Three questions for Benjamin Guttery
What inspired you to be become interested in gems and jewellery?
My Mother first inspired me. She was always a "rock hound", gathering rocks and minerals everywhere we lived including Germany (Berlin, Stuttgart, and Ansbach). We had two family China cabinets that were full of Mineral specimens. When I lost a tooth, I would recieve an Amethyst crystal or a Fire Opal from the "tooth fairy" instead of a dollar. I became interested again as a young adult after my tour in the US Army as a Medic. Reading every book I could get my hands on, and collecting faceted gems and specimens of my own. I wanted to then help educate others after I saw a need for knowledge among consumers, designers, and those in the periphery of our industry.
What are the top issues affecting the industry at the moment?
There are several glaring issues facing us now,and some that will face us in the near future. Undisclosed treatments at different points in the supply chain are a major problem. I've seen Ethiopian Opal that has been dyed blue and sold to designers as natural Peruvian play of color. Or even treatments that aren't fully explained to buyers leading to problems with value, consumer disappointment, and confusion amongst many. The next issue that has and will continue to come to the forefront is supply chain transparency. Consumers and Retailers alike are asking and demanding to know more about where their gemstones are coming from. Who is mining and cutting them, and where are the funds being spent from their sale. Our industry has an amazing story to tell in many cases, and we need to start telling it.
What is your vision for the gems and jewellery industry?
I want the industry to grow again, at all levels. Not just investment grade stones and mall chain birthstone trinkets. The middle of the gem trade needs to expand. All while remembering those at the bottom of the supply chain. To do that we need to be consistent, educate consumers more, foster young people and a more diverse cross section of people coming into the industry, create more of a "sense of community" in the gem and jewelry trade, use new forms of marketing properly, and as I said above; tell our story better.