A Family Tradition
As told by ketti
The birth of Gemsmith began with my dad. An artist, among many other things, he has always loved people and creating. His vision for Gemsmith was to provide fine jewelry to adorn his clients. These statement pieces would not only be original but also personal, reflecting the style and taste of its wearer. There is nothing like the Gemsmith experience...it's unique, personalized and exceptional.
My father is William I. Schoenfeld. Born in Manhattan, he was raised in the Bronx during the depression era. He graduated from the University of Vermont in 1957 and in 1959 he married my mother, Elaine S. Schoenfeld (nee Siegel), a native of Newark, NJ. They soon sold her engagement ring to pay for college tuition, an investment in their future. While Elaine attended Georgian Court College and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education, English and History, Bill served in the United States Naval Reserve, attending graduate school at night at New York University, where he earned a Masters of Education in Fine Arts. Bill began teaching at Lakewood High School and shortly after became a professor at Ocean County College, where he was eventually appointed Chairperson of the Fine and Performing Arts Department. He has since guest lectured at Princeton and New York Universities. Elaine taught 6th, 7th and 8th grades in the Lakewood public schools for 17 years.
In 1973, Bill opened Metalorgy Corp., a small stand at the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, NJ. With acetylene torch in hand, he created dramatic sculptures and attracted a large following. That success led to the opening of a larger store in Manasquan, NJ in 1974, where his design work evolved from large sculptures to fine jewelry. The business thrived for 29 years . In 1989 Bill opened Gemsmith and Elaine continued to develop the business at Metalorgy, earning the Asbury Park Press’ accolade of Best Jewelry Store in Monmouth County. In 1987, Elaine also earned a Graduate Gemologist degree from the Gemological Institute of America (G.I.A.) In 2000, Bill and Elaine closed Metalorgy and focused exclusively on Gemsmith (and their grandchildren).
From an early age, I shared my father's interest and innate ability in the fine arts. I earned a Bachelors of Fine Arts from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a Bachelor of Arts from Northwestern University and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Pennsylvania. I joined my parents and the jewelry design business at Gemsmith in 2002. Since then, I have become the principal designer, creating original pieces for my clients and developing an exclusive “Ketti” line of jewelry. Today, both Gemsmith (in Toms River) and Ketti Jewelry (in Toms River and online) provide our clients with unique, handcrafted jewelry that is available nowhere else. I have had the joy of making my mother's current designer engagement ring. I believe she is on her 4th (same husband,) having sold the others to make way for the future--again. Who knew?