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Lodholz Wins AGTA Spectrum Award

Lodholz Wins AGTA Spectrum Award

Cary, N.C. – Excerpt from the Cary News

If diamonds are a girl’s best friend, then Ron Lodholz could be a close second. Lodholz is a jewelry designer and owner of the Stonehaven Jewelry Gallery in Stone Creek Village shopping center. Under his expert eye (and hands), cut stones become “Oh my!’ works of art, as suitable for display on a pedestal as they are around a woman’s neck or finger.

Lodholz’s skill, already evident to those familiar with his work, was honored recently by people who judge jewelry on more than the “Oh my!” factor. He won a Spectrum — Platinum Honors Award from the American Gem Trade Association for a necklace he calls “Burning Bridges.”

On the AGTA Web site (www.agta.org), award winners are described as the people who set the standards of excellence for the entire industry. The competition is “a true contest of workmanship, creativity and innovation,” according to the group.

“It’s truly a one-of-a-kind piece,” said Lodholz’s business partner, Billy Webster.” Definitely not something you would reproduce over and over again It’s representative of what he can do, technically as well as artistically.”

Burning Bridges is an 18-carat yellow gold and platinum hand-fabricated necklace featuring a 27.73-carat citrine and three tourmalines (4.53-carat weight), accented with diamonds (.51-carat weight), held together with platinum and yellow gold.

The finished piece is breathtaking, and Lodholz is understandably pleased.

“I knew people liked my work but this [award] is different, because it’s by my peers,” he said. This necklace has been recognized by the Who’s Who in the jewelry industry, by people who have worked with fine jewelry for years. That’s a shot in the arm.”

The necklace is currently for sale at the gallery, but Ludholz declined to name the price for publication.

Finding a place

If he had been a little older when he applied for his first job, Lodholz, now 39, might have ended up owning a pet store rather than a jewelry store.

But the Tullahoma, Tenn.-pet shop owner would not hire Lodholz until he was 16. Luckily, he had a friend at a nearby jewelry store and found a place there.

Howard Thompson owned the shop, and started Ludholz out doing normal menial teenager jobs — cleaning showcases, vacuuming floors and so on. Soon he moved up to polishing jewelry, and Thompson saw the young man had a knack and an eye for fine things. He asked Lodholz if he wanted to learn more and got an enthusiastic “yes.”

Lodholz loved the jewelry business. He completed high school a year early so he could focus on an apprenticeship. He took some business courses and earned a graduate gemologist degree from the Gemological Institute of America.

He worked for other stores before opening Stonehaven in September 2001.

The ‘wow’ factor

Diamonds are glamorous and elegant, and Lodholz and the store’s two other designers create magnificent pieces of jewelry with them.

But colored stones — like the citrine that seems to burn with an orange glow — let his imagination run wild.

“I’ve been in love with colored stones forever,” Lodholz said. “I like diamonds, too, but colored stones each have their own personality.”

It’s that personality Lodholz looks for when he is scoping trade shows for new gems. He always goes with a list of things he needs to come home with, but saves time to walk around and see what jumps out at him.

“I’m looking for something that makes me go, wow,” he said. “Those are the stones that usually make one-of-a-kind pieces.”

Such was the case with the award-winning necklace’s citrine, shaped with concave facets by an award-winning cutter. Lodholz bought the stone four years ago and waited for inspiration to strike.

He does not like to rush the design process, so when the first 10 or so ideas he had for the stone didn’t pan out, he put it aside.

“If the muse doesn’t visit you right away, it’s time to move on and come back to it later,” he said.

He kept studying the center-piece stone. The citrine’s fire could be nicely balanced with a cooler stone, he thought — hence the green, wet-looking tourmanline. The stones play off each other like a hot and cold, fire and water theme.

Lodholz fiddled with designs in his head, sketching out some of the more promising. The very things that made the citrine beautiful — especially its unique cut — also presented a design challenge.

“I wanted a way to hold the stone that didn’t take away from the three points,” Lodholz said. “It’s such and phenomenal stone, I wanted to show it off as much as I can.”

He solved that problem, and others. The clasp, for example. He needed a clasp that would securely fasten but an ordinary clasp would look, well, too ordinary on a necklace this dramatic. He finally created one that looks much like the columns that hold the tourmalines.

The finished piece, he thinks, was worth the time it took to come together. How long did it take? He is not sure.

“I have no idea, timewise,” he said, shrugging. “It’s a labor of love. It takes as long as it takes.”

A great honor

He submitted the piece for Spectrum consideration and waited. Just when he had given up, he received a congratulatory phone call.

Work took a back burner that afternoon while he called family, friends and colleagues.

“The good thing is that since we became business partners I’ve seen his work for years, and I’ve seen how good he can be,” Webster said. “It’s a great honor for him, and for Stonehaven, but it wasn’t really a surprise because I’ve seen his work. He has the talent.”

The award brings the gallery its first national advertising exposure.

But the week before he flew to Tucson, Ariz., to accept it, Lodholz still puzzled over what the award meant to him.

“Some pieces I make, I make just for me,” he said finally. “But deep inside, you still want people to like it. any artist who says they don’t care what others think of their work is lying.”

Ron Lodholz’s award-winning necklace, “Burning Bridges,” features a citrine and three tournalines, accented with diamonds.