We were thrilled to interview the talented owner of the acclaimed Facèré Antique & Art Jewelry Gallery in Seattle, Washington. Karen Lorene has owned and operated her own business for over 40 years now! In addition, she is an accomplished and published writer of 4 books and a quarterly magazine. Karen is deeply involved in the Society of North American Goldsmiths and well known for her knowledge of antique and modern jewelry. Karen is a delightful person and tactful gallery owner and operator. Learn more about Karen and her beloved Facèré in the following interview.
When and how did Facèré begin and what is the story behind the name?
We started North Country Fair, an antique store on Pier 70. We opened Vanity Fair to focus on fine antiques and jewelry. When we were looking to move uptown we decided to change our name to fit the upscale new Sheraton Hotel. We needed a new identification. We figured if Häagen-Dazs could make up a word – then we could too! We opened the dictionary, and came across a Latin derivative – facre – to make as in manufacture. Then, to our name we added French accents and Italianized the pronunciation. We became Facèré [pronounced Fah-cherry]. The name fit! To this day we represent studio jewelers – jewelry artists who make their own jewelry.
You initially started your own business selling antiques, which later transitioned to solely antique jewelry. At what point did you choose to add art jewelry to your inventory and why?
Part of coming up town; the Sheraton insisted that half of our jewelry be modern. We began with normal manufactured jewelry. At major jewelry shows in New York and Los Angeles we sought out the fresh, new voices in jewelry making: the emerging artists. Later, with the help of Mary Lee Hu, friend and previous head of metalsmithing and jewelry design at University of Washington, I learned of the wonderful world of art jewelry. Facèré also conducted a competition for several years with jurors from the jewelry industry, Mary Lee Hu among them. The competitions attracted younger, local artists.
It was Mary Lee Hu who convinced me to go to my first SNAG [Society of North American Goldsmiths
] conference. The world of studio jewelry opened up! Every year I was amazed by the breadth, variety, and freshness of the art on which the conference focused. Other jewelry art gallery owners became friends through SNAG. After several years of the competitions, Facèré was able to invite a consistent group of artists to show at the gallery. We currently have over 50 artists from all over the globe. Four or five times a year we invite additional artists to participate in theme shows. Our latest show was: IdioSINcratic (Yes! A show about vices!)
Facèré sells both antique jewelry and art jewelry; does one type inspire you more than another?
I’m crazy about antique jewelry, but I wear modern art jewelry. We have a rule at Facèré, you can wear a piece for one day, but then you must decide either to buy it or to put it back. Our staff members buy both antique and modern jewelry. Generally, I wear what I wear because the artists care.
What does “art jewelry” mean to you?
The hand of the artist is visible and identifiable; jewelry art helps express the identity of the person who wears it. I want jewelry be wearable. I want the voice of the jeweler to be clear and distinct.
What has been the greatest challenge you’ve faced in your business?
A big challenge was surviving this recent recession. My husband would say it has always been up and down, so keep putting one foot in front of the other. Good advice. I keep on trucking! Another challenge has been surviving professional crooks, my faith in people takes a dip when those moments happen. Learning to get through a recession – you stay longer hours, save as much as you can- you make it work. But losing faith in people is the harder part, the bigger challenge.
Do you have any advice for those who are up and coming in the art jewelry world or who would like to jump start their jewelry careers?
As a jewelry art gallery we are most often asked, why are you in a mall? I believe in the cliché: location, location, location. Perhaps you spend more on rent, but a good location with good foot traffic is worth every penny! New customers find you.
~ Make friends in the business. Jewelry makers and jewelry sellers are interesting people, strong and independent. You share a life. You often need each other’s advice and skills.
~Good computer skills are a must. Clear and clean paper work will often save the day.
~Join local and national organizations to meet other people in the jewelry business. Accept every speaking opportunity offered. Take time (and classes!) to learn to speak well.
~Know what is going on in your world, not just your neighborhood. It is also important to meet people in businesses other than your own. When the day comes that you need help, those friends and contacts will be there. I think that is why I wrote the book [Building a Business, Building a Life
]. In the book I focus on combining all the facets of one’s life.
Karen is currently working on her 5th book, a novel of society’s edges centered on a chainsaw artist and a glassblower. She will continue on her journey with the Facèré Art Gallery. Karen is a dynamic and unique individual, with great pleasure Seattle Findings thanks Karen and Facèré for this interview. You can visit Karen and Facèré in downtown Seattle and online at www.facerejewelryart.com