Episode 2 Interview with Peter Indorf a Custom Jeweler

In this episode of Space Coast Stories, I interview Peter Indorf who has been a jeweler for over 40 years.

Listen to the Interview with Peter Indorf

Links and Images for Peter Indorf Designs

Find more designs and information at https://www.peterindorf.com/
Logo for Peter Indorf Designs

Peter Indorf poses in front of a few of his design pictures in his studio.
Peter Indorf shows off a few of his design pictures in his studio.
Picture of Peter holding a turquoise ring.
Peter Indorf shows off a turquoise ring creation.
An image of two necklaces with colored gemstones.
Two of the many beautiful necklaces and other pieces from Peter’s display case.

Takeaways from my Interview with Peter Indorf

While I understood that certain colored stones were called semi-precious, Peter shared that we now refer to colored stones as colored stones not semi-precious or precious. He explained that you could have an amethyst, which I originally thought of as semi-precious, that is very high quality and expensive.

I have some pieces I’m not using and look forward to seeing what ideas Peter and I come up with for repurposing them.

Transcript of the Interview with Peter Indorf

Kim: 00:00 You’re listening to Space Coast Stories, a podcast with interviews and stories from people on Florida’s Space Coast. I’m your host, Kim Shivler. Thanks for joining us.

Kim: 00:15 Hey everybody on the Space Coast. Thanks for tuning in to Space Coast Stories. I’m your host, Kim Shivler and today I’m here with Peter Indorf who is a jeweler and we’re going to talk about why you want to have a personal jeweler and what the difference is in that and just going to the mall. Welcome Peter.

Peter: 00:37 Thank you Kim. My pleasure.

Kim: 00:40 So, Peter, one of the things with you is you come from a long line of jewelers. You’ve been in involved in the industry for awhile, so give us a little bit of that backstory.

Peter: 00:49 Sure. So I’ve been. I’ve been involved since around 1971 or two and I had the occasion, my 40th anniversary of my business to kind of take a reflection and look back at my family history because I never really put it together until that time because of the nature of how it worked out. When my great grandfather immigrated from Germany in 1880, they settled in Meriden, Connecticut, which was the silver city of the world and they, he worked in the silver industry. They were making silverware and holloware, things like that. And um, you know, my grandfather did that. My father did that for a bit. I even worked in International Silver for a year and then on my mom’s side, my grandfather, he was a Bulova watch salesmen in the twenties. And I remember hearing stories from my grandma. She used to be a flapper and they, and they lived this kind of wild lifestyle I think.

Peter: 01:47 And he traveled all across the country selling Bulova watches and eventually he decided that he got tired of that. So he opened up Treasure Shop in Laconia, New Hampshire, which was a jewelry shop up there. And, uh, so when I was looking over my family history, I kind of put everything together and it just kind of felt right that I should. I knew when I was in my early twenties that this is what I was supposed to do and I really can’t think of anything better than helping people in love to express their love for each other.

Kim: 02:20 That’s exciting. After that richness in Connecticut, what brought you to Florida?

Peter: 02:24 Love again? I, uh, met a South Floridian and we, uh, we got married and ended up in Melbourne. We actually ended up in Melbourne because we chose the Crowne Plaza as a wedding venue. We wanted a beach front wedding. So, uh, when my wife and I were coming up here looking at, at the venue and making arrangements, we were also house shopping at the same time and we were looking all over South Florida and we were getting disappointed in the prices. And when we came up here we were delightfully surprised that you can afford a reasonably reasonably nice house for not a lot of money. So we ended up buying here we are the same.

Kim: 03:04 We moved from south Florida for similar reasons because boy, you can get much more for your money up here. And it’s nice. I don’t know you. I think it’s a nice vibe here on the Space Coast. People are not quite as crazy as south Florida and we were there for several years. Now. One thing that’s different about you and guys, I am looking at these beautiful, beautiful drawings on his wall. We’re going to put some pictures on the website is there’s a jeweler, you know, someone who can size a ring or sell a product out of a catalog, but there’s also a level of jewelry designer who can do custom work and you absolutely have those type of offering. So tell us a little bit about the difference there, what you might be able to offer that just someone in the mall selling a product couldn’t.

Peter: 03:54 Alright. Well that’s a good question. And um, I had a 44 year career as being what I call a retail jeweler. We had three jewelry shops in Connecticut and we sold a full range of products and we sold diamond engagement rings and wedding bands. And we always made. It was always our tradition to make a lot of our own stock and show our own designs as much as possible. We would buy loose stones and make beautiful things and put it in the cases, you know, we also represented other designers and other manufacturers as well. I decided though with this version of the business and when I moved to south Florida I decided to reinvent myself somewhat. And in this space I have a small showroom. It’s not really a retail space, but I do it by appointment and I meet with clients here and I meet with clients all across the country via technology that we use.

Peter: 04:47 Um, and then I make custom designs for them. I have a workshop here, I’ve workshop in New York City and also in Louisiana and we can pretty much make anything that anybody would like. I consider myself a kind of a jeweler’s jeweler, you know, if I have a deep love and appreciation for gemstones, I am a certified gemologist appraiser and I’ve studied gems and jewelry all my life. So it’s just a, it’s a blast. I have, I have a great time doing it. It’s, it’s, it’s hardly work. It just seems more like fun. Um, I really enjoy working with people. I like look the connections that I make and it’s really wonderful to be involved in. And People’s Love Affairs a lot of times I’m the first one that knows. But to answer your real question, I think what you’re looking for is we create, I create original pieces. So I’ll come up with a concept, I’ll make a, I’ll make a sketch or design. Sometimes I do it in computer aided design, sometimes we do it and made a, there’s a variety of techniques that will, I’m sure we’ll talk about a little later. It’s, it’s so rewarding to be able to come up with an idea, sit down to work bench and actually make something that somebody else is going to present to someone else to their loved one as a, as a, as a nice gift.

Kim: 06:04 And the Nice thing is there, it can be unique. You know, I can remember back in the, uh, several years ago when I, for example, back in the eighties and early nineties when the tennis bracelets got popular and every woman got one for Christmas and Hanukkah and you all had the same bracelet. So the nice thing is when you’re working with someone like you who can actually design something, you can actually have something that’s much more unique, that’s much more fitted for that person. And something that I think that people make the mistake on with having a personal jeweler, one who’s a designer is, do we even have to be like a multimillionaire to have this done? What’s the pricing differences? It’s going to be more of course, but, but I don’t think you have to be crazy rich to have it, to have custom pieces done. What do you think?

Peter: 06:55 But for a second to something you said about the tennis bracelets, you know, there was a time in our recent history when when women wanted to basically fit in and everybody tried the wear the same thing. Today it’s completely opposite. Everybody wants to be unique, nobody wants to buy things that are off the rock and what the customization is a huge, huge trend. So that, that being said, I, yeah, you know, we’re, we’re in the avant garde of that. And as far as pricing goes, I alluded before to having retail stores. Well, when you have a retail store, you have to have millions of dollars in inventory, you have to have expensive retail space, you’ve got to have a small army of salespeople, administrative people, buyers, and what have you to run that store. He would need, you know, you need expensive insurance and vaults and all kinds of things.

Peter: 07:44 So the current business model I have, I’ve really stripped away a lot of that. Most of my inventory is actually virtual. If you look on my website, a lot of the designs you’re going to see don’t exist yet. I would make it a just for you. So there’s huge savings. I don’t have to carry all that inventory. I don’t have to have a lot of sales salespeople. I don’t need to have expensive retail space. So what happens is I can actually offer my high quality of personal services that have been known for, but at prices that are somewhere in the 40 to 50 percent less than they used to charge every day. And because I saw nationally, a lot of times there’s no sales tax, which is sort of Nice too. So does that. Does that answer your question? Absolutely. It’s something that for those of you who don’t know me, I have had several custom pieces done in my life and it’s one of the things that I think was a misnomer for me before I started working with a jeweler that you don’t have to be super rich to have this done and even if it’s maybe a little bit higher, sometimes what you get is so worth it that you know, it’s amazing.

Kim: 08:51 And then one of the things I think some people forget about, and I would love to hear maybe some ideas you have on this, is that jewelry is a great place to recycle pieces. If you have a ring or something or some necklaces from a grandparent or a former marriage, etc. Those can be turned into something completely new and beautiful and save you money on things like for example, the metal.

Peter: 09:18 Exactly. I would like to address that in just one moment though, I do want to add something about the what I had think you were getting at before, which was the value proposition. So when you go to a. When you go to a private custom jeweler, you’re not only getting superior quality and personalized service, but many times you’re getting a signed original design that’s unique with lots of details that are exactly what you want. You know, for instance, I recently made a ring for a client here in Melbourne where she wanted a piece of the original ring that she got married in inside the ring. So what we were able to do was we cut a piece of the ring out. We made a little recessed area inside the ring and I laid that piece inside, soldered in there so she could actually see it and so it was those little details.

Peter: 10:05 I mean, you’re not going to get that the mall and then addressing the recycling issue. we use almost exclusively recycled diamonds and recycled metals, precious metals. One of the services that we offer is we help people that no longer need their precious jewelry. We give them an avenue for brokering it and finding a new buyer for it and often some, and maybe sometimes we’ll buy it ourselves, but we always have used recycled, recycled gold, but the consumer can use that to, uh, oftentimes we’ll sit down with a client and we’ll take a look at her jewelry box and we’ll say, well, geez, you know, this ring, I like the stone, but you know, that was Aunt Mabel’s ring, I don’t really like the style like the style or whatever. So we could take that stone out and we could make a completely new design for it and she could trade in that gold in. It will offset the price of the finished piece.

Kim: 10:58 And that’s something I’ve done several times. In fact, I have a, a piece from my first engagement ring. I took the engagement ring, wedding ring and another ring and melted it all down and have a kind of funky, cool little pendant now many years later. So that’s something that I think sometimes people don’t know is an option and, and they really should think about that.

Peter: 11:20 What one, one just slightly additional thing I would say is that I typically don’t reuse customers’ metal, but I do is we would usually buy it and give a credit because we, we elect to use refined gold for making anything. Like, I think what you were talking about is maybe a nugget. Is it a golden nugget that you’ve had in the pendant.

Kim: 11:38 I had a two large filigree rings and one small ring and they took all the gold, used it together and took all the stones and. But they made like a nugget pendant, a kind of. It’s kind of almost like a nugget filigree kind of thing they made

Peter: 11:56 Probably just melted it down.

Kim: 11:57 Yeah, I think so that’s fun. And, but the good point there is that, that Peter’s making is talk to your jeweler because he’s gonna know that based on you want the best, what you want. The best way to do that, whether it’s reusing your gold or as he said, using, uh, uh, using, giving you a trade in on it and using a more refined gold, particularly for when you see some of the pictures of his work, it’s very, very elegant, very detailed would be how I would explain when I see your drawings. Let’s talk a little bit then about how you do this. The magic behind it. I’ve heard, I’ve gone to jewelry stores, as I said, I’ve done some custom stuff myself or, or know paid to have it done and I’ve heard different things thrown around like we use the lost wax method.

Kim: 12:45 We use this different thing. Is there something to that that as consumers we need to know about or is it really just find a jeweler you trust and, and they’re going to do what’s right for you?

Peter: 12:58 That’s a great question. Um, the process that we use is high pace it towards what the consumer needs. So often we generally always start with some type of meeting. So we understand each of us understand what the, what the project is going to entail. But it can be in person, it could be over the internet, it could be email, it could be a phone call, whatever. But um, we stay in close touch with their clients. Um, so that being said, so we would, my first meeting, I would evaluate any gemstones people have to reuse. I would get a sense of, it sounds weird, but I make up my own mind, like a little cycle graphic about what that person is about and the way I understand that person to get a fix us to how can I come up with an idea that’s going to meet their needs and they’re gonna go, wow.

Peter: 13:52 And it’s done. And strangely enough, I’m actually pretty good at this. I’ve been doing it so long. I’ve, and you know, it’s funny, my staff used to tell me should I be in an hour meeting? And they would afterwards they’d go, you were talking about everything other than jewelry, what, what’s going on with that? And I said, well, you know, in order to really make a beautiful piece for somebody, you got to know them and you got to understand what makes them tick. And what’s important to them and a lot of times that’s their family or their pets or their vacations or know whatever it is that they’re doing. You need to understand that. So then will the next part. The next process for me is to come up with a potential design. Typically when I meet with people and you can’t see this, at least that’s the audience when I’m showing it to Kim, this is a that would be like a kind of an idea for an idea for an earring I was going to make or here’s an idea for a ring and I would do these right when the customer is in my office or design studio and then we’d go next to either a full blown drawing like one like these or to like a computer aided design. Like some of the other ones you see on my board, like what looks like photographs actually, or computer aided design with that. There’s a number of ways that jewelry can be made in our. For example, like this bracelet I’m wearing right here, that you couldn’t. You probably wouldn’t want to cast that. Although he probably could, this is actually fabricated from big heavy square rod and soldered together. So then ring like, um, my wedding band for example, there’s a platinum band I’m wearing with scatter set diamonds.

Peter: 15:28 This I would make from a strip of platinum and welded together and then form the shape, finish it up, drill out the holes for the stone and the stone set. Some pieces need to be cast, some pieces don’t. Generally, if it’s a bigger volume, imagine like a signet ring or something like that where it’s a big bulky piece. He probably aren’t goIng to fabricate that from metal directly because I’ve just had would have too much waste and it would take longer than you probably want to do. So in that regard you’d either have a dye struck or cast. So if you die, strike something. It’s when you have a big machine and it has a. There’s a metal dye put the piece of gold blank and it goes kerchunk and it makes the shape. Most jewelry isn’t made that way anymore. Although was at one point today, castIng is probably the most popular method of reproducing designs because you can make one master pattern maker mold of it and then recreate it as many times as you want.

Peter: 16:29 Say it gets you the basic shape and then you can refine it, clean it up, polish it, set the stones, and he got a finished piece. Most fine jewelry is made by hand making and it’s getting fewer and fewer people today are making handmade jewelry. The shop that I have on my premises is designed primarily for hand making jewelry and what I’ve been doing lately and having some fun with is kind of getting back to my roots, which were the american craft movement back in the seventies when I was starting out. We were doing a lot of silver and turquoise and things like that and I still like to do that. It’s kind of fun. So that roundabout way is a one word answer to your question.

Kim: 17:09 That’s excellent. It’s very good information on what people can look for and how it’s how it’s done and folks, even though you can’t see, because this is audio, we will take some pictures and there’ll be on the website so you can see some of his beautiful drawings and computer aided designs and see a little bit about what we were talking, talking about here. Now, aside from just the metals, etc. Let’s talk stones for a minute. Oh, goody. I think you know, so many people, they just, they think of diamonds, sapphires and emeralds. Everybody knows about that. Maybe if you’ve been in the southwest, you, you’re familiar with the turquoise in some of those about. There are so many others. Stones, they can be fun to work with.

Kim: 17:54 My favorite is amethyst because those who know me know I am always in purple. This does not, I guess a fully precious. it’s a semiprecious I understand. But tell me about Some of your other stones that are fun for people to think of when they want to go. unique.

Peter: 18:10 First of all, I want to try to help the, the listeners, uh, with the perception about a gemstone. We, most dermatologists who don’t use the term semiprecious anymore. Generally it’s either, usually it’s either a diamonds are core colored gemstones and because you know, you mentioned amethyst. Well, you could have an amethyst that could be a super rare amethyst and worth a lot of money or you could have a low quality amethyst and not have it be worth anything. Call that really fine stone and semiprecious sort of negates it. It’s value in beauty. So most of us today, we would just refer to gemstones as colored gemstones, but you know, when you talk about gemstones, so my favorites, like I was just writing a blog post for next next month for my website and opal is one of the birthstones for October. And I’ve been researching it and studying and writing about opals and I’ve gained a, another very deep. I’ve always loved opal and I thought I knew a lot about opals until they really started to research it. And it must be 25 different kinds of opal opals that absorb water and get fiery. There’s opals that, you know, you can look, you put light through it and it shows the colors were reflected light. It doesn’t. There’s black wolf folders, boulder up. I mean there’s just, there’s just so many beautiful kinds. And there’s also things like fossil shells, pieces of wood.

Peter: 19:35 Um, it’s, it’s just, it’s just crazy when it happens. And then in the, um, you mentioned turquoise. Turquoise is always been one of my favorite gems. And again, it’s one of the reasons why I like it is because of the variety. There’s so many different varieties of turquoise. I wear a ring, it’s got like a spider web pattern on it. And then I have a bracelet that what I call seafoam nugget turquoise comes in beads. It comes in all different shapes and colors and it’s comes in green and comes in liquid later colors. It comes in all different shades of bluish to break green like that. That stone right there, that’s the sleeping beauty or variety of turquoise, which hopefully we can put that on the, on the webpage for our listeners to look at. But I actually, I, I actually like enjoy cutting it.

Peter: 20:23 I had it. I had bought some rough couple of rough chunks than I had cut a whole bunch of stones out of it. And then in the faceted world, because we’ve been talking about stones that are cut and cabochon, which was the smooth cut, fascinated, fascinated gems on most loving really are sapphires. And again, for the same reasons I love opals and turquoise is the variety of colors. Sapphire occurs in every color but red. And you wonder, well, why doesn’t it come and read? Well, it does come and read, but they call it ruby because gemologically speaking, sapphire and ruby belong to the family – Corundum. You can find sapphire, of course, in all the different shades of blue comes in. You know, you’d, you’d like this, you come and purple sapphire. Once you see a purple sapphire, you’re gonna, you’re gonna look at amethyst go, hmm.

Peter: 21:08 But uh, you know, it comes in green, it comes in orange, it comes in pink. It’s just such a beautiful, beautiful stone so far.

Kim: 21:16 I love that. And thank you so much for this great education on stones and gems and folks, if we haven’t really talked about just pricing, but as Peter mentioned, you could have a rare amethyst that’s worth quite a bit. These colored stones, many of them are very, very expensive. This is not, again, a lot of times they think casually, we just think of diamonds, but I know I was at a gem show once and I wanted to go find a alexandrite because my birthday’s in June and it’s one of the June birthstones and I’m thinking, well, you know, it’s not a stone you hear about that often. It can’t be that much. And I found one that wasn’t overly large and it was over $100,000, which is when I decided to stick with amethyst because I can find some that, you know, aren’t in that super, super high range.

Peter: 22:05 These different stones kind based on their rarity, I guess really have significant price points depending on what you’re getting. Absolutely. I think of um, tourmaline, which actually happens to be our national gem stone tourmaline is a, it is found in northern Maine and also a pella county and southern California. There is a new variety of, uh, what they call a, a paraiba tourmaline that’s found in Brazil in the state of Paraiba Brazil and it’s a neon blue, kind of looks like the color of the ocean around here and you can pay a lot of money for that. That’s a very expensive when, whereas most tourmaline is actually fairly reasonable. That’s just an example.

Kim: 22:52 Again, thank you so much for spending this time with me and giving our listeners such a wonderful education. before we get to how they contact you, is there anything about jewelry I have we need to get out there.

Peter: 23:06 We, I think it’s important. you know, one of the things that I like about being a jeweler is that for some families having a, having a trusted jeweler in the family is, is, is important to them. You know, they’ll have their accountants and lawyers and other professionals and they have their jeweler and the reason why they choose to do so is there always seems to be some needs. There’s always people getting married or getting divorced or needing appraisals are all the different services that are fun jeweler offers and you need someone that you know you can rely on that’s going to act in the consumer’s best interest. And one of the things that I would urge your listeners to look for, is membership in the American Gem Society. American Gem Society was founded in 1930 by a man named Robert Shipley and he was dedicated and felt that the American people needed to have jewelers that were ethically proficient, professionally orientated and dedicated to consumer protection.

Peter: 24:02 And I’ve been a member of the American Gem Society for over 30 years now. And it’s always been one of my guiding principles and to do, to do what’s right for the client rather than what’s necessarily right for you at the particular moment. And it served me well over the years because in fine jewelry, you know, it’s, it’s about, it’s the long. It’s the long end game. To be successful, you need to do well by people all the time. It’s not just, it’s not just about making money. I mean, I’ve, I’ve been mentored a different young people during my life and I, if they want to be in business, I would ask them, so why do you want to be in business? And they go, oh, make money. And I say, well, you know, that I would beg to differ. The reason the reason you should be in business is to serve others. And if you do it well then maybe you’ll make a living. And I think that’s, that’s always the way I’ve run my operations. That if it gets, that’s it. That’s an important, important point. Look for American Gem Society, jewelers. They’re the best.

Kim: 25:02 Thank you for that. And I, you know, I have to say the same everyone. I say everyone needs a trusted jeweler because even if you’re not in the market to buy a ring or you know, maybe you don’t have a lot of kids, maybe you’re not gonna have too many weddings. You just have that one. You’re always going to need things fixed or resized or looked at in the sense of, you know, if you have a nice stone, you certainly don’t want to be losing it in a parking lot, so you want to take it to your jewelry and have it checked out. Absolutely. I can say guys pick. Peter does excellent work. I had my very favorite ring, lost a piece out of it and it sat for a long time because I didn’t have a jeweler I trusted and he took it and we got it fixed and in fact he explained to me how it was put in originally and why it was weak and now we’ve had it. What tacked. So it is much stronger and I’m. If you see me, I’m probably wearing it so I’m very happy with that. I thank you for that ending. How can people find you then?

Peter: 26:06 Might be easiest online. My storefront now is peterindorf.com by show. Most of the other products that I have in the shop on my website, plus I show, thousands of designs that I can do for any particular, any particular job in the and they all couldn’t be modified and adjusted very easily. One of the concepts that I’ve employed in this new venture in Florida is I primarily am interested in being a service specialist. What that means is that we do all the services and we, like kim was just alluding to, you know we. We said rings, we check stones for tightness, we jewelry, we appraise things, we help people when they don’t no longer need things. We broke her. Them find a new home, will take a jewelry box that someone might have. We’ll clean everything, will look. It’s what what we can do with the pieces that that consumer might have to remake into something nice and ofttimes. It doesn’t really cost that much. That’s kind of where where I’m at, so you can also reach me by phone and that’s three, two, one, nine, four, zero, 11, eight and it would welcome a call from any of our listeners.

Kim: 27:20 Excellent. And we will link all of this up in the show notes. You can find all of that at spacecoaststories.com forward slash custom jeweler. Thanks so much for being with us today everybody and thank you so much Peter. This has been really great information.

Peter: 27:38 Well, I’m glad I had the opportunity to address your listeners.

Kim: 27:42 Join us next time for another episode of Space Coast Stories. You can find the show notes and other information at spacecoaststories.com. The views of the guest on this show are their own and don’t necessarily represent the views of the show owners, host or company. Thanks for listening to Space Coast Stories.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *