Jewelry display are a draw at Gold & Gems Fine Jewelry in downtown Ashland. - Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch

Homegrown: Gold & Gems Fine Jewelry has commitment to 'Made in America'

Editor's note: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.

What do you do and how long have you been doing it? We have two retail stores and aside from that we manufacture and design jewelry and wholesale to other jewelers. We create custom designs and do repairs. We've done this for 30 years.

How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley? We moved here in 1972 from Arcadia, Calif.

What inspired you to go into this line of work? I saw a need for a retail jewelry store in downtown Ashland. I had been doing some wholesale sales prior to that.

What decision or action would you change if you could do it again? I wish I would have bought a whole bunch of gold six or seven years ago when it was at $300 an ounce and now it's at $1,500 an ounce. It was a matter of lacking the crystal ball. If you put $100,000 into gold back then, it would be worth five times that now.

What's the toughest business decision you've made? We want to maintain our manufacturing facility locally rather than to go overseas, so we maintain jobs for our neighbors and friends. We like the idea of "Made in America." But it's a situation that comes up frequently because so much of the jewelry sold today is made overseas because of lower labor costs.

Who are your competitors? We have exclusivity and design and manufacturing capabilities other stores don't have. I imagine there are stores in Portland, Minnesota, New York or elsewhere, but no one else in Southern Oregon does what we do.

What are your goals? We would like to remain the largest independent jeweler in Southern Oregon. We opened the second store (in Medford) with the desire to grow beyond the Ashland market and make it more convenient to the Medford customers. We have Ashland, Medford and the Internet. Every day we have sales around the country. We have significant business in every state and we ship packages all over the country.

What training or education did you need? The Gemological Institute of America has provided various classes over the years. I started in business at an early age and pursued educational seminars when they became available.

What's your advice for budding entrepreneurs? Be prepared to work 80-hour weeks and don't forget to take time to smell the roses.

To suggest ideas for this column, about businesses that are at least five years old, contact reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email

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