El Segundo Jewelry Source a Downtown Gem
by Kevin Cody
Brenda Newman already had deep roots in El Segundo when she opened The Jewelry Source on Main Street in 1984. Her grandfather worked at the Chevron Refinery and her grandmother owned Lurline’s Beauty Cottage. Her father was an El Segundo firefighter for 35 years and her mother, a stay at home mom, sold Mary Kay Cosmetics.
Newman traces her career as a certified gemologist back to her sixth period “work education” class in 1974, when she was a junior at El Segundo High. ”
“I didn’t want to wait tables so I applied for a job at DeLuca Jewelry in Westchester and found I liked helping people and I liked retail,” she said.
Her enthusiasm and work ethic caught the attention of the owner Christopher Bennet, whose jewelry store in South Coast Plaza, was the first free standing Cartier store in the United States. There she decided she wanted to do more than sell jewelry. She moved back to El Segundo and attended the Gemological Institute of America in Santa Monica. Shortly before graduation in 1975, she and fellow El Segundoan and GIA graduate Roxanne Mahony (Class of 1949) opened the Jewelry Source. (Mahony has since retired).
The Jewelry Source now has five GIA graduates on staff, including craftsmen Bobby Jon and Lance Say, who hand carve wax models for jewelry Newman designs with input from customers.
Throughout the years Newman has deepened her El Segundo roots not only by making Jewelry Source a downtown destination, but by serving on the Planning Commission, the El Segundo Education Foundation board and the Chamber of Commerce/El Segundo Museum of Art advisory committee.
Trends in jewelry design run in cycles, Newman said.
Customers frequently bring in heavy jewelry from the ‘60s and ‘70s and ask to have their precious gems reset in lighter, more contemporary designs.
Yellow gold is again popular after losing favor to softer looking white and rose gold.
Millennials, perhaps because of social and environmental concerns, prefer laboratory grown diamonds to earth mined diamonds.
Despite their different sources, Newman said they are indistinguishable in appearance. Both are judged by the four C’s — color, clarity, cut and carat weight.
“They are all a gift of memories and love,” she said.
by Judy Rae