I like this edition of Social Life, because it features a person who turned a love for jewelry into a thriving business that encapsulates an entire community of people. The best jewelry designs are made with passion, as we have seen time and time again, and so it only makes sense that a person with passion for admiring those designs would contribute something to the industry equally as compelling.
Catherine Cason is the founder of the blog Gem Hunt, where artisan jewelry is the focus and community is key. Gem Breakfast, Cason’s online jewelry store, seems a natural extension of her narrative on jewelry—and it is. Why wouldn’t you make independent designers’ jewelry, so beloved and discussed, available for purchase?
And since the aforementioned community is so vital to sustaining this celebratory conversation surrounding jewelry and the talented designers behind it, you wouldn’t be surprised to find a thriving social media presence on the part of Cason as well. Clearly, she was the ideal candidate whose brain I could pick for a little Q&A I’ve been calling Social Life. Here’s what she had to say.
JCK: First, give us a little background on how you got into jewelry.
Catherine Cason: I was just an addict! I got my first diamond ring, and I was hooked. Instagram fueled my obsession. Once I discovered non-boring artisan jewelry, I couldn’t get enough. Things spun out of control from there.
Ring by Anueva Jewelry
Tell us about Gem Hunt. Dedicated to jewelry lovers and independent jewelers alike, you’ve fostered quite the community on social media. What were your intentions when you started the blog in 2016?
I felt like there wasn’t a place for me to go as a married woman who loved jewelry.
A lot of the coverage for jewelry is either for women getting married or is very niche specific. The vintage community is very strong, the high-end community is very strong. I loved it all and wanted a place that represented all of these communities.
I don’t think I had any intention of getting this involved—it was more out of curiosity. I was fascinated by the designers I was meeting on Instagram and their fantastic work. I really just wanted to share that more broadly. I don’t think the general public really knows the scope of their options when it comes to jewelry.
How do you decide/find designers to feature on Gem Hunt?
I try to curate interviews from people doing interesting and unique work. As someone who loves jewelry, I think it’s important to highlight these incredibly talented people and to inspire other jewelry lovers.
Baguette diamond bar necklace by Anueva Jewelry
Is Gem Breakfast, your online jewelry store, a natural extension of Gem Hunt? Give us a little background into how that started.
It started really small with a series of online pop-ups on Gem Hunt in early 2017.
I wanted to do things differently. In jewelry, traditionally styles last forever. Jewelers don’t do a good job of what I call “hype culture” that permeates other industries like beauty and athleisure—sneakers, for example. I thought there was an opportunity to market the product differently and drive excitement with sneak peeks, behind-the-scenes access, and limited availability. The first pop-ups on Gem Hunt were so successful that I decided to open Gem Breakfast online full time.
With Gem Breakfast, I’m focused on one-of-kind rings—styles from jewelers with amazing craftsmanship that won’t be repeated en masse. I keep it fresh and interesting with different collaborations, specials, and limited-time offerings.
Of course, I’m also incredibly focused on showcasing work from indie and niche designers you can’t find anywhere else.
Diamond ring by Rosey West
Having a strong community of followers on social media seems vital to your brand. What advice would you give to others seeking to up their followers on Instagram or any other social platforms?
A rising tide lifts all boats. I was lucky enough to make friends online early on. I truly believe that working together as a network and cross-promoting each other is vital to your success on social media. If you’re trying to build a following from your own little island, it will be much harder. This was why I started the Diamond Tribe movement. You don’t have to see other people as competition—we are all better and stronger together. It’s not a zero-sum game. This is also why I do so many collaborations with Gem Breakfast.
Custom signet rings by My Story
I love the feeling that your social feeds have generated, that jewelry is for everyone—something to connect on, celebrate, and discuss. It’s more than just a romantic gift, and the feeling that I get when scrolling through your Instagram is that you celebrate the self-purchaser. Is this intentional? Do you find that the majority of your audience is made up of women?
One hundred percent. I am a woman, and I wanted place for women to go that celebrated jewelry and felt comfortable. I always say, “Gem Hunt is your best friend that loves jewelry.” That’s the voice I want to have on social, your enthusiastic friend. I don’t think jewelry has to be talked about in such a high-falutin’ way.
Everyone has a different definition of success when it comes to social media. What is yours?
Gratitude. Social media has given me so much: new friends, a community that inspires me, and a growing business with Gem Breakfast. I’m grateful for every moment.
First site you check in the morning?
Starburst ring by Ellie Air Jewelry
Do you still use Pinterest?
Yes, I do. I have about 9,000 followers there, and it’s a focus for me. It definitely works to drive site traffic for both Gem Hunt and Gem Breakfast. I think there is still an upside for jewelers. It’s important to diversify where you spend your time and not rely too much on one platform. I wouldn’t count out Pinterest, by any means.
What do you think the next big thing is in social media?
It’s really hard to say! I wish I knew. The new platform Vero seems to be getting a lot of traction, but it’s currently buggy and hard to use. But I’m giving it a chance.
What are your favorite Instagram accounts to follow?
@stonefoxbride for the romantic jewelry stories; @jackieschimmel because she is hilarious; @jessicamccormackdiamonds because her work is amazing; and @dogpersonalities because I love dogs.
Social media pet peeve?
How rude people can be on messenger. They’re demanding posts or responses to their messages. I think sometimes when you have a big account, people don’t remember there is a real person behind it. They talk to you like you’re a robot there to just post about jewelry. Manners tend to go out the window. Bloggers are people, too!
A social media mantra to leave us with?
A rising tide lifts all boats.
All images courtesy of Catherine Cason