I met Sara, a goldsmith and owner of Commers Custom Jewelers, at a CRAVE event two summers ago and have kept in touch with her ever since. Not only is she a savvy business owner and talented jewelry designer, but she’s also just a rad chick. I recently trusted her to fix two rings I’d had for many years, and I’m thrilled with the results. Sara lives in Minnesota with her partner Robert and their Standard Poodle, Opal. “She came with her name when we adopted her,” Sara says. “It was meant to be!”
Read all about Sara below, and if your curiosity is piqued, go check out Commers Custom Jewelers. New customers: Mention redshoes news and receive 15% off your first jewelry repair or 15% off any in-stock finished jewelry merchandise. The offer isn’t valid on loose gems or diamonds.
Hey Sara! Tell us about you.
I’m a native Minnesotan, but I spent time studying in Illinois, worked in Los Angeles, and taught snowboarding in Colorado before finding my passion as a jewelry designer. I returned to Minnesota in 1999 and began the job hunt, and during that time I was advised to take a jewelry class at Minnetonka Center for the Arts by a friend of my mother’s, who later became my mentor. I pursued jewelry design as a career by studying at Stewart’s International School for Jewelers, the Gemological Institute of America, and the Revere Academy for Metal Arts.
What’s your title?
Titles are a funny thing to me because, being an entrepreneur, one can really call themselves anything they choose: CEO, President, Principle, Owner, etc. Ultimately, I claim the title of what I have earned, and I want to be clear to people who I am and what I do. So I am a Jewelry Designer and JA Certified Bench Jeweler, as well as a JBAR Certified Appraiser. It’s a mouthful, so I usually just tell people I am a goldsmith.
Tell us about your business.
Studio C Designs was started in 2002 by my mentor and me. I purchased Studio C Designs, LLC, in July of last year, and I incorporated it and opened Commers Custom Jewelers. I will be re-branding my store this year to clearly market and promote who I am and what I do. Commers Custom Jewelers is a full-service jewelry store featuring designer jewelry. We offer jewelry repair, custom design and jewelry redesign, antique jewelry restoration, appraisals, engraving, and trade work to our industry clients.
What makes you and your business different?
We design and create all of our work in-house, in our studio, with a talented team of artisan jewelers, and offer personal service to our clients. Every customer can work one-on-one with the goldsmiths performing the job at hand—I think this is a pretty special experience.
What is your specialty?
I’ve carved out a specialty in jewelry design when it comes to working with customers’ existing jewelry. I remove gemstones and diamonds from old jewelry, recycle the precious metals, and rework the metals and stones into a new, fabulous piece. I love doing this! It’s amazing what can become of broken, worn-out, or dated pieces of jewelry.
What have been some setbacks?
In every business there are challenges, and working with small precious objects has its own set of responsibilities. With the fluctuation of the precious metal market and the growing costs of diamonds and gems, maintaining inventory levels and costs is always a challenge, as is protecting these assets. My customers trust me, and I take that very seriously. We track and manage all of the items left with us in a POS system, and all items are stored in our highly secured safe.
However, that doesn’t stop the bad guys. We had a burglary in April of last year. There was a lot of damage to the store and jewelry cases, but everything was locked up securely in the safe as it should be, and our insurance covered our claims on the damage. This type of threat is a daily reminder to me on how vigilant I must be in protecting the integrity of my business.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
The absolute most rewarding part of my job is creating one-of-a-kind jewelry for my customers. When I can satisfy the vision they have for a special piece to commemorate an engagement, anniversary, or birthday, or to memorialize family members, it’s incredibly special. I’m humbled to be a part of these experiences.
How do your clients find you?
My clients come to me mostly out of referrals and word of mouth. Recently, I’m finding more and more people are finding me through online searches for a local jewelry designer, and thanks to the kind reviews I’ve received, new people have been encouraged to drive across town to meet with me.
What are some memorable pieces you’ve worked on?
One of the most memorable pieces of jewelry I’ve helped create was the result of a tragic story. A grandmother had lost her teenage granddaughter in a car accident, and she was devastated. She didn’t want her children to fight over her diamond ring, which she’d planned to leave to her granddaughter someday. The grandmother asked me to help mount her diamond to her beloved dog’s collar, and I figured out how to use the diamond in the mounting without changing the design, and still securely mount it to the dog’s collar. She was so pleased with the result, she send me a beautiful note and a photo of her dog wearing the diamond.
Have you worked with any celebrities?
Not yet, but I have loaned my jewelry to musicians who have worn my work at the Grammys and other charity events.
What kinds of relationships do you have with your customers?
The relationships are long-lasting, and often many of these people have become friends and advisors to me in other aspects of my business. I truly value all of my relationships and connections, and appreciate everyone who has ever taken the time to seek my store out.
The variety of my clientele is great—from young newlyweds to folks on their third or fourth marriage. And it’s both men and women, as well as the GLBT community. I find that a lot of people seek me out because they’re looking for something different, whether it’s eco-friendly, a non-diamond commitment or engagement ring, alternative metals, or other unconventional techniques not found in typical chain jewelry stores.
Who or what do you feel has been a huge help to you?
My biggest advocate and supporter has been my mentor, who not only helped me and encouraged me down this career path, but held me accountable for my success and held me to higher expectations. She knew I could achieve more, and I still am. There is so much to learn!
What are your favorite metals/stones to work with?
I love working in precious metals such as platinum, palladium, and gold, and I especially love the rising popularity again of yellow gold. It has so much intrinsic value and it’s warm and heavy. It’s so beautiful and lovely to work with. I am drawn to color. I have a huge colored gemstone inventory and I love to gush about the gems when I get asked questions about them. Come see! They are pretty amazing little rocks!
What else would you like to add?
In my studio, we combine Old World techniques with modern technology to find the path of least resistance in designing and creating new objets d’art. I am constantly learning and adapting to changes in the way we create our work. I use recycled metals and conflict-free minerals—I care about the impact I have on the environment, and I strive to do better.
Recently, Keli of Colette Paperie invited me to be part of a spring group discount event she was coordinating, and I of course said yes! Some of my pals, including Larissa Loden and Michelle Brusegaard, are also participating in the sale. Get their awesome wares at a discounted price!
You have until Sunday, March 24, to snag these exclusive deals, including 26% off any order of two or more State Icons from redshoes26 design! To nab the deal, just email me your choices for State Icons, and I’ll send you a link to get your discount. Be sure to include the coupon code SPRINGFLING2013 when you email me.
To see what the other talented artists in this sale are offering, check out Keli’s blog.
Join redshoes26 design in supporting HAMMS (Help A Minnesota Maker Succeed), which is organized by Becky Sturm of StormSister Spatique and 3waybeauty and Sairey Gernes of Irely Intimates and TowelTopper. The HAMMS event is a one-day shopping celebration of unique Twin Cities-based artisans and crafters. Mark your calendars for April 20. I will be showing my State Icons and sharing a booth with the always fabulous Larissa Loden!
Held in the former Hamm’s Brewery shipping dock on the East side of St. Paul, Minnesota, the event will house a number of “mini shops” that will offer a collection of items, including beauty and grooming products, leather goods, cosmetics, letterpress products, artwork, jewelry, lingerie, pet products,and home accessories. HAMMS will be a fun, intimate shopping experience designed for men, women, and their four-legged friends.
DATE & TIME:
Saturday, April 20, 2013, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Former Hamms Brewery
713 East Minnehaha Avenue (top floor)
St. Paul, Minnesota 55106
For more info about HAMMS, visit www.hammsevent.com.