By Jennifer Heebner, Editor in Chief
This jewelry Curator gives designers and gemstone cutters visibility, sales, and appreciation.
Shelly Sergent’s longtime love of jewelry helped her prepare for her most significant industry role yet: Curator for the Somewhere in the Rainbow Collection. In this position, Sergent has given well-deserved platforms, publicity, and sales to a vast number of gemstone cutters and jewelry designers. Purchases and commissions take up permanent residence in the privately owned collection whose owners aim to remain anonymous.
“Somewhere in the Rainbow (SITR) is a hub for creating connections between gemstones and artists,” she explains. “We are benefactors who also have the privilege of enjoying these works of art. More than 100 collaborations have taken place because of SITR.”
SITR exists to inspire and educate about fine gem materials and makers. With a yearly—“and rarely followed,” Sergent jokes—budget to spend on loose gems and finished jewelry, SITR acquisitions are loaned to gemological groups and museums to instill appreciation for Mother Nature’s bounty.
SITR was born in a retail environment 12 years ago—a pair of enthusiasts acquired so many personal treasures that forming a permanent collection became an obvious next step.
“It was a natural progression and time for them to grow,” says Sergent. “You just never know who is standing across the counter from you.”
Sergent’s career started at age 16 at Zales. She worked as a gift wrap associate and glass case cleaner, remaining with the retail chain until it sold to a larger entity. Afterwards, she secured a position as an on-the-road sales rep for a jeweler who held remount events nationwide. “It was fun,” she recollects. “It was rare to have women on the road at that time.”
Eventually she moved into retail jewelry store management, working for a couple of outfits with a passion for high-end color and handcrafted jewelry. Gauthier in Scottsdale, Ariz.—the town where Sergent remains based today—was one of them. At the store, she learned about rare colored gems and the lost wax production process.
“Gauthier was at a different level,” she explains. “I learned about collectors and bodies of works from artists, and a designer education came into play.”
It was at this store that Sergent fell in love with exquisite color, showing a 4.12 ct. color-change Alexandrite from Sri Lanka to a woman. “I will always remember the client’s reaction,” she says. “She didn’t understand it, but she knew that it was special.”
The shopper left the store without the gem in hand, spending the next few weeks researching deposits around the world. She returned more educated, having checked out library books on Alexandrite. When she bought it, Sergent could see the transition from admirer to devotee. “She had her own deep moment of understanding about the passion of collecting.”
SITR is Born
Armed with that more discerning taste for quality and design, Sergent took on another sales role at a different area store. This is where she met the present-day SITR owners.
The introduction occurred when a male client visited the store in search of a Sapphire for his wife. Sergent educated him on the differences between heated and unheated stones, he selected a no-heat stone, Sergent had it mounted, and out the door he went.
Eventually, the same client received a postcard about an event at the store. He called Sergent for more information on the Alexandrite featured on it and set up an appointment to see gems with his wife. Sergent gave him a homework assignment to study up on the stone, then arranged for a presentation—not just a memo inventory loan—with one of the store’s vendors. “At that time, the client had not purchased anything over $30,000 but he was really taking an interest in color,” she says.
The dealer brought in several options, including a 10.19 ct. Alexandrite with “off-the-charts color change,” says Sergent. “I thought I was going to get fired because the clients had no idea how much value was on the table.”
The wife took interest in a smaller stone, but the husband’s enthusiasm reared for the large one, which was priced well into the six figures. His response: “Could I wire you the money next week?”
From there, he continued to challenge Sergent to produce gem study assignments that snowballed into purchases. So many transpired that it became apparent that her talents and the couple’s interests would be best served in a different capacity. Their solution? The formation of SITR, a collection of modern and some antique (“To honor period pieces,” she explains) fine jewelry and gemstones acquired with the sole intent of sharing the beauty.
From emerging stone-cutting talents—“Nick Alexander cut his first gemstone for us at age 12,” she says—to titans of American design (“Eddie Sakamoto has more finished jewelry in our collection than anyone else,” Sergent adds), SITR is a celebration of the best of the industry.
Additions are not about the value of pieces (there’s plenty of quartz collection-wide) but about what the artists envision. Seventy-five percent of jewelry must be handcrafted, and 100% of loose gems and finished jewels are executed at the discretion of artists. “Their creative license is important to us,” says Sergent.
Sergent commands such a place of respect among peers that it has earned her two memorable distinctions: the 2021 Sallie Morton Award from the American Gem Society (AGS) for her service to the regional AGS Guilds, and the most recent Leon Ritzler Award, given to her at the Gala for the 2022 Spectrum & Cutting Edge Awards™, for her contributions to the colored gemstone and natural and cultured Pearl communities.
Fast Facts on Shelly Sergent & Somewhere in the Rainbow
Contact: Shelly Sergent, Curator
Years in Business: 12
Headquarters: Scottsdale, Ariz.
Phone Number: 602-696-4242
Email: [email protected]
Instagram: @sirgems @shellysergent
Facebook: SIR Gems
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