Today we’d like to introduce you to Danielle Todaro.
Danielle, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
I have always had a passion for Gemstones. At 16, I applied for my first job at a little Fine Jewelry Store in our quaint, small town of Ridgefield, CT. I spent my afternoons and weekends at the shop, immersing myself in the world of colored stones, diamonds and precious metals. I eagerly memorized the different Gems, the 4C’s and began learning the art of retail. Surrounded by the beautiful hues of Sapphires and brilliance of diamonds, my attraction to the jewelry industry grew. I quickly soaked up every bit of information I could. Before long, I was advising customers on repairs, changing my own watch batteries and closing sales on my own. It was this beautiful experience that introduced me to the world of jewelry. I spent the rest of my high school years attending trade shows, learning about buying and even dabbling in design. I still remember the first piece of jewelry I made, it was a Blue Topaz emerald cut, solitaire ring set in a simple white gold comfort fit shank. That little exercise showed me a whole different aspect of the industry. Creating something from concept through execution gave me a sense of fulfillment far greater than what I had experienced on the sales floor. From that moment, I knew retail was not my calling, I wanted to unleash my creativity through jewelry.
During my College years in Newport, RI I started my own online business called Swap Posh. Essentially this was today’s “Poshmark” concept that I came up within 2009. I thrived being an entrepreneur, establishing an LLC, designing a website, building a business from scratch and watching your idea become a reality. While my friends were out partying, I was coding my website, designing logos and managing my new customer base. My entrepreneurial spirit landed me an internship at the Gucci Corporate Headquarters in NYC, working for the buyer of Women’s Handbags and Belts. I was in my element, getting to see and allocate new designs for one of the biggest fashion houses. The energy of the city excited me almost as much as my role at Gucci.
A week after I graduated, I accepted a position at David Yurman Corporate in their Gemstone Department. I was a part of a small team who sourced Gemstones for new designs, working directly with the Yurmans. I was in awe of all the different materials I got to see and touch on a daily basis. There is nothing more breathtaking than the beauty of a natural Gemstone. It was my time at DY where I learned the ins and outs of the stone business. Scouring the market for new materials, innovative cuts and building relationships with suppliers and cutters across the world. As the years passed, I grew throughout the company becoming a Buyer, Buying Manager and then moving into Design as the Senior Manager of DY’s Signature Division. I traveled around with David to trade shows buying beads and Pearls to bring home for our new Collections. We bonded over our passion for Gemstones and color. I looked forward to our weekly meetings, watching him sketch and design will forever be one of my greatest memories.
It was during my career at Yurman that I met my husband. A fellow jewelry designer who swept me up off his motorcycle and shortly after proposed (with a stunning no-heat Blue Sapphire!) We spent more than five years commuting to work on his ‘92 BMW K100. It wasn’t until we had our daughter, Giada that my journey took a different path.
Juggling a demanding, high-stress career in jewelry with a newborn baby was hard. The hours were long and our daughter spent more time with the Nanny than me. I decided to put my career on pause and allow myself to experience motherhood. I resigned my dream job and became a full-time Mom. The hardest job I have had yet.
Within six months, I became depressed. This was the first time in my life I wasn’t working and it took a toll on me. I missed being creative, building something, collaborating with people, and most importantly working with Gemstones and the vendors I had developed close relationships with. I wanted to be a mom AND have successful career, why does it feel so hard for women to have both? I decided to start designing my own jewelry and named the line after my daughter, Giada Blu. I was doing this for myself, to prove I could, to stay creative and to feel fulfilled. I would be able to work WITH my daughter and start a business to pass down to her.
I had been building a personal Gemstone collection for years, accumulating an impressive amount of Stones, Ancient Artifacts, Coins and Pearls. I took this opportunity to design with no restraints. I didn’t have to stay within any parameters, I could truly express myself through the pieces I design.
I gravitate towards edgy concepts that push the limits. Everything I make is one-of-a-kind, ethically- sourced and sustainably handmade in America. Nothing is mass produced, every piece is inspired by an important Gemstone, unique Pearl or Ancient Artifact and made using 18k gold. I focus on designing versatile jewelry, using a signature push ring clasp that allows for every necklace to be worn reversibly and with our Amulets. Our earrings feature a similar concept of mix and matching your studs with interchangeable earring jackets. Jewelry is a wonderful way to tell your story, select pieces that resonate with you and give you strength.
I began this jewelry journey in 2020 and since then have built out an extensive collection of wearable art jewelry and partnered with retailers in CT, NY and FL. You may view our work online at www.giadablu.com. Custom design available upon request.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Starting your own business is never easy. Especially in a creative field where your work is being put on display for others to critic. It’s hard not to take things personally.
One of my biggest struggles is stepping outside of my comfort zone and pitching the line to new stores. As an introvert, I’m happiest behind the scenes, working quietly on my jewelry. It’s been a process to overcome my fears of rejections and something I still work through today. I think this is a common issue amongst artists. Designing is a very personal thing and criticism or rejection cuts a little deeper. I’m working on growing thicker skin.
Another obstacle I’ve encountered along my jewelry journey is pricing and managing customer’s expectations. I find most people appreciate Fine Jewelry but when they hear then price, they cringe. It’s so important to educate your customers. Majority of people don’t understand that one-of-a-kind handmade pieces created by a highly skilled and domestic bench jeweler cost substantially more to produce than jewelry mass-produced in Asia. We design each piece of jewelry around the Gemstone or Artifact.
Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
Giada Blu designs one-of-a-kind Fine Jewelry inspired by rare Gemstones, Ancient Artifacts, unique Pearls and 18k gold. Each piece is handmade in America with exceptional craftsmanship.
All of my Gemstones are ethically sourced and jewelry is sustainably produced.
I put a focus on versatile luxury and believe you should get multiple looks from each piece of Fine Jewelry you invest in. My necklaces are designed using a signature push ring clasp that allows you to wear it reversibly and even attach Amulets.
My Statement Necklaces are one of my favorite styles. Each piece is truly a work of art and channels my love of Gemstones. Saturated rich hues, proprietary and flattering cuts, the way the necklace forms to your neck. It’s a transformation every time you put one on. It’s hard not to feel the power and energy of these Gems.
A customer favorite this year is are our new Caged Pearl Amulets. We hand select the perfect Freshwater Baroque Pearl and carefully form thick gold wire around each curve to create a custom cage design. Each one is unique and handmade.
Unlike majority of the jewelry industry, Giada Blu only designs one-of-a-kind product that is made by hand in America. We don’t believe in mass production, outsourcing internationally or compromising on quality. We use only rare, unique or special Gemstones or Artifacts. Always striving to be more innovative and design pieces that aren’t already in the market.
We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
COVID has turned many lives and businesses upside down. It takes a lot of effort to stay motivated and productive working from home. Especially with your kid being homeschooled and husband working remotely. I designed a lot of Caged Pearls and skull Amulets in 2020. 😉
This year was a wake up call to cherish each day and be grateful for my blessings. Life is short. Focus on the things you are passionate about.
While most customers didn’t feel comfortable shopping in store, I found new ways to showcase our jewelry. Photography is so important. I’m lucky to have a co-worker who understands my vision and can help tell my story visually. Having a strong online presence is more important than ever and I look forward to partnering with online boutiques to grow my .com business.
During COVID, I found people’s appreciation for jewelry to be stronger than ever. Not only is fine jewelry looked at as an investment but it also can bring a level of comfort to the wearer.
- Prices starting at $850+
- Email: Danielle@giadablu.com
- Website: WWW.GIADABLU.COM
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/GiadaBlujewelry/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/giadablujewelry