Julio Benez | Owner, Jewelry Designer, GIA Graduate Gemologist
Artisan LA Jewelry
Q: Why did you start your business?
A: I was a sculptor and painter since I was a child, and I also collected gemstones and minerals. I always liked working to make pieces of art. When I was ready to work for myself, I asked myself what kind of business I wanted to own. I decided to create the product that I like the most: ornate forms of art holding nature's best gems. These pieces are portable, unique, interesting, require knowledge, and right away showed that I could be successful from my passion for the product. Once you do what you love, those extra hours of work necessary for a small business owner are not a burden.
Q: What are some key factors or decisions that contributed to the success of your business?
A: Most of the companies in this business only make or sell jewelry. We make, design, customize, and sell our own jewelry. That way we can cut costs, make our jewelry more unique, and explore the market for opportunities in a different way. We are looking to profit, but also to learn and have fun with the business.
We never knew that we would get so far--we are already using top of the line 3D design and 3D printing, with our great knowledge of gemstones to create our jewelry.
The new generation is not so focused on diamonds. My clientele spends time reading about gemstones and they love the great diversity of options. A diamond has four C's but a colored stones has way more information than the four C's. Those different factors are the difference between a sapphire ring sold at Bonhams for a 1.3 million and one sold for $500 on the internet.
Q: What are some challenging aspects of your business?
A: Thinking outside the box can get you wandering in the wrong direction sometimes. We self finance our business. The prospects of finding a niche is great, but also the time spent in niches makes the prospects not worth it.
Q: Do you feel you made any serious mistakes as you were starting or growing your business? Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?
A: Personally I think we always learn with the mistakes--sometimes we learn more than we would’ve if we did it right in the first place.
I regretted not having my own business earlier in life, but my experience working for other business in IT development, customer service, computer graphics, and jewelry buying gave me the knowledge that I needed in order to start a business.
Q: What other advice or words of inspiration would you like to share?
A: There is no recipe for the perfect business. What works for someone else may not work for you. Try to enjoy the ride, it is more fun than the destination.
About Artisan LA Jewelry
Artisan LA is a jewelry shop featuring the work of Julio Benez. We offer contemporary, vintage, and handcrafted jewelry with a heartfelt focus on "Made in the USA." Artisan LA specializes in crafting unique custom orders and custom engagement rings with a top-of-the-line technology. We create that perfect ring or re-imagine a sentimental piece of jewelry that needs a modernized make-over. If you're looking for something truly unique, this is the place! We have a collection of gemstones to choose from and the knowledge to explain why they are so unique.
"Most of the companies in this business only make or sell jewelry. We make, design, customize, and sell our own jewelry."—Julio Benez