No need to own any jewelry

AT WORK

December 14, 2005|By NANCY JONES-BONBREST | NANCY JONES-BONBREST,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Jacquelyn Stephens Shatzer

Goldsmith/designer, Towson

Age --49

Years in business --27 years

Salary --$32,000 a year plus yearly distributions that range from $4,000 to $8,000

How she got started --Shatzer majored in art at Towson University but left after three years to complete a one-year jewelry design and repair program at the former Bowman Technical School in Lancaster, Pa. She went to work as an apprentice at the former H.C. Garthe Co., a Baltimore jewelry store. When the company went out of business, she and co-worker Tanya Turner started their own business in 1988 making, designing and repairing jewelry. In 1993, they opened the retail store in Towson known as Tiara Jewelers.

Typical day --Shatzer and partner Turner both work on jewelry, taking turns to assist customers who come into the store or to answer phone calls. The majority of her work is special order, custom-made jewelry that is made by hand. Shatzer said about 20 percent of her work is for trade accounts with firms such as Heirloom Jewels in the Village of Cross Keys.

On being a woman jeweler --Shatzer said a jeweler must be comfortable with tools. She and her father used to put together models of lighthouses and birds. She later went into sculpting and ceramics. Making jewelry was a natural extension. "I think traditionally women are not exposed to mechanical things. And being a jeweler is a very mechanical thing. You're handling tools, pliers and saws. The way my father was with me - that gave me the confidence to be around tools."

The good --"Designing and making a special-order piece. That's satisfying."

The bad --Having to put the display jewelry into the safe every night, just to pull it out again in the morning. "That's tedious."

Philosophy --Treating customers as she would want to be treated. "Jewelry is very personal, very sentimental. I love putting people at ease, showing them the shop and allowing them to watch me while I work. Some places are so impersonal. Here ... you bring it in and I'm doing the work."

What's in style --Antique reproduction and color.

Physically demanding --"I never have pretty hands. It's very physically tough on the hands."

The perks --Shatzer said she doesn't own a necklace or earrings. Instead, she gets to borrow jewelry from the store.

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