All that glitters: Denton-based gemologists explore jewels of all cuts and colors

All that glitters: Denton-based gemologists explore jewels of all cuts and colors

All that glitters: Denton-based gemologists explore jewels of all cuts and colors
November 07
01:06 2018

After a woman in her 70s escaped her home during Hurricane Katrina, she turned to the nearby town of Denton. Amyx Fine Jewelry, located in the downtown Denton Square, became a beacon of hope her collection of valuable jewels inherited from her sister back in New Orleans. Owners Joe Amyx and his sister Lora Amyx-Gorman helped the woman sell everything after she came to their store with the items, which allowed her to pay to live in assisted living before she passed away.

For the Amyxs, working with jewelry has held unique stories and memories that go beyond their storefront.

Joe Amyx and Lora Amyx-Gorman use their skills as accredited gemologists to appraise and consign jewelry. Although the cases in their store are homes to various pieces of jewelry of nearly every cut and color, the Amyxs are not jewelers. Their job weighs more on the side of being a science.

“As a gemologist, you’re taught how to identify and grade gemstones that are commonly used in jewelry,” Lora said. “So we don’t have the wide knowledge that a geologist or mineralogist would have. It’s specific to jewelry type stones.”   

The two had been interested in buying and selling jewelry for a while. Then, Joe decided to go to California and start studying gemology.

“I had a degree in art from Texas Woman’s University and I wasn’t using it — I was selling shoes,” Joe said. “I was like, ‘Well, I like jewelry. I’ll go with you.’ So we went to school together in California. We were there seven months doing the G.I.A course on gemology and became graduate gemologists.”

Because the Amyxs are the only accredited gemologists in Denton, jewelry stores often send customers to them because of the extensive knowledge they have concerning gems, which can include the backstory of the items. 

“Personally, we enjoy finding out the history of the pieces and that’s one thing about having everything consigned,” Lora said. “There’s a story to a lot of the jewelry and it’s funny how many people that are buying the jewelry want to know the story, and sometimes it’s not that great.”

Their appraisal skills also attract those doing estate sales who need jewelry priced or identified.

“Sometimes they don’t want to have the expensive jewelry at their estate sales because they just don’t want the liability of it, so they’ll bring it to us,” Lora said.

Joe dived into gemology because he wanted to see past the sparkles of the jewels, distinguish what the stones were and identify whether or not they were original.  

“It’s like having a superpower,” Joe said. “If I have enough magnification and light, I can generally tell what things are. It’s like having X-ray vision.”   

With a particular interest in estate and vintage jewelry, Joe has a talent for weighing older cuts of gems, which are difficult to weigh because the stones are mounted.

“To estimate what the weight is in some of the older cuts, people aren’t very good at [it] because the proportions are different, and you can’t use the standard formulas,” Lora said. “What we do is we have to measure its stones and then use different formulas depending on the shape of the stone and what it is.”

Joe’s experience with both salvaging and tearing apart jewelry is useful during this process. 

“When he [checks] to see how close he got, he’s really accurate,” Lora said. “That’s a cool thing to be able to do, [and] I’m very proud. That’s why whenever things come in, Joe is the one who does all of the estimates.” 

Amyx Fine Jewelry has a variety of jewelry on consignment for sale varying in price. The store also features different cuts of gemstones on display. Cameron Roe

While his original plan was to have a day job and sell jewelry on the side, Joe gained full-time opportunities in the field because he became a gemologist. He advises people who have the skillset to pursue a job in gemology.     

“A lot of gemologists end up being used by corporations to sort stones, verify the quality of stones or they end up not really using their gemology by being in sales,” Joe said. 

Being located on the Square allows the siblings to enjoy their craft even more. After previously working in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the two said their experience in Denton has been much more positive. 

“[Denton] makes it happy and fun,” Joe said. “Dallas is not a nurturing, cooperative environment.”

They found business to be very competitive in Dallas. It is a stark contrast to Denton, where customers are directed to them by other businesses all the time. Interactions with customers have changed for them as well.

“It’s like they want to help and they’re just more trusting [than] when we were in Dallas,” Lora said. “A lot of times people didn’t want to leave jewelry with us. [Here people will say], ‘I’ll just leave it with you,’ and they’ll start to leave. It’s like, ‘Wait, wait, let me get your name.’”

The Amyx siblings, who were born and raised in Denton and both attended UNT at some point, feel a connection to the Square. They enjoy being able to work there together alongside their mother, who often helps them out, showing jewelry to incoming customers and calculating costs as Lora speaks to other customers.

“[Joe’s] daughter is almost 9 and his son is almost 9 — we’ve had them up here at the shop since they were infants,” Lora said. “It’s been great because with any other job,  I wouldn’t have gotten to see my niece and nephew. We also have longtime customers who come in [and it’s] like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve seen you since you were a baby.’”

Paige Herron, who has been a patron for about five years, is one of Amyx Fine Jewelry’s frequent customers.  

“My husband and I really enjoy going there,” Herron said. “I guess I continue to go back because they’ve become almost like family to us.”

There are items in the store both she and her husband, who collects rocks, appreciate.

“I enjoy the vintage jewelry, and he has a unique selection you don’t really find in any other store in Denton,” Herron said. “I learn so much every time I go in there. My husband enjoys the rock collection. I don’t think there’s any other rock store like it in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.” 

Featured Image: Joe Amyx and Lora Amyx-Gorman will celebrate their 10 year anniversary on the square on Nov. 8, 2018. The pair have been Graduate Gemologist for 21 years. Cameron Roe

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Nikki Johnson-Bolden

Nikki Johnson-Bolden

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