Q. Who are you?
My name is Gillian Griffiths, and I’m a Gemologist. I live in San Francisco with my husband Alex, my daughter Celia, and our Labrador Lucy!
Q. What is your Etsy store called and what do you sell there?
My store is Gold Adore, and I specialize in Vintage and Estate Fine Jewelry. Think antique engagement rings, diamonds, gold, and platinum!
Q. How did you get into Gemology?
I’ve always loved jewelry, and I’ve always loved estate sales. One day I was at an estate sale looking at a ‘diamond’ ring and I remember turning it over in my hand wondering if it was a real diamond. At the time I was selling my small business and considering a new career, so it was really like a light bulb going off in my head! I decided to go back to school and become the person who could tell the difference between real and fake.
Q. When did you start collecting/selling vintage pieces?
Vintage has always been special to me. I think everything I ever wore in college was secondhand, and that was before ‘vintage’ was fashionable! Same with my college apartment. It really started as more of a financial necessity, but I loved it. When I moved to San Francisco, I was just in heaven with all the thrift stores! I didn’t start selling on my own until I opened my Etsy shop, but I had worked previously at Butterfields, a high-end auction house in SF.
Q. What was your first sale?
My first Etsy sale was a simple, Art Deco, Platinum, Diamond, Channel Set wedding band. I had just opened my store a few days prior with 5 items that I had meticulously hand picked. I was shocked to get a sale! I got the notification while playing in the backyard sandpit with my daughter, and we both did a happy dance. I knew that if I could make my store work, it really would be my dream come true.
Q. What was your greatest discovery/find – is there a story?
Maybe the Art Deco Tiffany Engagement Ring I found in a barn in West Virginia, covered in so much dirt I couldn’t even read the stamp until I cleaned it. Or maybe the plain wedding band I found with a simple inscription, A.G. to M.G., 10-27-29. Two days later was Black Tuesday, and I spent days thinking of how that one event must have affected A.G. and M.G., whoever they were. Every piece has a story. Every piece I hold was someone’s engagement ring, someone’s wedding band; someone’s most valuable, most sentimental object. I probably spend far too much imagining/ fantasizing about the people who owned my pieces previously. I really feel that it’s my responsibility to care for, treasure, and show others just how special vintage jewelry is.
Q. What inspires you?
What is your passion? My first inspiration is my family. They are amazing and special and unique and inspire me to be the best I can everyday. Then it’s the work. I absolutely LOVE what I do. I love Diamonds. I love Platinum, and gold and pearls, and rubies and sapphires. I love design, and seeing it and holding it and feeling it and trying it on! I love buying and I love selling. I love talking with people, hearing their stories, and why they might be buying one of my rings – be it love and marriage, a baby, a reward, or just a special treat! My husband usually has to pry me away from my laptop at night because I love it so much.
Q. If you could give other future Etsyians one tip, what would that be?
Be yourself, keep trying, and do what you love! I spent years trying to figure out what I wanted to do, and who I should be. I have held many, many different jobs, both before, and after, becoming a gemologist. I often tried to mesh my own instincts with other people’s expectations of me, mostly with mediocre results. It wasn’t until I really listened to myself, and stopped trying to meet other’s expectations, that I found true success.