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Brenna Pakes

00:02 all right well Brenda pigs so happy to 00:04 have you as our third guest on the 00:06 everyday enthusiast you are a gemologist 00:08 a jewelry enthusiast the host of a 00:11 podcast so why don't just tell me a 00:14 little bit I mean I was looking at you 00:15 up and I saw that you graduated from the 00:17 gemologist Gemological Institute of 00:19 Arizona that's like the biggest school 00:22 for technology right right Gemological 00:25 Institute of America and they're 00:27 actually the organization that set the 00:30 standards for Gemological learning and 00:33 they also set the standards for the 00:35 diamond grading system that we use to 00:38 current time as far as distinguishing 00:41 and establishing the value of diamonds 00:43 so they're very instrumental in 00:46 continuing learning but also they have a 00:49 whole backdrop behind them including a 00:51 laboratory so if there's any kind of 00:54 disputable question about whether a 00:58 gemstone or a diamond is natural you 01:01 know it's it's country of origin they 01:05 have a full laboratory with all kinds of 01:08 gemologists with experience who can 01:10 identify that and verify its 01:13 authenticity whether its natural or 01:15 lab-created and nowadays I don't know if 01:19 any of your listeners realize but most 01:22 every gemstone can be lab created and 01:24 most recently they've perfected that 01:26 with diamonds so yeah yeah it's pretty 01:31 interesting and diamonds having a higher 01:33 value of one of the highest values it 01:36 can be kind of a sticky situation if a 01:40 diamond isn't established or declared 01:44 whether or not it's been lab created or 01:46 natural so those about is there how do 01:50 you do that testing like how is that 01:52 testing done exactly you know they're 01:55 still coming out with tools and machines 01:57 to to distinguish that and I haven't 02:02 done a whole lot of research behind it 02:04 but once again GI a Gemological 02:07 Institute of America is one of those 02:09 organizations that will accurately 02:11 identify 02:13 so they're still working on that and 02:16 anybody with a really good reputation in 02:19 the jewelry industry is going to protect 02:20 that and make sure that the consumer 02:22 knows whether or not a diamond has been 02:25 lad created or not interesting and I 02:28 know Arizona also has like a bunch of 02:30 gem shows is there a reason why like the 02:33 gemstone industry has a lot of 02:34 prominence in the Arizona's there's 02:36 something about that the geography of 02:38 that area possibly but I do know that a 02:43 long time ago I'd have to look at my my 02:45 history but possibly in the 50s a big 02:49 gem show started in Arizona it started 02:52 with their their gem and mineral 02:55 collectors there and it moved to a 02:58 fairgrounds and after that it just 03:01 became so big that it's in February and 03:05 then I think in the fall there's a big 03:08 gem show in Arizona in Tucson Arizona 03:11 yeah and there could be some reason for 03:14 that you know back when it's all started 03:17 a lot of rock hounds probably gathered 03:18 in I love that yeah yeah so yeah oh it's 03:26 it's wonderful if you ever get a chance 03:28 to go and a lot of these places are open 03:31 to the public so that makes it nice the 03:35 Pueblo Gem show is probably one of the 03:37 better ones to go to as far as being 03:39 open to the public a lot of them are 03:42 closed to the public and only open to 03:44 the trade so it's a neat experience 03:46 they've got dinosaur fossils and all 03:49 kinds of different gemstones and it's 03:53 it's a pretty cool experience do you 03:56 frequently attend these trade shows for 03:58 gemstones and jewelry I do yes most of 04:04 the shows I attend are closed to the 04:06 public they're only open to the trade 04:09 and because I'm considered a pres 04:11 someone from the press because I do 04:13 stories with a lot of the designers they 04:17 they allow me in but what's kind of an 04:21 interesting with the Cova dices is that 04:24 all of those shows including you know 04:26 the conventions and meetings and things 04:29 like that across this world of course 04:31 that they canceled so learning how to 04:33 connect and serve both ends of the trade 04:37 both the stores the shop owners the 04:40 manufacturers and the consumers is going 04:43 to be an interesting evolution in the 04:45 coming months and with that like before 04:50 this crisis happened was what's the 04:52 biggest difference between the events 04:54 you'd go to that would be for retailers 04:56 and not better not open to the public 04:58 versus the ones that were open to the 04:59 public was it more kind of fun exhibits 05:02 for the public ones or like what's the 05:03 biggest difference between those two 05:06 probably the biggest difference is a lot 05:10 of the vendors or the companies that are 05:13 represented and show up at these shows 05:15 they're larger manufacturers and they 05:19 only sell to stores boutiques and shop 05:23 owners so therefore it's a wholesale 05:26 event and the ones that are open to the 05:30 public 05:30 they Sutton will have special if you 05:34 have a tax ID if you have a business 05:36 then you can purchase wholesale but 05:38 mostly the ones that are open to the 05:40 public they only sell they only sell 05:43 retail 05:43 I'd imagine a lot of money being 05:45 exchanged they probably want to have 05:47 that open to the public 05:48 per se true yeah but think they work 05:53 that out with you know orders and things 05:55 are delivered after their show they 05:58 don't have to yeah yeah yeah it's a 06:00 whole world that you you don't really 06:02 understand logistics of so basically the 06:05 shows are a way for companies designers 06:08 and small jewelry businesses to showcase 06:12 what they do and what they make and then 06:15 the stores the boutique owners go you 06:18 know to the booths and they can even set 06:21 up appointments to go and shop what's 06:23 new new collections they can start with 06:27 you know a small collection or signing 06:30 up to it's not necessarily a contract 06:32 but it's it works somewhat like that and 06:37 then the stores will you know there 06:40 there they carry that particular brand 06:44 or that particular type of jewelry in 06:47 their store interesting yeah I never 06:50 think about it like you know how exactly 06:52 these things are obtained I think it's 06:53 you're right it's a whole unknown world 06:55 that the general public has no idea of I 06:57 mean probably my the extent of my 07:00 experience is the beginning of the movie 07:02 uncut gems which I watched a couple 07:04 months ago I'm assuming you saw that it 07:08 was really really good and I mean it's 07:11 kind of a subplot but they talked in the 07:13 beginning there's a whole scene about 07:15 the mining and excavating and there's 07:17 this that's exactly what kind of gem but 07:19 it's kind of the plot device that drives 07:22 the whole story is this very rare gem 07:25 that he gets from Africa that he spent 07:26 like 175 thousand dollars on definitely 07:29 recommend it but um it's just crazy it's 07:31 the it's life-threatening the the work 07:34 that these men and women - you know that 07:36 they put themselves through - to go 07:39 through this and it's a very dangerous 07:42 job you know and it's just fascinating 07:45 and people just don't know about it 07:48 and that's and I'm in I'm assuming 07:50 that's probably one of the things you 07:52 talk about in your podcast the jewelry 07:53 navigator what did you start that 07:55 podcast I started a little over two 07:58 years ago and I started just as an 08:01 interest I've worked in the retail 08:04 sector most of my career with with 08:07 jewelry and then in between beginning my 08:10 career with jewelry and finishing with 08:13 Gemological Institute of America I took 08:16 a small hiatus and flew as a flight 08:18 attendant and that's why my name jewelry 08:20 navigator is is the way Hillary and yeah 08:24 and so once I got back into the retail 08:29 sector I found that people were wanting 08:31 to they were more curious about jewelry 08:35 that was really different that was not 08:38 being mass-produced 08:39 and there's a there's a subculture of 08:42 people who want really different things 08:43 they don't want to look like everybody 08:45 else and I'm kind of in that subculture 08:47 I don't think I really appreciate the 08:50 unique and unusual things and I love 08:53 education 08:53 people on gemstones that they may not be 08:55 familiar with there are a lot of really 08:58 interesting ones and you know more 09:01 interesting than the common ones so it's 09:04 it's a really fun kind of sort of that 09:06 was a fun hobby to educate consumers and 09:09 then once I started finding these 09:12 designers who just make really cool 09:15 jewelry like one that I first started 09:18 following her husband has a an auto body 09:21 repair shop and they he only works on 09:24 high-end luxury cars and she's a metal 09:28 she's a metal Smith and walked into the 09:31 garage one day I thought what are we 09:32 going to do with all these car parts 09:34 well she put two and two together and 09:36 started making jewelry from them so she 09:38 makes jewelry from Ferraris Maseratis 09:42 Bentley's I'm really high-end cars so 09:46 she started yeah it's really cool and 09:50 those are the kind of things that I 09:51 really appreciate and I love telling 09:53 their stories and that's how the podcast 09:55 started because I kept finding these 09:58 designers and and other gemologists who 10:01 are also jewelers who really appreciate 10:04 what I do and I I love being able to 10:07 first first of all educate consumers and 10:10 help them not be afraid to shop for 10:12 jewelry that might be a little bit 10:13 different but also what I'm starting to 10:16 do is hopefully connect the designers 10:20 with small businesses other small 10:23 jewelry stores who might be interested 10:25 in sharing these kind of things too so 10:27 either way my mission is to connect 10:30 consumers to these designers who are 10:34 making things that are just outstanding 10:37 and can really stand up to speaking for 10:42 someone's uniqueness and wanting to be 10:45 different that's really interesting the 10:48 the DIY sector of jewelry people don't 10:51 know about like the Etsy world we have a 10:54 lot of shops featured on our gemstones a 10:57 category and so we have a lot of these 10:59 different Etsy shops and they'll take 11:00 from a can of coke and they'll make a 11:02 cool little thing it's just so 11:03 fascinating the beautiful artistry that 11:06 can come from the 11:07 simple items yeah so have you always 11:10 been a jewelry enthusiast or is there a 11:13 moment in your life where you realize 11:14 just this is my thing now like what 11:17 sparked this for you or can even 11:20 pinpoint it yeah I can yeah ever since I 11:24 was a child I thought gemstones looked 11:27 like candy and always so it started with 11:32 like an obsession with candy and ever 11:36 since then I've just always loved 11:38 jewelry and when I got into college I 11:41 took basic geology class and towards the 11:47 end of the class when all the concepts 11:49 started to come together my mind just 11:51 started exploding I thought this is 11:53 exactly what I want to do I don't I 11:56 don't care where I go with it I just 11:58 want to know more I want to be able to 11:59 get out there and understand you know 12:01 how the rocks were formed in and see all 12:04 of those processes so once I got through 12:09 that and was finishing up my degree at 12:12 the time I wasn't interested in working 12:15 in oil I wasn't interested in working 12:17 with contaminated water which kind of 12:22 worker the things that we're going on 12:24 there are still very important but I 12:27 knew I always loved gemstones so I did a 12:29 little digging and learned that GI a 12:31 existed a school specifically teaching 12:35 people more about gemstones and gemology 12:38 and jewelry and the courses taught me 12:43 how to grade a diamond how to identify 12:47 diamonds that are higher quality than 12:49 others and it also taught me how to 12:52 identify gemstones so not all red 12:54 gemstones are rubies and not all green 12:57 gemstones are emeralds there are a lot 12:59 of other ones so those kind of 13:02 determining factors can also determine 13:04 the value for the gemstones but also its 13:08 durability and how well it stands out to 13:12 wear so all of these things combined 13:14 make it really important for someone to 13:17 be able to 13:19 and and know those kind of qualities of 13:23 a gemstone because ultimately it 13:26 contributes to how how long it's going 13:29 to last absolutely now yeah because I'm 13:34 thinking if you're somebody that's 13:36 shopping for gemstones you want to be an 13:37 educated consumer you don't want to buy 13:39 a fake perhaps or something with your 13:42 education and experience you can are you 13:45 able to just kind of examine things with 13:46 your eyes like you don't is there 13:48 equipment involved like I know they've 13:51 got those little that device that you 13:53 can kind of go over diamonds and will go 13:56 up and down and indicate it do you use 13:58 those tools or you can you just tell 13:59 from just looking at it if it's a fake 14:01 or not that's a really good question 14:03 there are tools that will positively 14:06 identify gemstones and some of them are 14:11 a little technical to use buy in general 14:16 most jewelry that's out on the market 14:18 today purchased in the big box stores 14:21 it's pretty easily recognizable but like 14:25 any scientist we don't want to look at 14:27 something and mostly identify it and 14:30 have it come back as being something 14:32 else so as a gemologist I am able to 14:38 identify gemstones and some of those 14:39 characteristics can be determined by 14:42 inclusions there are certain inclusions 14:45 that are inherent in certain gemstones 14:47 and not in others so that kind of using 14:51 you know the deductive reasoning and 14:54 there are other other indicators as far 14:59 as how fast light travels through the 15:03 gemstone can be measured and that in 15:06 itself is an identifying factor it's 15:08 called refractive index 15:10 so there are optical properties that we 15:12 can look at as well to identify 15:14 gemstones absolutely so in general I can 15:19 look at it and if it's something that's 15:21 um you know pretty most of the time I 15:24 can look at something and say yes this 15:26 is this is an emerald or it's most 15:28 likely a lab-created 15:30 gemstone which is a whole 15:33 warms and itself because lab land 15:37 created gemstones have been around for 15:39 longer than most people realize yeah I 15:42 bet something that a gemologist might 15:46 encounter do you get calls often when 15:48 your friends are engaged and like can 15:49 you tell me if this is fake has that 15:53 ever happened oh boy I would yeah yeah 15:56 yeah yeah you really you really hope 15:59 that doesn't happen but nowadays there 16:03 there are some great alternatives to 16:05 diamonds but but the the rule of thumb 16:11 is you always want to be transparent and 16:14 honest with people you starting from the 16:17 very start so if if someone can't afford 16:20 a diamond right in a way it's okay 16:22 there are great alternatives that are a 16:24 fraction of the costs of the diner but 16:26 yeah 16:27 but the most important thing is that 16:28 they know what it is any gemstone can be 16:33 a girl's best friend it doesn't have to 16:34 be diamonds absolutely and in fact I'm 16:38 kind of partial to color gemstones 16:40 myself 16:40 I think diamonds are great Jack like 16:42 color is just it's it's the best right 16:47 on okay it's starting to wrap things up 16:49 here 16:49 um so I can see that jewelry and 16:53 gemstones it's kind of rising in 16:55 popularity may be due to crystal healing 16:58 and the whole wellness popularity and 17:00 fad that's going on for the past couple 17:02 years actually do you as somebody with 17:05 so much experience do you see that as 17:06 kind of a lot of gobbledygook or do you 17:09 do you think there's some kind of maybe 17:11 some magic behind it you know I've never 17:14 really researched that and I've never 17:16 really tested out out on myself I'm not 17:20 going to I'm not going to say either way 17:23 because I've never I don't I don't know 17:26 I don't I don't think that there's any 17:28 reason why there couldn't be some kind 17:30 of I mean certainly there are gemstones 17:34 that have characteristics or different 17:38 qualities like tourmaline can be can 17:41 conduct electricity and there are some 17:45 other gemstones that have some 17:46 interesting characteristics that could 17:48 certainly enhance or interfere you know 17:52 with different kinds of you know 17:54 electrical currents in our own bodies so 17:57 I'm not gonna I'm not gonna say one way 17:59 or the other I've never experimented 18:01 with it but in general I'm not one to 18:04 necessarily believe in it because I 18:06 don't I just I just like I just like and 18:11 appreciate what I know I'm attracted to 18:14 so maybe that's part of it you know um 18:16 like this ring is set with a really 18:19 yummy brilliant purple amethyst and I I 18:25 have it because I liked the stone it was 18:28 just fabulous and I you know I couldn't 18:30 resist it so I think that's what that's 18:34 what I would encourage people to lean 18:35 towards if there's a gemstone you think 18:38 you know has special powers but it's not 18:40 very pretty did it 18:42 yes get something else that you think 18:44 it's really beautiful because it's going 18:45 to you know you're gonna end up plugging 18:47 it more I've become a believer it back 18:50 in our office when we're working under 18:51 office we have some crystals and the Sun 18:54 will shine right upon them at the you 18:56 know perfect time of the day I think it 18:58 brings us some positive energy I'm just 19:00 I became a believer slowly I've 19:01 converted okay and I'm sure that they do 19:06 I think as long as it you know adds some 19:08 joy and happiness and beauty in your 19:10 life of course that's gonna be magical 19:13 and then just one last question here 19:17 what do you see for the future of 19:19 gemstones like the this industry what do 19:21 you see for it in five years do you see 19:22 a maybe going more digital how do you 19:25 see this evolving ah that's interesting 19:28 and we've kind of seen a little glimpse 19:32 of that in a you know hyperspeed mode 19:37 here in the last weeks with the 19:39 coronavirus and and stores and 19:42 businesses having to rely more on 19:44 internet connection so I still believe 19:49 people want to see and touch and feel 19:53 and hold and try on jewelry there's 19:56 nothing more convincing than 19:59 holding a piece of jewelry that 20:01 connection that you get with it right 20:03 away is it's undeniable but seeing as 20:11 that maybe we may not be able to have 20:14 that kind of contact so I think stores 20:17 are going to be more more open to return 20:22 policies and maybe even looking at you 20:26 know some some innovative ways so that 20:29 people can try before they buy as long 20:32 as there are some some you know 20:35 protective measures put in there so in 20:37 case there's damage to the stone or loss 20:39 of the piece so I think we're gonna see 20:42 some innovative ways coming coming down 20:45 the pike on how how shop owners will be 20:49 able to serve their customers 20:52 another thing that starts to happen when 20:54 economy gets a little shaky for some 20:57 people is don't forget about what's in 20:59 your jewelry box right now I mean a lot 21:02 of times we have mismatched earrings 21:04 that are orphans that you can't find the 21:07 other one that could be converted into a 21:08 pendant for a fraction of the cost of a 21:11 new piece so keep that in mind I want to 21:14 keep our listeners thinking about those 21:18 kind of options because a jeweler 21:20 someone who has an on-site jewelry bunch 21:24 who does repairs and custom work they 21:26 can work with things in people's jewelry 21:28 boxes where maybe resetting diamonds 21:31 resetting stones and in pre-existing 21:34 jewelry to make something new so I think 21:36 we're gonna start to see that a lot more 21:39 of that when it comes to someone who 21:41 still wants to give a gift but they may 21:43 not have a big enough budget to buy 21:45 something brand-new done 21:47 just one more thing I want to touch on 21:49 and it's interesting that you said that 21:50 it's it's really all about that tactile 21:53 feeling of when you touch the gemstone 21:56 and you make that personal connection 21:57 with it I see a there's a lot of overlap 22:00 with that with our other categories like 22:01 stamp collectors it's like it's not just 22:03 about collecting it's like just being 22:05 able to hold it and this treasured item 22:07 that you've looked for you hunted for 22:09 and you finally have it what what is it 22:12 about that connection 22:13 like what is it when you see a gem that 22:16 gives you that special connection is 22:17 there something is there a special 22:19 quality that connects you to a piece of 22:21 jewelry or is it unique for every piece 22:23 of jewelry no I like I said I really my 22:28 preference is colored stones and other 22:31 stones that may not be very well-known 22:34 like for instance there's a gemstone 22:40 faster and the jeweler who worked 22:43 together they're a team 22:44 he facets the gemstones and she sets 22:47 them and she's actually the one that 22:50 this ring came from and the gemstone and 22:53 this is a really unique cut so things 22:57 like that really attract me but he had 23:00 an opportunity to access a new variety 23:05 of garnet and most people think garnets 23:08 come in one color red and that's kind of 23:10 what we've been trained it's the it's 23:14 the fallback color for a lot of jewelry 23:16 stores but actually garnets come in 23:18 every color of the rainbow and they're 23:20 absolutely stunning in fact they have 23:24 access to one that changes colors in 23:27 different lights so yeah it's really 23:31 really exciting and these are the kind 23:34 of things I was talking about earlier on 23:36 how I get so excited and I want 23:38 consumers to know about because those 23:41 kind of gemstones there are limited 23:43 there's limited number there's limited 23:47 resources 23:49 there was only one pocket found in one 23:52 area and those are the kind of things 23:54 that are going to hold their value 23:55 because after a certain amount of time 23:57 there's no more it's done there's never 23:59 going to be they're never going to find 24:01 that again so those are the kind of 24:04 things that get me really excited so 24:05 rarity and beauty and color though 24:08 that's what really attracts me and also 24:12 wearability you know is it is it 24:15 something that is going to fit someone's 24:17 lifestyle if if a stone is setting way 24:20 up high and they have an active 24:22 lifestyle then there's you know there's 24:26 some compatibility differences as far as 24:31 the safety of a stone or the setting is 24:33 it going to snag on things so 24:35 practicality and the unusual gemstones 24:40 are what really things to keep in mind 24:42 yeah yeah I just have to say that is a 24:45 beautiful ring to I mean I know we're 24:47 talking digitally but I can see the 24:48 sparkle of the purple of the amethyst 24:50 you know it's crazy this is a piece by a 24:55 designer named her name is Mary van der 24:58 ahe and I'll put I'll post something on 25:01 my tundra group and I'll do a story 25:04 about her she does some amazing things 25:07 and I really appreciate how she and her 25:11 business partner talk his name is Todd 25:13 wax and there they team up together and 25:18 they're one who I always go see and 25:21 Tucson at the popular gem show yeah it's 25:24 a beautiful piece well thank you so much 25:26 Brenna this was great it was so happy 25:28 that I'm sorry to have you and we'll uh 25:31 we'll keep in touch thank you so much 25:33 you know this thing will include all of 25:35 your socials down here at the bottom 25:37 will include links to your podcast links 25:39 to everything okay wonderful thanks so 25:42 much for the opportunity I really 25:43 appreciate it Brian thank you all right 25:45 you have a good one okay you too Thanks

theTUNDRA sits down with Jewelry & Gemstones Enthusiast Brenna Pakes, host of the “Jewelry Navigator” podcast. An experienced gemologist, Brenna discusses the history of her industry and how it has been impacted by the current pandemic.

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