A walk into certain high-end jewelry stores can leave even the most seasoned shopper feeling a bit like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman – banal and unwelcome. Let me assure you, there’s no fear of this unfortunate fate befalling you at Hegeman & Co., where owner Richard Hegeman will welcome you with kind, blue eyes and a smile. He’s not just a peddler of shiny earrings and such; he’s a skilled jeweler and lapidary (gemstone cutter) with 40 some-odd years of experience in creating custom rings, necklaces and bracelets. If you’re getting married, and you don’t want a cookie-cutter ring, this is where you go.
In fact, I entered the store to find Hegeman chatting with a newly-engaged couple. The young bride-to-be peppered him with questions, as she and her groom collaborated with the jeweler to design unique wedding bands that would be both beautiful and affordable. “I will work with anyone, at any budget,” Hegeman says. “And I offer a discount to teachers, police officers, firefighters, those who serve – I like to give back.” During the consultation, the bride casually mentioned that she was a teacher. When she was offered the discount, the soon-to-be Mr. and Mrs. were ecstatic.
I met another of his satisfied customers, who stopped in the shop and was thrilled to show me a custom necklace Hegeman had made for her a while back. The look on her face said it all – she beamed as she held it out for me to see. “He designed this for me; isn’t it just beautiful?” She asked in a way that was more statement than question. “I love it, and it goes with everything!” The pendant was structured like the inside of a round shell, almost like a petal; inside was a fine-quality 3.5 ct. genuine blue ceylon sapphire in a triangular shape, positioned in a four-prong setting that gave the illusion of diamonds.
It was behind the display counters, which are filled with a wealth of tiny treasures (including adorable matte gold bow rings and stunning diamond star-shaped earrings), where I was allowed a glimpse into the true treasure trove. Hegeman unearthed a sizable collection of cut precious gems, with which he creates the custom pieces for which he is known. He also showed me some of his work. Wow. My favorite was an 18-karat gold ring that held a naturally-textured freshwater pearl – it was simply divine.
I asked about his “mother’s pendants” and was given a multi-sensory response. “Let’s say you have one child born in February,” Hegeman said, while selecting a purple amethyst cut in the shape of a heart, “another born in August [peridot, green, oval], and the last born in March [aquamarine, light blue, rectangle].” He explained the process by which he works one-on-one with the customer to place the stones in just the right arrangement. Then came a mischievous smile. “And we can add one if another child comes along.”
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