Mom’s Diamond Gets a New Life!

My mom was married back in 1963. She and my dad spent countless weekends camping, but that didn’t bode so well for her wedding ring. Within the first year of marriage, her ring somehow was lost at a campsite. (I completely think some squirrel picked up the sparkler and hauled it back to his home in a hollow tree where it still lives today, but that’s just my theory.) At any rate, mom lived the next 25 years with just her wedding band…no diamond.

Then one night in Carmel, dad surprised her with a new diamond ring for their 25th wedding anniversary. He had spent SO much time and effort researching just the right stone for the ring. To say she was surprised was an understatement. I remember her calling me on the phone, and she was so in shock she could barely speak!! Originally it was set in a traditional prong setting, but years later, she had it reset into this platinum design.

mom's diamond ring
mom's ring
Mom hasn’t worn her ring for a few years now, and it was just collecting dust in her safety deposit box. Then something wonderful happened. My brother met the woman of his dreams, his true partner and soulmate, and found himself in need of an engagement ring. Well hello, diamond! What can we do with you?!

You may remember reading about Atelier Gigi a while back, and I knew she was the woman for the job. The first step was sending the diamond down to the GIA to have it appraised. Gigi then gathered photos of various ring designs. She wanted to find out what attributes my brother liked, and what he didn’t like. Using this information, she started sketching. She came up with a few options, but my brother and I both fell in love with this one.

ring sketch by atelier gigi
With the clean, modern setting and the two half-moon diamonds on either side, it was just perfect. I knew my sister-in-law to be would swoon! Gigi brought in some choices for the side diamonds, and I was able to help select the ideal set, as my brother doesn’t live locally. I’m impressed how we were all on the exact same page throughout this process.

A few weeks later, the ring was ready. Mom and I went up to the city to pick it up. It turned out even better than I could have imagined! Here are a couple photos Gigi took with her iPhone….

diamond ring by atelier gigi
diamond ring by atelier gigi
diamond ring by atelier gigi
Has your jaw hit the floor yet?!

Mom transported the ring up to my brother’s house, and he had to hide it for a whole week. I can envision him opening the box that week and peering into its depths; I know he could barely wait for the proposal to take place.

Fast forward a week, and my brother and his soon-to-be bride were off to Tahoe for a surprise over-nighter. I must say, she was NOT expecting to be proposed to on the gondola in Heavenly…but she said, “YES!!”


Scott + Tricia!!!
Scott + Tricia!!!

Just writing this story brings tears to my eyes. My family is extremely blessed to have Tricia and her son in our lives. I wish her, my brother and their three children a lifetime filled with love, happiness and adventure. Can’t wait for the wedding!! xoxo

Atelier Gigi: Jewelry Concierge

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.


Gigi from Atelier Gigi
Gigi from Atelier Gigi

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.

willie brown in kathleen dughi ring
I’m SO intrigued by the whole concept of a jewelry concierge. Since you’re not actually making jewelry yourself, can you please tell me about your process when working with clients?

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! 😉

atelier gigi sketch
atelier gigi ring
atelier gigi sketches
atelier gigi ring
atelier gigi ring
atelier gigi sketch
atelier gigi earrings
What do you find is the most challenging aspect of your business? The most rewarding?

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 ( 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!