Sarah Graham Metalsmithing

Friday, May 28, 2010

JQ Retailer's Choice Designer of the Year: Sarah Graham

We are thrilled to announce our designation as 'Designer of the Year' by JQ International Jewelry Magazine! Now in it's 6th year, the JQ Retailer's Choice Designer Awards recognize design excellence within the fine jewelry industry. Winners in nine distinct design categories are selected by JQ International's retailer readers through an online voting ballot on their website, Nominations for each category are based strictly on the retailer's choice for their favorites from among all fine jewelry designers and are not based on submitted entries. Each year, this exclusive group of nine winners, including Designer of the Year, is honored at a special awards ceremony held during the June Las Vegas trade shows.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Designer Jewelry Opportunity: How to Transform a Mainstream Retailer into the Most Unique Jewelry Store in Town

You know what you need to do, but you’re not sure how. Join a panel discussion dedicated to giving a jewelry store the confidence and answers it needs to make the changes that will help them differentiate, stay competitive and revolutionize the way their store is perceived by their customers forever.

Stores that embrace change and strive to innovate are stores that survive, and many have flourished in an unsteady economy by incorporating designer jewelry into their product mix. AJDC president Todd Reed and Vice President Sarah Graham lead a discussion with the owners of two top retailers who have over 50 years of combined experience in the jewelry business. Both stores turned to designer jewelry when times got tough, and have relied on this product mix to see them through the inevitable ups and downs of our ever changing, but never boring, industry.

I. Gorman, a family owned business since 1981, began experimenting with designers in the early 80s, and by the time the recession of the early 90s hit, they were glad the had – they found themselves well positioned to survive what would otherwise have been a crippling economy had they not set themselves apart from the crowd by offering their customers jewelry they couldn’t find anywhere else. As competition grew and the designer ‘gems’ they had discovered became more mainstream. I. Gorman saw a need to differentiate themselves again and altered course in mid 90s by introducing newer jewelers as well as international designers. Today, Nicole and Adam Gorman are witnessing yet another evolution in their customer’s tastes and are adjusting their product mix to suit – and still find the designer pool to be their best source for filling their cases with the newest and most innovative jewelry.

Babs Noelle of Alara Jewelry began her career as a bench jeweler in 1988 and sold her designs through her retail store. Her success reached a ceiling in 1998 when, tired of watching business walk out the door and unable to find enough time to make everything herself, she realized that if she were going to grow, she needed to offer diversity to her customers, and so turned to the designers that she respected and appreciated. Babs has been committed to designer jewelry ever since, and has developed an astute sense for choosing new designers and evaluating their success. She also has an exceptional skill for marketing that grabs her customer’s attention and builds their trust in one of the most entertaining campaigns in the industry.

Adam, Nicole and Babs will talk about how they choose designers, how they evaluate a line’s success, and how they formulate marketing strategies that capitalize on the clout of the brands they carry while still building their store’s own brand. They will turn the tables by asking Todd and Sarah their take on certain aspects of the business as well, and finally the audience will have full reign to pose questions to the entire panel. Under the auspice of the American Jewelry Design Council, whose purpose it is to bring understanding to the public about the value and craftsmanship of designer jewelry, Todd and Sarah, along with these hugely successful store owners and the Smart Show, promise a value packed seminar that will layout exactly why and how designer jewelry could be just the change a mainstream store needs to differentiate and excel in any market.


The panel discussion Designer Jeweler Opportunity begins at 11:15 am Monday, April 26th during the Smart Show on Chicago’s Navy Pier. Visit for more details.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Total Immersion

This past Sunday we held our second annual fund raising event for Namaste
Direct, a non-profit organization that provides micro loans, mentorship and
business and vocational training to women entrepreneurs in Central America.
At Namaste's annual fundraiser, tickets to the event are bid on by Namaste
supporters, and the winners get to spend an afternoon in our studio seeing
the jewelry making process from start to finish. We began at 11am with
cocktails and an introduction to the studio and our jewelry design
philosophy. Guests saw samples from our newest collection and learned about
what we do to overcome the various challenges that always occur with a new
design. I demonstrated the wax carving process by making a link for our
newest bracelet design. Then everyone made their way to the kiln and donned
sunglasses in preparation to watch the casting process.
After knocking out the cast pieces from the flask, the group watched
Rose and Kristen as they attached the links into a bracelet using a laser
welder. Everyone took a turn at the welder by trying to melt the eye of a
president on various coins with the laser beam!
We then sat down to an elegant Central American themed lunch, expertly
prepared by Onie Burge of Alchemy Catering. Lastly, everyone had a chance to
enjoy, try on and purchase our jewelry, and 20% of the sales were donated to
Namaste Direct. All in all we raised over $6000 for the organization, which
will help over 100 women start businesses, and everyone left informed,
inspired and well adorned!
To reserve your spot at next year's event contact, and
to learn more about Namaste Direct, go to