not a Reputable Seller. If you purchase a jade roller from a jade miner that actually sells jade jewelry, it’s a lot more likely that they’re selling genuine jade than a beauty store or online skincare seller. Naturally, skincare professionals don’t tend to be gemologists. It’s not their fault, that’s just how it is. Many quartz facial roller sellers believe they’re selling jade because they don’t have access to the ability to test it.

-Scratches with a Knife. Be careful with this, just because it isn’t jade doesn’t mean you can’t still use it. If the scratch test reveals it isn’t jade and you damage your facial roller in the process, you may render it unusable.

SIMULANT NOMENCLATURE

Here are some misleading words commonly used for jade simulants in facial rollers:

Dongling Jade, sometimes used for quartz

Aventurine Jade, used for aventurine quartz which is not jade

Chinese Natural Jade, may even come with a “certificate of authenticity” but this is not a quarantee

Xiuyan Jade

And many more!

WHERE TO FIND REAL JADE ROLLERS

The majority of jade rollers on the market simply aren’t natural nephrite or jadeite.

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t get a real one! In fact, Canadian nephrite miner Jade West produces a genuine jade roller which can be purchased at jademine.com 

We have tested and proven that Jade West’s jade roller is in fact natural, genuine nephrite jade. It is also beautiful, well made, and feels incredible on the skin.

Beware of uneducated bloggers and skincare specialists commenting on jade authenticity. Jade is a complicated stone that many people do not understand due to confusing nomenclature and manipulative marketing. If you ever have any questions about jade, please contact a jade specialist such as Mason-Kay Jade (jadeite) or Jade West (nephrite.)

For other trustworthy resources on jade, visit:

https://www.gia.edu/

https://www.gia.edu/gems-gemology

https://masonkay.com/

http://jademine.com/

Does Jade Change Color?

Does Jade Change Color?

Many people believe that natural, untreated jadeite can change color over time. Typically attributed to the health or integrity of the wearer, it’s alleged color fading is sometimes even called the “miracle of jade.” Why an irreversible color change (undoubtedly less desirable than it’s original green) would be an attractive quality is beyond me. Thankfully, the truth about natural, untreated jadeite jade is that it will in fact not change color over time.

Natural jade is impervious to perfumes, oils, and most cold acids. Natural jade will not change color from sunlight, and while heat treatment can darken the hue of some red jade, heat from day-to-day exposure to weather and household appliances will not affect the color at all.

While speaking from a position of science and observation, I do not wish to be disrespectful toward those who have such a belief about jade. Jade is held in very high regard by many cultures, including of course that of the Chinese people. Many who have had an experience where their jade faded in color may be surprised to find out that this is not a gemological attribute of jadeite. 

So why does their jade fade?

Where does this rumor come from and why does there seem to be truth to it?

This brings us to treated jades: ‘B Jade,’ ‘C Jade’ and ‘B+C Jade,’ although the answer in any individual case may also be a dyed simulant of jade which we will not cover in this article.

What is ‘B Jade?’

Jadeite jade that has been acid-bleached and impregnated with polymer or resin.

Valued at 5-10% the value of natural jade, ‘B Jade’ is often sold dishonestly and is very difficult to distinguish from natural jade. Standard gemological testing is inconclusive so a proper gem test requires spectroscopy from a reputable lab. Googling ‘at home jade tests’ on the internet will not help you determine if jade is natural vs. impregnated with polymer.

Can the color of B Jade change? Absolutely, as the polymer can come out over time.

What is ‘C Jade?’

Also called ‘dyed jade.’ 

‘C Jade’ is jadeite jade that has been dyed and has been used as a jade treatment for many years. It would be erroneous to refer to ‘C Jade’ as “natural jade” or “real jade.” The dye that gives it its color is considered temporary and can fade over time. ‘C Jade’ has little to no value, but unfortunately is sometimes sold as natural which is why it is always advised to ask for a report from a reputable gem lab such as GIA, AGL, or even a lab testing service guarantee from Mason-Kay Jade.

What is ‘B+C Jade?”’

B+C Jade or BC Jade is a combination of polymer/resin impregnation and dye.

This jade imposter is almost certain to change color or fade over time.

In an effort to drive sales, most treated jade is sold as natural on the market. Many customers have fallen victim to these scams only to be disappointed when their jade turns out to be treated or a non-jade material entirely. This truth reveals itself when the jade either breaks (as jade is the toughest gem on the planet, unlike its simulants and treated counterparts which are quite brittle) or fades/changes body color over time.

My guess is that the powers that sell ‘B Jade’ as natural got ahead of this by marketing “jade” as miraculously color-changing. Perhaps there is some other reason, but it’s best to be critical when shopping for natural jade. Always ask for a report from a reputable lab such as GIA or AGL, or a guarantee from Mason-Kay Jade. Reports from online sellers can be falsified, so don’t hesitate to call a lab and check on a report number before buying. Additionally, only shop with sellers whom you trust.

Natural jade is beautiful, hard to break and long-lasting, as well as rare and valuable. It is absolutely worth it to do your homework before investing in jade, as buying treated jade or some simulants can have little to no value at all.

If you have jade that you would like tested, don’t hesitate to reach out to Mason-Kay about their jade testing services.

Ashley Linden on Her New Jewelry Line “Pink”

Ashley Linden on Her New Jewelry Line “Pink”

Ashley Linden is a store owner, designer and jeweler, and president of AJA (Arkansas Jewelers Association.) She kindly took time to talk with me in this interview about her career, her new line “Pink,” and the upcoming 2021 AJA Convention this September!

Watch the video above or on YouTube and check out the highlights below to learn more about her brand, career, and future!


JOTT: Ashley, will you tell everybody a little bit about yourself?

Ashley: Yeah, hi!

I’m a goldsmith by trade and a jeweler in Bentonville, Arkansas. I got started in the business in Florida and learned the repair business first, so it just really spurred my interest to go further and learn benchwork and goldsmithing. Now I have my own store. We’ve been in Bella Vista for 11 years and just moved here to Bentonville back in November. I love this business, I can’t imagine doing anything else.

Butterfly Ring and Pendant from Ashley Linden's link "Pink" at Linden's Jewelry

JOTT: You’re so young! What year did you get started?

Ashley: I wanted to be in the jewelry business ever since I was a kid. My aunt used to bring me into jewelry stores and show me her jewelry and let me try it on. I used to go to Sissy’s Log Cabin in Pine Bluff, so that was the store that spurred my interest in this business. I have a lot of respect for Sissy, of course. She’s just a phenomenal human being and what she’s been able to do with that store has just been amazing.

I’ve known what I wanted to do from a young age. I actually went to college for Art History. My dad was not a believer in trade work. He was a believer in traditional college and pushed me to get a four-year degree even though I knew I wanted to go into the jewelry business.

In Tampa, after Florida State which is where I studied Art History, I got my start at Ackerman Jewelers. They’re family-owned and have great ethics. I’m so fortunate to start off with a store that had ethics and morals in this industry and that was able to teach me that your reputation in this industry follows you everywhere.

I also did goldsmithing with David Adams in Fayetteville and that’s where I learned how to melt metal and set stones properly, make my own channels, make my own gravers. I think it was sadistic at times to have me make my own beading tools. But when you’re in a pinch on Christmas Eve and you need to pave something, by golly, I can do it!

Earrings from Ashley Linden's link "Pink" at Linden's Jewelry

Ashley on Women in the Industry

Ashely: I did not know one woman on the bench for the first couple of years, until I went to work for Rogers Jewelers and they sent me up to their home office and taught me more repairs. They had one female jeweler in their repair center there, and that was the first time I had seen a woman at the bench. Of course, I’ve seen more since, especially given social media and being able to find jewelers across the country, I’ve seen many many more. The women in my family never saw anything as being a reason not to “go for it.” If you want to do it, then you do it.

Jewelry from Ashley Linden's new line "Pink" at Linden's Jewelry

Ashley on starting her own business

Ashley: In 2011, after the recession hit, I thought “People still want to have their jewelry repaired.” I built my store around repairs and repurposing jewelry and it stuck.

JOTT: You have a unique store! It’s a very artistic, specialized high-quality boutique-type store. Is that how it started out?

Ashley: I started off the store as a one-woman show in Bella Vista.  All my inventory was on memo. I had a teeny tiny budget to get my store open. I had used cases that were spit-shined by my family. It was a bare-bones experience and it was fun, we slowly grew from there into a bigger vision of what I wanted. At first, I just wanted to fix jewelry. I didn’t really have a vision yet. Now I’m so excited because I get to support other women and other designers. We want people to walk in the door and feel like it’s a bespoke place where they can get a one-of-a-kind piece.

Jewelry from Ashley Linden's new line "Pink" at Linden's Jewelry

JOTT: What inspired the styles you have in your store?

Ashley: The first line that I came out with was because I’ve always been attracted to the unusual and unexpected; the juxtaposition of refined and raw. I didn’t see a lot of jewelers making things out of seemingly more obvious “rocks.” I like the rocks! Druzy quartz is big and raw, and unrefined. I love that! That’s what inspired my first collection.

Jewelry from Ashley Linden's new line "Pink" at Linden's Jewelry

JOTT: Since starting this journey with your store, you’ve grown as a company, you’re the president of AJA, you have an amazing network. You have female jewelers in your store!

Ashley: It’s such a great dynamic around here. I was talking to my husband about how important it is for females to verbalize positive comments to one another. There is such great energy about living right now and being a female and being able to encourage one another. It’s such a great vibe here. We appreciate each other for all the things we are. I can’t imagine it any other way.

Jewelry from Ashley Linden's new line "Pink" at Linden's Jewelry

JOTT: You changed locations during covid! What was that like?

Ashley:  I wanted to be close to Downtown Bentonville to get the energy of the artist’s community. I signed the dotted line of the lease agreement right as covid hit Northwest Arkansas. In my mind, I was already committed. I was like “Ya know what? We’re just gonna go for this.” It was terrifying for the first few months there, but thankfully that was short-lived and we started rocking and rolling in May 2020 and haven’t slowed down since.

Jewelry from Ashley Linden's new line "Pink" at Linden's Jewelry

JOTT: Tell me about your new line, Pink.

Ashley: It’s about feeling powerful and being a woman. How it’s ok to wear your lipstick and your heels and be a boss. Embrace that feminity, yet, that power. I know it sounds weird or cheesy but it is a real thing. As a female and a boss, I’ve struggled with not wanting to be too much or too powerful. At this time in the world right now, I’ve been able to fit into this idea of being a feminine woman and being in a place of power. It’s a good and comfortable place to be in. I wanted to find powerful pieces that also have a feminine feel. I hope each piece feels powerful in its own way yet feminine, sweet, elegant, and all those things that we can be.

Jewelry from Ashley Linden's new line "Pink" at Linden's Jewelry

Ashley on the uniqueness of Pink

Ashley: We want to stick to one-of-a-kind pieces. Everything is a one-off piece. I might make one in white gold, one rose gold, one in yellow gold. Otherwise, they’re each one of a kind. I don’t intend on adding to this collection.

Jewelry from Ashley Linden's new line "Pink" at Linden's Jewelry

Ashley on AJA (Arkansas Jewelers Association)

Ashley: I’ve been a member the entire time I’ve been open, so 11 years. In the beginning, it was great because, with little money and funds to travel, buy, and network, it was a wonderful opportunity for me to do that here locally. They were big on bringing in vendors and classes, which was what brought me into the organization and made me stay. Every time we meet at the conventions, we want to bring in speakers that are not only entertaining and interesting but somebody you can learn from. We do all kinds of different classes. This year, we’re hosting AJA at Crystal Bridges which is going to be a beautiful backdrop. We have a speaker named Marion Fischer from Geneva and she is going to speaking on vintage jewelry and how to price it and value it. On Sunday, we have one class booked for sure with Remy Rotenier. 

The dates are September 11th and 12th. Saturday the 11th at Crystal Bridges in the evening probably starting around 5pm, offering private tours throughout the museum, wine, and a late dinner. And the next day (Sunday the 12th) we’ll get together at 21C Museum Hotel.

Is the invitation open to other professionals in the industry?

Ashley: You can join AJA even if you’re not in the state of Arkansas. If you go to the Arkansas Jewelers Association website, you can purchase tickets (soon.) http://www.arkansasjewelers.com/

What is the future of Linden’s Jewelry and Ashley Linden Designs?

Ashley: I guess I have some small goals that feel big to me. I want to offer really good insurance for my employees. We’re big on continuing education here in the store. After you’ve been an employee of mine for a year, then I pay for your continuing education. We’re pushing ourselves and our designs, making ourselves better jewelers. That’s my goal for every day.


Find Ashley online:

https://www.instagram.com/lindens_jewelry/?hl=en

https://www.facebook.com/LindensJewelry

http://www.arkansasjewelers.com/

Interview with Julia Griffith of The Gem Academy

Interview with Julia Griffith of The Gem Academy

Gemology is a fascinating science, and staying up to date on gemstones and their technologies is an important part of being in the jewelry industry.  For this blog post, I wanted to highlight Julia Griffith, a gemologist and content creator well known from her experience as an instructor at Gem-A, The Gemmological Association of Great Britain. She graciously accepted my invitation to be featured on Jewels of the Trade, and I hope you enjoy her story as much as I do.

I hope this interview will inspire you to check out her Lab Grown Diamond Course, her podcastYoutube Channel, and of course her Instagram!


The ultimate online course on lab grown diamonds. The Gem Academy.

JOTT: Hi Julia! Thank you so much for letting us feature you on Jewels of the Trade. Can you talk a little bit about your background and what you do?

Julia: Hi, I’m honoured – thank you for having me. 

Sure – I’m a gemmologist. Like most people that stumble across this niche, I became addicted to learning about gems. There is so much to know and I immediately had an affinity for passing on to friends and family every new thing that I learnt about them.

I did a short stint in retail and again found that all I wanted to do was talk about the gems. I was exceptionally lucky that I was asked to join Gem-A, the oldest education association in the world, in 2013 whose core aim is to teach gemmology.

I worked as a primary tutor for Gem-A for about 4.5 years, before I got the itchiest feet to go travel. I took off to Australia to dig for gems myself and learnt a huge amount about the geology of secondary gem deposits and also about the rarity of these treasures as a good gem specimen is really hard to find!

I found such freedom with travelling that I never returned to a full-time position. I work contracts, perform guest lecturing and I’m still an online tutor and examiner for Gem-A.

Most excitingly – I have just started my own online gemmology school; The Gem Academy. This new education platform is designed to take a gemmologists knowledge deeper into the (even more niche) topics within gemmology. 

Julia, fossicking in Australia
Julia, fossicking in Australia

JOTT: Australia! What an amazing experience! How did this opportunity arise? How long were you there? Where do you plan to travel to next?

Julia: This opportunity was self-created. I chose Australia as I knew many gems come from this country, and that fossicking (the collection of gems) is a common past-time. I was there for 6 months in total. I joined a lapidary group, where I learnt to facet and cab gems. This group also took me on my first fossicking trip, which was to Agate Creek in Queensland. I went on more trips with locals from the Cairns area, including a short trip to hunt for rock crystal quartz and a longer trip to O’Brien’s Creek to look for topaz.

I fell in love with the Sapphire Gemfields in New South Wales, where I rocked up to volunteer at a gem fair, and ended up living in a local’s caravan for nearly a month, whilst I dug for sapphire in many of the local peoples sapphire claims. I also visited a number of other locations, such as Lightning Ridge, Ivernell, Emmaville, Torrington and Glen Innes.

I would love to travel more. I know there are so many places to visit in the U.S.A, so I’d love to do a road trip there. Sri Lanka has also been on my dream-list, and to be honest, I would return to Australia – a piece of my heart was left there and I’d love to reunite with my gem friends. 

JOTT: Do you recommend travel for other jewelry professionals? Do you think travel could help professionals at the retail level?
Julia: I recommend travel to everyone! There is an incredible sense of freedom and peace when you feel like you are exactly where you need to be, and when there is nothing else to do but explore. Travel also comes with going to events, tradeshows and conferences. It’s amazing what you learn and who you meet just by showing up. I’ve befriended people from all over the world by traveling to such events, and so I would recommend all industry professionals to get out there.

The ultimate online course on laboratory-grown diamonds. The Gem Academy.

JOTT: What inspired you to develop such a comprehensive online course on Lab Grown Diamonds?

Julia: Diamonds are my thing. I LOVE diamonds. There isn’t a more fascinating and impressive material on this planet and, so, for my first course; diamonds were the obvious choice. Right now, the “hottest topic” within jewellery retail is the trend of laboratory-grown diamonds, but, for many jewellery professionals; the separation of these laboratory-grown diamonds from natural diamonds is a confusing and intimidating reality. It was the perfect topic to choose.

Knowledge brings power and confidence over topics that are daunting at first. When I started writing the course, I didn’t know how detailed and interactive it would become. I’m very proud of the product I’ve produced. It goes more in-depth than any other course available and is full of videos, animations, infographics and summary “cheatsheets”   to make the information accessible and easy to digest. I figured that if I relate to the way the information is delivered; then like-minded people would too.

My launch in December went down better than I could have wished, and I’m loving working with all the new students of The Gem Academy. I couldn’t be more grateful for all the early adopters that jumped aboard this new educational experience and I am very excited for the journey ahead.

Julia Griffith, FGA, DGA, EG of The Gem Academy.

JOTT: Who is the Lab Grown Diamonds course for? Would it benefit professionals working in retail?

Julia:  Yes it would. The course, The ultimate online course on laboratory-grown diamonds, is made for people in the gem and jewellery trade. 

It is particularly good for graduate gemmologists, jewellery valuers, buyers, dealers, cataloguers, retailers, gemmology students, and anyone who wants to gain in-depth knowledge about laboratory-grown diamonds, how they are made and how to identify them. 

A lot of the feedback states this course is a great progression after gemmology qualifications offered by other educational institutions.

This course takes the information given in other gemmology and diamond courses and expands it to cover all aspects of laboratory-grown diamonds in terrific detail. All my students will be exceptionally well versed in this topic by the end. The information is as up to date as it can be and students get access to the information for life, including all future updates so their knowledge will always be on point.

I’m already starting to get the reputation that the course is delivered in a simple entertaining way without shying away from the more complex topics. I make my students think, which is a very effective learning style and graduates of the course can be very proud of their achievements as they will be incredibly knowledgable on laboratory-grown diamonds after they complete the course.

All this being said, the course does not assume any knowledge. Everyone has different backgrounds and a different base understanding, so, the course starts with the basics and builds up to the more complex topics so that no student is left behind. I have had a few complete beginners on the course and they’ve given great feedback and, of course, learnt a lot. There is a tutor/peer forum so it’s easy to ask questions, and my students know they can email me directly at any time.

Julia Griffith, FGA, DGA, EG of The Gem Academy.

JOTT: You used to be a Gem-A instructor. Can you talk a little bit about how that helped you with your career? Do you recommend Gem-A education for professionals?

Julia: It helped me massively. Ridiculously so. 

I was invited to join Gem-A at a temporary library intern for 3 months… they didn’t know I could teach and, to be honest, neither did I. But after assisting with one lesson, I was soon asked to join the teaching team full-time and was given my first ever diamond diploma class 4 months later.

I was a good teacher, my students did very well. Several won special Gem-A examination awards, which is fantastic, and it was such a pleasure to work with others that shared my passion. I started teaching 8 years ago and, oh my – the things I’ve learnt from this profession! I thought I knew a lot back then, but it’s so true what they say; teaching is learning. I continue to learn something new every day.

I would recommend gemmology diploma courses to everyone that wants a base of gemmology and gem testing practices. Everyone needs that core foundation of knowledge that is scientific and reliable, and from here they can specialise and flourish with continued education and career experience. A lot of us start our professional journey with these gem and diamond diplomas, and I very much appreciate where I came from and the path it has put me on.

I was lucky enough to study the Gem-A diplomas alongside an HND diploma in gemmology offered by The School of Jewellery, at Birmingham City University. This meant full-time gem studies, which is a privilege to do as most programmes are part time. The HND diploma and Gem-A diplomas were my original structure and syllabus for gemmological learning and has served as my fundamental core ever since. There is so much more to learn and understand in gemmology that this has led to much research, which has helped me in my aim to be a go-to gemmology educator and lecturer. 

The Gem Show Podcast

JOTT: You’re reaching out to other professionals in the industry via a YouTube channel and podcast. What kind of content can we expect to see coming from you in the future?

Julia: Ah yes! I apologise now for the big rest period in these activities recently. Anyone who has a youtube or a podcast will know… creating content takes up so much time and energy! Even a “quick” 5-minute video can take all day to create. Now that I have some big projects out the way, I have created more podcasts and YouTube videos – so please follow @thegemshow_podcast and @thegem_academyfor sporadic doses of gem knowledge!

With all my work, my target audience is people that work in the field; gemmologists, valuers and retailers…  I like to pick topics that offer new accessible information to the online gem education space. A “niche within our niche”.

JOTT: What are your goals for The Gem Academy? What kind of classes can we expect to see in the future?

Julia: My goal is to create a platform that is the go-to place for jewellery professionals that want to build on the knowledge that they have. I plan on creating many more courses. Each one will have a specific focus that many would consider to be “pain points” – topics that requires extra attention and lots of practical examples. I want my work to be valuable and truly helpful in advancing the knowledge and experience of those working within our industry. 


 We appreciate Julia so very much for the interview and look forward to following her successes with her venture: The Gem Academy. If you are interested in Julia’s Lab Grown Diamond course, don’t hesitate to read about it here!

Here are some links to help you connect with Julia and deepen your gemological understanding:

The Gem Academy Website

The Gem Academy Blog

The Gem Show Podcast

The Gem Academy YouTube

Instagram

Montana Sapphires with Lauryn Volovar, GG of Earth’s Treasury

Montana Sapphires with Lauryn Volovar, GG of Earth’s Treasury

Venus Ring with Montana Sapphires. Photo by Earth's Treasury.

Experienced jeweler and designer, Lauryn Volovar, talks about her job with Earth’s Treasury, Montana sapphires, her podcast Gemology Worldwide, and the future of her career (be sure to watch all the way to the end for the big surprise!) in this video interview with Jewels of the Trade.

You can also read about her podcast in a previous article, JOTT’s Favorite Jewelry Podcasts.


JOTT: Hey everyone, you may have heard Lauryn on the Gemology Worldwide podcast. She is going to talk to us today about her jewelry journey.

Lauryn: Hi, my name is Lauryn Volovar and my day-to-day job is as a jewelry designer for Earth’s Treasury. If you haven’t heard of our company, we are a colored gemstone company primarily. That’s how the business started, it was started by a man named Jeff Hapeman. [Jeff] is an entrepreneur and lapidary and man of many talents. This is basically a culmination of everything he loves: gemstones, photography, science, running a business. He began the company in 2012 and was just selling colored gemstones with the main focus on North American gemstones, mostly Montana Sapphires, they are our biggest seller. He saw the natural progression for the company as selling jewelry, and that’s when he brought me on.

JOTT: How long have you been working for Earth’s Treasury?

Lauryn: It was two years ago this past Thursday. I totally love my job so much.

Meliai Ring Set with Montana Sapphires. Photo by Earth's Treasury.
Meliai Ring Set with Montana Sapphires. Photo by Earth’s Treasury.

JOTT: How did you get into the jewelry industry?

Lauryn: I’m a first-generation jeweler. I was a quirky kid who was obsessed with rocks and gems. I went to art school not really knowing what I wanted to do. I was creative, I knew I had to go to college so that’s what I did. And then I found the jewelry design program there my sophomore year when I had to declare a concentration for art practice. Tyler School of Art has a fantastic program for CAD design. They have a traditional metalsmithing program as well, so you’re required to learn both. They are really future-focused on CAD design. Their professors were some of the first people to use CAD design in jewelry. It’s still an art school, so it’s very contemporary-focused and not really applicable to the jewelry industry itself. So I started working at a jewelry store while I was in college, part-time, to learn about the industry. After I graduated, I took a full-time job there. While I was in retail, I got to know what the industry itself was like not just being a jewelry artist. I realized the value of gemology and furthering my education and decided to get my GG. I applied for a scholarship and got a full ride to get my GG, which I did over the course of 2 years. While I was doing all this, I was designing for friends and family on the side. I had my CAD program at home and I would sneak into the jewelry shops at whichever store I was working at and would make pieces of jewelry when I could, afternoons and on the weekend.  While I was making pieces for people on the side, I realized I didn’t have enough metalsmithing training. So I went from working in retail to a bench job which I did for 4 1/2 years. During that transition, I was finishing my GG. So right as I was starting as a bench jeweler, I had just taken my 20 stone exam and passed and was like “Well now I’m on the bench, and I need to use my gemology education.” I wasn’t in retail so I didn’t really need to use it as much, so I started doing appraisals. All of this knowledge came together and made me feel like I was actually ready to be a CAD designer. Anyone who designs jewelry should know that there are so many different components that go into CAD design. You need to know how it should be constructed. If you’re designing for a softer, less durable gemstone it can only go in certain types of stone settings. Working in retail, on the bench, as an appraiser, and getting my GG all came together to get me ready to be a CAD designer. Then I started doing the podcast with Josh and I met Jeff because he was our first interview. I was ready to move on from my bench job but not in any rush. I met Jeff, we clicked right away. 

Clematis Ring with Spessartine Garnet and Pear Shape Diamonds. Photo by Earth's Treasury.

JOTT: How do you know Josh? How did you two connect for the podcast?

Lauryn: Facebook. He has an awesome group called Gemology Worldwide. I joined it, not realizing that Josh was also a Philly native. Right after I joined, he set up a mentor match program to help people connect more. I had reached out and was super excited, and he forgot me. He ended up being my mentor. We met up a couple times to talk about my career and I mentioned that I loved listening to podcasts and couldn’t find a lot of jewelry ones to listen to. So we decided to make one. I was really fortunate that my husband is a graphic designer and really great with computers. So we had a tech guy already and a producer. Josh and I structured [the podcast] like a mentor-mentee thing. He has four generations worth of experience in the industry and a ton of knowledge. At the end [of the podcast], we interview a true expert on the specific topic we’re talking about. It’s a good way for me to continue my gemological education after GIA and learn as a first-generation jeweler. If you enter the industry without any family connections, you don’t have as many resources.

JOTT: You’re also involved with WJA, right?

Lauryn: Yeah, I’m currently the president of the WJA (Women’s Jewelry Association) chapter [in Philadelphia]. I was the event planner for the first two years. If you are a woman in the industry or you identify as a woman, you should absolutely consider joining the organization. It’s been huge for me and connecting with other women in my area. It’s like this great social network that I have. We have meetings once a month and they’re all structured differently. I can’t say enough good things about the organization. 

Praesepe Ring with Montana sapphire and diamonds. Photo by Earth's Treasury.

JOTT: You have a really unique experience and expertise with Montana sapphires. I think a lot of people would be very interested to learn about that.

Lauryn: Montana sapphires are incredible. They’re the main thing that Earth’s Treasury focuses on. I’ve just fallen in love with them! They are incredible because they’re from the US which is really important, I think, to Millenials and the younger generation. They want to know exactly where [their] products are coming from. With Montana Sapphires, we can trace them directly from mine to market. We work with a mining company called Potentate. We source rough from them every year and have them cut. If they have to be heated, they’re heated in the US and the majority of our stones are actually cut in the US.

JOTT: Does Jeff do the cutting?

Lauryn: We cut Jeff’s gem designs, he is a lapidary. He came up with all these specific gem designs that are unique and specifically tailored to sapphires RI. So they all have angles that make the gemstone perform as well as they can. Most of our gems are rounds or ovals because that’s the best shape to be cut in. By the time they get to us, at least 3-4 hands have touched the gem, that’s incredible traceability. I’m working with materials that are ethically mined and pretty eco-friendly too. The mine will eventually stop producing and their plan is to restore the earth back to its natural state once the mine is dried up. That’s another big thing that is important to Millenials. It’s very eco-friendly and will leave a very low impact on the environment when it’s all said and done. We also note that working in the US the miners are all treated well and everyone involved is compensated how they should be.

Jeff used to cut all the gems, but now we have thousands of gemstones in our inventory so we work with a company that facets our gems in his designs here in the US.

Halley Ring Set with Montana Sapphire. Photo by Earth's Treasury.
Halley Ring Set with Montana Sapphire. Photo by Earth’s Treasury.

JOTT: Would you say that Millenials are your main market for Montana sapphires?

Lauryn: For sure. Of course, we sell to all ages and we have all different types of clients, but the majority of people who want to buy a Montana sapphire are coming to us because they’re planning on getting engaged and they want something unique. Montana sapphires are the perfect candidate if you ask me. They’re sapphires so they’re durable, they can be worn every day. They’re second only to basically diamonds in terms of durability. They also come in a huge variety of colors. I think another thing that people are looking for now when they get engaged is a really custom experience. No two Montana sapphires really look alike and on top of that, the ones that we sell are all specially cut in these specific gem designs.

Custom Cluster Ring Set with Montana Sapphires. Photo by Earth's Treasury.
Custom Cluster Ring Set with Montana Sapphires. Photo by Earth’s Treasury.

JOTT: There is a belief that Montana sapphires don’t appear in real life as they do in photography.

Lauryn: Another thing that people say too is they appear grey-ish in real life. It’s absolutely true that under different lighting environments, Montana sapphires will look different.

JOTT: If people have only seen them at trade shows, the trade show lighting is not the same.

Lauryn: It’s not the best, actually. My favorite environment to look at a Montana sapphire is outside overcast lighting. It makes the gems look really bright and I think it’s the truest representation of their color. Almost all of them have a bluish-green pleochroism so under LED lighting they’ll look really green which is why there is a lot of shots on Instagram that were taken in LED photography boxes. People will see them and ask for us the super green almost-emerald-green color and we have to tell them it doesn’t actually look like that. We work really hard to make all of our photos represent the gem as if it’s in daylight. When a client wants to purchase a gem from us, we’ll take a video and we’ll also take a video outside and inside under LED or incandescent lighting to show them the gem will look different. We also have a review and return policy, we tell people to have the gem for at least 7 days and look at it under all different types of lighting to make sure they love the gem. It’s what makes them so special and beautiful, the most important thing to do is make sure it’s disclosed.

JOTT: I hope that the customer understands they need to ask questions and see different angles and lighting, don’t just trust one picture. Anything that plays with light the way a gemstone does, it’s easy to keep secrets.

Lauryn: We want full disclosure. We want clients to see if there are inclusions in the gems, we show a really magnified version of it.

JOTT: Is it common to have inclusions in Montana sapphire?

Lauryn: It can be! They can be extremely clean, but they’re a sapphire. Corundum material is typically a gemstone that has inclusions which is another thing that makes them really beautiful. If they’re unheated, they can have beautiful rutile silk which can give them a glow. They can have little crystal inclusions within them that can help you identify your gem. Some are almost flawless, it really just depends.

JOTT: When you sell Montana sapphires, do you work with a lot of retail stores or mostly people online?

Lauryn: We work with a ton of wholesalers. We have wholesalers who want to sell Montana sapphires to their clients and the rest of our clients are retail from all over the world.

Jasmine Ring set with Montana Sapphire. Photo by Earth's Treasury.
Jasmine Ring set with Montana Sapphire. Photo by Earth’s Treasury.

JOTT: Are people having their sapphires set in white gold?

Lauryn: We make rings in 14k white gold, we just prefer platinum if possible and are noticing a trend of yellow and rose.

We really push platinum. Usually, we let people know that white gold is a little less expensive upfront but has to be replated. Platinum is more expensive upfront but doesn’t have to be plated. We prefer to work with it. I’ve been seeing a ton of people get yellow gold and rose gold. Trends probably go faster now with the Internet. If someone makes a list of trendy engagement rings, everyone will want that style.

JOTT: How do you feel that your Graduate Gemologist certification has helped you in your career?

Lauryn: So much. Sometimes I’ll have a client want an engagement ring set with an emerald and we tell them it’s not a great idea. So my GG is helping because I’m preventing a future tragedy, haha.

Having this extensive knowledge, I can explain to my clients better why [sapphires are] such a great choice for an engagement ring.

Having the logic and problem-solving that comes with being able to identify gemstones is applicable in so many other areas of the industry.

Having my GG demonstrates that I know what I’m talking about.

We’re a really small business so everyone wears many hats. Jewelry design is as much about selling as it is about being an artist.

Passiflora Ring with Montana Sapphire. Photo by Earths Treasury.
Passiflora Ring with Montana Sapphire. Photo by Earths Treasury.

JOTT: Lauryn, tell me about the future of your career!

Lauryn: I’m pregnant! I’m in my 2nd trimester and I’m due at the end of June. We’re having a boy. So I think the next year will be me navigating being a mom. I have no intention of ending my career. I will definitely be a working mom. It’s going to be challenging but I’m sure I’ll fall into a groove. Personally, I love jewelry history. I’m a huge Tudor nerd, and really all history in general so I would love to explore that and explore the history of jewelry and design a collection based on different time periods.  Eventually, the Gemology Worldwide podcast will pick back up again. We prefer to record in person, I can’t wait to do that. I can’t wait to travel again, I love Tucson. I’m going to Tucson [next year]. That is happening.

I don’t want to put any pressure on myself, but education is so important. I would love to do Gem-A and become an FGA.

I’ve done so much to get where I am now that I’m really enjoying not feeling like I need to do more. I want to do a lot within my job that I have but I feel like I’m in a really good place in my career.

JOTT: How can people reach you?

Lauryn: Obviously, if you want to get in touch with me for Montana sapphire you can go to earthstreasury.com. Whether it be a retail client or wholesale. 

On Instagram:

@earths_treasury

@laurynlovesgems

If you want to listen to Gemology Worldwide, you can find it on any podcast app or just go to our website.

Minthe Ring. Photo by Earth's Treasury.
Minthe Ring. Photo by Earth’s Treasury.
Luxury Menswear with Seth Box

Luxury Menswear with Seth Box

SuitSupply suit with a custom linen shirt, Simmonot Godard pocket square, and Orient Bambino 2 watch. Seth Box of Hubbard Clothing Co. Photo by Jewels of the Trade.
SuitSupply suit with a custom linen shirt, Simmonot Godard pocket square, and Orient Bambino 2 watch. Seth Box of Hubbard Clothing Co. Photo by Jewels of the Trade.

Seth Box. A Sartorial Man.

In an effort to connect the world of luxury menswear and fine jewelry, the JOTT blog is giving you a peek into the world of men’s fashion with Seth Box, a professional from the renowned men’s boutique Hubbard Clothing Co

The jewelry and luxury menswear worlds both focus on similar core principles:

Bespoke pieces made with care by experienced craftsmen.

Family and/or small businesses supported by the local community.

Premier customer service delivering a unique shopping experience. 

In the case of Hubbard, they even offer a customer experience involving a lounge, an in-house barbershop, and more! There is so much that the menswear and jewelry industries can learn from each other.  Seth is a young menswear professional specializing in consulting and tailoring as well as design in colors and fibers. His perspective on his industry offers a unique insight that can be applied to the world of jewelry as well as fashion.

Watch the video above from our YouTube and check out the highlights from this interview below!


Hubbard Clothing Co. custom suit with HCC custom shirt, Simmonot Godard pocket square, Sergio Gavazzeni leather bracelet, and GemTek lapel pin in 18k with naturals sapphire. Seth of Hubbard Clothing Co. Photo by Jewels of the Trade.
Hubbard Clothing Co. custom suit with HCC custom shirt, Simmonot Godard pocket square, Sergio Gavazzeni leather bracelet, and GemTek lapel pin in 18k with naturals sapphire. Seth of Hubbard Clothing Co. Photo by Jewels of the Trade.

JOTT: Let’s go ahead and get started! Everybody, this is Seth Box. He is a men’s fashion professional and one of my favorite people in the world. Seth, why don’t you go ahead and tell everybody a little about yourself.

Seth: I work in men’s fashion in a luxury clothier. We specialize in handmade Italian clothing. I kinda got into it a few years ago and I’ve been doing it part-time in addition to school so it’s been a fun hobby that’s become more of a lifestyle.

Hubbard Clothing Co. custom navy Super 180s wool tux, HCC custom tuxedo shirt Simmonot Godard pocket square, vintage ascot, vintage Dr. Gentleman pearl and yellow gold pin, and GemTek lapel pin in 18k with natural sapphire. Seth of Hubbard Clothing Co. Photo by Jewels of the Trade.
Hubbard Clothing Co. custom navy Super 180s wool tux, HCC custom tuxedo shirt Simmonot Godard pocket square, vintage ascot, vintage Dr. Gentleman pearl and yellow gold pin, and GemTek lapel pin in 18k with natural sapphire. Seth of Hubbard Clothing Co. Photo by Jewels of the Trade.

JOTT: Tell us a little bit about Hubbard Clothing Co., where you work.

Seth: It’s kind of an adaptation of a traditional haberdashery. Kinda that old school thing of “everything a guy needs in one stop.” We have a barbershop inside, a private lounge for our members, everything from socks to suits as far as clothing goes, and anything you need to shine your shoes. Just any of the accoutrements to keep you looking good.

JOTT: Haberdashery is such a great word. Your industry kinda has its own language, can you talk a little about some of the words that you use?

Seth: Yeah, a big one in the menswear world is the term “sartorial” which means intentionally crafted, tailored clothing. It’s meant to describe and give credit to the people who handmake the clothes. 

JOTT: Sounds like men’s fashion is really embracing custom, family, and individual craftsmen who take pride in what they do.

Seth: Absolutely. Donny [Hubbard] has traveled to Italy a few times to meet our vendors and partners and they’re all just great people.

JOTT: And Donny has quite a name for himself in the industry as well, right?

Seth: He’s been in the industry for 20/+ years, he started right out of high school. He’s owned a few stores and worked for several big stores across the country. He knows everybody, he’s very well connected.

JOTT: The men’s fashion industry seems like a small industry comparatively speaking.

Seth: Yeah, I would say so. It has its niches. High fashion, the ready-to-wear-world, and everything in between. You have the art side of it which is more what we’re in. We’re in the luxury market…“Luxury” in the sense that someone spent a lot of time crafting this piece of clothing for someone to wear. 

JOTT: I think that aspect of your business is so similar to so many jewelry stores I know. It’s crazy how many similarities there are between the fine jewelry world and the luxury menswear world.

Seth: Is bespoke a term you use in jewelry as well?

JOTT: Yeah, I was so surprised to hear it in the fashion world. I feel like fashion and jewelry don’t really talk to each other, for some reason they’re so…separate.

Hubbard Clothing Co. custom suit with HCC custom shirt, Simmonot Godard pocket square, Sergio Gavazzeni leather bracelet, and GemTek lapel pin in 18k with natural sapphire. Seth of Hubbard Clothing Co. Photo by Jewels of the Trade.
Hubbard Clothing Co. custom suit with HCC custom shirt, Simmonot Godard pocket square, Sergio Gavazzeni leather bracelet, and GemTek lapel pin in 18k with natural sapphire. Seth of Hubbard Clothing Co. Photo by Jewels of the Trade.

JOTT: Seth, you really have your thumb on the pulse of everything. I would love to hear your perspective on some of the trends in men’s fashion right now.

Seth: Everything is kinda coming back around to the ’50s but they’re integrating a lot of modern milling techniques into that. The style is coming back to the ’50s: the cut of everything, sizes of the lapelstight waist, bigger shoulders, straight legs, things that aren’t really tapered and modeled. Jeans are coming in really hard, people are wearing jeans with everything. Which is fun, but I think there’s a reservation of formality. We’re coming back around to it, it’s just gonna take some time.

JOTT: This brings up something I wanted to mention — Seth, you wear a suit everyday.

Seth: I do. For a few years now.

JOTT: When someone asks you, “How do you wear a suit everyday?” What is your response?

Seth: “I just put it on.”

That’s what I say to everybody. People ask “Where are you going? Do you have something to go to?” and I’m like “No. It’s just Wednesday. Tomorrow’s Thursday.” Days that end in “y” are good occasions to wear a suit.

JOTT: Same for jewelry! Can you talk a little bit about the suits that you have?

Seth: I’m kind of a suit collector, I have close to 50 now. It’s hard now to decide which one I’m gonna wear. I think there is a garment for every occasion. Picking the right color, fit, and texture is all a part of it. Having a lot of options is nice. I’ve narrowed it down to pretty much everything being handmade Italian. Some made partially by machine. 

Hubbard Clothing Co. custom suit with HCC custom shirt, Simmonot Godard pocket square, and GemTek lapel pin in 18k with natural sapphire. Seth of Hubbard Clothing Co. Photo by Jewels of the Trade.
Hubbard Clothing Co. custom suit with HCC custom shirt, Simmonot Godard pocket square, and GemTek lapel pin in 18k with natural sapphire. Seth of Hubbard Clothing Co. Photo by Jewels of the Trade.

JOTT: You tend to wear quite a few accessories, is that right?

Seth: Yep, I’ve got a couple necklaces I wear and a bunch of bracelets. I wear a watch. I wore a pinky ring. People are starting to wear smaller but more pieces, specifically, in the menswear world. Men are wearing a lot of rings, but they’re not big, gigantic rings.

JOTT: Yeah, I would love to hear more about this. At the wholesale level, I don’t necessarily interact with the men who are buying jewelry. Even jewelry stores aren’t necessarily interacting with the men who are buying jewelry. A lot of men feel too intimidated to go into a jewelry store and ask for jewelry for their selves. What kind of jewelry are you seeing, more specifically?

Seth: It varies. We’re seeing a bit more personality be applied to what people are wearing and they’re taking into consideration not just the fact that they might enjoy it, but how other people are going to enjoy it on them. So it needs to match personality and size. I have small fingers, so I don’t wear big rings. I wear small, simple rings and that matches my personality too. People are becoming more mindful of that, specifically in the menswear world.

JOTT: I’m glad to see men expressing themselves artistically and taking some ownership in their own wardrobe. I feel like we’re seeing men more motivated to express themselves creatively and decorate themselves, not just with jewelry but also other accessories — the shoes you sell at Hubbard are SO cool.

Seth: Absolutely. Another cool thing about the job is that when people do get a pair of those shoes that are $1,000 and are completely handmade with top-quality materials, they need to know how to take care of them. So we get to take on the role of educator and tell them how to take care of their shoes so they’ll last like they’re supposed to. Shoes weren’t intended to be disposable, they were meant to be something that wears with you and goes with you as time progresses. That’s something that’s coming back too.  People are wanting to take care of what they’re wearing and make it feel more like an investment.

Hubbard Clothing Co. custom suit with HCC custom shirt, Simmonot Godard pocket square, and GemTek lapel pin in 18k rose gold with genuine black diamond. Seth of Hubbard Clothing Co. Photo by Jewels of the Trade.
Hubbard Clothing Co. custom suit with HCC custom shirt, Simmonot Godard pocket square, and GemTek lapel pin in 18k rose gold with genuine black diamond. Seth of Hubbard Clothing Co. Photo by Jewels of the Trade.

Seth: There’s a quote that says — ‘You have three people that know everything about you, whether you like it or not. Your minister, your spouse, and your tailor.’

Something unique about our approach is that we’re selling clothing to people that have or want a lifestyle. A style that fits their life, lifestyle. So when we’re selling them clothes, they’ll want to wear it and get more enjoyment out of it.

JOTT: Somebody told me that if a suit fits well, it should be the most comfortable piece of clothing you own.

Seth: It’s like wearing pajamas. It’s hard not to just sleep in them! [Suits are] so comfortable.

SuitSupply suit with custom linen shirt, Simmonot Godard pocket square, Orient Bambino 2 watch, Sergio Gavazzeni leather bracelet, and GemTek 18k lapel pin with natural sapphire.
SuitSupply suit with custom linen shirt, Simmonot Godard pocket square, Orient Bambino 2 watch, Sergio Gavazzeni leather bracelet, and GemTek 18k lapel pin with natural sapphire.

JOTT: What type of men do you work with?

Seth: It’s all across the board. Anybody from a 16-year-old going to prom to a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, and everywhere in between. You never know who is going to walk through the door at Hubbard Clothing Co.

My handsome husband, Hun'r, wearing a swacket when we visited Hubbard Clothing Co.
My handsome husband, Hun’r, wearing a swacket when we visited Hubbard Clothing Co.

JOTT: What are some of your favorite brands? [in men’s fashion] Where is a good place for jewelry professionals to start learning about the men’s fashion world?

Seth: There’s so many. One brand we do really well with is Maurizio Baldassari (click here for Instagram). It’s very elegant. They are classics with the sophistication of the Italian mindset, still very practical. They invented this thing called the “swacket.” It’s like a sports jacket made of sweater material. They’re killing it with it! It’s like a cardigan but you can throw a dress shirt on and go to dinner. It looks like you’re wearing a sport coat, but you’re wearing a stretchy, comfortable sweater. Their product is high quality, functional, and comfortable.

My favorite brand for custom clothing is called Principe d’Eleganza. They do everything by hand. I don’t know if they even have a machine in the factory. They make some of the most beautiful garments I’ve ever seen. The staple that everyone loves the most is Canali. Their product is really top of the line, half machine-mand and half handmade. I just found this out: When they get everything ready for their fabric to rest into place, they will hang up the jacket in a room by itself for a week so the garment sets into its own and doesn’t get stressed out. They treat fabric like it’s a living thing. It’s really cool, and it’s true, especially when you’re talking about wool. Wool actually has memory and can remember shape based on how you treat it. You can stretch it, you can shrink it, you can manipulate it to fit a certain way. To stretch a certain way, or not stretch. They’ve got it down to a science.

There’s so many [brands.] You’re familiar with Eleventy.

JOTT: I love Eleventy!

Seth: They’re incredible. They’re another brand that does really unique stuff with fabrics. Their construction is really comfortable, really high quality.

Exceptional customer service at Hubbard Clothing Co.
Exceptional customer service at Hubbard Clothing Co.

JOTT: This gives us a good point of view of the industry. It seems like a designer-oriented industry. Is there a world outside of Italian?

Seth: Oh yeah. There’s also the English style of things, which was the original menswear. That’s where it all began, an English guy invented the suit in the 1700’s.  He was an ex-military guy who decided he wanted to combine the military-look with elegant-wear for balls and occasions.

JOTT: So English fashion is a huge deal?

Seth: Yeah, it’s much older. More traditional. Most of Europe is [important to fashion.] Japan actually has a really cool menswear scene. They’re a very precise people, the traditional Japanese poignancy principle is applied to the elegant garments. They have their own thing which is really cool.

Hubbard Clothing Co. custom suit with HCC custom shirt, Simmonot Godard pocket square, Sergio Gavazzeni leather bracelet, and GemTek lapel pin in 18k with natural sapphire. Seth of Hubbard Clothing Co. Photo by Jewels of the Trade.
Hubbard Clothing Co. custom suit with HCC custom shirt, Simmonot Godard pocket square, Sergio Gavazzeni leather bracelet, and GemTek lapel pin in 18k with natural sapphire. Seth of Hubbard Clothing Co. Photo by Jewels of the Trade.

JOTT: Your store deals in a lot of Italian, custom menswear. Can you talk a little bit about the pricing in your store?

Seth: It depends on what category of clothing you want to get into. A good metric, I would say, is just a two-piece suit. We start two-piece suits by a brand called MaxMan, and those start around $595 for a simple, classic navy blue wool suit. It’s a tailored garment made completely by machine. The fabric is high quality and they know what they’re doing. It’s a well-made garment, but it’s not going to last as long as a handmade suit made with higher quality materials. 

The next step up is made-to-measure. We can take your measurements and send it off to a factory where they cut a suit for you from scratch. It’s made for your body with a more premium material. Those start at $1,000.

And then there’s a step further than that, that’s our custom program. You can design, from scratch, everything about a garment. Even the way they put together certain stitches. You can pick from any material in the world. You can pick tablecloth linen if you want to, or the most expensive material in the world which is around $70,000 to start.

JOTT: Suits can be tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars?

Seth: Yeah.

JOTT: What is an average suit from your store going to cost?

Seth: We sell the most of $1,300 to $1,500 suits which is kind of the entry-level to our custom program.

JOTT: It just keeps sounding more and more like the jewelry industry! You can get a mass-produced piece that is inexpensive but doesn’t last as long or something custom that lasts for generations. Is handmade always better in fashion?

Seth: There are people who don’t know what they’re doing that make suits by hand (like me) that fall apart in two days. There are people who really know what they’re doing and [the suits] outlast the people they’re made for. As far as quality and construction go, they can be almost indestructible.

JOTT: Do you ever have customers who have inherited an heirloom suit and they’re having it tailored for them?

Seth: Yes. That’s something we do at our store. I inherited a suit from my granddad, who was a banker, so I got that suit resized so I can wear it on occasion.

Hubbard Clothing Co. custom navy Super 180s wool tux, HCC custom tuxedo shirt Simmonot Godard pocket square, vintage ascot, vintage Dr. Gentleman pearl and yellow gold pin, and GemTek lapel pin in 18k with natural sapphire. Seth of Hubbard Clothing Co. Photo by Jewels of the Trade.
Hubbard Clothing Co. custom navy Super 180s wool tux, HCC custom tuxedo shirt Simmonot Godard pocket square, vintage ascot, vintage Dr. Gentleman pearl and yellow gold pin, and GemTek lapel pin in 18k with natural sapphire. Seth of Hubbard Clothing Co. Photo by Jewels of the Trade.

JOTT: Do you mostly sell suits?

Seth: The majority is non-suit things, right now with covid and everything. Everyone is home so much, the more comfortable it can be made the better. Most of our business right now is with technical garments. Slacks, dress pants, suits, shirts. We’re seeing a resurgence of people taking natural fiber, like wool, and weaving it the way you would cotton so that it’s naturally stretchy. Those types of garments are becoming popular as well. Like wool polos, they last forever.  Wool is one of the best to have. Even jeans are being made out of wool and woven a certain way so they can be more comfortable.

JOTT: These are still luxury clothing items? Higher price point than you would find in a typical store?

Seth: Yes. People who know clothing know that it’s really worth the investment.

Seth of Hubbard Clothing Co. Photo by Jewels of the Trade.
Seth of Hubbard Clothing Co. Photo by Jewels of the Trade.

JOTT: The men that you see, what is their attitude toward buying?

Seth: They’re figuring out that there is a pleasure to dressing. Rather than coming in with their wives, we’re seeing men come in by themselves and picking something out that they look forward to wearing. That excitement is building and builds with customers quicker, which is something I’ve noticed over the last year. It’s something you can take pride in, as an investment.

As far as accessories go, it’s slow to this area. It’s making its way, it’s getting there. There are definitely pockets of people, I notice when I travel, that are into the finer details of things: necklaces, rings, lapel pins. Things that will subtly pop to the people who notice, but you get to notice it first.

JOTT: There was a time when men wore more jewelry than women. Even for a lot of the 20th century, that kinda started to die off when the price of gold went up. Then it stopped being a manly thing. But it’s not. We’ve had this temporary time in our current society where fashion and jewelry have become a “woman’s thing,” but for most of history that wasn’t the case. What we’re experiencing right now is the anomaly. You wear a lapel pin and an ascot. And men notice them, right?

Seth: Absolutely. It’s funny, when I started dressing I was very aware of people noticing when I walked into a room. Now I don’t notice it at all. I just walk in like it’s another day.  I take first into account whether I like it or not, and that’s what clothing and jewelry are all about. It doesn’t matter what people think about it, as long as you enjoy it you have it made.

JOTT: What are the “power words” that people are responding to when choosing a brand?

Seth: Every piece is so unique and art-based. We hand-sell everything in the store.  It’s a part of our service, but you have to because of how unique the product is. Our brand, as Hubbard Clothing Co., we operate on word of mouth. We don’t ask people to do that, they’re really generous. 

JOTT: Your local, you’re a one-store operation.

Seth: We only have one store, but we have several lounges around the area. We just started another operation — Two cabins on the lake, a gentleman’s fishing club. We’re having a lot of fun with that project.

JOTT: I think that Hubbard is a great example of retail stores that are adapting to the 21st Century by expanding outside the four walls of their store. Giving the customer an experience beyond just buying. With what you’re offering, you’re creating a brand where people can find you from different angles and it all comes together. You’re giving people an experience they want to have with the lounge and that guides them when they start looking for clothes or any number of things you guys offer. It connects. People love that. It feels local, it feels personal, they feel connected to you.

Seth: It’s nice to be a part of the community and provide in the unique way that we do.


For more information about Hubbard Clothing Co., visit their websiteFacebook, and Instagram.

For more information about Seth Box, visit his Instagram.

For more information about GemTek lapel pins, click here.

Seth of Hubbard Clothing Co. Photo by Jewels of the Trade.
Seth of Hubbard Clothing Co. Photo by Jewels of the Trade.
Ice Jade: Bridal Jewelry’s Best Kept Secret

Ice Jade: Bridal Jewelry’s Best Kept Secret

Ice Jade Ring by Mason-Kay Jade https://www.masonkay.com/
Ice Jade Ring by Mason-Kay Jade https://www.masonkay.com/

When discussing diamond-alternatives in engagement rings, the same fabulous stones tend to be mentioned: Sapphire, Ruby, and Alexandrite. Gemologists, jewelers, and salespeople have developed this well-thought recommendation based on the hardness and toughness of these stones. While I love seeing brides flaunt all the colors of corundum and the ever-alluring alexandrite, there is one stone that is often forgotten on this list of durable gems ideal for everyday wear: Jadeite.

Green and Ice Jade Ring by Mason-Kay Jade https://www.masonkay.com/
Green and Ice Jade Ring by Mason-Kay Jade https://www.masonkay.com/

The vivid, translucent greens of jadeite catch the eye and come with a story as intriguing as the gem’s own luster. But what about the customer coming in and asking for a moonstone engagement ring, as made popular by Etsy and Pinterest in the last few years? Or pearl? Some customers want a softer, more neutral color but with the background and uniqueness of a non-diamond gemstone. Enter Ice Jade.

Ice Jade Ring by Mason-Kay Jade https://www.masonkay.com/
Ice Jade Ring by Mason-Kay Jade https://www.masonkay.com/

Ice Jade shares all the same properties as (translucent) green jadeite, but without the chemical deposits that typically give jade it’s color thus making Ice Jade the purest type of jade. Ice Jade is characterized as colorless, translucent jadeite, and actually looks very similar to moonstone. Unlike moonstone, however, Ice Jade is one of the toughest gems on Earth — a whopping 200 times tougher (harder to break) than sapphire. Jewelers will much prefer to work with ice jade over soft, delicate stones like moonstone and customers will appreciate Ice Jade for generations.

Ice Jade Ring by Mason-Kay Jade https://www.masonkay.com/
Ice Jade Ring by Mason-Kay Jade https://www.masonkay.com/

Jadeite is one of the toughest gems, second only to hematite and nephrite (also called jade, but not as desirable in jewelry.)  In fact, one could say that Ice Jade is even tougher than the typical jadeite seen in jewelry stores. Translucency in jade actually makes it tougher! So, by nature, Ice Jade is some of the toughest jade because of it’s translucency. White, opaque jade is still beautiful — but it would not be considered Ice Jade nor would it be as tough due to it’s opaqueness.

Ice Jade, like any jadeite of notable quality, comes from Burma. Jadeite can be found in Guatemala, Japan, and some other places in the world — but the quality simply does not compare to Burmese jadeite.

Here is some information from GIA regarding jadeite’s physical properties:

Hardness: 6.5 – 7

Crystallographic Character: A granular to fibrous crystalline aggregate; compact and massive. Monoclinic system of crystallization. Ice Jade, due to it’s translucency, is “compact.”

Toughness: Rated exceptional, but this really doesn’t communicate just HOW tough it is.

Here is an excerpt from my previous blog post “Nephrite and Jadeite,” regarding toughness:

” There is a system of measuring toughness, and while it seems complicated, understanding the toughness of nephrite and and jadeite is simple.  According to the fracture toughness scale, which measures the work required to separate two surfaces of a crystal along a certain crystallographic plane (GIA. https://4cs.gia.edu/en-us/blog/more-than-mohs-scale-gem-durability/) toughness is measured in Ergs. 

The toughness value of corundum measures 600 ergs/cm. 

The toughness of diamond measures between 5,000 and 8,000.

The toughness value of jadeite is 120,000.

And the toughness value of nephrite…drum roll please…

is around 225,000 ergs/cm.”

Ice Jade Ring by Mason-Kay Jade https://www.masonkay.com/
Ice Jade Ring by Mason-Kay Jade https://www.masonkay.com/

Ice Jade is hard, tough, and very alluring. It makes a great alternative to moonstone, and is a fantastic choice for an engagement ring as it will hold up well to everyday wear.

The pictures simply don’t do it justice! It’s definitely worth seeing in person. I first saw Ice Jade when I met the folks at Mason-Kay Jade. There are many opportunities for stores to get their hands on this material, by visiting Mason-Kay at trade shows, hosting trunk shows at their store, and of course ordering natural, untreated jadeite from Mason-Kay! Have questions about this gem like I did? Just call them up and ask questions! The crew at Mason-Kay is SO knowledgeable, and you can always talk to an owner. Get your hands on some Ice Jade and let me know what you think!

Designer Highlight : Eleux Jewelry

Amethyst Geode Drop Earrings by Eleux // Photo by Jewels of the Trade

If you’re not following @eleuxjewelry on Instagram, then what are you doing with your life? This beautiful, young designer is making a name for herself in the world of fashion earrings.  Aria at Eleux Jewelry focuses on utilizing unusual gemstones like fossilized coral, opalized wood, boulder opal, and many other unique stones as well as fine gemstones such as sapphire, amethyst, and more! In addition to that, she also offers custom design services for customers wanting a one-of-a-kind piece.

I had the luxury of getting to meet with Aria in person at her studio and take some photographs of her beautiful product. I even got to try on one of her carved gemstone ear climbers which looked even better in person than I imagined.

I hope you enjoy this interview with Aria about her place in the industry, her edge as a designer, and the future of Eleux Jewelry. Please check out her websiteInstagram, and feel free to reach out and share photos and stories of your Eleux Jewelry purchase!


Smoky Amazonite Wing Earrings by Eleux // Photo by Jewels of the Trade

JOTT: Let’s start with the basics. How did you get into the jewelry business?

Aria: Growing up, I was always interested in the arts. I attended my very first gem show at the age of three in Tucson, Arizona and I have been living and breathing gemstones and jewelry ever since! As a young girl, my dad taught me how to sketch and paint, and I learned how to make beaded jewelry with my mom. I sold my first jewelry collection at the age of ten and I was instantly hooked. Everything I did as a young girl became centered around how I could turn both my love for minerals and my love of art into a career. 

I completed my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a minor in Metalsmithing. After undergrad, I attended the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), to pursue my dream of becoming a certified Gemologist and Jewelry Designer. I obtained three certifications from GIA: Graduate Gemologist, Jewelry Design CAD, and Jewelry Design Hand Rendering.

Green with Envy Necklace by Eleux // Photo by Jewels of the Trade

JOTT: Do you mind telling the JOTT readers a little about Eleux jewelry and your signature style as  a designer?

Aria: Eleux was founded on the idea of “evolving” luxury with “exclusive” jewelry (the origin of the two “e’s” in “Eleux”). I pronounce my company’s name as “elle-ux” but everyone has their own interpretation and that’s totally okay!

I believe that jewelry is an extension of oneself and it should evoke feelings of individuality, independence, confidence, and beauty. No one shares the same story, so why should we share the same jewelry? I tend to steer away from trends with Eleux because I feel that everyone should have a piece of jewelry that’s unique only to them. 

As both a mineral collector and a gemologist, I have a strong affinity for mineral specimens as well as faceted gemstones. Because of this, my jewelry style exposes the juxtaposition between the rough and the faceted: both earth-made but at different life stages. One is unassuming with a textured finish; the other sparkles and every facet angle is smooth to the touch. 

Like gemstones, humans are all unique and not one person’s story is the same. By working with one-of-a-kind materials and contrasting elements, each piece of Eleux jewelry is one-of-a-kind and has the ability to speak to someone differently. 

Carved Gemstone Ear Climbers by Eleux // Photo by Jewels of the Trade

JOTT: I can’t resist bringing this up…How did you get the idea for the gemstone ear climbers? How did you determine the stones and designs? Tell me everything!


Aria: I was working retail when I first learned about ear climbers. I was transfixed by this idea that something so unique and special can “climb” all the way up the earlobe, only requires one piercing, and is still SO comfortable. I purchased my first ear climber about a year ago from the jewelry store I was working at, it’s simple – white gold with little diamonds. 

I was literally sitting at home when the idea hit me. I was wearing this little diamond climber and I just remember thinking – do cabochon-style gemstone climbers even exist? I honestly didn’t think the idea was that novel and I thought someone must have created it. I spent a couple hours searching Google, Instagram, and Pinterest and all I was seeing for gemstone climbers were faceted and often in a cluster setting style. So, I just decided to go for it! I messaged my gemstone cutter to see if creating this shape was even a possibility. 

I am incredibly lucky to have an amazing cutter that will literally carve anything I’d like. To create the shape, I first took my little diamond ear climber and used it as a template. I drew out a couple variations to determine my desired length and width, cut out the shape from a piece of paper, and held it up to my ear to make sure the size and curve of the shape would sit comfortably. I sent my cutter the sketch and measurements and she sent me images of about 20 different slabs of rough gemstones to pick from. From there, I drew that shape on top of the image of the slab on my phone and sent it back to her. When selecting the gemstones for the climbers, I try to stay away from browns, peaches, reds, yellows, etc. just because I feel like those colors would blend in with a lot of skin tones. I have both neutrals (whites and greys) and brighter colors (purples, and greens), that way the customer can decide how much of a statement they want to make!

Artist's Palette Earrings by Eleux // Photo by Jewels of the Trade

JOTT: What are your goals for Eleux? And are you interested in starting up any other lines?

Aria: My goal is to create beautiful jewelry for women that help them to release their confidence and inner beauty. Currently, Eleux impacts the lives of dozens of women, and ultimately, we aim to work with hundreds to thousands of women and expand our platform so that jewelry is accessible and transformative to the wearer. I want to inspire people through jewelry. I want women to wear a gemstone they’ve never seen or heard of and feel powerful because they have a gem that no one else does. As for any additional lines, Eleux is my one and only venture and I aim to release new collections of jewelry every few months.

Aria's Custom Designed Engagement Ring // Photo by Jewels of the Trade

JOTT: In addition to your line, you also design custom jewelry for your clientele. Tell us a little bit about that.

Aria: Because my brand focuses on one-of-kind jewelry, this goes hand-in-hand with custom bridal. What I found when working retail is that a lot of brides prefer to be a part of the design process – I mean, they do have to wear it every day! I usually start the custom process with the selection of a center-stone and continue from there. I think the gemstone’s characteristics play a huge part in the design. Although I will make almost any custom design my client wants, I prefer designing with elements of femininity and nature throughout my work. 

I truly love creating custom jewelry. It’s completely different than selling a stocked ring out of a case. The custom bridal process gives you a deeper connection with your client, and nothing compares to the feeling of knowing that you helped make the most important day of their lives special.

The Sun & Moon Earrings by Eleux // Photo by Jewels of the Trade

JOTT: Do you feel your Graduate Gemologist certification has helped you with your business?


Aria: One hundred percent. Because of my G.G. certification I feel confident in talking to customers about everything from natural gemstones, synthetics, treatments, origin, inclusions, etc. Knowledge is so important, especially in an industry where there is already such a pre-disposed stigma around diamonds and colored gemstones. I want my customers to feel good about what they’re buying, where it comes from, and what makes it unique. 

Teal Sapphire Threaders by Eleux // Photo by Jewels of the Trade

JOTT: What is your advice to other professionals who want to be successful as jewelry designers? 

Aria:

-Set small goals in addition to your big goals. If you don’t break down your one-year or five-year plan it’s easy to feel lost. Setting a goal each month to help you work up to that big goal can help your long-term goals feel more realistic and accomplishable. For example, earlier this year, I made myself a goal that I was going to grow my Instagram following each month, for five months, by 100 followers. I was able to achieve over 100 follower growth every month, and I never would have got there if I did not set the goal to begin with. 

-Take advantage of the opportunities/resources provided to you. This industry is so welcoming. The WJA mentorship program for one has been life changing for me. It comes with your membership and I do not think enough members utilize this source. This is an amazing opportunity to learn from experts in the industry with conversations tailored to your specific brand. In addition, there are great podcasts out there. Flourish & Thrive helped get me started and they have lots of tips, and it’s free! Joy Joya podcast is great too, as well as her book Joy Joya Marketing is amazing for jewelry specific business tips. 


If you have any questions for Aria, you can reach her on Instagram @eleuxjewelry.

Don’t forget to visit her website, https://eleux.com/