written by Paul Holewa
When children make jewelry it’s typically a passing fancy. That wasn’t the case for Stacey Pedrick Horcher. Her first memory of making jewelry was when she was five years old, her grandmother gave her a plastic jewelry making kit. She used it to make her grandmother a pendant with her name in little plastic alphabet beads.
That formative moment in her life sparked an early interest in jewelry making. More importantly, Stacey discovered the power of self-taught skills. Since that tender age, she’s never looked back.
Decades later, Stacey still has the plastic necklace and pendant with the letters spelling out her grandmother’s name: Edith. Unbeknownst to Stacey’s grandmother at the time, the seeds of destiny took root.
One or two years later, Stacey’s father gave her sterling silver rings, which she enjoyed wearing. And, when she was eleven, her uncle that owned a jewelry store, gave Stacey odds and ends of materials to make earrings and necklaces.
“They were awful,” says Stacey, “But I learned a lot from my mistakes and had a good time experimenting”.
During her teens and early twenties Stacey concentrated on her academic studies at high school and her English degree at college. But, she remained interested in jewelry.
A friend of Stacey’s had an acquaintance that was looking to fill a sales position at their diamond company. Stacey took that job. Two years later she secured a similar position with Reiss, Inc., a Chicago-based diamond wholesaler.
That was 27 years ago. “As a sales manager I sell, manage, take calls, quote diamonds, organize production of custom projects, find sources for everything anyone needs, give advice, counsel, and occasionally make collection calls,” says Stacey. “I do everything but buying and bookkeeping.”
As many retail jewelers and their staff will attest, diamond sales associates can become a strong ally – and not just with precious gems. But also with packaging, ad specialty items, display ideas, marketing ideas, Stacey talks to dozens of people in various parts of the jewelry industry every day, and is happy to share information with her customers about where to find all manner of goods and services related to jewelry, even though she only sells diamonds and pearls and stringing services. Need some Paraiba tourmaline diamond cut .02’s? She knows who has that!
Diamonds dominate most conversations, of course, but other topics typically enter the discussion. That’s how Stacey has created not just a reputation for being an industry “connector”, she helps jewelers find what they need.
Synergems got its start in 1997. At that time Stacey heard from her diamond customers (jewelry store owners) that they needed price-point-friendly jewelry options to sell to women as self-purchases. Stacey said to herself – “I can do that.” And with that SYNERGEMS was born.
“I started making some simple sets, mostly garnets, freshwater pearls, sterling silver,” says Stacey.
Stacey’s first round of production was about 30 earrings, bracelets and necklaces. While talking to a diamond customer, the retail jewelry storeowner told Stacey that she had an emergency need for inventory to fill the store’s new display cases.
Sensing the urgency of the inventory needs Stacey shared information about her new side venture with Synergems. The storeowner took all 30 pieces on memo.
“Just days later, she called back to tell me all the jewelry I’d sent her on memo was sold out,” says Stacey. “I almost fainted! I worked feverishly that night to help re-fill her cases and brought items to her store that weekend. Synergems jewelry was selling like crazy. She became a wonderful account.”
Jewelry making for Synergems incorporated many self-taught skills, most important of them pearl stringing. Stacey taught herself how to string pearls by watching a live demonstration at Rio Grande of the Tricord bead knotting tool, buying the tool and watching the video of that process repeatedly. She has gone from stringing basics to more advanced and specialized stringing including right angle weaving, 3-D stringing, mystery clasp restringing and fancy multiple strand pieces. These days Stacey has dozens of pearl stringing customers across the country and some international clients.
Pearl stringing was added to Synergems list of product and service possibilities. Today, Synergems has become: “A resource for retailers who need pearls, custom stringing, custom repair and restoration, and cool, unique, affordable beautiful jewelry,” says Stacey.
Marketing for her home-spun business is done cost-effectively mainly on social media. “Synergems has its own Facebook page where products are displayed and sold,” says Stacey. “I don’t really ‘market’ per se. I mostly post product images and take orders. Jewelers Helping Jewelers Facebook page has also been a good place to connect and sell to retail jewelers. And, Instagram has also been a good website for product postings.”
There’s an old saying of “good business is where you find it.” Stacey feels her life has been blessed by her fascination with learning and her natural ability to connect with business people by listening to them. For more than two decades her professional and personal life has been a constant juggle (she created Synergems when her two children – one boy and one girl – were small).
Stacey credits her husband Pat for a large part of her success. “He is a Florist and is elected President of their home-town, Wheeling Illinois. He has always encouraged her to “buy more of that” at trade shows and has been her biggest fan, calmest advisor, and most amazing advocate.
Still, like a strand of fine pearls, Stacey has successfully strung together a group of practical sought-after skills into a multi-faceted career in the gem and jewelry industry. The trick is making it all work.
“I mush it all together,” says Stacey. “There’s no balance. I do whatever I need to do. I do Synergems work, sometimes, sometimes I do Reiss work at home. It’s all good!