Auburn business a unique foothills gem

By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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Jewelry designer John Lynch has had some unusual requests. Last year Lynch, who is the co-owner of Sierra Moon Goldsmiths in Old Town Auburn, created a ruby slipper necklace for a resident who’d hit a $1.6 million jackpot on a Wizard of Oz slot machine at Thunder Valley Casino. “It’s an 18-karat gold white slipper inset with tiny rubies and it has a diamond bow,” Lynch said. “She wears it every day.” Another time he created a piece of jewelry out of a bear claw for a client. “It was a legally owned bear claw and we made a gold top for it,” he said. “He wears it on a piece of leather around his neck and it has a lot of meaning for him. We added some symbols on the leather … depicting certain events in his life.” Lynch and business partner Linda Pierce, both longtime employees, purchased Sierra Moon from original owners Jan and Gary Lord two years ago. The Lords established the business in 1978. Lynch, a goldsmith, discovered jewelry making when he took some classes in it at community college in Southern California. “It took its course from that,” he said. “I went on to Cal State Fullerton and have worked in the trade since about 1972 or 1973.” He moved to Auburn more than 20 years ago to take the job as a goldsmith for Sierra Moon. Pierce, who is a jewelry designer, has been with the business for more than 25 years. The store specializes in custom-made pieces, but also carries ready-made jewelry and provides repair, redesign and restoration services. Many of the requests are for wedding jewelry or redesigning wedding rings. “(Often), when people have been married for 20 years, they seek a redesign of the wedding set, using their own stones, adding to them and coming up with a contemporary design,” Lynch said. With the price of gold so high, the designers are doing more with sterling silver and gold combinations, “but still getting exquisite designs,” he said. Sometimes design ideas come from magazines, TV commercials or what friends are wearing. “We take a very artistic approach to jewelry design,” Lynch said. “We’re not looking to replicate something, but taking those ideas and adding our own impression.” Occasionally celebrities will have some influence — for example, Prince William’s engagement to Kate Middleton with a sapphire and diamond ring. “We’ll get people who will see it and like that look,” Lynch said. Often Lynch and Pierce get their ideas from day-to-day living. “We’ll see something in nature and it will inspire a design,” he said. In addition to Lynch and Pierce, the staff includes two sales associates, two more goldsmiths and an office person. The store’s location on Sacramento Street puts it in the hub of shopping and dining activity. But it also put it front and center during the arrest of three robbery suspects last summer, which happened just outside the entrance. One of the suspects even entered Sierra Moon. “They weren’t trying to rob us. They were trying to sell stolen jewelry that we weren’t interested in buying,” Lynch said. The store does sometimes purchase jewelry and gold from customers and this wasn’t the first time someone came in with stolen items, he said. “We’re always tipped off to it by their actions, especially in this day and age and the business we’re in,” he said. “The staff is well trained to notice certain things and you just have to be on your toes.” There’s also a sophisticated surveillance system in the store. Lynch and Pierce feel strongly about giving back to the community and donate to a number of local causes. For the past two years, they’ve provided a piece of jewelry for the Faith and Fantasy Ball auction that raises money for the Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital Foundation. “The hospital does a lot of great things with the money they receive from the auction items and the ball. It’s a worthy cause,” Lynch said. Sierra Moon’s contributions are very appreciated, said Mindy Danovaro, executive director of the Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital Foundation. “They are such wonderful, wonderful people there,” she said. “Their generosity is as beautiful as the jewelry they create. They have such a wonderful sense of community and have been such a great support of the quality healthcare we provide at Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital. It’s such a joy to work with them. We’re very blessed to have such quality jewelers in our community.” For Lynch, being a goldsmith is a job that’s never boring. “It’s a happy thing to do,” he said. “You’re creating things for people that make them happy. It’s always exciting to take someone’s ideas or thoughts and put them into a piece of jewelry that’s going to make them smile every time they wear it.” Reach Gloria Young at gloriay