Category: Interviews

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.)

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:

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


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 Whether it be a retail client or wholesale. 

On Instagram:



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.

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? 


-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,

The Opera-Singing Jewelry Seller | Interview with Songbird Sara

You read that right.

Any lover of estate jewelry will find themselves drawn to Sara’s posts on Instagram — which it turns out actually plays a huge part in her business! Despite COVID-19 temporarily limiting her professional opera performance opportunities, Songbird Sara Jewelry has flourished with her unique vintage and estate jewelry sales via her website,

I wanted to share Sara’s spectacular story of entrepreneurship, artistry, and curation. (And RV living!) Her love of people and passion for her product really shines in this video, and I think you’ll really be inspired by the highlights below!

Photo by Songbird Sara Jewelry.
Photo by Songbird Sara Jewelry.

JOTT: Sara, thank you so much for joining me today on Jewels of the Trade! Can you go ahead and just tell us about you and what you do?

Sara: I am a professional opera singer and I am also the owner, curator, president of Songbird Sara Jewelry which specializes in fine estate jewelry. Mostly vintage/antique, but if something modern-estate just really takes my breath away I definitely bring it on. I started the business three years ago and then when the pandemic hit and everything changed with the performing arts industry and all the gigs were canceled and everything just stopped, I had the opportunity to really focus on the business.

JOTT: Was opera your main thing (originally) and jewelry was kind of a side hustle?

Sara: Yes. And I have had a couple of resale businesses throughout my professional singing career because I love business and the entrepreneurial thing. Being a freelance musician, you can’t depend on a steady stream of income. So I’ve always loved having something else for that sense of security and to exercise a different part of my brain. I’ve always loved fashion and fashion resale. Jewelry was always my biggest love in the fashion sphere and I finally took the leap three years ago.

Photo by Songbird Sara Jewelry.
Photo by Songbird Sara Jewelry.

JOTT: Was your start in the jewelry industry as an entrepreneur or did you work for someone first?

Sara: It was always as an entrepreneur. I spent maybe a decade just being obsessed with antique jewelry, doing research in my spare time. I think its difficult when you’re a professional creative to have hobbies.

JOTT: Because they turn into jobs? (laughingly)

Sara: They turn into jobs. For a while, that was a really nice hobby of mine to come home from rehearsal and read the jewelry forums, read books on antiques, look at beautiful things, and enjoy an art form that wasn’t my job. And of course, I turned it into my job.  When I would be on the road (singing opera), I would go into antique stores or pawn shops or estate jewelry places and see things and know the market and know that I could still sell it at a competitive price. Balancing that with the fact that as a freelance opera singer I don’t have tons of money to buy jewelry for myself, so it came from like “I know all these things. This is something I’m really passionate about. Also, if I can buy jewelry for other people, then I can shop for jewelry nonstop and not bankrupt myself.”

JOTT: Do you have your own collection?

Sara: I do. It’s grown since I have started my site but I try and be really good about letting something go if I bring something else in or else I could totally get out of control. The other thing about my business is that I only bring things onto my site that I would be proud to own myself. Everything that I source is something that I love that I would love to own. As I’ve grown the business, the people who follow me and shop from my collection do so because they’ve gotten to know my taste, they trust my eye. There are so many amazing vendors out there, it comes down to finding someone who has a similar taste that you have and that you trust that the things that they love are things that you’ll love.

Photo by Songbird Sara Jewelry.
Photo by Songbird Sara Jewelry.

JOTT: Where are you located and how do people shop from you?

Sara: My business is entirely online. My website is and it’s linked to my Instagram which is @songbirdsarajewelry. My husband and I, both professional opera singers, have been full time RV dwellers for going on 4 years now. Before COVID, we would just drag our home from contract to contract. An opera contract is 1-2 months. If we had to go overseas we would just put the camper in storage. We have crossed the country almost 3 complete times since we got the camper. Before COVID, we were everywhere which really helped me build up my connections within the jewelry community and find the wholesalers who I love working with and meet people who wanted to consign their collections with me. Now, we’re in Georgia just waiting it out. We don’t have a home base, we’re just wherever we need to be.

JOTT: How long have you and your husband been doing this together? How did you two meet?

Sara: We met doing opera in southern Illinois at a summer festival that we both did. We decided to buy the camper 4 years ago because we were tired of living in suitcases and being in a different hotel room all the time. We bought the camper and haven’t looked back. The travel aspect has helped and informed my jewelry business. The fact that we’ve been in so many major cities and small towns, I’ve gotten to get the feel of what kinds of vintage and antique pieces are in different parts of the country and different parts of the world.

Photo by Songbird Sara Jewelry.
Photo by Songbird Sara Jewelry.

JOTT: How has social media helped influence your business?

Sara: When I first decided to start the business, I had 1,000 followers and it was my personal Instagram. I was a little bit resistant to learning about Instagram.  I transitioned my personal Instagram to be my jewelry Instagram and then slowly started building it and now I am almost at 10,000 followers. When the pandemic hit, that’s when I got really serious. My following grew from 3 or 4,000 to where I am now just in the past year. Really, it’s about making those personal connections. I think there’s a difference between growing Instagram as a brand and growing it as an influencer. To be a brand is different because you want to connect with the people who are going to be engaged followers, they actually are interested in what you’re doing and more involved.  To do that, I got involved in the jewelry community. I like to interact as a jewelry lover not as a brand.

Photo by Songbird Sara Jewelry.
Photo by Songbird Sara Jewelry.

JOTT: Do you do wholesale?

Sara: I don’t, and I don’t see my business going that way because I think what I love most is that matchmaking element of it. Dealing with the consumer, helping them find that perfect thing. I love seeing it live with them and their lives. I think I would miss that if I was the middle man. Jewelry is so personal.  Most of my clients are women who are buying for themselves.

Photo by Songbird Sara Jewelry.
Photo by Songbird Sara Jewelry.

JOTT: What is it that you look for when curating your pieces?

Sara: First and foremost, I look for old cut diamonds.  I always keep a loupe in my purse, it has an LED light on it. So if you’re in an antique store, which they’re always so dimly lit, you can check that out.  Having a loupe is really key. There’s a lot of misrepresentation of vintage/antique pieces and I think for the most part it’s just that people don’t know any better. Sometimes, with antique pieces, diamonds can be chipped and people might not think about it.

JOTT: When you’re sourcing, do you have certain standards for condition? Do you buy and then have them repaired by a jeweler?

Sara: It depends on the piece. If we’re dealing with vintage/antique, a little bit of wear is to be expected. I’m not married to the idea of a perfect piece if it’s 100 years old. If it’s a missing stone, yes, I will definitely have my jeweler replace it. I have a great gemologist who knows how specific I am so I really trust him.

Photo by Songbird Sara Jewelry.
Photo by Songbird Sara Jewelry.

Opera + Jewelry

Sara: Three months ago, I did an online shoppable concert on Instagram live. My husband and I performed and between numbers, I talked about the jewelry that I was wearing. We’re talking about doing another one of those.

Link: (Side note: Hey GoDaddy, why can’t I embed Instagram videos?)

JOTT: Do you think you’ll go back to opera full time when all this [covid] is over?

Sara: I hope so. I wouldn’t call either thing “full time” or “side hustle.” I’ve kind of been thinking about it the way that mainstream entertainers do. If you look at Rihanna, she is a huge performing artist and also one of the most successful fashion entrepreneurs in the world, and they’re all under that same — Rihanna joke — they’re all under that same umbrella.

JOTT: Since you’re wanting to go back to opera when things open up, how do you see the future of Songbird Sara Jewelry?

Sara: I think that my ability to perform more will influence the jewelry business in an amazing way. I’m really hoping soon to spend a lot of time in Europe. That will allow me to source things from Europe which will open up so many opportunities. Right now, most of my social media presence is jewelry but I miss being able to show backstage, the rehearsal process, and costumes. I think there will be opportunities for cross-promotion and education. 

Sara: I think the sky is the limit.

Photo by Songbird Sara Jewelry.
Photo by Songbird Sara Jewelry.

Contact Sara

Check out Sara’s exquisite collection of vintage jewels, and don’t be afraid to reach out to her directly and connect! If you are looking for something in particular, Sara may have it or can source it for you from someone in her developed network of trustworthy jewelry professionals.


The chat feature on her website goes straight to her cell phone so you can speak with her directly, or contact her on Instagram.


Have you bought from Songbird Sara before? Do you have your eye on a particular piece? Let me know! Send me a DM, and don’t be afraid to post your jewelry to instagram and tag the seller!  It helps small businesses so much to receive online support from satisfied patrons.

Designer Highlight : Emily Marquis Designs

Sardonyx Scarab Riviere in 18ky w/ fleur de lis by Emily Marquis Designs. Photo by Tracy Harvey Photography
Sardonyx Scarab Riviere in 18ky w/ fleur de lis by Emily Marquis Designs. Photo by Tracy Harvey Photography

I was so fortunate to sit down with independent jewelry designer Emily Marquis, owner of Emily Marquis Designs and Marquis Jewelry Academy, on Zoom, to talk about her personal brand, businesses and their goals, and her hashtag #AChainOfPace. Emily and her husband, Cal, are exceptionally talented jewelers offering bridal, custom jewelry, memorial jewelry, and one-of-a-kind pieces to their customers and teaching motivated individuals how to create custom jewelry themselves.

#AChainOfPace creator, Emily Marquis. Photo by Emily Marquis.
#AChainOfPace creator, Emily Marquis. Photo by Emily Marquis.

You may have seen Emily Marquis Designs on Instagram, featuring their unique vintage-inspired scarab jewelry, handmade chains, and an assortment of colored stone and diamond jewelry pieces. Located in Stonington, Connecticut since 2020, jewelry power couple Emily and Cal have been applying knowledge developed over a number of years as a small business retailer and online seller.

Marquis Jewelry Academy instructs hobbyists as well as experienced jewelry professionals in more than just proper bench technique, but also problem solving and other aspects that go into making a jewelry career profitable. Focused on small group instruction, the academy offers a unique learning experience catered to the individual jeweler and their needs.

You can watch the full interview on YouTube, or check out the highlights below from this personal interview that examines Emily Marquis and her thoughts, experiences, and goals in the jewelry industry. 

Emily Marquis and her husband, Cal. Photo by Emily Marquis.
Emily Marquis and her husband, Cal. Photo by Emily Marquis.


E: I have been doing jewelry and goldsmithing since I was 18. I started off with a traditional 4 year college, teaching through college.

E: When I got out of school, I moved down to DC and my uncle had just started a school down there. I worked alongside him as he built up this big community for the last 11 years. It started in his basement with just a couple benches. He is still operating that now and during that time I had a couple of weird jobs where I was doing full time work and part-time teaching. For most of the 2010s, I was working between 50 and 75 hours a week going between those two careers.

E: In 2015, I got a job doing bench jewelry for a really high end jeweler in DC: doing repairs, custom work, lots of vintage refurbishment jobs. That taught me how a lot of things were created and how they should be taken care of; what does and does not withstand the test of time. I think learning bench jewelry and repair jewelry really helped me become an independent designer because I know what I need to do to make my work actually last. You fix enough of other people’s stuff, you learn what goes wrong. In 2018, I left that and started being an independent jeweler, kinda running my own jewelry line alongside still teaching on a part time level.

Scarab jewelry by Emily Marquis Designs. Photo by Emily Marquis.
Scarab jewelry by Emily Marquis Designs. Photo by Emily Marquis.

Emily On Opening A Business At the Beginning of COVID

E: At the beginning of the year (2020), Cal and I moved up to Connecticut to start our own studio and because I’d been teaching for so long it made a natural progression that we should also have a school. We’ve just been making custom jewelry and teaching whenever somebody shows up. It’s been a very funky year, trying to find out what our true rhythm is because nothing is normal. If anybody has a jewelry job or wants to learn something, we’re just going for it.

E: My classroom used to be 10 students, now it’s 4. But through the pandemic, we’ve never gotten up to full capacity because we opened up right before the state shut down. It was Saturday we opened, Monday the state said “No more businesses. Close your businesses.” So we kinda hunkered down for a few months, and in June we started teaching. We’ve taught 1, 2, and 3 people but haven’t had an actual group of 4. So it’s been a totally different balance; learning how to teach a small group of people vs a large group of people.

JOTT: Do your students make the jewelry that you sell?

E: [No.] Our students purely only make their own things. My students pay me an hourly rate, I provide them with silver and tools and materials. Their projects are totally their own stuff.

JOTT: Is it mostly silver that your students work in?

E: I provide silver and stones. If my students want to do gold or platinum, they buy it at cost. There’s no upsell on getting them materials they need.

#AChainOfPace. Photo by Emily Marquis
#AChainOfPace. Photo by Emily Marquis

JOTT: Are most of your students professionals already in the jewelry industry?

E: No. I would say, right now, it’s probably 60/40. Most of our students are beginners or people who maybe have a business but it’s not supporting them, kinda more of a hobby. We have another hunk of people who are professionals who want to continue to push themselves. And they are learning totally different things; I’m not going to teach the same thing to a beginner that I’m going to teach to someone 15 years in.

E: We have an extended study student right now who is doing 10 months with us as a replacement for her freshman year of college. She was going to go to a jewelry school but the idea of doing distance learning at an art college was just a joke. So her parents set her up with us for the year. While she’s here with us, she gets to see everything we’re working on and understand how we’re working through it. I have some students who pay me to set up their studio or build them a shopping list. Students have questions that aren’t just “How do I file this?” “How do I hammer this?”, because once you have those skills you have to answer questions like “How do I market these?”

#AChainOfPace. Photo by Emily Marquis
#AChainOfPace. Photo by Emily Marquis

JOTT: Tell me about your hashtag, #AChainOfPace

E: My husband, Cal, is also a full time goldsmith. He runs the school with me, he makes all the jewelry alongside me. Often, when I’m showing Emily Marquis Designs stuff or I’m showing stuff that the school is doing — that’s a joint effort between the two of us. Cal came up with the hashtag because he is an absolute wordsmith.

E: I had been talking in December about how we were very busy but I was not feeling fulfilled by any of it. I was feeling like I was going through the motions and not feeling challenged. When people have a niche market and their audience has gone in a direction you don’t really want, you somehow become known for something that isn’t what makes you happy, you have to steer the ship in another direction.

E: I wanted to start making more chains. I wanted my clients to be buying more chains. I wanted my students to pay me to teach them to make chains.

E: “I really like this, I would like to be doing more of this. How can I change the direction of the ship?” So I started thinking about doing a self-challenge. …Doing 100 chains in 100 days was never going to happen. So I started thinking about other options: I decided that in one year I’m going to make 100 chains. Some are client commissions, some are making variations of chains that I’ve made before. I bought a bunch of chain-making books and I’ve been studying antique chains and looking on eBay for pieces I’ve never seen before. A lot of what this project has been is a change of pace, turning my trajectory into something I want to be focusing on.

E: It’s not about getting anybody else to make 100 chains, it’s about showing a concerted effort towards the thing that I actually do want. I’ve been doing demos on different chain links, I have friends who are getting in on it. This is fun and there’s no pressure. We’re 26 days in and I’ve done 7 chains.

Scarab ring by Emily Marquis Designs. Photo by Wolfie Flatman.
Scarab ring by Emily Marquis Designs. Photo by Wolfie Flatman.

JOTT: If someone wants to place an order with you, can they message you?

E: Yes. We have a large collection at this point of 15 or 20 different chain designs.

Scarab ring by Emily Marquis Designs. Photo by Raquel Cano, instagram @raqquelcano
Scarab ring by Emily Marquis Designs. Photo by Raquel Cano, instagram @raqquelcano
Sardonyx Scarab Riviere in 18ky w/ fleur de lis by Emily Marquis Designs. Photo by Tracy Harvey Photography
Sardonyx Scarab Riviere in 18ky w/ fleur de lis by Emily Marquis Designs. Photo by Tracy Harvey Photography

JOTT: What other kind of jewelry are you trying to associate with your brand?

E: One of our really big lines over the past couple of years has been our vintage scarab work. I probably have the largest collection of vintage scarabs in the country. The clients really get to have a customized shopping experience where they can pick out the scarab stone that speaks to them.

E: This last year, we did two really big, dreamy scarab jobs that I have been working towards for the last 3 years. I shopped for scarab bracelets from the 1930s-1970s, pulled all the stones out and hand fabricated settings for them in silver and gold. I then said “Ok. How can I get these?” I learned the hard way that people can sell some shit on the internet [haha]. Plastic, ceramics, stuff that was cracked. And then I came up with this dreamy project of this sardonyx banded orange agate.

Sardonyx Scarab Riviere in 18ky w/ fleur de lis by Emily Marquis Designs. Photo by Tracy Harvey Photography
Sardonyx Scarab Riviere in 18ky w/ fleur de lis by Emily Marquis Designs. Photo by Tracy Harvey Photography

JOTT: Is that piece for sale? (The Sardonyx Scarab Riviere in 18ky w/fleur de lis)

E: Yes. It is for sale. I don’t know who it will sell to but I believe that the market is there. I think a lot of our jewelry is not the kind of stuff people will buy the second they see it. It’s usually the stuff they’ve revisited over weeks or months. They may buy a year later. Over that year, I got to know them and got to talk to them.

E: I think that they want to buy something that is really special and worth it. Maybe they saw something but by the time a year goes around, they’re like “Ok well I’ve seen [multiple] pieces, can we put [these designs] together?”

E: That’s a lot more valuable to me than just getting a bunch of small sales throughout the week. I’d much rather wait and get to know all of my clients and have these important sales that are so much more valuable to the both of us.

Platinum and 18ky chased ring with Rainbow Moonstone by Emily Marquis Designs. Photo by Emily Marquis.
Platinum and 18ky chased ring with Rainbow Moonstone by Emily Marquis Designs. Photo by Emily Marquis.

JOTT: Do you do any wholesale?

E: At the moment it’s all direct to the customer.

JOTT: Is your market mostly local or online?

E: I would say online. We’ve got a lot of pockets of clients across the country and a few clients overseas. We find clients because we’re teachers, or we find clients that somehow have stumbled onto us or people that we’ve met in passing.

JOTT: What are your goals with your sales and with the school?

E: Right now, we’re just kinda riding out the pandemic and enjoying the experience of it being slow and getting our footing in this new space. I’m just waiting, I will find out where we’re going to grow when it’s time to grow again. With our business, we’re trying to move into a place where a lot more of our one-of-a-kind stuff is selling more directly instead of inspiring other pieces. I would like to have a full collection of pieces I came up with, that I decided that was the best version of it, and then you decided that’s the best version for you as well.

Jewelry by Emily Marquis Designs. Photo by Emily Marquis.
Jewelry by Emily Marquis Designs. Photo by Emily Marquis.

JOTT: What type of design aesthetic has influenced you and pushed you into your niche?

E: I’m an absolute sucker for antique stuff. My artistic career began with sewing historical clothing. I’m actually really adept at seamstress work, sewing, and patterning. I have a love for history and that kind of has translated it’s way through my career as a jeweler.

#AChainOfPace. Photo by Emily Marquis.
#AChainOfPace. Photo by Emily Marquis.

Emily on choosing the jewelry profession

E: I became a jeweler because I wanted a job where I knew I could actually make a salary.  I wanted to be a painter and my uncle said “Well, if you want to be an artist, you should be a jeweler. You can have a job when things are tough because you can repair things and melt things down. There’s always a market for wedding bands and memorial jewelry.” That really spoke to my sense of job security as an artist.

JOTT: I have to ask! Do you love marquises?

E: I do not have an affinity for the marquise shaped diamond, it just is my God-given name. My mom goes “You were born to be a jeweler.”

#AChainOfPace. Photo by Emily Marquis.
#AChainOfPace. Photo by Emily Marquis.

JOTT: How can people reach you? Buy from you, take classes from you, etc.

E: You can find me on instagram: @emilymarquisdesigns or @marquisjewelryacademy.

I run those and my number one compliment from clients is that I’m very good at getting back to them quickly. I answer questions all day long. 

E: We have a website:

E: For people who aren’t local, we do take travelers. If you want to come to the east coast and stay by the beach for the week, we have courses for that. We’re in a tourist town, so you can stay and eat good food.

E: On top of that, we have our Patreon set up where people can do scholar options that allows them to have certain hours of video conference time and having me in their back pocket any and all times if they have questions. So you can find Emily Marquis Design on Patreon and learn about what we offer through that.

E: And then we have a crap ton of our jewelry listed on Etsy because I’m too busy to make an online shopping platform that isn’t run by somebody else.

E: All of that can be found at

Designer Highlight : Lily Ellicott

Of the up-and-coming designers to watch, make sure that @lilythejeweller at @lindens_jewelry is on your radar.  Working in jewelry since she was 16, this C.A.R.A.T. award-winning goldsmith and designer already has almost a decade of experience and is making a name for herself in the industry.

I sat down with Lily (and her vintage locket and coral ring) to discuss her designs and get the skinny on the oh-so-secretive jewelry line that Lily Ellicott Designs is dropping this September. While she didn’t tell me or show me the new collection, I think I may have gathered enough intel to make a pretty good guess about what it is. Read the article and let me know what you think the big secret is that will be revealed this fall.

"They're sisters, not twins." Original Lily Ellicott Earrings at Linden's Jewelry amethyst moonstone
“They’re sisters, not twins.” Original Lily Ellicott Earrings at Linden’s Jewelry

Lily got her start in a jewelry store doing inventory and bookkeeping at only 16 years old. An artist looking for a creative outlet and driven by the desire for a successful career, she was encouraged by her stores’ jeweler to attend the Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology. Coming from a small community and an unconventional background, the encouragement of her colleague gave her the boost she needed. Motivated to be independent, Lily was attracted to both the science and art aspects of the jewelry arts, and made the decision at 17 to apply to jewelry school. 

Fast forward nine years later, Lily works for an independent jeweler as the Senior Goldsmith and Shop Manager. When asked about this her exact words were “I never wake up and dread going to work.” 



Was it your original goal to be a jeweler?

Lily: “It was actually because of Joseph, who was a goldsmith [at the store where she was working] who had gone to the Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology. He is a ridiculously good jeweler and he let me do some stuff at the bench. I discovered that I could actually exercise that artistic muscle while doing something lucrative and science-based. He got me a bunch of information for the college and basically told me ‘Hey, you might think you’re an idiot…But…I think you’re not.’ So that was really encouraging. I took the entry exam and got into the school. That was kinda how I got started in it: Scrambling at the first thing I saw that I could be independent with.”

2019 C.A.R.A.T Craftsmanship Award winning piece by Lily Ellicott
2019 C.A.R.A.T Craftsmanship Award winning piece by Lily Ellicott

You won a C.A.R.A.T Craftsmanship Award in 2019, talk a little about your craftsmanship as a goldsmith.

Lily: “The area where I’ve really been taken seriously is in craftsmanship. Craftsmanship is where I’ve had both the easiest and the hardest time as a goldsmith. Immediately, people see a 23, 24 year old girl and say ‘What can you do? You learned how to size rings last week, didn’t you?’ “

Me: “But that’s not true, you’ve been doing this for years.”

Lily: “I have, since I was 16. I think the time I felt most validated was being accepted into the master level classes at GRS and being able to do the advanced courses for stone setting and scrollwork.”

Me: “Do you feel like your continuing education training is what helped move you forward?”

Lily: “Frankly, I think it was having an employer who was willing to invest in me and took me seriously and pushed me to design. Ashley encouraged me to further my education and I think that showed me that I could do something. It was Ashley who, didn’t even ask me, she straight up told me to design something for the AJA competition.”

Me: “The C.A.R.A.T. awards, right?”

Lily: “Yeah, I created a terrific piece, honestly it’s pretty good. Apparently I’m a bit of a masochist because I always design stuff with half millimeter diamonds pave’d into large, flat surfaces.”

Me: “And you have to set them, right? So you’re doing it to yourself.”

Lily: “Yeah. Difficult to set things don’t intimidate me. I would say stone setting is my favorite thing to do.”


What advice do you have for people who are wanting to become a goldsmith?

Lily: “Work on your discipline. The first moment that you think you’re good enough is the first sign you should be doing something different. And don’t brag. There is nothing that will turn someone off from teaching you something like bragging about your own abilities. The best jewelers out there don’t call themselves the best.”


Would you recommend formal education for aspiring jewelers?

Lily: “I think it depends on your level of discipline and your learning style. For me, it was a fast track. I wanted to be successful in a career by the time I was 20, that was my goal. They do a really good job in giving you the basics, especially if you aren’t familiar with hand tools. I had a certain level of experience working with my hands because I was a hobbyist mechanic.”

Me: “A mechanic? For…cars? So you’re like ‘I like jewelry, I’m good with my hands, I’ll be a jeweler.’?

Lily: “I like art. And creating it. I’m good with my hands but I don’t want to be the broke artist peddling paintings on the street corner.”

Me. “So this was your application of your artistic ability — you didn’t give a lick if it was jewelry or something else.”

Lily: “Yeah, and it seemed prestigious. That’s something selfishly that I’ve chased my entire life: being taken seriously.”

Me: “Well, from looking at you it looks like you’ve grown to love jewelry. So I’m guessing that attitude kinda changed.”

Lily: “Yeah”

How do you make your jewelry?

Lily: “I normally fabricate. So with this new line we’re launching, it’s felt really luxurious to draw a detailed picture for somebody and let a team of people largely produce it for me to do the stone-setting, finishing, and engraving. Coming from a fabricating background, it feels a little weird. There’s a little part of me that says ‘Can I still take credit for this?’ And I know there are a lot of sticklers who say ‘Can you even say you made a piece if you didn’t do 100% of the work?’ and I agree you should be able to do 100% of the work as a goldsmith, but you get to a certain point where it’s more financially reasonable to pay someone else to do parts of it.”

padparadscha sapphire
Parparadscha sapphire in a custom mounting by Lily Ellicott Designs at Linden’s Jewelry

What is your favorite piece that you’ve made?

Lily: “A lot of the pieces in the new collection that I’m working on are some of my favorites. I can’t say why, that would reveal the entire collection. Actually, I have one I can talk about: it was a padparadscha sapphire that I did recently.”

Me: “Why is the padparadscha your favorite?”

Lily: “The person that I designed it for: the first thing that she said to me was ‘You don’t need to sell yourself or your brand. I’ve looked you up online, I know all about you, I want to use you if you can create the piece that I want done. I warn you, I’m really picky and difficult to please.’ It’s not every day that you get to set a 5ct padparadscha sapphire. It was fun, she is one of the only clients I’ve ever had that is particular about the beading on pave set stones. I’ve never worked with a client who was almost as particular as I am about the quality of work that goes out in a piece. If someone didn’t polish the seat of a stone before setting the stone, that would bother me. And that would bother her. I like clients who are realistic about their expectations and about their budgets.”


Your company is releasing a new line of jewelry in September, and they’re all your designs. It’s a surprise. Is it bridal or fashion?

Lily: “Fashion.”

Me: “So you’re releasing this mysterious new line of fashion jewelry designed exclusively by you, never before seen by anyone. Are you revealing it at your store?”

Lily: “We’ll be unveiling it at our new location. The collection includes jewelry of mixed materials: silver, copper, gold. Ranging anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to I think $10,000 is the most expensive piece.”

Me: “Who is your target market?”

Lily: “Women.”

Me: “Economically independent women?”

Lily: “Yes. Fashion-conscious women.”

opal spider diamond pave
“Margaret” the 2019 C.A.R.A.T. Award Winning Spider by Lily Ellicott

Can we get a sneak peak of the new line?

Lily: “The first piece in the line has already been unveiled, that’s what won the Craftsmanship award last year. The spider, her name is Margaret, is a giant 37 carat opal set in an 18k bezel. Ashley had that stone for 3 years and had designed 7 different pieces around it, none of which inspired her. As soon as I was like ‘Yo, can I make a spider out of this?’ she said ‘Go for it!'”

What else can you tell us about the new line?

Lily: “I design a lot of art deco and art nouveau inspired things. I sat down originally thinking ‘Art deco is my style, therefore that’s what I’m going to design.’ Um…And they all sucked. All of the designs were awful. I definitely have artists block whenever I’m not inspired. Then I was just working on a customer piece one day and the thought hit me and I drew 7 or 8 designs that were all very…nature-inspired.”

What is the meaning behind the theme of the new collection?

Lily: “This isn’t a well thought out concept, I guess. But…Social rejection, and maybe feeling a little comradery with the ‘creatures’ [depicted in the jewelry art] where they have this stigma or reputation of being ‘scary’ or ‘harmful’ or ‘lethal’ when they’re improving our lives in a lot of ways. They’re very beneficial little fellas.”

Me: “Is this a personal connection that you have to them?”

Lily: “I think it would selfish of me to say that it’s a personal connection, solely. I think, probably, most people would have a certain level of connection to that concept: Feeling rejected. Being rejected. Having a stigma attached to you that’s unfair. So I would say that, on the larger scale, it’s just a theme that I’ve seen in humanity”

How will people be able to buy pieces from this collection?

Lily: “It will be on the Linden’s Jewelry Facebook shop, Instagram, and our website, under Lily Ellicott Designs.”

Tell me about the future of Lily Ellicott and your designs.

Lily: “Making my living selling my designs. I would like stores to carry what I create and what I design. I would like to someday see a random person, and be like ‘Oh! That’s a Lily Ellicott design.'”

Me: “Long term, you want to create.”

Lily: “Yeah.”

So now that you’ve read this interview, what do YOU think the theme is for this mysterious new line of jewelry being released in September? 

It’s always inspiring for me to meet ambitious professionals in the jewelry industry. If you are interested in following Lily, her designs, and shopping her NEW line of jewelry that will be released Fall 2020, follow #lilyellicott on instagram and check out the Lily Ellicott Designs Jewelry Collection at