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Zealand Stroud: At the Corner of Business and Art
By Julie Roberts
July 31, 2014
Zealand Stroud, owner of Stroud Jewelers, has spent more than 15 years working in the jewelry business. His father started the business in 1991, operating at ZCMI, and Stroud moved the store to Sugar House in 2001. Here, Stroud explains why creating jewelry is “an art and a talent.”
Your father is originally from Hawaii. How did he end up starting a business in Utah?
He started the business in Texas, moved to Colorado, and then ended up here. He had a dream of a family business, and he wanted our family members’ personalities to be reflected in the quality of the jewelry. My father is still a partner in the business, but he has moved back to the Big Island. He is working as the president of the Hawaiian Civic Council, where he serves as an advocate for native Hawaiians. It has been interesting for me to learn more about my father’s culture.
How do you find the ideas for creating your jewelry pieces?
It’s important to me to understand the customer’s dream and vision; I create one-of-a-kind custom pieces based on the customer’s inspiration. The artistic part of the business is my favorite part of this job—it takes a certain knowledge to be able to create something beautiful every time.
How do you stay educated in the jewelry business?
I learned about jewelry repair and design at the Gemological Institute of America, and I continue to attend seminars and take online courses there. Also, I have my employees take the classes too. It’s important to be able to educate the customers on the value of the pieces they are purchasing. I’m not just trying to make money here—I want to help people to invest in high-quality pieces.
How do you like operating your business in Sugar House?
It is a great location because we get repeat business from people in the neighborhood who like to support local businesses. When I was looking for a new location, I took note of how busy this corner is. It’s a walkable, quaint neighborhood. There are lots of good restaurants, and there’s always a lot of activity. Actually, I live just a few blocks away.
Do you have any new developments in the works?
My big project right now is a new e-commerce website, which will hopefully be done soon. It will be fresh and new, informative and interactive. It has been a challenging process … almost like starting a new store. I want the online experience to be just as good of an experience as coming into the store.
Can you explain what is unique about the jewelry you offer?
We feature some unique brands like Xen, which specializes in high-quality stainless steel and other alternative metal products. Their motto is “pure and full of spirit.” Also, we have jewelry that represents the spirit of Hawaii. One of our bracelets is engraved with “kuuipo,” which means “my sweetheart” in Hawaiian.
Do you also have jewelry that connects to Utah in some way?
Yes, I have some beautiful pieces with Australian Opals, which is a gem that fits Utah well. We have such a dry climate here, but that doesn’t harm these gems because they are already dried out.
Have you noticed any new developments in the jewelry business?
Since January, there’s been a great addition to the business with customers from the LGBT community. Right now I’m working on a custom piece for a couple who want matching black diamond rings. It has been fun. It’s all about love—that’s what matters. Gold has been used since the beginning of time to express love.