Today we’d like to introduce you to Steve Moriarty.
Steve, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
My older brother just started importing gems from India and he would send me stones and I would take these gems to the Jewelry Art Classes to try and sell. My biggest sale was under $10. After graduation, I worked as a chemist at the National Technological Center for Simmons bedding, home of Beautyrest mattress in Munster. The best part of this job was I met my wife Nancy, who worked in accounting. I was not meant to be a chemist, so my brother Tom gave me an opportunity to go on the road wholesaling colored gems and mountings to jewelers around the Midwest. I did this up until 1984, that is when I quit working for Tom and went on my own.
I started cutting colored gems in my hotel while I traveled and continued as a wholesaler to the jewelers I had met in the past. My other brother, Larry, started with me and I taught him to cut as I went on traveling across the U.S., as well as, began my overseas adventures looking for colored gem rough for us to cut. I started travels in Germany, a place known for their fine quality gem cutting, which attracted African rough gem suppliers.
From here I went to Brazil, Kenya, Tanzania and Madagascar, all in search of fine faceting rough gem material. In 1994 I got tired of the constant travel. I desired to be with my wife and family, so I quit traveling the U.S. and settled down as a custom jeweler in Crown Point, Indiana. We opened a family retail business including my wife Nancy, two sons Mike and Jeff, brother Larry and his son Chris.
Today, I continue to travel in Africa. We cut the gems in-house. My nephew, Chris, designs the jewelry using computer-aided design, and we manufacture it on-site as well! 90% of everything we sell is completely cut, designed and manufactured in-house.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
In general, it has been a smooth ride. Business has been on the upswing every year since I started. Even when the economy struggled we continued to improve financially (partly due to the increased online presence of our e-commerce websites). Most of my struggles have been dealing overseas.
In general, travel overseas is very safe as their crime rates are quite low. But for a Caucasian in Africa in a mining area, your odds of issues are a little higher. There are no banks within, say 10 hours, so you have to carry cash and the locals know this. I actually have not had a problem with this, but it is always on my mind. The scariest time I have had was at a sapphire mine in Madagascar. I was with a group of Americans and we came into the mining area and proceeded to meet with the mayor of the village. The village was built right over the mines.
We drew a lot of attention and before long the entire village (maybe 200) surrounded us. They had obviously been drinking and most of the men held machetes. The mayor was getting loud and excited (speaking Malagasy). I could feel the tension rising and I thought about the wads of cash filling my pockets and I was getting very anxious. After what seemed forever the mayor calmed down and later our interpreter told us they thought we were trying to take over the mines, as a Chinese group had done years ago. This wasn’t the case, we were just there to buy at the mines direct from the locals/miners. I actually bought a really nice yellow sapphire that day from a woman returning to the village with water.
Overseas travel doesn’t always run as smoothly as you would like, but it’s what makes this business so unique, interesting, and the thrill that keeps me going.
Please tell us about Moriarty’s Gem Art.
Our company is a family owned & operated jewelry store which takes pride in our precision gem cutting, custom designing of mountings, in-store manufacturing of jewelry, and the world travels we take to find our rare gems. We also have a fully operational workshop that can help with almost any of jewelry repair needs.
We specialize in exotic colored gemstones and custom one-of-a-kind designed jewelry. We have 100’s of loose colored gemstones in-stock, available for purchase, and ready to be set into a custom mounting. Steve Moriarty of Moriarty’s Gem Art, travels the world to find rare rough gemstones. In Steve’s travels, he has been to gem mining sources including Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya, Brazil, Thailand, Burma and Cambodia. He brings the rough gems back from these locations and we precision facet(cut) the gemstones on-site at Moriarty’s Gem Art.
Our jewelry designer “Christopher Michael” Moriarty has been designing jewelry since 1996. He started out by sketching jewelry designs and carving the wax models by hand, then transitioned into using CAD to create his immaculate designs. In 2010 he took the grand prize (Best in Show) in an international jewelry design competition put on by Gem Vision Corporation.
Two of our most popular gemstones that we specialize in and have an amazing selection of are Tanzanite and Ethiopian Opal.
What sets us apart from others is the fact that we start with a rough gemstone that came directly from the mines, then cut it into a beautiful faceted gem, and finally create a unique mounting to hold it.
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
When I was about fifteen, long before my entry into the gem business I had a dream, probably the only dream I can remember in full color. In my dream, I was in a cave finding brightly colored gems in a river running through the cave. Memories of this dream returned as I dug in the soil of the largest sapphire mine in Illakaka, Madagascar, and the feeling of great satisfaction came over me.
- Address: 126 South Main Street
Crown Point, IN 46307
- Website: www.MoreGems.com
- Phone: 219-662-1390
- Email: MoriartysGemArtStore@Gmail.com
- Instagram: MoreGems
- Facebook: MoriartysGemArt
- Other: www.youtube.com/MoreGems