You may be asking yourself, “What’s a jewelry concierge?” I was wondering the same thing as I headed to meet Gigi Gruber for lunch in downtown San Francisco last week. Was she a designer? Was she a goldsmith? I was unclear. Well after a delightful meeting, I was really excited about Gigi’s talent and business model. I think it’s one that you’ll find intriguing as well. Here, Gigi answers questions that will help explain how she brings beautiful jewelry to her clients.
I know that you have a long history in the jewelry business. Can you tell me about that?
I’ve been designing and working one-on-one with clients for over 15 years now. Like many other designers, I entered the business through the wonderful and (relatively) inexpensive world of beads. I’ve trained at the Revere Academy and other well-known schools, and I’ve been lucky enough to have had some amazing mentors along the way. My first fine jewelry job was at PAVÉ in Berkeley, and it was a fantastic training ground. After 5 years at PAVÉ, I became the Director of Design and Sales at Kathleen Dughi in Mill Valley. This position afforded me an amazing opportunity to design for some very experienced shoppers who had the taste and budget to select only the finest things. Kathleen Dughi has strong ties to Wilkes Bashford (now owned by Mitchell’s), and my designs were sold to prominent clients of theirs as well.
After a few years of goldsmithing, I realized it would take me a decade (or two!) to get to a point where I could make the level of work I expect from others. My natural talents in this field are designing and helping others actualize their jewelry aesthetic into a functional piece of art, so I decided to focus on my strengths. I have a detailed description of my process on my website, but in general, it goes like this:
1. A client finds me through a referral, my website, Yelp!, etc. We meet at my office, or I meet them at a location of their choosing. (This is where the concierge part of my business comes in.)
2. The client shares their ultimate end goal with me. (For example, a custom engagement ring for her heirloom diamond)
3. I get to know the client’s needs and aesthetic through a series of explorative questions and photo sharing.
4. I develop three design concepts to review and tweak until one is selected.
5. I manage the project through all stages of fruition, beginning with the determination of the right person (or people) to craft each piece and ending with my stamp of approval and the presentation to my client.
Do you have any photos that show before/after?
I thought you’d never ask! 😉
As every one of my designs is one of a kind, it’s fairly difficult to take best practices from one project and apply them to the next one. In addition, I tend to attract many clients who don’t know what they want, they just know they haven’t found it yet. My former career as a trainer and coach comes in handy here, as I have a lot of patience and empathy for those who need a lot of hand holding.
The most rewarding thing for me is to see the look on my client’s face when they see their piece for the first time. I often witness tears of joy and get lots of hugs too! 🙂
How can people get in touch with you who’d like to work with you?
I am available via phone (510) 919-3241, e-mail ([email protected]), and my website (ateliergigi.com). I also have a blog and I’m working on becoming more active on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Oh, and check out my Yelp! reviews, which I’m thrilled about.
Thank you so much, Gigi, for meeting with me and sharing your business with my readers!