Laurie began working in the gemstone business as a part-time bookkeeper in the Los Angeles office of a German stonecutter, Hans-Dieter Haag in 1978. Within a year she was managing the office and had found a job she was “turned on” by! She was lucky enough to be able to sell some of the earliest Tsavorites, Tanzanites, Malayas ever to come out of East Africa. In 1981 Simon joined as a salesman but within a few months, Hans-Dieter decided to make some changes, and Laurie and Simon set up Watt Gems in their dining room.
In 1982 we opened our first office in Beverly Hills and for 12 years we operated from an office on Beverly Drive. In 1987 we formed a partnership with another German cutting house, August Mayer, creating Mayer & Watt and we have retained that name to this day, although we ended the partnership with August Mayer, on very good terms with our dear friend Uli Mayer in 1994.
We spent the first ten or so years focusing on gemstones from East Africa and South America, staying away from the Big Three, but in 1994 we began traveling to Sri Lanka and broadened our inventory horizons to include sapphire. We have since also worked with emeralds from Zambia, Colombia, and recently Ethiopia, although our Ethiopian adventure has sadly ended. Currently, we stock mainly Zambian Emeralds.
Laurie has always been fully involved in all aspects of the business, right through the birth of our two children, and now is lucky enough to have welcomed our son, Geoffrey into the company since 2009.
She has been a member of the Women’s Jewelry Association since the ’80s, was very instrumental in starting the Ohio/KY chapter, served as President, and is currently a Chapter Leader, sharing her experience with chapters around the country. Laurie is also involved in several local community groups.