written by Sarah Glynn
With his broad and extensive jewelry and gemstone background, which have taken him to the far reaches of the globe, including, Bangkok, Brazil, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, and Jaipur, we are proud to introduce you to one of this issues featured gemologists, Bryan Aderhold. With each experience along his journey adding new insights to his continuously evolving expertise within the industry, from the procurement of the gems at their source, to the cutting and trading, his unique approach has earned him the nickname, the Candy Man. Along with his charming resemblance to Gene Wilder, of course.
We had the pleasure of interviewing Bryan for his insight into his upbringing and adventurous journey into the jewelry and gemstone industry, curiously appreciating his vividly unique and charming approach to all things gemstone. Here’s a few inserts from our endearing chat.
“How did you get started in the jewelry industry?”
Bryan told us, “My great grandfather, Salvatore Fileti, was an Italian immigrant to the county who was a jeweler in the Newark, NJ manufacturing hub of the 1930’s and 40’s. But that honestly has absolutely nothing to do with my entry to the biz! I was working as a caddy on a golf course while trying to make a living in the music business as a performer, engineer, writer, and producer. I met some great people on the golf course, and one individual I would caddy for owned a jewelry store. He told me stories about his trips overseas to buy gemstones and I was fascinated. One day, on the fourth hole, I mustered up enough courage to ask him for a job. A few weeks later I dove headfirst into the gem and jewelry business and haven’t looked back since.”
Working with colored gemstones has always offered a unique opportunity to create your own persona, just ask Bryan, he’ll tell you himself. As a matter of fact, out of immense curiosity of the origin of his famous nickname, we asked him:
“What made you choose the persona, ‘The Candy Man?’”
He replied with, “The truth is I didn’t choose it, the Jewelers Helping Jewelers community chose it for me! When I started on JHJ, I was not very active on Facebook, and on JHJ I was mainly just observing and not contributing. Once again, in a surge of courage, I slowly started to post a little bit on JHJ. One of my first posts was of me holding a 100-karat unheated sapphire. I had the photo taken because it was a remarkable stone and I thought it would be fun to share it with the community. What followed was nothing I could have ever expected. There was little mention of the stone, but more so comments about who I looked like, (the guy from Dire Straits, Gallagher the comedian) and then came the meme of Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka. What is funny is that I had been told many times I looked like Gene Wilder. So instead of taking a beating over it, I decided to embrace it. Shortly after that, I got a Willy Wonka Halloween costume for a Halloween party my wife and I went too. We took a few photos of me, started having fun designing a few ads and it just stuck. There are so many fun ways to pull it all together, including my occasional Golden Ticket Contest.”
Straight from the heart of New York City’s Diamond District, Nash James, Aderhold’s business, was founded upon an industry recognized expertise. Built upon years of fascinatingly different experiences within multiple facets of the gemstone and jewelry industry, Nash James has the jewelry you need and the knowledge you trust.
Leading us to our next question, “Do you see retailers now understanding the importance of loose colored stones to their business?”
He told us, “Colored stones have seen a growth in popularity from consumers who are on Etsy and Instagram, getting inspired by unique and interesting things. Diamond still outsells color, but many more people are asking for color. Additionally, creating custom jewelry is more commonplace with the proliferation of CAD technology throughout the industry.”
We also inquired about what top 5 colored stones Bryan would recommend retailers keep in stock, and he told us, “Emerald, ruby, and sapphire for obvious reasons, along with aquamarine and morganite. Aqua is a well-known gemstone to consumers and the pale shade of blue is very much in demand currently. Morganite is also very much in demand due to its attractive pastel hues, which range from peach to peachy pink to pink.
This led up to our next couple of questions, asking Bryan which colored stones have the best margins, and how jewelers can build their colored stone business in five simple steps.
What he told us was very helpful.
“All colored stones generally offer great margins. It is a wonderful area for profitability. Every stone is unique. I was a retailer for the first ten years of my career in this business, so I remember it was always a good day when we sold a significant colored stone. As far as five simple steps, nothing about being a retailer is easy. Going with tried and true categories is the path of least resistance, but these are also items that can be shopped online, and price is a main factor. Colored stone jewelry is a unique item and offers any opportunity for creative marketing.”
We wrapped up our interview wanting a little bit of personal insight with current economic issues, such as Covid 19 and how it affected his own business. Here’s what Bryan said:
“2020 was off to a strong start and then the brakes hit hard in mid-March, for me and everyone else. Clearly from mid-March to mid-May we were quiet, but since we started up again toward the end of May, business has been incredibly good. It’s such a tough time, as some people are really suffering, but I also know many clients and colleagues that are doing record numbers since reopening. There have been some challenges with sourcing products overseas as we have not been able to travel in addition to the shortages of rough material due to mine and factory closures.”
As you can see, Bryan Aderhold took the bravest step into the unknown by courageously jumping into a completely different lifestyle than expected. His golf caddy job ended up introducing him to the gemstone and jewelry industry, and we couldn’t be more thrilled that he hasn’t looked back since.