Laurie began her career in the gem business in 1976, working for Hans-Dieter Haag a German stone cutter from Idar-Oberstein and was manager of the Los Angeles office when she married an accountant from London, Simon in 1981. Watt Gems was born around our dining room table in the Fall of that year, with the gracious help and support of Hans-Dieter. Neither of us had any family background, or formal training, in the gem business but we soon found that we shared a passion for colored gemstones and we have turned that passion in to a lifelong career. We opened our first office in 1983 on Beverly Drive and remained in Beverly Hills for ten years. During that time we maintained close relationships with the cutting community in Idar Oberstein and developed a reputation for dealing in fine and unusual gemstones.
We both began traveling around the United States, to sell our gemstones, in the early eighties and developed strong business relationships and friendships, with goldsmiths and retailers throughout the United States. In 1987 we further consolidated our ties with Idar Oberstein by forming the partnership of Mayer & Watt with a third generation cutter, Uli Mayer of August Mayer. This partnership ended in 1996 but not the friendship or the name. For more than thirty years we have developed a network of cutters and miners from every corner of the gem-producing world from whom we source our gemstones.
Early on, we developed a passion for African stones along with material from Brazil but in recent years we have made many trips also to the Far East and in particular to Sri Lanka, where we procure many unusual Sapphires, especially fancy colors. Acquiring gem quality material has been our driving force and we have always had a reputation for very well cut gemstones. Our gemstones have graced the Winners Circle at the AGTA’s annual Spectrum Awards countless times, since its inception in the early eighties.
Simon served on the Board of the American Gem Trade Association for nine years and held the office of Vice President for six years in the 90's. He has just been re-elected to the AGTA board (2014) after serving for four years on the board of Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co. Laurie is actively involved with the Women’s Jewelry Association and serves on the board of the Mid-West chapter. Both remain actively involved in various Trade organizations, particularly the JSA.
In 2008 our son, Geoffrey, joined the company after working for one year with a high end jeweler in New York City and California. He is actively involved in all aspects of the business including sales and has developed his gemstone photography skills to a level where he is regularly published through-out the jewelry industry. His photographic skills are always on display on our newly designed website. He was also the driving force behind our new APP which is available for free download at the Apple Store and Google Play.