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When Nayda Alvarez and her husband Luis Camara came to Morgantown this past March, they were quite pleased to move into a property that included a small shop behind their home. For Alvarez, who has a love for semi-precious stones, it was her chance to fulfill her desire of owning and operating a jewelry business. She had always collected jewelry as a hobby, so before her business Joyas ‘n’ Stones -located at 6280 Morgantown Rd., between the Caernarvon Cemetery and DeLong’s Exxon – had even opened its doors in May, she was in possession of a choice inventory.
“I have a personal collection of semi-precious stones and jewelry,” said Alvarez, “and I also have some very nice vintage jewelry I have been buying at estate sales.”
In addition to Joyas ‘n’ Stones stock of bracelets, earrings, necklaces, and pins, Alvarez also has items such as watches, handbags, beads, hairbands, and small pieces of art such as statuettes.
“We have a nice selection of items here, but my passion is for the semi-precious stones. They are not as expensive as diamonds or emeralds but just as beautiful.”
Alvarez said that she has always had an appreciation for jewelry, but her endearment towards semi-precious stones emerged from her and Luis’ experiences while traveling abroad. No matter the destination, Alvarez was always enchanted by the handcrafted jewelry of local artisans.
“I love the beauty of the practical jewelry they created with native stones like Amber,” she said.
Joyas ‘n’ Stones is Alvarez’s recreation of that ideal place where customers can find that practical beauty infused in stones such as turquoise, opals, tiger’s eye, onyx and jasper - a place where the jewelry is accessible to everyone.
“I am the type of person who is going to spend my money on a nice variety of jewelry rather than one expensive piece,” she said. “My goal is to have a selection of pretty jewelry for prices that are down to earth.”
In addition to selling items, Joyas ‘n’ Stones offers customers the opportunity to design pieces of jewelry for themselves. Not only can a customer pick a finished or unfinished stone to have crafted into tailor-made pieces of jewelry – they can also bring in their own stones to have crafted into jewelry.
“For a very reasonable price we can create a nice mounted stone. We want people to design their own piece of jewelry that they can wear with pride.”
Customers can also bring in their damaged jewelry, such as chipped stones or loose mountings, for repair.
“I think being a local business is very valuable when you are thinking about jewelry repair. With a local service you do not have to worry about shipping and things getting misplaced.”
Also offered are free appraisals, as well as consignment options for artisans creating small pieces of art and jewelry. A large reason behind this flexibility in Joyas ‘n’ Stones services comes as a result of Alvarez’s talented business associates. For the past several months she has been studying stonecutting under the tutelage her associate Bob Green, the owner of Green Designs in Elverson.
“When I first thought about opening my business, a friend had suggested that I reach out to Bob. He has an excellent reputation in the community and is (skilled in jewelry) repair. I have learned a lot about stonecutting from him. He likes working with the precious stones, but the semi-precious stones are my passion.”
Green instructed Alvarez in cutting stones, polishing stones, and mounting stones in precious metal (her favorite is sterling silver). The process often begins with using a saw to cut raw stones, and then moves on to grinding the stones at different levels or abrasiveness to shape them. Finally the stones are polished and then mounted. Alvarez finds it to be very detailed and rewarding work. She enjoys it so much that even hosted a stone cutting demonstration at the shop.
Her other associate, Elizabeth Cabrera of Reading, spent her career in New York and is trained as a gemologist.
“When I told her that I was planning on opening a location in Morgantown she brought some of her inventory here. Bob has consigned some pieces to the store as well. My associates can offer more expensive jewelry at very reasonable prices, which are great investments. They are both very honest (and it is important) to have associates that are so well educated.”
In fact, when asked about what advice she would offer to those who are thinking about starting their own business, Alvarez named a good network of businesspeople as being very important.
“The key is to network and find others who can help. You would be surprised at how many people will be interested in helping you by sharing their point of view and opinion. Even if you do not have a commercial space you can start a side business out of your home.”
She also said that caring about what you do is critical.
“What is important is that you have a passion for what you are doing. Make sure that you love it and that you want to put the time into it. If you have a true passion you can become very successful.”
She added that Joyas ‘n’ Stones is planning for a bit of an expansion - a small thrift shop which would accept donations and direct a portion of its proceeds to Grace and Truth Fellowship in Morgantown.
“Some of the money raised by the thrift store will be given to the church to help sponsor missionary programs. Karl and Cindy Pokrop of Morgantown have been doing short term mission trips to Honduras for over 10 years at the hospital Loma de Luz in Belfate, Honduras. It is important for businesses and the community to be generous and contribute what they can to help others.”
Joyas ‘n’ Stones can be reached by phone at 610-286-6658.
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