Gold & Gems Continues to Dazzle on the Plaza
You've got to admire a business that can survive two floods, a fire, and a couple of substantial economic recessions. At Gold & Gems Fine Jewelry on the Plaza, they've been through it all and will be celebrating their 33rd anniversary next year.
It all started in 1982 when Richard Hansen, who had moved his family to Ashland in 1972, assisted a friend in his jewelry business. His career began as a manufacturer's wholesale rep, traveling throught the country selling to retail jewelers.
"I loved it," Richard said. "I loved the industry, how it worked, and the people. After many long road trips, I decided to rent a location on the Plaza, buy a nice selection of jewelry, and start a fine jewelry business."
The rest is history. Today, Gold & Gems provides more than just jewelry, with a creative repertoire of offerings. It is a family affair as Richard's son Ron is co-owner, and Ron's daughter Lisa works with them. Richard's wife Doris also contributes to the success of the business. Ron grew up in Ashland, raised three children here, and still spends countless volunteer hours coaching three sports a year.
At Gold & Gems, the customer can find unique and artistic custom creations, from rings and necklaces to bracelets, pendants and earrings. "Anything the mind can imagine, we can make ... perfectly," Ron said. "Depending on the job request, our one-of-a-kind creations are produced with either hand-fabrication/forging, or we pour molten precious metal into hand-made models. People get to design and produce a unique piece of jewelry all while bypassing any middlemen, as the pieces are designed, created and delivered right here on the Ashland Plaza."
Gold & Gems is unique in the industry because they manufacture such a diverse range of jewelry. From diamond bridal jewelry to hand-inlaid Australian opal to unique special orders with or without gems. Along with Ron, these treasures are proudced by 30-year jeweler Jason Williams.
"Jason is a valuable asset to our company, and to Ashland jewelry customers," Ron said. "His vast knowledge and incredible skills can only be topped by his integrity and care for our clients. Jason has been a true cornerstone of our company for 30 years."
Ron studied at the Revere Academy for Jewelry Arts and the Gemological Institue of America, and has also been making custom jewelry for 30+ years.
Also available are appraisal services, headed by "jewelry industry extraordinaire" Kathryn Shannon, Graduate Gemologist.
"The very moment you meet Kathryn, you know that she loves what she does," Ron said. "She always has the perfect, beautiful solutions for people. We are so blessed to have her as a part of our family."
Gold & Gems also offers gold, diamond and jewelry buying, consignments, watch services, jewelry repair, and e-commerce stores.
"Customers love that they can preview thousands of items online at goldandgems.com. and weddingbandsonly.com. Our global customers love our value and service," Ron said. "We also have 20 world-class brand name collections in the store, including Toby Pomeroy, Simon G, Fredric Duclos, and Gabriel & Co NY."
For more information, the phone number is 541-488-2753. Last and not least is Bella, the shop dog, who you may visit on a daily basis.
The Tradition Continues at the Playwright
Peter Bolton put his own personal touch on the Playwright Public House (258 A Street) when it opened a couple of years old, and new owners Scott and Jeanette Giossi, who took over last summer, plan to continue in that great tradition.
"We're enjoying meeting new people at the Playwright, and the support everyone is giving us is awesome," Scott said. "We're making lots of new friends and everyone is happy that we are keeping the Playwright alive and continuing with Peter's efforts."
Both Scott and Jeanette are long-time Ashland residents. Scott moved here with his family as a teenager, and after high school attended SOU before embarking on a career in law enforcement, which he retired from earlier this year. Jeannette moved here 28 years ago to be closer to family.
"With my background owning and operating businesses, and Scott's background in serving the public, we thought the Playwright would be a good fit," Jeanette said.
The Pub offers a combination of food, drinks and entertainment amid a neighborhood-friendly atmosphere.
"We provide different styles of cuisine, including Irish, American and some Mexican," Jeanette said. "There is something for everyone, from fish and nachos to vegetarian, as well as gluten-free. We have a great selection of beer, wine and spirits. The Playwright is family as well as kid friendly. Minors can be at the Playwright during all hours; no time restrictions."
According to Scott, they concentrate on keeping the customers happy. "One can expect prompt and courteous service, and food that is rich in quality and quantity," he said. "The customer will always be greeted with a smile and thanked for their patronage when leaving."
On the entertainment side, the Playwright provides live music during the weekends, live jazz every Sunday, and Trivia Night on Wednesdays. They are also expanding in other areas of interest, such as theatrical improv, poetry reading, and storytelling.
For more info, the phone number is 541-488-9128.
New Online Events Calendar Sweeps Valley
Trying to stay on top of the action in the Rogue Valley is not an easy thing to do. There is a lot going on, especially on the music and theater scenes. The Sneak Preview's own Calendar of Events, while all-embracing, only scratches the surface of everything available out there.
Stepping into that void is Ryan Kremp and his new website, roguevalleyevents.com. According to Ryan, it's about as complete as you can get.
"In 2013, I was co-owner of Curious Conspiracy, and we financed four shows at the Historic Ashland Armory," Ryan said. "As early as 2006, I witnessed a need for a good event calendar in the valley. After producing events, I realized I needed to create an event calendar that was all-inclusive and searchable because of the many types of events that take place in Southern Oregon. I wanted to create a site where all the local venues, organizers and musicians had their own pages that created a common place where event networking can occur."
The site is an interactive calendar easy for the user to navigate.
"Users can filter the calendar by event type, venue, entertainment or organizer," Ryan said. "All events are color coordinated and easy to view on tablets or your mobile device. Producers can list their events for free, and they will automatically link to the venue and entertainer's public pages. This allows you to quickly find out what a band sounds like and where they are playing."
Ryan has lived in Ashland for 14 years, moving here from Humboldt, California, to grow his other business, a glass body jewelry company called Glasswear Studios. Producing and promoting events, though, was his real passion.
Working with Ryan as marketing/advertising sales is Sabrina Baugh from KSKQ 89.5 FM. They offer competitive advertising for local businesses looking to target local event goers and tourists.
"Users can expect a great searchable calendar that includes all types of events, from live music to local theater to community events," Ryan said. "Our network spans from Ashland to Grants Pass. You can also visit us on Facebook at Rogue Valley Events."
New Owners at Taj Indian Restaurant
The popular Taj Indian Restaurant, located at 31 Water Street, has new owners. The brother-sister team of Hani and Lynn Hajje are excited about the opportunity to serve Ashland and the surrounding community.
"We decided to keep the Indian feeling when it comes to the décor," Hani said. "However, the first thing that we improved upon was the quality of the food. We pride ourselves on the integrity and transparency of our ingredients. We are currently promoting our Monday Night Family Night Buffet, in which we have a wide selection of vegetarian, GMO-free and natural chicken dishes. The kids' meals are one-half off."
Hani moved to Ashland two years ago with his family. An entrepreneur, he was responsible for starting and funding his first company, Power Solutions Inc., in 1995 and has further grown and developed many business ventures to date. With the purchase of Taj, he realized his vision of offering high quality, GMO-free foods in a restaurant setting.
Hani and Lynn grew up in Lebanon, and before buying Taj, Lynn had been working as a relationship manager, covering a multitude of industries including real estate, luxury brands and hospitality in Europe, the U.S., and the Middle East.
"It is our first restaurant venture, and interestingly enough an Indian restaurant," Lynn said. "Having lived in Dubai UAE for years, we had the experience of enjoying Indian cuisine and the Indian culture."
Hani's wife, Vanessa Hajje, is an acupuncturist and a natural health practitioner.
"She was instrumental in instilling the belief that healthy food makes for a healthy lifestyle," Hani said. "Both Lynn and I enjoy being part of the community. One of the biggest reasons we moved to Ashland was the forward thinking community, healthy food options, and all of the local farms growing a variety of quality food."
All of the recipes at Taj are made from scratch using healthy, high quality spices and ingredients. And once you become addicted, you can use Taj for catering. Hani and Lynn also plan to add entertainment, including some traditional bellydancing and Bollywood dances.
For more information, the phone number is 541-488-5900. You can see their new menu at taj-indiancuisine.com.