The Bijoux Story
|A stately Victorian brownstone mansion sitting back from a tree-lined New England street is home to Bijoux Extraordinaire and the Jewelry Experts. We chose this unique setting because our love of fine jewelry is matched by our love of fine Victorian buildings and architecture. We are not a typical retail jeweler, so we do not have to look like one !||
My how time flies ! It's hard to believe that this year (2009) we celebrate our 16th year in business as the Jewelry Experts.
Throughout our history we have enjoyed meeting with clients in some of Manchester's most beautiful buildings.
As we celebrate our 16th year in business, we reflect on many special events and accomplishments. And what better way to celebrate than an ongoing timeline to mark each of these milestones.
1992 - 1995
The idea for Bijoux Extraordinaire began when Judi and Arthur first met in 1992. Judi was a nationally recognized gemologist and jewelry appraiser who owned a guild-trade jewelry store. Art had a background in finance and shared with Judi a love for beautiful antique and custom jewels. Together, we wanted to create a new kind of "jewelry store" where consumers could hire a jewelry expert to help them make wise decisions when purchasing fine jewelry and gemstones.
In March of 1993, Bijoux Extraordinaire and its sister gemological laboratory, Certified Gems, were incorporated in the State of New Hampshire. We chose to focus our business on several important services for the jewelry consumer:
On February 2, 1994, Judi and I were married. Judi let me select Ground Hog's Day as our wedding date. I wanted an easy date to remember for our anniversary!
During 1994 and 1995, our reputation grew rapidly throughout New England and we began to attract clients from as far away as New York and Connecticut. A contributor to our growth was a series of weekly workshops that Judi taught each Spring and Fall, which she fondly refers to as Bijoux University. In these workshops Judi emphasized jewelry and gemstone knowledge and consumer protection. Topics included diamonds, pearls, colored gemstones, estate jewelry and fine contemporary jewels. Many of our clients are graduates of Bijoux U.
1996 - 1998Early in 1996, we moved to new offices in what was once a large Queen Anne Victorian estate. We spent quite a bit of time painting, redecorating and acquiring just the right pieces of antique furniture. The offices came out great. We warned you that we love old Victorian buildings and period decorative arts.
We also launched our web site - www.JewelryExpert.com. in 1996. The Internet presented a wonderful opportunity to work with and educate jewelry consumers outside of the New England area. On our web site we showcase several galleries of custom and antique jewelry, a jewelry library full of informative articles on jewelry and gemstones, and helpful descriptions of the services we offer.
During 1997 and 1998, we experienced rapid growth both locally and over the Internet. Our strong following in New England continued to grow while we also met many new friends and clients throughout the country. In these two years we had over 250,000 visitors to our web site which was quite the milestone considering how new the Internet was. Over the Internet we have helped clients throughout the United States and as far away as Japan, Guam, Spain and Australia.
1999 - 20001999 was a year of exciting jewelry projects. Because of the growth of our business, we moved to a new, larger gallery in a beautifully renovated Victorian carriage house. The new quarters allowed us to expand our gemological laboratory and add another jewelry gallery. Of course, this was also an opportunity to acquire more pieces of antique furniture!
The move did not distract us from client projects. We created a stunning platinum riviere necklace with 41 carats of diamonds. Bold gemstones like Fancy Colored Diamonds , stunning Tanzanites , Rich Blue Sapphires , and Lush Red Rubies were hot but we also helped numerous clients acquire important and rare gemstones like Benitoite, Red Spinel and Tsavorite. As a result, we were busy throughout the year creating many new and exciting custom designed jewels.
In 2000, Judi expanded her design portfolio, adding many new designs that quickly became client favorites and a staple of our growing business.
Some of the fabulous rings we created for clients during 2000 included:
We would be remiss if we did not mention a special ring that Judi designed in 2000, that won first prize in the NH Jewelers design competition. Tsavorite Elegance was one of her early versions of our Engraved Elegance concept and lead the way for many variations and gemstone combinations in both platinum and yellow gold. Engraved Elegance quickly became one of our most requested designs.
Judi continued to expand her design portfolio, adding many new design concepts and variations that really caught on and became timeless treasures. Some of these new designs include:
In 2001, Judi developed a unique new design she called NH CrossRoads which later won first prize in the annual NH Jewelers design competition.
But really, one of our most exciting projects was in early 2002, a breathtaking Intense Blue Diamond ring we custom created for a client on the west coast. Judi located an incredibly rare Fancy Intense Blue diamond that had the most amazing color and brilliance, then created an elegant three stone ring which was aptly named Breathless Blue. I am sure you will agree that this ring will truly leave you breathless !
We also completed a gorgeous platinum ring Golden Radiance featuring a stunning 3 carat Fancy Intense Yellow Diamond with heart shape side diamonds. This too was an exciting project involving rare diamonds and exceptional craftsmanship.
2003 - Our Ten Year Anniversary at Bijoux
In 2003 we celebrated the tenth anniversary of Bijoux Extraordinaire. It has been a wonderful 10 years of growth, challenges and an ever growing family of clients from around the world. One of the more rewarding aspects of Bijoux's growth has been the range and diversity of custom designed rings and jewels we have created.
During our 10th anniversary year, we worked with a client to custom create a spectacular Fancy Vivid Yellow Diamond Ring based on our Breathless Design. Locating a square emerald cut vivid yellow diamond was challenging but the results were truly exhilarating.
This year we also custom made a beautiful platinum and sapphire ring Brilliant Trilliant, featuring a crisp, cool white trilliant diamond bezel set in platinum.
We rounded out the year with, of course, an ideal cut Round Diamond and custom project for a client that wanted platinum with a subtle hint of rose gold. The design, Roses and Satin was a new take on our celebrated Cool Ice design with a softer, silkier look.
On the subject of expanding some of our popular designs, Judi worked with our Breathless design, creating an all colorless diamond version called Symphony of Light that featured a mesmerizing Asscher Cut diamond with calf head side diamonds.
During 2003, we wanted to explore new patterns and designs with hand engraving. Judi worked with several of our engravers to develop new motifs as well as engraving techniques. From this mission came a new series of extraordinarily engraved rings that combined the dramatic with the romantic. Take a peek at some of these incredible rings to see what we mean:
Custom wedding and engagements rings have always been an important part of our work and in 2003 we created a beautifully hand-engraved Ruby bridal set, several engagement rings in our Platinum Scrolls design and many incredible jewels featuring rare Fancy Color Diamonds, fine colored gemstones and imaginative designs. The best part about custom creating each of our rings is that we get to work with a great variety beautiful diamonds, exotic gemstones and intriguing design elements.
Each project allows us the opportunity to not only create a beautiful ring for a special occasion, but to also explore new designs as well as variations on existing themes. Innovative designs like KnockOut, Autumn Embers, Tanzanite Tingle, Sapphire Split and Razzle Dazzle were just some of these special projects during 2003.
Toward the end of 2003, Judi decided to take a sabbatical from teaching workshops on jewelry history, gemology and jewelry design at Bijoux University. The extra time allowed Judi to work with more clients on custom design projects and pursue her love of gemology and fine gemstones.
In the summer of 2003 we also added a new member to our family and security team, a beautiful beagle puppy that quickly became chief barker as well as head greeter to clients visiting our gallery. We must admit that all of our pets are extremely photogenic and have contributed to a huge collection of 35 mm and digital photos. The two subjects most photographed by Judi......our Jewelry and our Pets ! You can see our complete family of pets on our Security Team page. They are true Rock Hounds !
2004 - 2005In 2004 and 2005, some of our favorite projects included working with rare gemstones like a drop dead gorgeous 3-carat natural Alexandrite and an amazing 2-carat Demantoid Garnet. We also sold exceptional tsavorites, tanzanites, red spinels, fancy purple sapphires and emeralds. Fancy Colored Diamonds and Asscher cut diamonds were incorporated within many of Judi's new designs and custom projects, including the Majestic, our very popular Asscher Breathless Design and our dramatic Asscher Tingle design.
Bewitching Blue was another fascinating ring we made featuring a rare Fancy Intense Blue Diamond.
Judi continued to work with our engravers to develop new styles and designs for our engraved ring portfolio. Among the exciting, new engraved ring projects of 2004 were Victorian Scrolls, Sophisticated Scrolls, The Dawn and Laurel Rose.
In 2004, Arthur pursued his interest in antique and estate jewelry with a special passion for antique cufflinks from the Victorian, Art Nouveau, Edwardian and Art Deco eras. Over the past several years, the Antique Cufflinks Gallery has grown into one of the premiere collections of vintage cufflinks. Art has worked with cufflink connoisseurs from every continent with the exception of Antarctica. We are hoping that some day one of the penguins will purchase an elegant Art Deco dress set for his feathery tuxedo!
Also during this time, Arthur began writing a Blog devoted solely to cufflinks. He is now known as Mr. Cufflink and has a huge following of cufflink collectors worldwide !
|During 2005, Judi completed a rigorous course of study with the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (GEM-A). Judi had studied at GIA (Gemological Institute of America) early in her career and earned the title Graduate Gemologist in 1981, however, it had been her life long dream to study gemmology (the Brits do spell differently than us Americans) with the Gemmological Association of Great Britain.||
In June of 2005, Judi finished her studies with Gem-A and sat for the two day exams, passing with flying colors. So the FGA (Fellow of the Gemmological Association) is now added to Judi's many other professional accolades. There were a number of custom projects we undertook, some of which were new concepts, while some were variations on an existing design. Celebration, an exciting ring we custom created for a client, was based on our Regal Elegance design.
Other engraved ring projects we completed included two new variations of our Secret Garden design. One of these, Sapphire Secret Garden II, featured a gorgeous rich blue cushion cut sapphire. The other project was Tsavorite Secret Garden which included pear shape side diamonds on each side of a stunning square cushion Tsavorite Garnet set in French Double Prongs.
Among some of the other custom project highlights of 2004 and 2005 were Winter Twilight, Platinum Woodland Flowers with Pink Sapphires, an impressive Flanders Promise with Violet Diamonds and a dazzling Diamond Pizzazz II.
2006Judi enters the world of the Blogosphere. She took her skills from years of writing weekly newspaper columns, articles for our website and newsletters and started her own blog. In her Blog, Judi writes about the beautiful gemstones we have acquired and helped clients purchase, tidbits about precious metals, Jewelry History and Design, and, of course, some of her latest creations and inspirations.
There were many exhilerating projects for 2006 including rare fancy colored diamonds, revolutionary new design concepts and bold gemstone combinations. Two rings in particular really stand out..... Pink Passion, featuring a stunning layout of fancy intense pink diamonds, and Asschers and Violets Breathless which incorporated very rare Fancy Deep Grayish Blue-Violet diamonds.
As in prior years, our business expanded worldwide and allowed us to meet and work with clients from far away, including Japan, France, Dubai to mention just a few. A striking design we created for a client in Japan was Stargazer Pendant which featured a beautiful Amethyst and Demantoid Garnet Torus within a dramatic platinum design.
Our offerings in Mens jewelry continued to grow as Arthur augmented his Antique Cufflinks Gallery to include exceptional dress sets, platinum and gemstone cufflinks and enameled cufflinks.
Judi also worked on many custom men's ring projects such as Winged Sapphire, a handsome man's ring that featured a steely blue sapphire and bullet shaped side diamonds.
New additions to our inventory and stock design portfolio included:
2007In 2007, Bijoux Extraordinaire and The Jewelry Experts swam in new waters with the creation of a mesmerizing design Koi Fish. This innovative design was inspired by ancient Japanese imagery and our love of relief engraving. We continued to create many of our most popular designs for clients (Breathless, Engraved Elegance, Platinum Promise, Flowers and Scrolls, Woodland Flowers) while also adding to our repertoire with new and exciting concepts.
Many clients for whom we had created an engagement ring returned to us for anniversary rings, pendants and earrings. Art Deco Sapphire was one such project, made to complement a Blue Flame ring we had created for a client previously.
Fancy Purple Sapphires continued to be a frequent request from clients and were incorporated into many design projects. Sapphire Scrolls Bridal Set was a new take on our ever popular Platinum Scrolls design, with a sort of supersized approach, showcasing a gorgeous cushion shaped Fancy Purple Sapphire.
Breathless is still one of our most popular designs and gets attention no matter what the combination of diamonds and colored gemstones. The beauty and simplicity of this design allows each client to alter the look to suit their own unique style. In 2007 one of the Breathless rings we created featured a very rare and dramatic pair of Fancy Intense Pink Princess Cut side diamonds along side a gorgeous asscher center diamond. This Asscher and Pinks Breathless Ring garnered much attention from far and wide !
Woodland Flowers emerged as one of our more requested hand engraved wedding bands and allowed us to experiment with new "flavors" such as Mandarin Garnet and Yellow Sapphire.
Rhodolite Polaris was a new addition to our solitaire ring designs and promises to be a favorite with plenty of variations possible.
2008In 2008 we experienced first hand an historic presidential election which really captivated everyone. Judi volunteered at the local campaign office while still continuing to work tirelessly at Bijoux Extraordinaire. We continued to focus our talents and do what we do best - design and create exceptional jewelry for our clients, develop new design concepts for our portfolio and bring a superb collection of exceptional vintage cufflinks to our clients.
We also added a number of improvements to our website and continued to write in our blogs and share knowledge with our readers. Throughout the year, Arthur and Judi's blogs evolved and grew not only in content, but also in readership. Our blogs are now read from around the globe.
One of the more noteable changes to our website was the development of a Ring Design Portfolio showcasing many of Judi's original designs with variations and options. We think this will help visitors to our website get a more complete picture of how each design can be varied and made more personal.
Some of the exciting projects we completed in 2008 include an incredible brooch entitled Golden Metamorphoses which revisited Judi's work with Crystallized Gold surfaces.
Split Personality wedding bands were another new design idea that came from a client project and will surely become a frequent contoured band option for many of the engagement rings we make.
Arthur stepped up his quest for handsome cufflinks, searching high and low for only the finest examples of antique cuff adornments for his inventory, while continuing to improve his cufflink gallery and blog.
20092009 has just begun and now we have another exciting development to announce. One of our favorite historic landmark buildings has become available and so we have moved our offices into one of Manchester's premiere properties, a gorgeous brown-stone building built by Frank Carpenter. Mr. Carpenter, an early benefactor to the city of Manchester, built this stately mansion for his family, and later bequeathed it to the American Red Cross who maintained their local headquarters here for over 60 years.
We are very excited about our new location as it is a building designed by a free-Mason during the late 1800's and built with only the finest materials and most impressive attention to detail.....much like how we design and create fine jewelry.
As we always say about fine jewelry....it's the attention to the small details that really showcase the artisans skills and talent !
With that said, we invite you and warmly look forward to meeting with you in our new offices and helping you with your next important Jewelry Design Project.
Thank you for being part of the Bijoux Story.
|P.S.||If you would like to learn more about Bijoux Extraordinaire, please check out the following:|
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If you have any questions, suggestions or comments, please give us a call
(603 624-8672) or send us an email.