The Story of JewelConscious
Born and raised in Long Beach, NY, I started from a humble beginning. My parents immigrated from Greece with hopes and dreams of a better life.
I started working at a young age and was taken under the wing of Barry Weber, one of the PBS Antiques Road Show experts for antique jewelry. He influenced me and the course of my life. I always thought I would be a dentist (they use the same tools as a jeweler by the way) but here I am, 30 years later, still in the jewelry business.
Graduating from Queens College with an Art History major in 1997, my husband and I decided to move to San Francisco in 1998. I thought I would focus on art but ended up working at a custom mom and pop jewelry store on Union St. called David Clay Jewelers, who was another extraordinary influence in my life.
Although I loved sharing the milestones and celebrations in my customers lives such as their weddings, babies and anniversaries, I constantly felt like I was compromising my morals. One of the challenges I struggled to overcome was the ethical issues in the jewelry industry selling "blood" diamonds, dirty gold, the conflicts in Burma and so on. I was constantly researching how to educate myself and my customers and find diamond sources that were ethical and sustainable. That was when the Canadian mines were discovered and we were able to offer that as an option to our customers.
After leaving David Clay Jewelers, I went on to be the buyer of Shreve & Co. , the oldest jewelry store in San Francisco. The internet was becoming prevalent at this time for research and shopping. I decided at that point that I was going to consult and buy for businesses two of which were Lang Antiques & Gumps of San Francisco. At the same time, also met with the owners of a small start up company called Brilliant Earth.
I am a bit on the OCD side and I am meticulous when I catalogue and grade the pieces I buy and sell. I like to wear the pieces when they are done so I can trouble shoot any issues, like if the earring does not sit comfortably or face in the appropriate direction, hence many of my earrings have a right and a left side. I predominantly use recycled and old materials to manufacture in the jewelry I sell an when I do not, it is always sourced using Ethical Sourcing and Fair Trade Practices.
Now, over 30 years later, I love what I do and am much happier with myself for making this move in my career.
I know the intricacies of making jewelry and have designed custom jewelry for many years. I do wire wrapping and fun crafts on my own but much of my restoration and repairs are done by various master bench jewelers that specialize in techniques such as enameling, hand chasing and hand fabrication. Most pieces are repaired using laser work because of the difficulty in damaging other areas of the antique pieces and gemstones.
When I'm not working with jewelry, I am constantly working with my hands. You will find me knitting or crocheting, sewing fabrics that I re-use or recycle, gardening, volunteering at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding or spending time with my family. I re-use and re-cycle everything and anything I possibly can.
Thanks for listening to my story and I hope you like what you see!!!