What do you do when you can’t get over the one that got away? Whether it’s been a few years or 30, you still think about it, realizing that everything else is forever benchmarked by it. Goldsmith Gary Dulac in Vero Beach, Florida understands. His ‘lost love’ occurred nearly 30 years ago and was a stunner to behold. With rich, vibrant red hues, vivid color saturation and little to no inclusions, he still regrets sending it back. It was one of the most stunning rubies he’s ever seen. And, he’s seen a lot!
For more than 40 years Gary has crafted jewelry into art, but not the common way. No fabricated pieces. No CAD system to help. The self-proclaimed perfectionist apprenticed under an old-school German goldsmith many years ago who taught him that each intricate component needs an equal amount of attention to produce the highest level of jewelry.
“I start with a piece of sheet metal and bend, shape, file, solder and set the stones,” explains Gary. “I make my own tools and I polish all of the smaller components before setting them. It’s one of the reasons a high quality, hand designed piece stands out from cast pieces.”
The effort it takes to treat each component with such detail is, to say the least, time consuming. After nailing down numerous variables, each piece can take anywhere from three days to three weeks. But the pre-design work is where the real investment is.
“I only source gemstones that are in the top 1% of quality, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find those. It’s tough to give Mother Nature an order. And I listen to my customer, getting into their mind-set and understanding their lifestyle. That’s the only way I can design what they want.”
With four Spectrum Awards under his belt (three rings and a pendant), whatever he’s doing is working. Letting the stones dictate his design is part of his fluid approach. But he also talks about dreaming of each piece before starting the design work: “When I design in my mind I’m dreaming about the steps it takes to make the piece, so when I sit at the bench I’ve already made it once before.”
Drawing his inspiration from the stones, Gary speaks of a visceral, physical reaction to the high quality ones. And yet, he still thinks about the ruby he passed on so many years ago.
Determined not to miss out again, he’s amassed an impressive collection of non-calibrated sized stones which, he says, are “begging me to make them into something beautiful.” In fact, he has nearly 2000 stones in stock. Depending on customer demand he averages 50-60 pieces per year, most of them commissioned, but all crafted by hand – a skill that runs rich through the Dulac family.
“My entire ancestry was finish carpenters. It’s basically the same thing, except I use smaller tools and work with precious stones,” says Gary.
With more than 2,000 pieces to his name, Gary has never had a piece returned. In fact, his gem dealers, lapidary connections and other industry colleagues tell him his prices are too low for the level of work put into each piece. But Gary is as much a business man as he is artist, and he knows he has to price within the range of his customer base. He’s always fair, always thorough and always passionate.
While his children carved their own career paths in other industries, Gary continues to revel in the beauty and excitement of handmade jewelry. He still gets an instinctual reaction to high quality gemstones that makes him flush in the face. And he continues to immerse himself in each project, regardless of the time required. Hard, meticulous, time-consuming work is part of his everyday life, but so is passion. He continues to fall in love over and over again with various gems, but his ruby is still “the one that got away.” For those fortunate enough to own a Gary Dulac original, the passion is visible in each piece and it is what makes them so precious.