Local jewelers shine bright

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Siesta’s Silver City owners open new fine jewelry store

By Jane Bartnett

Diamonds, as the song goes, may be a girl’s best friend, but according to jeweler Monica Galfre beautiful, natural pearls and colored gemstones are having their day.

Galfre and her husband, George Rysko, a Swiss-trained watchmaker, recently opened Diamond Bay Jewelers — a fine jewelry store in nearby Osprey. They are also the owners of the beloved Siesta Key Silver City Sarasota jewelry store on Midnight Pass Road.

An amethyst pendant designed by Monica Galfre

Both bring more than 30 years of experience in the world of jewelry to their two stores. As they celebrate the opening of their new Osprey store, they are returning to their roots in the fine jewelry world.

Speaking of this year’s trends in fine jewelry, Galfre explained that “pearls have become very popular, especially among younger people,” appearing in many contemporary designs and often paired with diamonds as well as colored gemstones. These natural gifts of the sea are one of the treasures of the jewelry world that fell from popularity; however, a new generation has re-discovered them for their natural beauty, affordability and colors.

“We carry the Imperial Pearl line at Diamond Bay. It’s my favorite collection and I’m so happy that younger women are discovering these beautiful pieces,” Galfre said. “People want jewelry that they can wear every day that’s more simplistic and beautiful. I appreciate that.”

The couple, who hail from the western province of Alberta, Canada, owned a fine jewelry store there before making Sarasota their home.

“We want to be your family jeweler,” said Galfre as she stood in the spacious and elegant surroundings of the new store that opened in mid-December.

Added Rysko, “We offer full-service in-house repairs of watches and jewelry with a state-of-the art laser,” said Rysko.

Customers will also be able to have their jewelry and watches professionally appraised by a GIA certified gemologist. “Tuesday is our appraisal clinic day,” said Galfre. “People don’t know the value of their jewelry and we can help with that. Gold is currently selling at $1,700 to $1,800 an ounce and diamonds are increasing in value.”

“One of the things that I enjoy most,” said Galfre with a smile, “is helping people re-design pieces that they may have inherited or that they don’t wear any longer.” One woman, she recalled, came to her with a group of small single gemstones and asked for advice. Together, they designed a pendant that held all of the single stones a new creation.

“Beauty in jewelry is when the stone or the piece means something to that person. Jewelry is emotion,” Galfre said.

Monica Galfre and George Rysko at Diamond Bay Jewelers. (photo by Jane Bartnett)

Engagement and diamond rings are another topic that Galfre delights in discussing. “Couples can design their own rings with the Engagement Bridal Builder that offers more than 1,300 possibilities for stone sizes, settings and colors,” she said.  “Many of today’s brides are choosing colored gemstones or pearls, but diamonds are still popular.”

When choosing a stone, she said, it’s important to decide if the ring will be worn every day. “Diamonds can be worn daily. Rubies and sapphires also make excellent everyday rings. Emeralds, however, are a soft stone,” she advised. 

Galfre also said that non-traditional stones and many semi-precious stones are gaining in popularity. “Topaz has become increasingly popular as a less expensive choice. A good yellow topaz looks very much like a canary diamond and it can be quite stunning when set with smaller diamonds,” said the jeweler.

As the new year begins, Galfre is looking ahead with great excitement to the new designs appearing in the fine jewelry world. She predicts that colored stones, opals, pearls, rose gold and layers of necklaces, bracelets and less traditional jewelry fashions will be in style.

“We’re also seeing more men discovering jewelry. We’re making special order chains and bracelets in leather and stainless steel for them. Hoop earrings are also very popular and can be worn for any occasion,” she said.

The long-forgotten opal, Galfre explained, has also become extremely popular. A new generation has discovered the ancient stone, once prized by the Romans, that were formed millions of years ago in Australia, Ethiopia and Mexico.

“For those who love opals,” Galfre said with great excitement, “we have ammolite. It looks like the best-quality black opal and no two are alike.” Found in Alberta, Canada, the land that Galfre and Rysko once called home, the International Gem Society reports that ammonite appears in a “dazzling range of colors and patterns and is highly desired for cabochons and assembled jewelry pieces.”

On Saturday, Jan. 28, to toast the new year and the new store, Diamond Bay Jewelers will host a special wine and cheese afternoon at the store from 3 to 6 p.m.

You’ll find Diamond Bay Jewelers in the Baystreet Town Center at 3976 Destination Drive in Osprey. Visit diamondbayjewelers.com or call (941) 786-1013. Store hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 pm.

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