With the launch of our new diamond-buying portal, the Rio Diamond Source, we’re sharing the stories of customers who have depended on our graduate gemologists for the stones that make their pieces come to to life. Tim has been ordering diamonds from Shannon, on our gemstones team, for more than 20 years. He shares his story below.
Tim has been a customer with Rio Grande since 1991. He and his wife Sharon run the type of jewelry business that’s far and few between these days. They do their own casting and stone cutting, and they find that keeping their jewelry design and manufacturing in-house is the safest, most reliable way to guarantee to their customers that their pieces will always be of the highest caliber. The two meet most of their customers at local jewelry and gemstone shows, preserving a word-of-mouth marketing style. Their exclusive workmanship has allowed them to be entirely self-sufficient for over 30 years. From sketching the piece, to choosing the stone, to cutting it perfectly and setting it with care, Tim and Sharon are highly skilled and highly conscientious about the jewelry-making process.
“A lot of the people I do work for I’ve only met at a show somewhere,” says Tim. “When I cut a stone for them or do a special piece for them, I give them a guarantee that if they don’t like it for any reason, I’ll eat it. Most of the time, they don’t come [to the shop] and look at the stones or the sketches. I tell them, ‘Look, I know what you want, I’m going to make what I like, and if you don’t like it, it’ll be something I put into my case.’”
Tim’s confidence in his work is only as strong as the materials he sources. He’s learned over the years how a poorly manufactured piece or a less that perfect stone can set his business back substantially. He and his wife rely on the expertise of the Rio Diamond Source. As a gemologist and lapidarist himself, Tim has grown to trust Rio’s diamond buyers to be as precise in choosing diamonds as he himself would be.
“When I call for diamonds from Shannon, she knows how picky I am. If she doesn’t have what I’m looking for, she tells me straight out,” says Tim. “That’s why I specifically go to her all the time. She knows, after all these years, that we have the same eye for stones. I’m a stone cutter, and I wish I didn’t see some of the stuff [in the stones] that I see, but it’s just how I am. I have to over-quality my stuff to guarantee that I don’t get stuck with a $5,000 piece.
“Shannon got rubies for me last year, which were a pretty big-buck item, and I choose to work with her because I didn’t have a lot of contacts for rubies. Rubies can be in a pretty scary section of the industry. For these expensive pieces, I use Shannon because she backs her source. I had something to back the paper work, so that when my customers ask, ‘How do you know this stone is quality?’ I say, ‘This is a girl I’ve been dealing with for ever and ever, and this is a trusted source of hers.’”
Tim considers Shannon a friend, though they’ve never met face to face. Their strong rapport is built on years of teamwork to cultivate Tim’s business. “Stone cuts are a nightmare. In 10 stones, there might be one that someone like me could use. The rest, the malls can use. Since I’m a stone cutter, I cut one-of a-kind pieces, and anything that I buy has to go next to what I make. It has to look great to compare to something I took five days to cut.
I have to be really particular about buying stones … Shannon knows that describing a stone over the phone is tough, but she always sends me two or three to choose. I always take something she sends me, sometimes I take them all.”
The individuals behind Rio Diamond Source are trained gemologists who share a passion for working with Rio’s customers to find the perfect stone. They know when it’s worth it to send a selection of diamonds to a customer and when it’s time to keep looking. As Terry says, “Getting some stones to look at can run you $60 bucks in shipping, and if there isn’t a stone in there I want, that’s tough to eat. Rio Diamond Source is consistent; very seldom do I ever send something back.”
Interested in talking to our gemologists about sourcing a diamond or special-order gemstone? You can reach them at our Diamond Source.