We all have it. That drawer with rings you will never wear, orphan earrings, jewelry from an ex, meaningful necklaces that don’t match anything else. You could sell them for their precious metals. Instead, consider taking those pieces to an expert jewelry designer to help you see the options for creating something new.
Jewelry is about tradecraft. Design is about art. I love working in gold and diamonds and seeing my designs become part of the notable events in a client’s life. Designing new pieces from scratch is one type of art – producing something from nothing. Re-design is more of a puzzle – using existing material to match a personality.
The re-design process is about understanding the client. What do you like to wear? What’s your style? What do the pieces mean to you? It’s amazing how collaborating with different clients with similar pieces brings out entirely different designs.
It’s still important to evaluate the raw materials: Grading stones and pearls, the amount of gold, platinum, silver. You don’t want to put two different color pearls next to each other. The grade of the diamond decides how prominent you make it.
The process has to be collaborative, discussing the options for the design, creating hand drawn sketches, and the final design in rendered color and watching the client’s expression as different ideas are presented. The end piece should reflect personality, not compete with it.
The tradecraft is crucial to re-design. Knowing how to melt gold, roll chains, create castings, knotting a pearl, it’s all crucial to creating a beautiful heirloom piece. It’s amazing how collaborating with different clients brings out entirely different designs.
The last step is watching the expression on the client’s face when presenting the finished piece. At the end of it, jewelry is about emotion and brilliant design should bring out awe.
You make sure your car is serviced regularly. You change the batteries in your smoke alarms. But when it comes to the things you buy to commemorate the most important people and events of your life, you buy them, wear them, and expect that nothing bad will ever happen.
The fact is regular cleaning with an experienced jeweler is critical to making sure your memories and investment are there to pass down to the next generation. You may wonder, “With all the cleaners and devices available, why should I go to my jeweler for a cleaning when I could do it myself?” According to George Halwagy, proprietor of La Mirage Jewelers in Park Ridge, a professional jeweler will make sure that:
La Mirage Jewelers, your family jeweler. Bringing you Modern Jewelry Design with Old World Quality.
La Mirage Jewelers and Designer George Halwagy
La Mirage Jewelers is the family jeweler that brings their clients Modern Jewelry Design with Old World Quality. George Halwagy brings the eye of the artist to his jewelry design.
Growing up in Lebanon George came from humble beginnings.
How did you become the fine artist and business owner you are today? “I was always getting in trouble for spending too much time drawing and not enough time doing chores. I was always a hard worker, just not doing the things my parents wanted me to. A jewelry apprenticeship became my passion. In 1978, I got an opportunity to put my creativity and hard work together to build a future in the USA.” George continued, “I have been in the jewelry industry since I first moved to the United States from my birthplace, Lebanon, in 1980. I landed a prime position as an apprentice at the renowned Cartier jewelers in New York City.”
He went on to say, “I started designing jewelry from my own sketches to meet my customer's specific tastes on the side. Nothing on the mass market was quite good enough for my personal customers.” George explained, “For me a great design is about suspending assumptions. It is about listening and truly understanding what the customer wants to achieve.”
What’s the philosophy behind your business? “The most important thing in business is building relationships – it’s the one thing that gets you through the hard times and makes the good times better. Covid only reinforced that belief.”
What is your biggest inspiration in life or in your job that brings you joy? “Family. And not just my own family. Being in the jewelry business allows me to be a part of the joyous moments in my customers’ lives; those usually revolve around family. It really makes this business about caring about those in our lives.”
What more can you tell me about your immediate family? “We have three grown sons who are each well on their way in their careers. We know they will make a lasting mark in this world, and we are so proud of the men they have become. My youngest son, Justin, recently adopted a shelter puppy, Taz. He’s been a great addition to the family, too.”
What effect has family relationships had on your business? “In 1983, I married Claudette - and the partnership made the future a lot brighter for both of us. Being in this business together has allowed me to focus on creating designs for clients while I know I have the full support of my wife and partner.” George added, “By 1986, we had our first tiny location inside a nail salon in New York.” George reflected on Claudette’s reaction to his relentless sketching, “Claudette reminds me that I haven’t changed all that much. I have a note taped to my desk to remind me to pick up the scraps of drawings I leave on just about every surface of the store!”
It must have taken a lot of work to grow your business to the success it is today. “We expanded quickly. La Mirage added an extensive collection of diamonds and gems, stringing, watches, and pearls. I continued to grow the business, working with customers every step of the way. We moved to the Jewelry Exchange in Paramus soon after. No matter the budget, we did everything we could to help make every happy occasion special. The move to the Paramus location gave La Mirage a great location and the ability to leverage high volume transactions for the benefit of customers. Along the way, La Mirage created lasting partnerships with diamond and gold suppliers. In 2019 La Mirage bought the building in Park Ridge, and I worked with Claudette to redesign everything about the space to make it the perfect environment to work directly with clients to design the right pieces to celebrate their most important occasions. I was able to go back to friends I’d known since grade school in Lebanon to design and build the custom cabinets for the space. We are very proud of what we have built.”
Do you have a special message to share with the neighborhood or community? “We moved to Park Ridge from Paramus in 2019. We went through the pandemic as a part of this amazing community, and we couldn’t be more grateful. We were only here a few months before everything shut down. We know so many people who were impacted by the disease. But we also know many people who stopped in just to say hello and let us know we were welcome.” George continued, “The message to our neighbors is, “Thank you!”.
“Come visit me and the team at La Mirage and see for yourself how a hard-working artist can make your special event SPECTACULAR!”