Jewelry Navigator™ Podcast

Guiding shoppers to smart jewelry choices.

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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

Friday Apr 17, 2020

My guest in this Jewelry Navigator Podcast episode is Alain Simic, founder of Alain Simic (pronounced Ah-lawn Si-mich) whose specialty is portraying images of jewelry, fashion, fine art, and portraiture.
Alain’s photography speaks through images, allowing his subject’s voice to share stories and impact the lives of those who see his work.
Alain serves his clients and collaborates with his professional community through a unique background based on his perspective gained through professional photography experinece, and first hand life crisis.
Raised in Germany after his family escaped the Bosnian genocide, Alain’s experiences and upbringing enables him to share his client’s narrative through a lens of compassion and understanding elevates his relationships with his clients for successful campaigns and images.
 While his photography is used as a marketing tool to create successful branding and product campaigns, Alain also serves the communities in which he works through collaborative efforts.
Alain has contributed to Jewelry Independent panels which serve emerging and independent jewelry designers on various marketing and business topics.
Most recently, he teamed up with Laryssaa Wirstiuk of Joy Joya Marketing on a Metal and Smith’s Instagram Live presentation to share how jewelry designers and businesses can adapt their efforts through the COVID - 19 crisis.
 While this time of quarantine is restricting for an industry, which relies on personal experience, now's the time to take advantage to review and reflect on your branding messages, visions, and direction.
If you're a consumer, reflect on what jewelry is most important to you. Are there pieces you don't wear, but would like to use to redesign or update?Explore options with your local jeweler or favorite designer on how to re-make and reuse what you have, or purchase new - afterall, birthdays and anniversaries ignore the quarantine!
I found Alain’s advice a reminder of how an image says so much without words, and how important quality images are to a brand’s story and to its potential perceptions, especially on one’s website.
If you’d like to start a conversation with Alain about working with him on your photography and branding, reach out to him by e-mail or DM on Instagram, as he is continues to work remotely, taking careful considerations and precautions from his studio.
His e-mail can be found on his website, which is Follow or DM him in Instagram at @alainsimic.
WHAT'S COMING UP ON Jewelry Navigator Podcast 
Next week, I’m going to be exploring ways we can continue to support our shopping and jewelry needs by working with online options with designers and jewelers, and begin sharing stories of the brick and mortar stores who are still working to serve their customers and communities.
If you have a story of an exceptional independent jewelry store who is doing their best to serve their customers and accounts, reach out to me, and tell me about them!
Some that come to mind are Beauty Lounge in Summit NJ, Benold’s in Austin, TX, and voted the best in my town of Fredericksburg, VA, Ulman’s Jewelry, owned by the same family, and in its 93rd year of business.
These, and many more small businesses working remotely or from location, as permitted, are doing what they can to serve their customers and communities, and I’m thrilled to learn about what and how people are continuing to serve and celebrate even in a time of crisis, so with that, it’s time to “deplane” from this episode, and remind everyone to be kind to yourself and others, and to cross check your sparkle!
To stay up to date on Jewelry Navigator Podcasts and features, subscribe to Jewelry Navigator Passport.

Saturday Apr 11, 2020

This weekend, I chose to share segments of my podcast interview with Seraphima McLean of Gallery Byzantium.
Her formal background in art history, cast her in the unique role to carry on her family’s Byzantine art jewelry business.
Gallery Byzantium integrates art and history inspired by one of the most influential cultures, the Byzantine Empire.
Creating Christian themed jewelry, like crosses and religious medals, their jewelry designs are often replicated from ancient coins, medallions, and crosses.
As Christians all over the globe celebrate Easter, this weekend, I felt sharing a portion of the story of Gallery Byzantium would resonate with the liturgical celebration of Easter, but also serve as a reminder to stay strong in our faith, regardless of denomination or belief.
The followng is a clip from my Jewelry Navigator podcast visit in early December, 2019, and is part of my effort to support the independent designers and jewelers featured on Jewelry Navigator Podcast.
through the COVID 19 crisis who’ve been
I hope everyone is staying well, and I look forward to when we can all meet again at shows, stores, and boutiques.
Enjoy your holiday and spring weekend!
To hear this podcast in its entirety, subscribe to Jewelry Navigator Podcast one of the following podcast or music platforms:
Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play Music, and Podbean!
I’ll be publishing a new Jewelry Navigator Passport on Sunday, so be sure to catch up on what happened and what’s coming up on the podcast, and other jewelry discoveries!
Subscribe at

Thursday Apr 09, 2020

Karin Jacobson is a talented jeweler and artist whose open mind and fabrication techniques allows her to interpret visions into beautiful, wearable jewelry art.
Her journey and aesthetic have revealed a unique style that has become unquestionably recognizable as Karin Jacobson Jewelry.
I’ve been a fan of her jewelry for a few years now, and the evolution of her aesthetic has been a joy to watch.
Karin’s stand-out signature aesthetics are hybrid origami halos that bloom from ring wraps, stick pins, earrings, and graceful pendants that drape from neck wires.
The origami features make Karin’s jewelry sculptural, and many of her collectors and clients display them as such in between wear.
Karin has earned many industry design awards, and this year, was only one of three jewelers selected to take part in MJSA’s annual contest, “Mystery Box Challenge”,  a fun, but challenging test to create jewelry using fabrication elements contained within the mystery box.
Her resulting entry reflected her signature origami floral aesthetics. While the copper clay included in the essential components of the mystery box presented a conundrum, how she chose to implement the copper clay is a perfect example of her creative problem solving skills as an innovative artist.
I’ve met Karin twice - both in Baltimore at the American Craft Council Show this year, and last, and count myself as extremely lucky to have enjoyed one of the last jewelry trade and craft shows since the outbreak of COVID-19.
I look forward to seeing Karin and her jewelry creations in person again.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy my visit with Karin Jacobson!

Thursday Apr 02, 2020

Coping With the COVID-19 Crisis Using Self-Care Strategies With Dr. Dana Busch
Stress. Anxiety. Uncertainty.
These are all dark places that become natural responses to stressful and uncertain times, like the COVID-19 health crisis we’re currently experiencing.  
The reason for this podcast is to invite you to take a step back and use internal cognitive tools and rational thought processes to view this time as opportunity, and how to disarm stress and anxiety.
Today, I’m joined by Dr. Dana Busch, my friend, artist, and jewelry designer.
As a former clinical psychologist, Dana shares ways we can tap into what we can do now for ways to move forward.
To access the resources Dana mentioned in the podcast, download the resources, visit
Resources, Articles and Videos mentioned in Jewelry Navigator Podcast Livestream with Dr. Dana Busch
Resources for Resilience
Energy Tools To Help You Feel Safer during the Coronavirus Outbreak With Donna Eden and David Feinstein - YouTube
Gregg Braden
“These 6 Simple Habits Can help Calm Your Cornoavirus anxieties, by Stephanie Vozza”, Fast Company
“Seven Ways to Quell Coronavirus Related Anxiety”, Mashable, Rachel Thompson, March 6, 2020
“The Effects of Toxic Stress On The Brain & Body – How to Heal & Protect “
Posted by Karen Young, Hey Sigmund
“Global Wellness Institute Cautions Industry and Consumers to Sift Fact from Fiction When It Comes to Immunity-Boosting Claims for Coronavirus”,
For those who may need financial support for small business, seek out your local Small Business Administration office. 
Often times, these offices are located within or collaborate with colleges and universities.
Main website is U.S. Small Business Administration
Coronavirus (COVID-19): Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources
An example of a resource in Dana’s area is the 
Colorado Business Committee for the Arts.
You may have a similar resource in your area.
List Of Coronavirus (COVID-19) Small Business Relief Programs
Brianna McGurran
Forbes Staff
Contributor Group
Personal Finance
Brianna McGurran is the loans editor for Forbes Advis

Sunday Mar 29, 2020

As we wrap up Women’s History Month in a couple days, today, I share my visit with Noor Shamma, jewelry designer, single mother, and driven career woman.
Noor is the epitome of self motivation and drive.
She gracefully achieves balance and peace through her persona, jewelry designs, and practices  compassion through it all with sustainable practices in the sources she chooses for her jewelry.
While managing a full time career in marketing and communications with motherhood, Noor stays grounded through the creative processes of her eponymous jewelry collection and business, Noor Shamma.
Inspired by childhood creative passions of needlework, Noor combines detail reminiscent of meticulous needlework with the complexity inherent in architecture as main focal points of her aesthetic.
At the time I recorded my conversation with Noor, she had recently completed several shows and engagements with Noor Shamma jewelry, from New York at Metal and Smith to London Fashion Week.
Between then and now, the COVID-19 health crisis put a screeching halt to any and all gatherings, meetings, and shows.
We look forward to when we can share and see jewelry first hand at shows, but until then, I’ll continue to share the stories of designers and jewelry.
For now, enjoy Noor’s story, where I begin my visit with Noor as she explains that her “day” job is head of marketing and communications for a an exclusive university specializing in AI.
The full transcript of this podcast will be available within a day or so. visit my website, for the transcript along with photos and videos of Noor’s jewelry.
You can find Noor’s jewelry on her website, and on her Instagram account,
I’m in the process of creating new podcasts and ways to engage and stay connected during this time of quarantine and health alert.
Be sure to subscribe to Jewelry Navigator Podcast and Jewelry Navigator Passport for updates and news, and follow Jewelry Navigator on Instagram at
Jewelry Navigator This Week’s Enthusiast of the Week on The Tundra!
On this episdoe, the In-Flight Information Feature breaks in at the 24:54 mark to share an exciting platform of exploration.
The Tundra is a platform featuring curated content from podcasts and other platforms, which is streamlined and featured on the Tundra in specific GROUPS.
I was featured as Enthusiast of The Week on the Tundra, and I am grateful to be the host of a Group within the Gemstones Category of interests as Jewelry Navigator.
I invite you to explore the Tundra’s vast offering of informative and entertaining content on
To visit Jewelry Navigator Group, visit me at
Until next time, stay safe, well, and cross check your sparkle (with clean hands)!

Wednesday Mar 11, 2020

Welcome back to Jewelry Navigator Podcast!
It's been a few weeks since I last published a podcast episode and the last one was the pre-departure for my Tucson trip and that was in February.
We're rolling into the second week of March, and I wanted to catch you up on what and who I saw in  Tucson.
You can follow along with my Instagram feed as I’ve posted support content that will coordinate with the podcast.
Another thing I want to mention that I'm creating, I'm really excited about, it's sort of like a magazine feature that will be on a devoted page to the Tucson show. I started to create a new category on my website which will be devoted to shows and the designers that I meet and feature from the shows.
02:16 So let's get busy! If you're unfamiliar with what trade shows are for the jewelry industry, they're essentially the same as trade shows and conferences are to every other industry in that they offer a lifeline through which industries can learn the latest advancements and shop the latest products within their industry.
While the cost to attend or exhibit and an is an investment of time and money, trade shows are still a really good way to form a nurture relationships with industry peers and specialists.
I've had the privilege of meeting and getting to know gem and jewelry specialists and by attending these shows and conferences, mostly trade shows. Now the trade shows can be divided in a couple of different ways.
Many trade shows exclusively serve businesses in the trade, so you have to have a business or a business license in order to shop wholesale from these trade shows.
Some of the shows that I attended in Tucson are open to the public, so it's not necessary to have a business license to attend these shows.
Although if you want the, if you want the benefit of being able to shop at a wholesale price, then you have to have a resale license or own a business.
03:48 Okay. Onto my adventures in Tucson!
Tucson, Arizona becomes a Mecca for gem, mineral and jewelry fanatics collectors and buyers.
They all show up in Tucson anywhere from mid January through mid February and the entire downtown region transforms into a blanket of white event tents along with hotels that had been converted into venues for gem and jewelry vendors and a little bit of history for you.
The Tucson gem and mineral show began in 1955 originally it was held and an elementary school and the show was established by the Tucson gem and mineral society. But in 1973 it got too big, so they had to move it to the Tucson community center and by now it's basically taken over the city.
04:54 This was my second year attending the shows in Tucson and after establishing relationships in the past year with a few select designers who were attending Tucson, and also a couple of shows in New York at the New York now show, my focus was narrowed to supporting these designers who were exhibiting in these shows.
If you've been listening to jewelry navigator podcast, you know the dynamics and the purpose of why I share the stories of the designers and the gem information is because I want to bring an awareness and an education that these designers exist and that there are different kinds of gemstones that you can work with and select for jewelry.
I'm always always about supporting the small designer who is doing something different and unique for those people who do want to stand out.
And whenever I can, I visit the designers and feature them on the podcast. And most of the designers that I have featured on the podcast I've ever met, met them at a show or knew them before I started the podcast. So it's just been a delight to share their stories through through the past couple of years. And with this being international women's day just yesterday, but also celebrating it through the month of March. I just want to share a gratitude for the women designers who I have featured on the podcast and you can go through and listen to past episodes. I'm not going to list everybody now because there are close to 70 podcasts now and most of them have had guests and actually most of them have been women.
8:10 The first show I attended while in Tucson was the Select Show at the Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa.
Debra Navarro
Debra Navarro exhibited at both the Select Show, February 2-3, and the JCK Tucson Show at the JW Marriott Starr Pass, February 5-8.
Debra is always a delight to visit, and is as brilliant and beautiful as the gemstones she selects for her unique jewelry.
On her table, were small white dishes filled with rough gemstones that looked like a courtesy offering of candy to guests.
While Debra’s jewelry is colorful and beautiful, part of her jewelry’s story is all about how the rough gems she uses are traceable, and how they support the people and communities at the sources.
For more on Debra’s exclusive features during my visit in Tucson 2020, visit Jewelry Navigator, and you can visit her website directly at Debra Navarro.
Debra was my guest last year on Jewelry Navigator Podcast in a double episode!
Mary van der Aa
10:30   The second show I attended was the Pueblo Show at the Ramada on Cushing Street to see Mary van der Aa and Todd Wacks of Tucson Todd’s Gems.
I remember first meeting Mary van der Aa and Todd Wacks in 2019 at the Pueblo Gem and Mineral Show, and how excited I was to find them!
I first learned about Mary in Southern Jewelry News in a story about how she created a pageant crown using precious metal and gemstones. While meandering the Ramada hotel grounds where the Pueblo show takes place, I realized Mary van der Aa was exhibiting her jewelry with Tucson Todd’s Gems, and was beyond thrilled!
This year, I did an extensive story with Mary and Todd, and will be releasing it in parts through the next few months as I follow them through their show tour across the country.
All of the stones she uses are fascinated by Todd.
In the webpage dedicated to Mary’s Tucson story on Jewelry Navigator, she shares the story of how Todd found a very rare and limit variety of color change garnet, called pastel pyrope.
Seriously, it's one of the most unique things I've ever seen!
Dana Busch Designs
And the last designer that I supported and did a showcase or some stories on was Dana Bush of Dana Bush designs.
Dana exhibited at the JCK Tucson show, February 5th through 8th. Unfortunately, I had to leave the morning of the fifth to get back to Virginia, so I did as much as I could that morning and I'm so glad I did.
I got a fabulous video of her explaining how she works with her clients, which is really unique and the stones that she uses for her jewelry are just fabulous!
Her artistic superpower is selecting gem materials and metals to compliment or contrast the central stones of her designs and her jewelry.
They often reflects inspiration of nature's landscapes from deserts, mountains, and seaside.
Dana has been featured in several fashion editorial publications as well as recognized as one of 10 standout designers at the 2020 JC K Tucson show.
I was so excited for Dana. She did great and every time I was around her booth she was surrounded by curious people who were so excited to see her, her jewelry and some of the words I kept hearing from attendees were,  “This is so different. It's so unusual. It's so unique”, and what's really cool besides being such a wonderful person that Dana is, is that she will customize collections for you, whether your’re a direct to consumer interest or a store.
If you have a specific color scheme that you want to work with. She will work around that and create beautiful jewelry creations, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, but her specialty are earrings and necklaces. You can hear more about Dana's story on Jewelry Navigator Podcast.
Remote Coverage of NY Now Show
While I was in Tucson, I wanted to support a couple of the designers that I featured on the podcast who were exhibiting and showing in New York at the New York now show, one of whom is Pam Waill.
Pam is the creative force and genius of joyful organic elegance that is Petite Baleine Jewelry.
Her collections are delightful and are unexpected combinations of gems, pearls, metal, and materials that can seamlessly transform from casual coffee to date night out on the city.
Pam exhibited at the New York now show in luxury lifestyle and she graciously shared a wonderful video of her booth so I could be there as well. I've created show pages for each of the designers under a sub category.
On my website there is a menu that you can pull down and it's under shows, jewelry shows, and then it has to sawn and you can find each designer has a highlighted separate page.
Elizabeth Moore
Elizabeth Moore creates jewelry inspired by her southern roots, but grounded by direction in the Big Apple.
Her collections share symbols that celebrate reminders of inner strength using ethically sourced gems, like Montana sapphires, Kingsman, turquoise, pretty pink Opal set in repurposed 18kt gold. ⁣
You can find Elizabeth at and on Instagram @elizabethmoorenyc
Tracy Trainor
The last designer that I featured and talked about (and wore) in Tucson was Tracy Trainor.
While Tracy lives and creates her jewelry in Dublin, Ireland, she was with me in jewelry spirit in Tucson!
Tracy captures subtle movement in nature or animals through her jewelry, and how she interprets it with her wax carving, to the finish and how the textures are positioned.

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About Jewelry Navigator Podcast

Consumers need a source of qualified guidance when it comes to shopping for the jewelry they want and how to care for the jewelry they already have.

Jewelry Navigator Podcast features leading-edge jewelry advice by the host and founder, Brenna Pakes.

As a Graduate Gemologist from GIA (Gemological Institute of America) and a geology major, Brenna serves her audience with insightful tips on gems and jewelry, visits with industry leaders, and exclusive stories with jewelry designers.

Join Jewelry Navigator Podcast for your journey to smart and regret-free jewelry choices!

Listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Podbean.

Watch and follow on YouTube, Instagram, and FaceBook.






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