http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2011/09/09/mom-daughter-team-personalizes-jewelry-with-passion


Pleasanton Weekly

Arts & Entertainment - September 9, 2011

Mom-daughter team personalizes jewelry with passion

Check out Harvest Fest booth for hand-stamped and engraved items

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

At a recent street fair on Main Street, a woman purchased a pendant with the names of her two recently deceased dogs. Then she decided to get one in remembrance of her mother, too, recalled Christina Fakiri, whose business offers hand stamping and engraving of pendants.

"She knew what she wanted but she didn't know the message," Christina said. Then she decided on, simply: "I miss you."

"It's nice to have customers be part of the creative process," Christina said.

She and her mother Johna Romelt run their own online business called "idjewelry," and they are just beginning to visit street fairs with their ID items, doing the hand stamping and engraving on the spot. They said the Antiques Fair on Main Street in May was a wonderful experience.

"It was nice to meet locals," Christina said.

They are looking forward to their booth at next weekend's Harvest Festival at the Fairgrounds. Year-round they sell on their website, www.idjewelry.com.

Christina owned a shop on Angela Street between Main Street and First called Retro Martini, where she sold vintage clothing, which closed in 2009. When she received a treasure trove of vintage jewelry from her grandmother, she began to refashion the brooches, necklaces and earrings.

"She was a pin-up girl in the '40s," said Christina. "She's now 85 years old and still lives in San Francisco. She had so much jewelry."

Four years ago Christina wore her first creation to a wedding, to much acclaim, then began assembling vintage pieces for gifts. She keeps the jewelry from her grandmother and searches out materials elsewhere.

"eBay has tons of broken jewelry," she said. "My priority is taking broken jewelry and making it into something beautiful."

Although she is busy raising her daughter Sairi, who will be 3 in November, she wanted to keep her identity with a venture of her own.

"I missed my store, and it's my natural instinct to want to run a business," she said.

Johna is just retiring after 30 years in the mortgage business and moved to Pleasanton from San Diego last November so the timing was good for her, too.

"We decided to start slow, and my husband said let's start online," Christina recalled.

In this family business, her husband Sha runs the website. She also has a 16-year-old daughter, Samantha, at Amador Valley High, and in honor of her husband and daughters, Christina works an "s" into every piece of jewelry she wears.

The women stock high-quality sterling silver for the medical ID bracelets but don't do that part for profit. They were the idea of Johna's husband, Christina's father, Steven Romelt, who died last year after battling lung cancer for seven years.

"The medical ID jewelry is truly a tribute to him," Johna said.

They advise people to speak to their doctors before ordering medical ID jewelry to see what lettering should be used, noting that a person can have many conditions or allergies.

Running the business lets the mother and daughter enjoy time together. They each have a studio in their own Pleasanton homes but mostly they work at Johna's where Sairi makes herself at home, too.

"I'm the engraver, Christina is the stamper," Johna said.

"It fits our personalities," Christina noted.

"Everyone Christina's age and younger gravitates to stamping. In my age group, we look at sterling," her mother explained, which she engraves.

Johna was the one to insist on carrying anklets and toe rings although Christina didn't see it. And that's why they're a good team, they say -- it helps to have two viewpoints.

They charge $5 for an aluminum engraved ID tag. Other pieces range from $10 to $80, and the toe rings and anklets sell for $5.99.

"We have a little bit of everything," Christina noted: baby items, a charm of a family tree, mommy jewelry. A pendant for those who avoid e-books states, "I turn pages when I read."

They have a collection for breast cancer survivors with the ribbon symbol and the word "survivor." Another says, "karma." They engrave to commemorate births, deaths and special occasions.

"At the last fair, I was really amazed," Johna said. "Hand stamping, they loved it. Once four or five people were waiting."

They clearly enjoy their work and take pride in their products. It's all summed up in their sign: "ID jewelry: Personalization is our passion."

Handmade arts and crafts

What: Harvest Festival, offering handmade jewelry, art, foods, clothing, accessories, photography, home décor and more; live entertainment and strolling performers

Where: Alameda County Fairgrounds

When: Friday-Sunday, Sept. 16-18

Other: Alameda County Community Food Bank will be collecting food donations. A non-perishable contribution, $2 off admission.

New: Scrapbooking 'Shop and Crop' feature

Price: $9; $4 for seniors 62 and older and youths between 13 and 17. Under 12, free. Parking is $8.

Information: 800-346-1212; www.harvestfestival.com

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