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Dream Machines
What's on a custom jeweler's wish list? Here are tools that bench gurus swear are worth every penny.


“The jewelry industry used to own the engraving category, but gradually got out of it,” says Bill Meyer, Ginny’s husband and business partner. “Engraving is very labor intensive and everybody sends out for it. The problem for consumers is that, like watchmakers, as time goes on the old breed of experienced engravers is not being replaced with new.”

As a result, he says, Ginny’s Gems has become the go-to engraver for a customer list that now numbers 17,000. “We’ve grown our business to do wholesale engraving for a clientele that includes other jewelry stores, other engravers, and department stores. Many of them have corporate accounts, so we’ve done work for the PGA, LPGA, and race tracks. We don’t turn down any engraving job—the niche is at least 1/3 of our business now. It’s a business that does not die.”

The store sells engraving by appointment only. Meyer notes, “By taking appointments we get to spend more time with each customer and learn what he or she wants. People with personal engraving needs often will travel 50 or 60 miles to come see us. They know that they can usually get same-day turnaround, unlike chain stores where it might take two weeks.”

Ginny Meyer’s first machine has been replaced by a computerized Signature engraving machine that cost about $30,000. “It’s not cheap, but we’ve been able to persuade a bunch of our fellow IJO members to take a look at engraving as a real profit center.”

Meyer adds, “The beauty of the machine is that it allows us to work on any surface. We even do custom logos and car wheels. Most engravers just do plaques and flat surfaces. We can also do glass and crystal etchings with it, which means we’ve been able to create a giftware and bridal niche that brings people into the store to do one thing—buy a gift—but wind up doing another: looking at jewelry.”

Meyer thinks his machine may exist in a sort of recession-proof universe: “You never run out of reasons for engraving—gifts, plaques, anniversaries, weddings, births, milestones. Christmas would have been totally dead if it hadn’t been for our engraving service. In fact, not only Christmas, but the entire year. It’s a perpetually steady thing that brings in reliable cash flow.”





CAD Matrix software from Gemvision Corporation

Virtual design: CAD Matrix software from Gemvision Corporation, (800) 357-6272, www.gemvision.com.

Paul Lubitz of Holly Yashi

Paul Lubitz of Holly Yashi shows a sample of the types of patterns the OMAX waterjet can cut.

Photo: Humboldt State University/Kellie Jo Brown.


bracelet by Holly Yashi

This “Vashti” bracelet by Holly Yashi is an example of the work that can be created with an abrasive waterjet machine, (800) 274-2714, www.hollyyashi.com.

Eric Riddlespurger of Liberty Jewelry Mfg.

Eric Riddlespurger of Liberty Jewelry Mfg., Timonium, Maryland, at work with the CAD Matrix software by Gemvision.

Eric Riddlespurger of Liberty Jewelry Mfg.

Eric Riddlespurger of Liberty Jewelry Mfg., Timonium, Maryland, demonstrates CAM manufacturing with the Revo mill from Gemvision.

Rofin StarWeld jewelry laser microwelder

Rofin StarWeld jewelry laser microwelder available from Stuller, which recently released volume 73 of its tools catalog, (800) 877-7777, www.stuller.com.

iWeld laser system by Crafford-LaserStar Technologies

The iWeld laser system by Crafford-LaserStar Technologies, (401) 438-1500, www.laserstar.net.

Signature 8080 Super model engraving machine from Signature Engraving Systems

Signature 8080 Super model engraving machine from Signature Engraving Systems, (800) 323-3283, www.signature-engravers.com.