NAIFEH FINE JEWELRY FEATURED IN THE OKLAHOMAN'S LIFE & STYLE NOVEMBER 2014
Town&Country congratulates Naifeh Fine Jewelry on being selected to 2014's "The List: America's Leading Independent Jewelers."
Alzheimer’s Association to honor Naifeh
The Alzheimer’s Association Oklahoma Chapter will honor Valerie Naifeh with its Maureen Reagan Award at the 2014 Alzheimer’s Association Memory Gala, April 10 at the Cox Convention Center.
Naifeh plays an integral role in Oklahoma City in championing the fight against Alzheimer’s. Her advocacy and generosity help keep Alzheimer’s research a priority and programs and services available for Oklahoma families already impacted by the disease.
Naifeh, a native of Tulsa, is the owner of Naifeh Fine Jewelry. A graduate of Tulsa University, she began her career in jewelry design while a sophomore in college. She started her own company in 1993 and her first retail store in 1998.
In 2002, she moved to Casady Square, where she now operates 4,000 square feet of retail, office and manufacturing space. She is an internationally recognized design award winner. Valerie is married to Brad Naifeh, and they have two daughters, Leigh and Megan.
The Maureen Reagan Award is named after the late daughter of President Ronald Reagan. Maureen was an extraordinary Alzheimer’s advocate. After her father announced his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease in 1994, Maureen became a member of the Alzheimer’s Association Board of Directors and served as spokeswoman. This award pays tribute to an individual in the Alzheimer’s Association chapter network who exemplifies Maureen’s special qualities as an advocate and champion for those affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
Valerie Naifeh to be honored at Alzheimer's Association Memory Gala
Edmond resident and owner of Naifeh Fine Jewelry, Valerie Naifeh is to be honored with the Maureen Reagan Award at the 2014 Alzheimer’s Association Memory Gala on April 10.
Valerie Naifeh has shared her talent for creating beautiful jewelry with central Oklahoma for decades, as the owner of Naifeh Fine Jewelry in Oklahoma City. For just as long, the Edmond resident has given of her time, talent and treasures to numerous philanthropic causes.
It is for her constant generosity to The Alzheimer’s Association Oklahoma Chapter through the years that Naifeh is to be honored with the Maureen Reagan Award at the 2014 Alzheimer’s Association Memory Gala on April 10.
“Valerie has been incredibly gracious and generous to us over the years by supporting us through what she’s done with her jewelry, that has allowed us to generate dollars for our auction. And she has always been eager to do that,” said Mark Fried, CEO of the The Alzheimer’s Association Oklahoma Chapter.
As an example, Fried said a spirited bidding war was taking place last year over a piece of jewelry she’d designed especially for the auction. At the last moment, Naifeh offered to make another so both bidders could win.
“Right on the spot, she agreed,” Fried said. “We actually doubled our money.”
"Finding the Spark" - Slice Magazine (October 2013)
Valerie Naifeh wasn’t sure what to expect when she stepped into Ann Garrett’s Designer Jewelry store in 1984. A 20-year-old Tulsa University student with a predilection toward architecture and graphic design, she showed up out of politeness. Her high school art teacher, Otto Duecker, who later became a noted hyperrealist painter, recommended her to Garrett for an apprenticeship. Naifeh thought she’d be filing papers, running errands and was prepared to turn down the job. Garrett liked her, was impressed with her maturity and explained how she would be an apprentice jeweler. On Naifeh’s first day, she sat down at a jeweler’s bench. Garrett showed her three kinds of files used for carving and a jeweler’s saw. She explained a few basics about making a wax model for an 8-millimeter-wide wedding ring. Then she left her alone.
Naifeh spent what she thinks may have been half an hour – she can’t quite remember – spellbound in carving and crafting a simple ring. Then thunder struck.
“I was so happy,” she says. “It was just this enormous, light bulb moment. No. 1, I thought, ‘People get paid to do this?!’ and No. 2 – that I’m supposed to be working with my hands. I’m supposed to be creating things, designing and building things. It was just this huge overwhelming feeling of ‘This is exactly where I’m supposed to be and what I’m supposed to be doing.’”
SUCCESS STORY | Jewelry Business Advisor
The following article appeared in the March/April 2013 issue of Jewelry Business Advisor.
They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first few small steps. The same can be said about the journey of running a successful small business--one must first start with a few small steps. Fourteen years ago, in 1998, Naifeh Fine Jewelry began that journey. Valerie Naifeh, an entrepreneur in Oklahoma City, started out small (a one hundred thousand dollar loan) and has grown a very successful jewelry store doing three million in gross sales in 2011.
A graduate of Tulsa University in 1986, Valerie was first exposed to jewelry design while in college. After graduation, she was employed by local designer, Ann Garrett, where she learned all aspects of the industry- -working as a bench jeweler, a model maker, and doing a lot of polishing work. During this time Valerie moved from Tulsa to Oklahoma City to manage a second retail location for the business. Having a broad experience in the industry, she claims, has been instrumental to her own success.
After working for two retailers for just over 14 years, Valerie started her business in September of 1998, sub-leasing 150 square feet of retail space in the middle of an upscale women’s department store in Oklahoma City, Balliets. With one full time and one part time employee, Valerie filled her two, small jewelry cases with her original designs and a few other lines to round out the collection. With a focus on custom design, the small company began an upward trajectory that hasn’t stopped.
Custom-made jewelry is often given on Valentine's Day
Dr. Nancy Nagle, left, looks at a piece of jewelry with Pam Wiggins at Naifeh Fine Jewelry. Photo By Steve Gooch, The OklahomanLocal jewelers and clients often share the sentiment attached to creating custom pieces of jewelry.
Valentine's Day is the second-largest holiday for giving jewelry as a gift, said owner and designer Valerie Naifeh of Naifeh Fine Jewelry. Custom jewelry is her specialty.
Dr. Nancy Nagle, a client since Naifeh's early career days, has brought in some of her own pieces that carry sentimental value and had them transformed into something she can wear.
“When my grandmother died, she left me her wedding ring,” Nagle said. “It was a solitaire kind of diamond. I didn't want it, and I need something flat. She took the ring and designed this pendant, which is great because she also made it into a pin, so you can take it off and wear it on a lapel. So not only is the jewelry beautiful, it's very practical.”
National audience to see Oklahoma City jeweler’s collection
Valerie Naifeh is set to be featured on ShopNBC this Saturday. Her Etruscan Dreams collection was created exclusively for the network.
A collection of jewelry designed by Oklahoma City jeweler Valerie Naifeh will debut in front of a national audience Saturday.
Naifeh, who owns Naifeh Fine Jewelry at the Casady Square shopping center, will have the Etruscan Dreams collection of rings, earrings, pendants and necklaces she designed featured on ShopNBC this Saturday. She will be on the show live at 1 and 6 p.m.
Jewelry from Valerie Naifeh's Etruscan Dreams collection, created exclusively for ShopNBC.
The pieces are based on a line of pure gold jewelry sold in her store, but are more wallet-friendly.
The jewelry features granulation detail evocative of Tuscan jewelry and colored topaz, quartz and pearls. Prices range from $110 to $499.
Naifeh designed the collection exclusively for ShopNBC, a shopping network that airs on cable and satellite television and also streams online at www.shopnbc.com. The products were produced by Fab Tara, which is based in New York with a factory in Mumbai, India.
By leaving the production up to Fab Tara, rather than creating it in-house as she does with her other jewelry, Naifeh was able to focus on the design. The show will give her an opportunity to showcase her jewelry to millions of viewers.
“I really felt like I could bring something new and fresh and extraordinary to the venue,” she said. “I don't think price has to determine great design.”
Designer fashions life in gems
BY PAULA BURKES • Published: May 17, 2009
Valerie Naifeh’s business card is telling of how she views herself. Though she’s owner and president of Naifeh Fine Jewelry that employs 10 full-time and part-time workers and grosses $2.2 million annually, the title on her card reads "designer.”
"There’s a widespread misconception jewelers are in the business to make a lot of money,” Naifeh said. "There can be a profit with very rare gemstones and topnotch customer service, but it’s not easy, especially in these economic times,” she said. "You have to love the people and working with precious metals and gemstones.”
Success, Naifeh said, is creating longstanding relationships with clients.
"It takes the same amount of passion for a $15 repair as it does for a $15,000 wedding ring,” she said. "If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, your customers will sense that and won’t come back.”
From her 1,500-square-foot showroom in Casady Square, 9203 N Pennsylvania, Naifeh, 45, sat down with The Oklahoman recently to talk about her personal and professional life. The following is an edited transcript:
Q: Tell us about your childhood.
A: I grew up in Tulsa, where my parents still live. My mother was a homemaker and my father worked 19 years in broadcasting for KOTV-6, starting as a weatherman. He was also very creative. He painted, sculpted and sang for the Tulsa Opera Co. My brothers (one older and one younger) and I silently competed to be the best at drawing. I was a tomboy. At 5, I had a king snake as a pet and ran track and cross country at Tulsa Edison. I went to state all three years; my best mile was 5:26.
Q: Did you set out to be a jeweler when you went to college?
A: No. I considered architecture, but was intimidated by the math and the then overwhelming ratio of men to women in the program. I started in graphic arts, hated it and switched to English literature because I was awarded scholarships to enroll.
But it was between my last two years at the University of Tulsa when I became interested in a career in jewelry. My art teacher at Edison recommended me for an apprenticeship with jewelry designer Ann Garrett, whose work was sold in an art gallery next door to a high-end women’s clothing shop where I worked.
The minute I carved my first model out of wax, a simple wedding band, I knew that I was supposed to work with my hands, designing and making three-dimensional objects.
Over the next seven and a half years, Ann taught me how to design, make and buy jewelry. I traveled with her across Asia and Europe, attending jewelry fairs and buying gold, pearls and colored gems.
In 1987, she moved me to Oklahoma City to open and manage a leased fine jewelry department for her at Balliet’s, where I worked until I married four years later.
Q: How’d you meet your husband?
A: Through his mother, who shopped at Balliet’s. I mentioned I was looking to join a wine-tasting group and she said her son was in the wine business and did tastings. After talking three times on the phone, we met for a drink, which turned into dinner. He proposed on Valentine’s Day two and half years later with a wide dome band with diamond baggets, which he bought from Ann and knew I liked. For our 10th anniversary, we shopped together for an emerald-cut diamond for a ring I designed.
Q: When did you start your own business?
A: I started my wholesale business in 1993, but didn’t open a retail business until August 1998. I didn’t want the stress of a business with a new marriage. I worked seven years for Samuel Gordon Jewelers, as a buyer, salesperson and designer of a small boutique line.
Then I went back to Balliet’s to start my own lease department, with one other full-time employee and one part-time salesperson. We had phenomenal growth. Women would come in to buy a shoe or lipstick, then walk by our jewelry counter, see something beautiful and buy it.
Q: What are your fondest and funniest business memories?
A: It’s extremely gratifying to refashion jewelry that our clients inherit from someone who’s passed away. We all get teary. As for the funniest memory, I once designed a men’s bracelet based on jewelry a client saw on a pornographic tape. I waited until my stepdaughter was asleep and fast-forwarded to the scene, where the guy was wearing nothing but the bracelet.
Q: I understand you were on an ABC reality TV show five years ago. What brought that about?
A: It was called the "Great Domestic Showdown” where contestants competed for the chance to have their own Martha Stewart-like show.
An associate in the jewelry industry recommended me to the casting director, who called me on April Fools’ Day. I thought it was a joke. But I was selected for filming in Pasadena, Calif., where I redecorated a dilapidated trailer, threw a cocktail party, cooked and made it to the final three contestants. It was tremendous PR for the store, bringing in a lot of new customers.
And having worked with my hands, I came back really fired up and ready to throw myself back into design.
Q: So what’s new in your design?
A: I was in Sacramento last week about my Starry Night Collection, which features 18 carat gold, diamonds, pearls and some gemstones.
I’m working with a manufacturer in Thailand, and my goal is to take the line to market next spring. I love to work with pearls because they’re so luminous. I find the ability for an oyster to create a beautiful pearl romantic and somewhat mysterious.
Plus, nothing looks more lovely than different color pearls on different skin tones.