Jewelry Navigator™

Guiding shoppers to smart jewelry choices.

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About Jewelry Navigator Podcast

Need help shopping for jewelry that’s unique and stands out?
Do you know the best way to care for your jewelry, or how to tell if a jewelry item is "real"?


Brenna Pakes is founder of Jewelry Navigator, and as a Graduate Gemologist from GIA (Gemological Institute of America), she shares informative insights and jewelry stories with her audience.


Backed by twenty years of professional jewelry experience, Brenna presents an engaging platform leading shoppers to smart jewelry choices.


Jewelry Navigator Podcast features leading edge jewelry designers and industry experts serving to bridge the gap between consumers and the jewelry that tells their life stories.




Thursday Nov 11, 2021

About Jewelry Navigator Podcast: Listen to Jewelry Navigator Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Podbean, and Google Podcasts. Brenna Pakes is the creative force behind Jewelry Navigator LLC, a collective platform to guide consumers to smart jewelry choices.   As a GIA Graduate Gemologist with an undergraduate degree in geology, Brenna has enjoyed nearly twenty years of retail jewelry experience as a gemologist and jewelry consultant.
Through Jewelry Navigator, she shares an appreciation for designers who create beyond commercial trends and whose designs resonate with shoppers looking to celebrate what makes them unique.
Brenna promotes brand awareness and support for independent jewelry designers and artisans through informative media platforms, like Jewelry Navigator Podcast, and digital publication, Jewelry Navigator Passport. This Episode: "Costume Jewelry Treasures With Veronica Staudt of Vintage Meet Modern" Since publishing “What’s in Your Jewelry Box Graveyard?” podcast episode, several people have reached out asking for help understanding jewelry they own or have inherited. In this episode of Jewelry Navigator Podcast, “Costume Jewelry Treasures With Veronica Staudt of Vintage Meet Modern, I’m continuing on a similar theme with the guidance from costume jewelry specialist and aficionado, Veronica Staudt of Vintage Meet Modern. Veronica not only shares how several feature and styling elements of costume jewelry offer versatility for current times, but that many vintage costume collections are valuable, often commanding prices near those of fine jewelry. As a former professional personal shopper, Veronica uses her styling skills to encourage her clients and Instagram audience to enjoy vintage costume jewelry as statement pieces to enhance occasional and everyday fashion. Using the jewelry clues from Jewelry Box Graveyard Cheat Sheet (available in Jewelry Navigator Passport digital issue, Fall 2021) you may discover jewelry items that, while not made from precious metals or gemstones, they are still fun and enjoyable to wear. To get your subscription to Jewelry Navigator Passport, email us at

Thursday Oct 21, 2021

How many times have you visited your jewelry box to discover twisted, tangled chains, orphaned, earrings, or rings missing gemstones?   Much of our forgotten jewelry is abandoned due to disrepair, but how can you tell what is worth keeping? What looks like junk may be forgotten treasures! In this episode of Jewelry Navigator Podcast, I share a few helpful tips on what to look for to easily identify jewelry of value in your Jewelry Box Graveyard using clues from the metals with which fine jewelry is made.  

Friday Apr 16, 2021

Nan Fusco’s Versatile Jewelry Designs Redefine  Luxury Jewelry   Like many artists, Nan Fusco didn’t start her jewelry career in gem or design courses.   Nan’s former career and formal training are in graphic design.   Skilled with reading a client’s style and needs, Nan’s ability to design around a concept beautifully highlight the fossils and stones she selects as the focal points of her jewelry.   Making jewelry versatile through aspects of changeability and movement is one of Nan’s superpowers as a jewelry designer.   From her Abacus rings and earrings, to jewelry scarves, and her long necklaces designed with engineering aspects, Nan incorporates appealing design concepts with texture and movement for jewelry creations that are classic fun, and had women buying her creations right off her neck!   We talk about how important it is for designers to educate the boutiques where her jewelry is stocked to the versatility of her jewelry.   We also discuss the necessity and struggles that come with social media and how she’s regrowing her Instagram account after an unfortunate setback.   I recently featured Nan on a Beyond Gems segment on The Tundra, so you can see more of her jewelry on the video story on their platform.   Follow Nan on Instagram @therealnanfusco to see and shop her fabulous jewelry!

Sunday Mar 28, 2021

Azra Mehdi is a practicing attorney and balances her family life with her passion for fine jewelry as a designer of timeless gold jewelry.   Azra founded Au Xchange, a platform for sharing fine jewelry created by women designers.   In spite of pandemic obstacles, Azra took advantage of the time during lockdowns to apply for the Zales Designer Spotlight Showcase and won as the only woman designer of color for the showcase.   Originally from India, Azra shares how gold jewelry influenced her path as a jewelry designer, and how her thoughtful designs are welcoming to a wide audience and demographic.   Azra is dedicated to giving back as a representative in support of girls and women with CamFED, Campaign for Female Education through portions of her jewelry sales.   While growing her brand through Au Xchange and as a featured designer in the Zales Designer Spotlight, Azra continues to practice law while raising her two children with her husband. You can find Azra's jewelry on Au Xchange as well as on Zale's Designer Spotlight   For a detailed look at Azra’s jewelry, be sure to watch her feature on Beyond Gems on TheTUNDRA, "Azra Mehdi's Golden Jewelry Story". TheTUNDRA is a platform from which I share gem, mineral, and more jewelry stories through video production.   Subscribe to TheTUNDRA to access the full episodes, and you can find the link to Beyond Gems on my IG account @jewelrynavigator and on my podcast website,

Thursday Mar 25, 2021

HHi! Welcome to Jewelry Navigator! I’m your host, Graduate Gemologist,  Brenna Pakes. Here on Jewelry Navigator, and as a Graduate Gemologist of the Gemological Institute of America, and a jewelry professional, I’m in a unique position to share jewelry tips and stories. More than ever, it’s important to support small, independent jewelry designers and businesses. It’s my pleasure to guide consumers to smart jewelry choices through an informative and entertaining platform. For sneak peeks into upcoming episodes and features, follow me on Instagram on @jewelrynavigator   In this relaunch episode, I share my role as curator of content for a weekly video feature on Beyond Gems for TheTUNDRA, an informative platform for enthusiasts and those with a general curiosity for topics, themes, and hobbies. I share guests featured on Beyond Gems so far. It's been a wonderful way to expand and explore geology, gemology, and other relevant fields of interest. FYI - to watch the full Beyond Gems episodes, subscribe for a free TheTUNDRA account.   Welcome Aboard, and be sure to subscribe to Jewelry Navigator Podcast on Podbean, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Google Podcasts.

Thursday Jul 02, 2020

On a recent Jewelry Navigator Podcast, “Here's to the Men in Our Lives - Jewelry to Celebrate Men and Dads”, I featured jewelry for men. One of the rings selected is Tin Haus' Andromeda ring, designed and created by today's guest, Christina Grace, founder of Tin Haus, an eclectic collection of jewelry art. Christina is a Graduate Jeweler from the Gemological Institute of America, an artist, and is currently completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree. What inspires me the most about Christina is the unhindered path she creates for herself. Her expertise is well-rounded through varied practices of art, including performing art, drawing, and set design.As a first-generation American, Christina lives and creates her collections in California. Utilizing her education, background, and connections, Christina is creating a path with which to inspire others to discover and celebrate their unique expression through their own self-discovery. Christina explained that her upcoming collection will be set with gems she's been hoarding. We look forward to watching her collections grow! You can find Tin Haus at and on Instagram @tin_haus   My intention is always to educate and inform consumers with resources to unique jewelry created by independent designers and makers. Follow Jewelry Navigator on Instagram  @jewelrynavigator for the latest jewelry stories and tips!            

Thursday Jun 18, 2020

Men tend to get overlooked with jewelry - Watches and wedding bands are the staples for most men, while signet, diamond and gemstone statement rings as signature statements. Educating consumers with unique selections of gemstones and jewelry has always been a primary focus for Jewelry Navigator. In this Jewelry Navigator Podcast episode, I'm highlighting designers who've been featured on the podcast, as well as one who will be very soon with jewelry designed to enhance and celebrate the men in our lives. Designers featured create everything from cufflinks, bracelets, necklaces and pendants and rings. Tracy Trainor Jewellery CRASH Jewelry Mary van der Aa Tucson Todd's Gems Tin Haus Etsy Artisans with featured storage boxes for jewelry and watches: Buttons and Pearl, Sara Barbadillo, and Fret Work by Darryl.

Thursday Jun 04, 2020

This is a brief episode today. I didn't include my normal introduction, so if this is your first episode, welcome.To understand what my platform is, please listen to any other episode, and you'll understand. After feeling paralyzed, not knowing how to move forward with the current chaos, I felt it appropriate to encourage my listeners, and everyone, to ask questions.Questions of how to move forward with compassion and understanding.Questions of what to do next, and how to help.Questions of how we want our future to look like and feel.And, questions of how we can integrate with live filled with respect, understanding, and inclusion that is natural and normal. Follow Jewelry Navigator on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. To reach Brenna direclty, e-mail

Thursday May 14, 2020

Missy Graff Ballone of Wellness for Makers Shares How Artists Can Move to Stay Healthy While the COVID-19 crisis and resulting quarantine have challenged many aspects of our lives, finding positive ways to guide us through to the other side have been inspiring. While scrolling through Instagram one day, I came across Missy Graff Ballone’s feed, Wellness for Makers. A metalsmith, alignment based yoga instructor, and licensed massage therapist, Missy shares how makers can work more efficiency using healthy movement habits. She combines her education and familiarity with the body to show makers and creatives how to care for their hands and avoid common injuries with mindful movement. In “Wellness for Makers” Podcast, Missy shares tips for makers in and out of the studio, along with inspiring stories of artists and makers who have recovered from injuries. I’m happy and excited for Missy to share her specialized expertise, and to give back to makers and artists during the COVID recovery, Missy is offering scholarships for her courses, one of which will be donated through this episode of Jewelry Navigator Podcast! To enter for a scholarship giveaway for a Wellness for Makers Precious Movements Course for jewelers, visit to enter. Wellness for Makers People from every walk of life and career are susceptible to injury, many of which happen from repetitive movement, poor alignment and posture. Combining her education and familiarity with the body and movement, Missy has created a parallel business teaching artists and creators to protect their health and their hands. Missy also offers helpful resources on her website, which include a free self-care guide, her “Guide to Happy Healthy Hands”, her free Mini Course, “Creating Resilience”, and helpful tools for small businesses.    

Friday May 08, 2020

I hope you’re staying safe and well, and I’m looking forward to when we can return to our places of work, get our hair cut, nails done, and get back to all those services and shops that are part of regular routines. Part of the normal routine this time of year is shopping for the seasonal celebrations, like Mother’s Day and graduations. But, shopping from our favorite stores doesn’t have to stop. This podcast is dedicated to all the small businesses who’ve been doing what they can to serve their customers in spite of “closed doors” and customers sheltered in place. I know it’s easy to swing by Target or Walmart and pick up what we need, but, small businesses need our support, and many are offering similar, and sometimes better, accommodations with deliveries, pick ups, and custom orders. Milestones and accomplishments are traditionally celebrated with jewelry and keepsakes. The most unique selections are found in small and independent stores.  The point of this podcast is to encourage you to support the small and local stores near you by reaching out and enlisting their help and services for your gift needs. But on the flip side, while this may not be the best timing to make a significant purchase, don't forget that most small jewelry stores offer repair services.Many repairs and remakes are reasonably priced options for refurbishing heirlooms and repairing a favorite item of jewelry stashed away in your jewelry box. Mother’s Day Poem Sharing Support for Small Business and Indie Jewelry Designers “Days before Mother’s Day, across the land, moms are busy with work at hand. Many at home, others away, moms need a break on the 10th of May. A jewel or a trinket in just the right measure, reminds every mom she’s a rare treasure. Avoid the crowds, but leave us six feet, small businesses make shopping fun and neat. Online, curbside, delivery or in person - shop small, buy local, mountains to coastal. Small business is open with wonderful ways to celebrate Mom on the 10th of May!” Brenna Pakes   Designers and stores mentioned in this episode:  Designers and Small Indie Jewelers: Petite Baleine Jewelry (Pam Waill) Karin Jacobson MINTON (assisting Direct Relief) Emily Kuvin Jewelry CRASH Jewelry Mary van der Aa (assisting - Puppy Love all proceeds going to Best Friends Animal Society) Joyce Morton (Mila & Such face masks   Stores and Boutiques: Beauty Lounge, Summit, NJ Robert Goodman Jewelers  Zionsville, IN      


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