For his wife Donna’s birthday, Tacoma resident Peter Altmann wanted to create a special pendant to mark the event. And so the quest began for a collection of unique, high-quality elements to be transformed into a piece of jewelry that would be regarded not only as a memento of the day, but also as a family heirloom.
For advice in creating such a pendant, Altmann turned to Steph Farber and his wife, Phyllis Harrison, of the seven-decades-old LeRoy Jewelers in Tacoma. The trio began to search for complementary stones and metals that would delight Donna’s eyes when presented together in a pendant. For the centerpiece gemstone, Altmann chose a stunning citrine, and the team decided on rose gold for the metal.
Then came the challenge: incorporating into the pendant two gold half-circle underpinnings from a pair of pearl earrings that had belonged to Altmann’s aunt Adele Block-Bauer. The jewelers worked to remove the half-circles from the earrings, without reshaping or changing them, so they could be applied to encircle the pendant’s diamond.
(When the earrings were successfully dismantled, the remaining components, including the pearls, were reworked into a newly designed pair of earrings.)
The citrine was carved by one of LeRoy’s favorite business partners and friends, lapidary artist Thomas Trozzo. Working from Culpeper, Virginia, Trozzo has won multiple national awards and gained international recognition for his unusual, complex designs. The other partnering artist was Albert Shakhramanov, now a jeweler in Federal Way. The Uzbekistan-born master craftsman used his depth of experience in carving, casting and assembling the final design for the pendant.
Altmann was ecstatic about the finished piece, as was Donna when she opened her special birthday gift.
Harrison says the couple’s very best work—such as the Altmann pendant—generally comes from true collaboration with their clients. They also take pride in telling their clients’ stories.
What is their secret to creating timeless, enduring pieces that are passed down through the ages? Listening carefully, designing collaboratively and simply telling the story in jewelry that will last for generations, says Harrison. Adds Farber: “We make jewelry your grandchildren will fight over—it will last through the generations.”
HOLLY SMITH PETERSON
Tacoma, WA 98402