Who are we?
So, I first picked up a torch in 2009, after my then girlfriend (now wife) had started to acquire all sorts of odd and interesting gemstones from local gem shows.
Most local jewelers took one look at her pebbles and more or less turned up their noses at the request to set hem in jewelry. They had more important things to do I guess.
Finally, while visiting family in Colorado, we came across an older gent who, had been practicing traditional silversmithing since the 70's. He set mostly turquoise, and even owned a few mines. He agreed to set her stones for her, and at a reasonable price too. He even finished polishing one of her opals.
We paid, and left the store. and continued on our trip.
Fast forward three weeks. We're back home in California and a package arrives. It has her finished jewelry (Which was beautiful by the way) along with a book which was all about traditional Native American silver smithing.
I poured myself into this new Endeavour. It was 2009 and my day job -working at a local Architecture firm- was not even remotely stable (This was the bottom of the recent job depression), so I had both free time, a need for extra income, and a creative outlet. Silversmithing filled two of those needs. Making money at this job did not come easily at first. It was a real struggle. Most of the money I earned, went directly to new tools and supplies. I was the quintessential starving artist.
Shasta and I spent almost every waking hour working on new jewelry, and marketing the business, exhausting pretty much any "free" marketing option we could think of.
We set up booths at all of the local craft fairs, gem shows and festivals. Many a weekend were spent, battling dust, heat and crowds (and the occasional sticky fingered "customer"). It was rewarding at times, tiring at others. Some shows we made enough money to celebrate afterwards with dinner out at our favorite restaurant. Other shows were so draining, that we decided to cheer ourselves up, with dinner out at our favorite restaurant.... I think in those years, we helped that place stay in business.
Doing these shows taught me a lot; about customers, business, interactions and what people liked, didn't like, and who I was and how I could serve.
Time went on, I was slowly getting to the point where the jewelry business was starting to yield an actual profit. Shasta and I were married in early 2012 and we each made each other's wedding bands. A humble yet sentiments set of sterling silver bands. Then in mid 2012, I found out I was going to be a DAD.
Whoa! better step thing up a notch. I'm was going to have less time to work, and more need for a stable income. (I am literally writing this with now in 2017 with a sleepy 4 year old sitting on my lap).
So I pressed on. Up until this point I had mostly made one of a kind pieces only. Now, it was time to enter up my game and start offering designs that could be made to order. Wedding bands and engagement rings that I would make, per the customer's specifications, and in a timely manner. I also started to expand the scope of my custom requests and also joined new websites to generate new job leads.
By the time my first son was born in February of 2013, I had grown the business to a point where it was stable, and netting enough income that I officially quit my architectural designer job, and focused purely on Jewelry making. I was both thrilled and scared to be one of a small few who had made it on my own, without outside help. My fate was in my own hands and that off my customers. It was scary and invigorating at the same time.
As my skills progressed, so did my need for more advanced tools and methods for making my rings. I started experimenting with 3d cad design programs, a skill that was left over from my architecture days and came naturally to me. I found that being able to present a 3d image to a customer greatly increased the chance at selling a custom design. And, as luck would have it, 3d prototyping and mills where gradually catching up with the jewelry industry. Soon, I was able to produce my 3d designs in actual silver, gold and platinum!
But I have found that this skill is nothing compared to the importance of listening. Translating a customer's needs and wants into a tangible shape, is not always easy, but it was rewarding. Custom work, along with sales from my wedding bands became my bread and butter.
Almost by accident, I was asked one day to make a Zelda themed ring. Now, I grew up playing video games. Loved them. Spent as many hours possible stomping koopas, saving princesses, and leveling up. So, I was naturally pretty psyched to get to make some gamed themed jewelry! I didn't realize at the time that I would soon develop a world renown reputation for affordable, and customizable game, book, movie and all things geek related jewelry.
As I progress my work, I am constantly striving to perfect my craft, provide better service and be the kind of jeweler that I would want to work with as a client. Customer Service has always been my number one goal. My hope is that I'll be able to continue to do this, now, and in the future. I give great thanks for my wonderful customers, for without them, there would be no me!