Today we discover the parcours of Laurie and Simon Watt’s son, the arty beardy guy from the Mayer and Watt team: Geoffrey Watt.
Bourbon connaisseur, gem dealer and photographer, sieur Geoff scoffs at nothing and shares enthusiastically what he has discovered whether in artistic form or through IT Segways!
But rather than listening to us debating about his merits how about we take a look at what he has to say?
Geoffrey, the floor is yours buddy,
Welcome Mayer and Watt's Geoffrey on the floor with us today - Photo Credit: Geoffrey Watt
AsiaLounges: First of all, thank you for agreeing to being with us today Geoffrey, should we start the usual way? Can you tell us more about yourself? Who are you Geoffrey Watt?
Geoffrey Watt: Well, that was quite the introduction. I hope I can live up to the artistic take of my personality. I think of myself as a father and husband first. Lost in our business from the outside is how important family is to the equation of a successful gem business. You need your partner and your family support to take on the strong egos and consistent denial from buyers. But I would also say you got the bourbon enthusiast correct. When I am not gemstone hunting and selling, I go out to bourbon distilleries and my group of buddies and I pick barrels, both for personal and charity. We have raised over $30K in the last 4-5 years for charitable reasons. I love giving back, I think it’s important. I love soccer and American football. I am a traveler at heart but have no problem with a staycation. I have a great wife, she’s a nurse and a college nursing instructor, and two girls who I am obsessed with. I play guitar and love poker. There’s way more to unpack, but I don’t know if you have a Netflix series to dedicate to me telling you who I am via my life experiences lol.
AsiaLounges: Further to the first question, could you tell us how you got to the trade? I mean, act this point we all know that your parents are in the trade as well but, what decided you to follow the family game? Are you even following in their footsteps or are you taking a different direction?
Geoffrey Watt: So, the story is when I was 6-7 years old, I had my bike stolen. I was very distraught. My parents had told me if I left it on the other side of the fence one more time, they wouldn’t replace it when it was stolen. Welp, I was a kid, and I did it again. It got stolen and they wouldn’t replace it. Without a bike, my head went, “How can I make money to get a new bike?” I went into our garage, and a close family friend who had made his way back from mining in Madagascar was cobbing some of the finest rose quartz you’d ever seen. He had left behind his tailings and a few burlap sacks of what he’d considered junk. I proceeded to dig through it, pull out what I felt were decent pieces and set up a table outside with a big sign saying “Madagascar Rose Quartz - $1 each.” After I had cleared the table in an hour, I ran back inside and asked for more poster board. My parents asked how it was going and I told them “Great! I was asking $1 a piece and since I don’t have any new poster board, I am going to do the next lot at $10, I’ll just add the 0!” They both laughed and said “Well, he is going to be a gem dealer when he gets older” haha.
But what got me into the industry? I was wandering in my life. Waiting tables and being a misguided youth. I asked for a position in my parent’s company, and they proceeded to tell me no. I was not responsible enough. So, I was told to get another job in the industry to learn it from another perspective. I took a retail job, working platinum and diamonds with stores in San Francisco, LA, and NYC. I got to work in all three stores and the professionalism of the people I worked with showed me how much I loved the industry. Not retail sales! Lol. I hated that. But the industry and the people in it spoke to me and made me want to dig my heels in. When I finally got the job with my parents it was a deep headfirst dive.
What my parents have done for 40 years is totally worth taking by the horns! I am not changing the mentality, just the access and the online access. We are available as an app, we have the GEMPORN app! And our website. Soon you will be able to browse a lot more of our inventory!
From selling quartz in front of his parents property to lecturing US's valuers at the AGA, Geoffrey has had a prolific career so far and more is yet to come - Photo Credit: Geoffrey Watt
AsiaLounges: Many, like myself, were told that it’s impossible to enter the trade if your family is nor part of it, at this point we both know that it isn’t true but, in your opinion, is being a second gen, working with the family in the family business a curse, a boon or both?
Geoffrey Watt: It’s both, you get a wealth of experience and knowledge. But you also get treated like a kid sometimes. You must pick your battles. We’ve had some good ones! I am sure the struggle of start-up and building a company image isn’t easy. I was fortunate and am happy to take it. But what I want to make sure is that my parents have success along the way, too. I want to grow in a way that works for everyone involved. I think what I did was just take who they were quietly and made the visibility come on stronger. I think they weren’t as well known by everyone, but just the top players in the game. I wanted to open us up to some of the social influencers and manufacturers, which has been game changing for us. I do think that it is tough, with no name in the game to start. Your word is your bond in this industry. You cannot create that overnight. I don’t think there are a lot of industries that you can. But in our industry, it seems it’s even harder. I do think you can break in, if your quality and your customer service are top notch. Our industry rewards that. So, work hard to get your name out there and you can definitely break in. As you said, you are proof of this, but also my parents are too. They are first generation in the industry.
"I think of myself as a father and husband first" - Geoffrey Watt - Photo Credit: Geoffrey Watt
AsiaLounges: Taking a bit of a tangent here but I feel that it’s a topic of actuality for the trade, what is your take on synthetics, man made / factory made gems? (Loaded question much? xD) Do they have their space on the trading floor, or will they go the way of the dodo? Perhaps do you see a third option for them ?
Geoffrey Watt: Look, my opinion…there is a place and a price point for every buyer. If someone is a buyer and their budget is low, maybe a synthetic is the way to go. I do not sell it. I cannot supply it. I have no idea where to even buy it! But I do not let myself be annoyed that another product can fill a need. There is so much room in the industry. We should all be happy we have business and clients. Where will it end up? I mean Chatham is still around, right? I don’t feel like they are competition value-wise. So, I think as a third option I am ok with it.
AsiaLounges: What is, in your opinion, the core of the trade ? Many a time we hear that in order to be a good gem and jewelry sales person one needs to be a gemologist for exemple, is it something that you’d consider to be of importance and why ? What is your ethos of the trade?
Geoffrey Watt: No. You do not have to be a gemologist to be a good gem dealer. I know many of them that should not buy or sell rocks. On the other hand, I know many very successful gemologists and gem dealers that have built their name on their gemologist experience. I think being a good buyer, and a smart price navigator are more important than education from a book. All the education won’t tell you if the stone you are buying is a good buy or not. It is a part of it, yes. Through mistakes, one will learn through the process of buying wrong, and learning from it can provide more education. But I do not think it is the best path or the worst path. Sorry, I felt I should tread lightly! haha
Geoffrey and Friends indulging in the US version of Gem Nights in a Bourbon distillery - Photo Credit: Geoffrey Watt
AsiaLounges: What is your take on recent trends in the trade such as the whole ethic and transparency run that so many advocate for ? Is it something that you see as being important in your day to day activity or more of a paper tiger that keeps us busy instead of focusing on beauty, quality or other aspects of the trade?
Geoffrey Watt: We should do less advocating for it, and more leading by example. Just my personal opinion. I don’t have to write all over my paperwork that I am responsible, my clients know who we are. We are not here to pillage artisanal mining. We do not benefit from strip mining. We pay our suppliers, and we even will do some charity work for them when we can, if they need it. Some of our suppliers are more well off than me. I do think we should be equal, fair, and responsible. I think we should worry about the future of everyone in the industry. From bottom to top. I am just curious why such scrutiny is placed on someone that doesn’t outwardly project and advertise. Find out who your suppliers are before accepting their bandwagon advertisement, to follow the same trends of describing themselves as “responsible”. There are some major players in the industry that really put themselves out there and are legit. Don’t let my indifference toward it mean it’s not an effective strategy and that some actually do what they say.
AsiaLounges: Since we are running through your opinions, what are your favourite gems and why ? What makes that type (s) of gem (s) special to you?
Geoffrey Watt: This is hard. I like my dad’s line here, “last one I sold and got paid on.” True gem dealer to the core response. I love Alexandrite. I love true Paraiba. I love Indicolites. I love rough stones. Seeing them like they came out of the ground. Nature's true art.
Alex is special to me, since my wife’s name is Alex. When we first met she was so bemused by my job. I told her there was a stone named after her. She said, “Fine, buy me a big one!” I immediately schooled her on prices and, even now, prices have gone higher, but I said maybe one day I would get her one. Well, for our wedding rings, I put two Alexandrites in each. So, I always have Alex close to me.
Here is an example of Alexandrite from Mayer and Watt's Stock - Photo Credits: Mayer and Watt
AsiaLounges: Being a father yourself as well, are you grooming your “Mini Yous” to follow in your footsteps? Does your kids show interest in the trade at all ?
Geoffrey Watt: They both love crystals and gemstones. But they must have the want and the passion. Too many companies that I see are taken over by kids who don’t really care about the company. They’ve both asked to take trips to far away countries with me to find stones. We will see, one wants to be a veterinarian and the other who knows...maybe a standup comic? lol. When they show they want it, doors are open. The oldest has come in and sorted and counted stones. So, the bug has infected her a little!
AsiaLounges: Might there be anything you’d like to discuss that we have yet to touch ?
Geoffrey Watt: I think that we are in a good up trend for future generations. We are finally breaking into a new love for colored gemstones. I have supplied close friends with colored stones for engagement rings and anniversaries. When I started in the industry, we were a lost love. Gone were the days of the 80s and 90s, where gold was $25/ounce and you could make so much jewelry. Now, pieces are being made for purpose or disposability. So, there is a new wave and style being created. Old looks being rebuilt for today’s society. We are seeing a section of the industry grow up. Prices are not what they used to be, so being creative and finding a new way of survival is essential. This brings some amazing attitude and future for us, and the next generation. It’s made this more fun and a great career generator for my generation.
Paraibas, often mentioned but seldom seen, specially in these shades and clarity - 4.04 cts Mayer and Watt Collection
AsiaLounges: We are slowly but surely reaching the end of this interview and, as it is customary I’d like to ask you 3 advices for your kid’s generation that would like to enter the trade, and I’d like you to tell us of three books that you believe to be essential to the trade.
Geoffrey Watt: For the next generation. 1. Always stay humble. 2. You don’t know everything. 3. Never say anything with absolute certainty in this industry. And 4. A lab’s opinion is no more valuable than your own knowledge and experience. A book isn’t looking at the stone, you are.
Books…Oh man, I am an experience guy…so I say go pick up rocks before a book. But anything by Billie Hughes is a great start! I also like Renee Newman’s books. Sorry, I don’t have a whole lot of time to read. Roadwork, office work, family…bourbon. Anyway, thanks for having me, thanks for asking me some great questions. You can ask anytime!
AsiaLounges: Where can Loungers find you / reach out to you should they want to ?
AsiaLounges: Thank you very much Geoffrey for being with us today, I am convinced that our readers, the Loungers, have enjoyed this interview as much as we did enjoy writing these lines.
As for us, we will meet you again soon in the Lounges with more exciting content! If you have enjoyed this interview please let us know by liking, commenting and sharing our work with your family and friends on your favourite social media platform.
Should you have any questions or topic that you’d like us to research for a future interviews and articles, feel free to let us know by contacting us at email@example.com, it is always a pleasure to dig further into the world of gems and gemmology!
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