Flying from Rio de Janeiro to Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, I began my first international gem hunt. Minas Gerais, Brazil, is the country’s storehouse of mineral riches, as indicated by its name, which in Portuguese means “General Mines.” Minas Gerais lies almost wholly within the geologically ancient, mineral-rich uplands known as the Brazilian Highlands.
In the early 1990s, Brazil’s currency was very volatile. Money needed to be exchanged at the town’s bank daily. I would venture with Jonas, my family friend, as we went to the town’s square to determine the day’s exchange rate. The frenetic energy of turbulent times in a developing country was an experience to behold. We would study the mood of the bankers and the market of hyperinflation while we sipped the best coffee and made our decisions of what to transact.
Once complete with day’s banking, the main event for the day lay ahead at the mine’s offices to sort through numerous parcels of glorious gemstones: luscious Imperial Topaz, Paraiba Tourmaline, Indicolite (Blue Green Tourmaline), Deep Velvet Amethyst, Aquamarine, Beryl, Chalcedony, Citrine, and Morganite were among the highlighted gemstones I first purchased.
All I could think and dream about was collecting precious stones and the designs I could create with them. Having my Graduate Gemologist degree gave me the education on what to look for, and with my previous years of jewelry experience, I was knowledgeable on prices per carat. The hue and saturation of color and fewer inclusions creates more value in a gemstone, other than diamonds that have the 4-C’s.
After finishing my Graduate Gemologist certificate in Diamonds and Gemstones at The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in Santa Monica, California, in spring 1989, I began working in the Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library. I was working with the talented photographer, writer, and library director, Robert Weldon, and Gary Roskin – the master of diamond grading. Surrounding myself with the most notable gemologists and people with the same passion was one of the best experiences I had at GIA.
Upon graduating from GIA, I had worked in every aspect of the jewelry business: sales, apprentice goldsmith, merchandiser, buyer, store manager, diamond wholesale broker, and diamond buyer. I had worked international and regional trade shows, and one of my favorite positions was working for the premier jeweler, Black Starr & Frost.
I had not planned to open a store or even thought of owning a business, but after visiting Minas Gerais, I returned to Rio with loads of beautiful gemstones, and my friends and family in Brazil and the U.S. were excited for me to turn these gemstones into the timeless and classic designs they coveted.
I had always loved the charm, mystery, and romance of turning gemstones into one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces. That led me to create Mystique Jewelers, which began as a treasure of Brazilian gems, one showcase, a safe, and a desk.
It was clear to me; this was my journey of passion and love. If you’re in my store today, you might see me still sipping coffee in one of my logo’d Mystique coffee mugs (that you, too, can take home) with my life’s motto:
My passion and craft are working with my customers and friends, servicing all their needs, teaching them about diamonds and gemstones, helping them create family keepsakes and memories, caring for fine jewelry, and always creating new and classic designs.
My love and my passion: Mystique Jewelers 30 years
Find us at the following locations:
Mystique Old Town Alexandria, VA
Mystique Middleburg, VA
The Inn at Little Washington and The Salamander Resort & Spa
Featuring old world styles, textures in gold, and styles that are rich yet perfect for everyday wear. Mystique Jewelers evolved from that of custom goldsmith shop into a truly sophisticated boutique, featuring the most coveted designers’ lines such as: Jude Frances, Alberto Parada, Jaime Joseph, Lauren K, KC Designs, and Beverly K as well as creating “one of kind” designs that are timeless, heirloom, and classic. Planning on getting engaged? Our diamond experts, master goldsmith, and designers on the premises will assist you in creating a truly remarkable, one-of-a-kind engagement ring.
123 S. Fairfax Street 112 W Washington Street
Alexandria, VA 22314 Middleburg, VA 20117