How We Source Our Raw Materials
How We Source Our Raw Materials
Sayulita Sol Jewelry opened in 2004, established with a passion for gemstones. Founder Kimberley Keehn had begun her journey collecting gemstones from around the world in 1994, and opened the first SSJ boutique based on her love for colored gems. Over the years there have been many changes in the business, SSJ has expanded, changed locations, and opened an e-commerce store. But one thing has remained the same; the art of sourcing quality gemstones at the best possible price. This is the story of that process.
Step 1) Access to Gem Dealers
Since 2004 Kimberley has been making a yearly pilgrimage to the Tucson Gem Show. The Tucson show is one of the top shows worldwide, definitely the number one show in the Americas. Both buyers and sellers travel from all over the world to source and trade in gemstones. Each sector of the gem trade is present at the shows, from raw materials direct from the mine, to cut gemstones, to finished jewelry. The Tucson Gem Show is actually a grouping of almost 50 gem tradeshows that meet in the same city over the same 2 week period in February.
Step 2) Reliable Vendors
Kimberley has been working with the same group of gem wholesalers for over 15 years. They are tried and true, and they are just as thankful for her business as she is for theirs. Each year there are new vendors to be discovered at the shows, but her main purchasing is from the same few people who have proven their gem quality year after year. This commitment between Kimberley and her treasured vendors allows her to source her gems at incredible pricing, which is then shared with her jewelry store customers.
Step 3) High Grading
High-grading is the intricate process of sorting through a vendors stock and only choosing the highest quality. When visiting Tucson Gem Show it is easy to be inundated with options, even if you know exactly what you are looking for oftentimes there is an abundance of choices. Kimberley is passionate about the process of high-grading her gem picks throughout the entire sourcing process. In order to buy gemstones once a year and ensure sufficient stock to last throughout the year she needs to purchase in quantity. It is nearly impossible to high-grade gemstones via purchasing online, and so Kimberley makes the extra effort to high-grade her yearly gem inventory in Tucson. She takes an intricate hands-on approach with each selection, each strand, to ensure it has the correct flow when strung, that the cut and drills are symmetrical, and each gem meets her standard of color. This process takes hours, days to complete. But the end result is a superior product, year after year.
Step 4) Making Mistakes
Finally there is the learning curve – and the lessons she learns from her mistakes. Even with a solid understanding of the gem world, mistakes happen. Upon returning to Mexico, Kimberley has uncovered glued gemstones, dyed gemstones, and broken gems. These are immediately removed from the inventory. In the case of the dyed gemstones her team has spent days soaking them until all dye was removed and the gems returned to their natural state! Now she checks each purchase a little closer to ensure these mistakes don't reoccur.
Sixteen years later Kimberley is still passionate about gemstones. Each year there are new gems on the scene, and new gems in her collections. She gives her heart to sourcing new stock each year, and it shows in the final product. She has truly become an expert in sourcing for her designs. When people ask Kimberley what makes Sayulita Sol Jewelry unique her answer is simple, the gemstones.