A Treasure Hunting Story in Baltimore
Treasure Hunting with Anup Jogani
“I’m sorry, we’re not buying right now.” On the road in any business, you’ll hear this from time to time. Many dealers go through phases of buying and selling inventory, cycling off and on endlessly. So yeah, sometimes, they’re “not buying right now.”
It’s a phrase we don’t use here at Jogani: we’re always buying; constantly curating. We crisscross California, the US, and the world looking for goods that fit our aesthetic: old world grandeur and craftsmanship, sweet stones with beautiful hues and great history, pieces that are unique and beautiful. As we refine our vision, the things we’re after become harder to find. We can’t stop. We don’t stop. We’re always buying.
Tiring? A little, but also immense fun. We get to travel to unexpected places and meet uncanny people, seeking out unexpected and uncanny pieces. Here’s a peek at the process behind finding the unique gemstones and jewelry that we bring home.
Home on the Road
We travel, a lot. LA has a busy jewelry and gemstone trade, and the internet has drawn the globe a little bit closer, but there’s no replacement for shoe leather. To consistently maintain an inventory of what we intend to be the best merchandise in the world, we have to get out there.
Our drive comes from looking for uncommon things. We hunt the most unique, sweetest merchandise available: intriguing old stones. Beautiful flat cuts. Mesmerizing colors. For a piece to land in our collection, it has to be special; more special than what we bought last year. It has to excite us, and that’s getting harder and harder all the time. You can’t hunt like that from your desk.
Knowledge and Intuition: The Intelligent Gamble
It’s not just travel: our team puts in a ton of legwork, backing up kinetic effort with expert knowledge and a defined aesthetic identity. Identifying the right stones, understanding the merchandise on a deep level, finding the right signatures, knowing or at least sensing what we’re looking at, without a complete set of facts: we have to do all of those things on the fly. When you’re in a basement in Queens or a busy open-air market in Asia, dangerously close to the time you should be be clearing airport security for a flight home, staring at something that you suspect might-oh-yes-just-might be much more than what it seems, your gut takes over. Better hope you have a smart gut.
It’s impossible (and imprudent) to pick favorites, but here are some finds from the last year that have stood out:
In late 2015 one of our team was shaking trees in Baltimore. Not exactly the nexus of the jewelry universe, but there was a trade show on, and off she went to see what she could see. What she brought back caused our little beehive in Beverly Hills to stop and take note.
A delicate, lively straight-line ruby bracelet. Prototypical art deco design and construction, impeccable make: it moved like it was born on a master jeweler’s bench yesterday.
And the kicker: 40 French-cut unheated Burmese rubies. An old cut, a pretty cut — and one you don’t see often. Rarity factor: check. The material? That just-so shade of deep magenta-red. Burmese, all natural. FORTY of them, cut to perfection and set like a laser beam for your wrist. Quality factor: check. Jogani factor? You bet. Baltimore, you guys. We found this in Baltimore.
Hey guys, why so picky?
We’re the first to admit that things would be easier if we were more open minded. There’s stuff out there — decent stuff that we stubbornly don’t give a damn for — that many reasonable and intelligent people would like; pieces that we could profit from. But isn’t a passion pursuit so much more fun? We let our taste guide us for better or for worse. We rely on depth of knowledge, we like to think we have a well developed appreciation for beauty, and we cultivate an understanding of the architecture of jewelry.
But in the end we’re just very picky, and we’re picky based on what boils down to personal preference. We trust ours implicitly, and refuse to compromise on the stuff we love. We shrug off any doubts, assume that we probably aren’t crazy, and hope that the collection will resonate with our audience. We’ve been lucky so far: our partners and customers definitely respond.