Business profile: Ginger Blaisdell

Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2003

Title and company: Owner, Dockside Jewelers.

Biographical information: Blaisdell moved to Juneau from Colorado in 1977, when her father became the pastor of Chapel by the Lake. She graduated from Juneau-Douglas High School and attended Whitworth College in Spokane, Wash.

Upon graduating from college, Blaisdell moved back to Juneau to work in finance for the state. She broke into the jewelry business by moonlighting for the previous owners of Dockside Jewelers, Jack and Penny Trip.

"I started working for the Trips here at Dockside in 1994, kind of in the evenings during the summer," she said. "I was trying to make enough money to go on a trip to Africa, and I just sort of liked being in the jewelry industry."

Blaisdell made enough money to visit Africa - three times - and developed a friendship with the Trips that would eventually lead to her buying their business on Jan. 1, 2002.

"I'm only the fourth owner of this jewelry store, and it's been here since 1913, so it's kind of a nice piece of Juneau history," Blaisdell said. The building that houses Dockside Jewelers, at 145 S. Franklin St., was built in 1911 and has been a jewelry shop since 1913.

Services: "I sell everything from diamonds to fashion jewelry," Blaisdell said. Her store, which caters to both tourists and locals, is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday in the winter, and seven days a week during the tourist season.

"I sell a lot of Alaska-style jewelry," she said. "Things with jade set in them, hematite, gold nuggets, ivory jewelry, sting ray coral ... gold in quartz."

She recently began offering custom jewelry design, using a computer to create a drawing for a piece of jewelry.

"I create a 3-D image of a ring - they've all been wedding rings, primarily - then I send it to somebody who cuts the wax for me."

A customer tries on a wax model of the piece of jewelry to see how the 3D drawing looked in real life, and, after making modifications, Blaisdell sends it to a person in California who creates the jewelry.

Blaisdell purchases from a number of wholesalers around the country, and annually visits a trade show in Tucson, Ariz., where she purchases pearls and discovers the latest trends in jewelry.

Blaisdell has been taking courses at the Gemological Institute of America, a nonprofit educational organization for the jewelry industry, and is one course away from receiving her graduate gemologist certification, she said.

"It basically indicates to the industry that I've met a standard that most people don't complete," Blaisdell said. "I think that part of my being a gemologist and running the store is that I also want people to come in and know what they're buying."

The gemology studies also have helped Blaisdell in her knowledge of jewelry repairs. The store replaces stones, retips prongs on wedding rings, sizes rings and repairs watches. It also engraves and appraises jewelry.

Family: Ginger Blaisdell and her husband Dave live in Juneau with their son Shamil, 8, whom they adopted last year. Her sister and brother-in-law also live in Juneau, though her parents and brother have returned to Colorado.

Quotable: "What I see is that people are really looking for jewelry as wearable art," she said.

Contact information: Dockside Jewelers is located at 145 So. Franklin St. The phone number for the store is 586-3910.

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