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Golden Swann to spotlight jewelry, U.S. artists

By: Gloria Young, Journal Staff Writer
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Downtown’s Golden Swann is changing with the times. The shop, an Auburn staple for 31 years, is moving its emphasis from collectibles to jewelry and glass art. “We have to reinvent ourselves,” co-owner Margareta Swann said Tuesday. “9/11 put a big kibosh on collectibles. Now with the economy, it’s out.” Customers will still find their favorite Swarovski pieces, but Swann and her husband, Ben Asgarzadeh, have decided to focus solely on U.S. artists, phasing out inventory from China, India and other foreign countries. “We want to support our own country,” Asgarzadeh said. “We have so many good artists here, so we need to support them.” Swann is in the process of choosing artisans for the store. “We’ve signed up Salvatore Polizzi and Linda and Tim Lazer,” Swann said. New York-born Polizzi moved to Los Angeles in the early 1970s. Known as the glass blower to the stars, his work is collected by Stephen Spielberg, Madonna and Denzel Washington, to name a few. Tim Lazer is a Northern California glass blower known for his vases, paperweights, perfume vials and ornaments. A selection of Polizzi’s vases has arrived and an order of Lazer items will be on shelves in a few days, Swann said. For the Golden Swann, the impact of the economy has been exacerbated by competition in collectibles from Web sites like eBay. “Instead of walking away from it, we’re doing something new,” Swann said. Down the street at Art Accents, Auburn Chamber of Commerce President Ann Rivero said she’s seeing that a lot of that sort of proactive response as local business owners look for ways to stay afloat in tough times. “They’re taking this as an opportunity to do business in a new way,” Rivero said. “People are asking questions and looking at different ways to do things. I see people looking for a niche.” In preparation for the changeover, Swann and Asgarzadeh have invested $50,000 in a remodel, including purchasing a $36,000 laser welder. They’ve always offered custom jewelry design, redesign and repair, but the state-of-the-art welder expands capabilities. The laser’s adjustable controls build in greater flexibility for on-the-spot repairs. “We can repair costume jewelry from lead to titanium,” Swann said. They’ve even created a waiting area, bringing in a table and chairs so customers can be comfortable while the jewelry repair work is being done. “We can take your old jewelry and make new jewelry,” Swann said. “We can design from scratch — one-of-a-kind pieces or duplicates of an old piece and make it new, or restore a piece.” They can also size rings up or down and convert clip earrings to posts or the other way around. The business, started by Swann, originally began as a jewelry and fine arts store. “Higher technology is allowing us to do more things — giving us a bigger spectrum,” Swann said. “I’m so jazzed, I can’t believe it. (Goldsmith) Jeff (Balasa) and Ben are walking on cloud nine now that we have that laser welder.” The Journal’s Gloria Young can be reached at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com ---------- The Golden Swann Where: 881 Lincoln Way, Downtown Auburn Phone: (530) 823-7926 Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; Sunday by appointment