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!

My 5 Favorite Picks from the Wilke’s Bashford Party

Monday evening Wilke’s Bashford hosted “A Time to Dazzle” in their beautifully remodeled San Francisco store. You know that I was one of the first to arrive, eager to view the spectacular array of goodies in the cases. Here are the pieces that really caught my eye (but in no particular order).

1. Two bracelets by Yossi Harari — The one with white diamonds is called the “corset cuff,” and the one with cognac diamonds is named the “bubble Lilah cuff.” Stacked together…wow!

Double the fun!
Double the fun!

2. A trio of aquamarine and diamond rings by Loren Jewels

I couldn't decide which was my favorite!
I couldn’t decide which was my favorite!

3. An art-deco feeling diamond and ruby bead necklace by Oscar Heyman

Rubies galore!
Rubies galore!

4. A new take on the diamond hoop — “confetti” cognac diamond hoops by Paul Morelli

Beautifully different than the average hoop
Beautifully different than the average hoop

5. The perfect necklaces to wear everyday — druzy and diamonds by Kimberly McDonald

I'll take one of each, please...
I’ll take one of each, please…

And trust me — this list could go on and on!

Sylva & Cie: Designer

I had the Sylva & Cie trunk show at Wilke’s Bashford on my calendar for quite some time, and trust me, it did not disappoint. The first lovely that grabbed my attention was a diamond ring beyond imagination. (btw, she only uses reclaimed diamonds in her designs) Turns out Sylva calls this design the “ten table ring” as you can see it from ten tables away. No doubt!! (one more item for my lust list) When creating one of these rings, she lays out the diamonds just like she was creating a painting.

sylva and cie ring
Ten table ring indeed!

There was also an incredible necklace, crafted from a bronze Russian icon (estimated to be from the late 1700’s to early 1800’s) surrounded by diamonds, then strung on a necklace of reclaimed antler. I was in awe. It’s like something you’d see in a royal museum!

sylva & cie necklace
I’ve always had a thing for icons

And the “chain…”

sylva and cie necklace
Organic and beautiful

Sylva Yepremian has been designing for 23 years now, and her exuberance hasn’t faded in the least. She told me that she’s ecstatic every morning as she wakes up, so thankful that she’s a designer and not a doctor. Cheers to following your passion!!

sylva yepremian and amy roseveare
With Sylva at her trunk show

She “sees each woman as a goddess, worthy of being adorned with beautiful pieces of jewelry.” And her repertoire includes some very edgy work! There were numerous necklaces with skulls made from reclaimed moose antler. Each one has a story, from Romeo and Juliet to other notable historical figures.

sylva & cie skulls
The detail is simply astounding!

All of her treasures are one-of-a-kind and handcrafted in Los Angeles. Even her chains are made in house, using techniques from 100 years ago. Her line is definitely “not luxury for the masses” (her words), which is one of it’s star qualities. Sylva truly is invested in each of her pieces, and feels that they are meaningful and full of soul. I agree — fabulous!

Temple St. Clair: Designer

I fell in love with Temple St. Clair‘s rock crystal amulets from the first time I saw one…it was literally beckoning to me from a well-lit glass case. It was at the same time ethereal, bohemian and elegant. It’s a rare piece of jewelry that can capture all that at once. Then and there, it went on my “lust/must” list.

Temple has been celebrating her 25th year in business, and I was thrilled to attend her special trunk show at Wilke’s Bashford a while back.

temple st. clair
Temple and Amy

Since procuring said amulet wasn’t part of my budget at that time, I settled for reading her beautiful coffee table book cover-to-cover. Alchemy, a Passion for Jewels is a gorgeous tome, full of both information and stunning photos. While reading I discovered the designer and I both shared a passion for Italy (where she learned her craft), pieces of the past, and the ocean. Perhaps this is why I am so consistently drawn to her collection, as we appear to be kindred spirits. (In fact that’s what she inscribed in my copy of her book!)

temple st. Clair book
A must-have book for any jewelry lover!

Here’s a sample of her rock crystal amulets that I got to have fun with at the show.

temple st. clair amulets
How to decide which one I love best?!

And it was hard to tear this incredible moonstone cuff from my wrist….

temple st. clair bracelet
Fit for a goddess!

Temple designs with 18K yellow and white gold and gemstones of all colors. She creates a new collection twice a year, for spring and fall. Her line can be found in fine jewelry boutiques and department stores around the globe. If you’re interested in seeing her work in person, I’m sure you can find a nearby retailer!