Local jeweler recognized for unique ring design

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 18, 2013

By Kimberly Hopson

LAPLACE – A unique and beautiful ring design recently earned a year’s worth of bragging rights for family-owned Roussel’s Jewelers in LaPlace.
Buyer and manager Earl Rodrigue Jr. said Roussel’s placed first in the $3,000 and above category at the 68th annual Jewelers of Louisiana’s 2013 Convention design competition in New Orleans with their vintage-styled 14-carat rose gold ring, which featured a large 2.25 carat chocolate diamond centerpiece. The store’s Facebook page reportedly “exploded” after administrators posted a picture of the winning piece.
“It’s a ‘wow’ ring. Every aspect of that ring is custom. When you’re wearing it, it will captivate everybody’s eye with its uniqueness,” said Rodrige.
“I think what inspired it is the new fashion in jewelry — rose gold is extremely popular right now. We wanted to incorporate something different by putting the chocolate diamond in the center. It was a good balance,” he continued.
Store owner Chris Roussel and master jeweler Chris Sprague worked together to create the piece with input from store employees. Rodrigue said the criteria for the competition is based on aesthetic, wearability and fashion and is judged in a peer voting process by attendees of the convention. Rodrigue added that Roussel’s has placed at least five times in past competitions. This year is the store’s second time as an overall winner.  
“I was always inspired by vintage jewelry. That’s why I wanted to design a piece around it, but with a contemporary twist,” said the fashion-forward Chris Roussel. The entire piece took about 40 hours of work. Roussel said the most tedious part of the design was creating the hand-carved milgrain setting, a style that features thousands of tiny bead shapes. Milgrain literally means “thousands of grains.”
“Custom-designed jewelry isn’t anything new to us — we’ve been designing jewelry since 1987,” said Rodrigue, who said the store gets lots of custom requests from customers who want to update, add to or incorporate both the past and present in their family heirlooms.
Roussel’s will go on to compete in the Jeweler Association of America’s national design competition in Atlanta, Ga in late October, and another national competition in New York next year, though the ring has already been sold. Placing in a national competition would be an honor for the store. Roussel’s has been in the jewelry business for 47 years and is a third-generation family-owned store.
Additionally, owners Chris and Amber Roussel of the store’s Pontchatoula location will also host its second annual Guitar Show on Sept. 25-28 at 5 p.m. Ten vendors will sell new and used guitars in the location’s newly remodeled second floor Attendees may also buy, sell or trade their own new and used guitars. Both days of the show will feature live music in the store’s courtyard from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. For more information, visit Roussel’s Facebook page or website at www.roussels.com.