1. How long have you been in business?
My father, uncle, and grandfather started their company in 1982. I pretty much grew up in the business my whole life, but took over in 2008. I started a separate company as a division of their original business, with its main focus being to open up our factory to independent designers and private label manufacturing.
2. How many employees are family?
We currently have 8 immediate family members and like to think of the rest of our staff as extended family members. We have some staff members and advisors who have been with the company for 30+ years. I believe it is the hybrid between our senior staff and our younger, talented and enthusiastic members that has created an incredible dynamic and loyalty to our company and cause.
3. How many employees do you currently have?
We currently have about 80 employees, but have plans to expand to over 100 in 2017.
4. Approximately how many pieces are made a day?
The entire factory produces on average about 500-1000 pieces of jewelry per day. Our high end jewelers concentrate on one of a kind masterpieces and may produce 1 piece of jewelry every 2 weeks, while our mass production team has been able to produce over 5,000 pieces in one day.
5. What are the steps that go into making a single piece of jewelry?
We handle the entire jewelry making process—start to finish—all under one roof in our production house in Downtown LA. Here is a typical workflow for a piece of jewelry:
1. Sketch design on paper
2. Engineer and draw to scale in 3D CAD program
3. Build up prototype wax in a 3D printer.
4. Cast the wax master into metal
5. Jeweler cleans and prepares the master for mold
6. Make a rubber mold of the master
7. Shoot wax impressions from the mold
8. Cast the wax impressions into desired metal (typically 14K or 18k gold)
9. Grind and clean the casted part
10. Diamonds or gemstones are selected and set using microscopes by our expert setters
11. Jeweler adds finishing touches or assembly
12. Polisher buffs and polishes metal to mirror finish
13. The jewelry then goes through a cleaning cycle in ultrasonic machines and steam
14. QC Team inspects the jewelry and packages to clients instructions.
(all images by Samantha Matthews for Vrai & Oro)