Pilot story by Marjorie Woodfin
Photo courtesy of Ron Holliday
They say that diamonds are a girl's best friend, and Har-Brook Jewelers' owner Ron Holliday might well agree.
As a jeweler and the son of a jeweler, Holliday, who grew up around diamonds, recently returned from a trip to Antwerp, Belgium, the diamond capital of the world.
Holliday didn't come back empty-handed, and he is inviting the public to enjoy a special display of the results of his buying spree, beginning Saturday, May 22.
As a member of the Independent Jewelers Organization (IJO), Holliday participated in a buying trip otherwise not available to an independent jeweler. Membership in the organization is by invitation, and perhaps having grown up working in his father's jewelry store in Klamath Falls may have given him easy access to the group.
Holliday says he grew up in the industry, doing packaging and engraving by the age of 10, working on the selling floor at 15 and, by age 20, working on the jewelry bench as an apprentice.
In addition to his almost lifetime, on-the-job training, Holliday has attended many formal classes, continuing his education over the years, including time spent at the San Francisco Revere Academy of Jewelry Arts.
"It's important to stay current," Holliday said. "There are always new things to learn. You can never know it all."
Staying current, as well as providing the best gems possible for his clients, was motivation enough for him to join his father on the trip to Antwerp.
On April 23, they left Medford on the first leg of the journey to the diamond capital. they flew from Medford to Portland, where they boarded for the more than 10-hour flight to Frankfurt, Germany. Another flight to Brussels, and a 40-minute van ride deposited the travelers in Antwerp for a round of sightseeing before getting down to the business of choosing diamonds.
The diamond-buying group, 35 people from 20 stores from the through the United States, divided into groups of five or six people, rotating to a series of different locations. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were spent visiting cutting factories, sorting and grading shops and a number of places to buy gems.
Holliday said he had ideas of what he was looking for in mind before he started.
"It's what I do," he said. "I buy jewelry that I think is beautiful and what I think my customers will like."
He said he had a budget, but admitted, "I exceeded it." He did have some special orders that he was able to fill. "It was an opportunity to deal with a market much larger than any place in the U.S.," he explained.
"This was a good learning experience to know the decisions the cutters make regarding size and style."
Holliday said he uses the "four Cs" to make decisions about purchasing diamonds color, cut, clarity and carats and balances those attributes against the price.
"At some point price goes up faster than pretty' does. I look for a good value stone that is very pretty."
The trip to the Antwerp diamond market will not be Holliday's last trip with the IJO. He's already talking about a possible trip to the diamond mines of South Africa with his wife, Lorinda, and later to South America to look for colored stones.
Holliday also designs and fashions jewelry for clients with unusual requirements, often using a computer program. If anyone has a desire for a piece of jewelry that is unavailable, he said he can probably fabricate it to the customer's specifications.
The diamonds will be on display at Har-Brook Jewelers in the Brookings-Harbor Shopping Center. Holliday and his staff will be available to answer questions and provide information about diamonds and other gems. Refreshments will be served. Har-Brook Jewelers may be reached by phone at (541) 469-5233.