How long have you been in business?
Stone Mania started trading with gemstones back in June 2004.
Do you have a company by-line?
My company's blurb is: 'Transforming magnificent gemstones into breathtaking pieces of jewellery' and I specialize in gemstone pendants and rings but hope to start dealing in loose gemstones as well in the not too distant future.
What brought you into the business?
I started dealing in gemstones after a trip to India in which I became completely captivated by the amount of stones which I saw whilst travelling around the country.
Have you noticed many changes over the years?
Business has certainly changed over the years. I have gone from selling low quality ready made gemstone jewellery to dealing solely in the finest grade gemstones available and all of my jewellery is now made specifically for me. I have progressed from trading on eBay, to Camden and a few other markets, to solely doing shows and exhibitions. I also run a large and successful website which features a comprehensive gemstone directory
What stands out as the best part of running your business?
The best part of running my business is the buying of the gemstones to use in my jewellery. This is a process that I never tire of and every stone in my collection, has been very carefully chosen before it is mounted, nothing is bought ready made. Having the opportunity of looking at beautiful gemstones all day is something you really can't complain about!
What’s the worst?
The worse thing about my business is returning to the UK with new stock only to find the female members of my family going through everything and choosing the best pieces for themselves!
Is there anything you’d do differently if you could do it again?
If I could do it all over again, I'd do it pretty much the way I have done this time around, the only thing I would do differently, is that I would start ten years earlier
What do you hope to achieve in the next 10 years? - no answer
Do you have a memorable funny (business) story?
I don't have any funny stories that come to mind, but there is something a little ironic about me selling gemstones. When I left school, I went into the travel industry working for Thomson Holidays for a few years and then moving onto my current employer with whom I have now been with for over 20 years, Virgin Atlantic Airways. Travelling the world gives me the opportunity to buy things quite easily in a number of different countries and there came a time when I decided it would be nice to start my own business selling something back here in the UK. After initially starting to buy cheap jewellery in India, I became more and more fascinated with fine quality gemstones, something which I have never had any interest in before in my life and which I have not really known anything about it. Strangely enough, my great grandfather was a diamond polisher all his life and he was also the president of the diamond polishers union during the early 1900's and his son, my grandfather, also trained and worked as a diamond polisher for many years. Is it not quite ironic that I now have my own successful business, dealing with and writing about gemstones!
What are your favourite crystals? no answer
What do you look for in a customer? no answer
How do you source your stock?
All of the stones which are used in my collection are carefully chosen by me prior to being mounted. Nothing is bought ready made and I definitely don't bulk buy any of my stones. I go directly to gemstone dealers in various parts of the world including India, South Africa, Namibia and Australia and having chosen the stones I want to use, they are then made into pieces of jewellery for my collection.
What preparation do you do for a show? no answer
As an experienced exhibitor what advice would you want to share with others?
As an exhibitor, the advice I would share would be, always be well prepared, know as much as possible about the items that you're selling and be happy to talk to people who are just there for a day out with little intention of buying. Explain to those who are not so knowledgeable about your product where it comes from, how it is made or evolves and any other quirky little facts which may be of interest to them, always show respect and be genuinely friendly, engage with customers and look after those who are loyal to you and really believe in the product that you're selling.
Further information about Stone Mania and can be found on my blog (http://stonemania.wordpress.com/) and the story about how it all began can also be found there (http://stonemania.wordpress.com/the-story-so-far/)