The changing face of love: Challenges persist to create baubles that endure the test of generations

Custom-jewelry artist and Day’s Fine Jewelry owner Lorin Jones at work in his state-of-the-art studio in South Tempe. — Wrangler News Photo

Editor’s note: Last year, when Don Kirkland authored this piece in anticipation of Valentine’s Day, noted gemologist Lorin Jones had just taken over as owner of a popular Tempe jewelry establishment. Now, a year later, he still deals with the changes in an evolving industry, but with a better notion of how to meet the needs of those who want, as ever before, to show that true love remains unfettered, age notwithstanding.

When Cupid takes aim, is he more likely to hit grandma and grandpa or a couple of Generation Z lovebirds? It’s a conundrum Lorin Jones faces every year, and whatever the answer, it’s likely to have lifelong implications for Jones’ growingly discerning clientele.

Jones, owner of one of the East Valley’s oldest jewelry-crafting establishments, says the annual celebration of Valentine’s Day reminds him—he’s been making rings for more than three decades—that couples 50 and up tend to look at engagement and wedding rings with
an altogether different perspective than those inhabiting the younger generations.

That was his view this time last year, and it hasn’t changed.

The arrival of this day of endearment for those long in love, or even the newly infatuatred, means that Jones has got to be ready for almost any creative challenge, whether it involves coming up with a 21st century design or one evoking the feel-good sentiments of times past—like the white or yellow gold grandma and grandpa would have wanted, or the tech era, where a newly in-love couple see their future being locked in immortality by the ring-finger bounds of tungsten, black cobalt or titanium, previously found only in aerospace applications. And then there’s the matter of what stone to use and what shape to cut it.

These kinds of decisions seem to confront enamored couples ever more frequently, Jones says, effectively changing the traditions that most jewelers have followed for years.

“So I try to pull the ideas of all the generations together: Things that the millennials like as well as what the people of my generation like,” says Jones.

“My generation was into the look of richness; millennials are more minimalist. Like it used to be a diamond they wanted for the centerpiece. Now it’s a colored stone.”

The dilemma of selection doesn’t end that simply, though. “The most unique ring I was ever asked for was a peridot that was meteorite based with a lot of different colors but more resilient. Very unique.”

That kind of modernization in jewelry design is one of the elements that keeps Jones constantly renewing his interest in—and excitement for—his craft.

“The message in all this is that change is good. With each new generation, their desires illustrate how they want to be different from the generations before them.”

As to what’s on the horizon jewelry- wise, Jones says changes happening in recent years provide an intriguing roadmap for what’s coming next. “These days, alternative metals are much more popular,” Jones said.

“Companies are introducing metals like stainless steel or those that can be treated so the texture will be black when (the ring) is worn.”

Now, with Valentine’s Day fast approaching, Jones says he expects even more requests for nuanced jewelry design. And rather than worry about his ability to provide the customer with a suitable answer, he looks forward to both the challenge and the opportunity.

“Somebody comes in and wants a meteorite in the center of their ring, you gotta be ready for anything and everything. It’s what makes this such a great job.”

Jones and his wife Ginger are the owners of Day’s Fine Jewelry, a landmark among stores featuring creative, handmade design and, not to be overlooked at this special time of year, an unwavering passion for their craft.

Day’s Fine Jewelry is at 1849 E. Guadalupe Road, Suite 103, Tempe, in the Fry’s Shopping Center. Information: 480-831-6086.

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