The title of this page is HISTORY, but really, it is Herstory.
My name is Mariel. I’m a graduate gemologist, German-trained gemstone carver, and second generation classically-trained metalsmith.
I opened the flood gates of an industry need; I educate jewelry artists on the financials of their businesses.
As an artist myself, this isn’t where I thought I would be and didn’t think of it until 2008.
If I had paid attention on the day of my birth to those that welcomed me to this world, then I would have known long before, as it was crystal clear, even then.
Let me introduce you to the 3 people that shaped me: my father, my mother, and my grandmother.
My dad’s name was Rock Hard. I’m not kidding.
As a child, I thought he was biggest and brightest. Then, I began to know him as the tortured, adventurous, and persistent human he was. It turns out he was bigger and brighter than I had imagined.
Lloyd Herman, Director Emeritus of Fine Arts for the Smithsonian Institute, once judged my dad’s work and said:
“In this day and age it is rare to find any fine art in precious metal and gemstones. This is the rare exception.”
My dad, of course, wanted that quote on his tombstone, but I think I did something even better instead. My dad was a caretaker of history and the Smithsonian museums were his favorite. I hand wrote the Curator of Dinosauria and they have accepted my dad’s museum quality replica of a Pterosaur with 24 foot wings spread in flight into the national collection. Having a specimen he adored rest in good hands can't be beat.
My dad was much more than the jeweler and Indiana Jones character so many knew him to be. He was a gentle, loving father, a careless drunk, and a ferocious teacher. “Don’t think,” he would say, “know, and if you don’t know, look it up. No excuses.”
One of the many possible reason I got to have him as a dad, was because he fell in love with my mom.
She was his muse; perhaps one of many, but one with a great and lasting impact. After more than 30 years and settled with his 4th wife, images of my mother still graced his walls. She died with a bullet to the neck one week before my 3rd birthday. That event was portrayed to me as mysterious and surreal circumstances, but it was most likely a simple and tragic case of the influence of cocaine in a small beach town.
Unlike the severed bond experienced when I lost my father, whom I knew, this loss was a void.
Throughout my life, I have missed the thought of a mom I never knew, but I know her from the work she left behind.
See, I'm not a 2nd generation jeweler by just one parent. Both of my parents were jewelers. In my mom’s short career, she created some of the most beautiful and fluid designs in metal I have ever seen. I have been more influenced by her work, than my dad’s world renowned designs. And yet, I still discover depths to his work I didn't previously understand or know.
Artists are known and paid for their creative designs and quality craftsmanship. Over time, I’ve been able to compile what my parents taught me by example into the following formula:
- create the wow factor for sentimental moments in one’s life
- in the most intimate form of art: jewelry, something that can be worn
- and that can be handed down and withstand generations
There’s only one woman I know that feels naked without her jewelry and has post-it notes in each slot where her jewelry resides telling of who gave it to her, for what occasion and on what date.
My grandmother. She has outlived 2 of her 4 children, served in WWII as one of the Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service), and was the retired head bookkeeper for a hospital when she came to work for my parents as their bookkeeper.
She hadn’t been available to her own kids in the way she stepped up to care for my sister and I. If it weren’t for this woman, then I wouldn’t have manners.
I was raised by a maniacal visionary, the image of beauty and a tedious bookkeeper and I wouldn’t have it any other way. What I learned from these three people has placed me where I am today.
As a kindergartner, I was methodically affixing bails to pendants on my dad's wholesale gold plated nautical line and organizing checks by check number for my grandmother.
Because of the mix of my dad's artistry and entrepreneurship and my grandmother's problem solving, I was always trying to find a balance between my obsession (it's not really a passion, I am obsessed) with the business side of my artistic endeavors and the actual creative escapes themselves.
My dad was a badass with design and his master metalsmith one of the best I've seen at the bench. Due to my exposure to what is possible, my own metal-smithing never met my quality control standards. I've hand fabricated some cool things, often fall in love with what I make and sometimes surprise myself, but at the end of the day, I am always returning to the books.
For all the time I've spent over the years doing bookkeeping, I never loved the actual programs.
The purpose was what I liked, while the process was still a chore.
At every job I took during my travels as a jeweler over the past 20 years, I saw the need for organization and the understanding of numbers. I had the organization down, but I still didn't truly understand what it all meant. This led me to a degree in Accounting and work in corporate accounting. No accountant I have ever worked with truly explained what things mean in regards to small business accounting. Even my grandmother was too fixated on getting the job done than explaining the why. Yes, income minus expenses, but what about why Cost of Goods Sold, why Inventory, how can we actually make tax planning strategies?
It is the why that allows us business owners to make informed decisions, and that is what is missing from many accountants and bookkeepers.
It wasn't until I took the time to self-educate myself in small business bookkeeping did I find Xero. Xero Accounting Software is what changed my world. It was the missing key that made everything understandable for me. I had been using Quickbooks for 15 years. This was the turning point in 2013 that allowed me to feel comfortable helping jewelers understand their numbers and help them be successful with less stress than what I experienced with my father.
As the founder of Accounting for Jewelers, I know these three people would be proud to know that it was their lives that have allowed me to be helpful to others.
If you want to know the reason I prefer Xero over Quickbooks, then click here and jump to Why We Do It.