ABOUT THE GEM LAB
Joseph A. Cassarino didn’t just dream of being a jeweler. He prepared himself to be an exceptional jeweler. A graduate of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain, he opened his first jewelry shop, The Gem Lab, in 1958, armed with a prestigious gemological degree and a sterling reputation. Located in the Sibley Tower Building in downtown Rochester, New York, the original Gem Lab occupied one small room where Joe set up shop as the “jeweler’s jeweler” offering a variety of technical services, including gem identification, jewelry repair and fabrication. His esteemed Fellow of the Gemmological Association degree (FGA) and level of expertise soon gained him a loyal following among retail and major department jewelry stores.
The FGA degree is a benchmark of merit that few share. Awarded by the Gemmological Association of Great Britain, less than 175 people in the United States currently hold the title. A jeweler who has achieved an FGA offers absolute assurance to the customer that he understands the nature and various qualities of gemstones and the methods employed in their identification, grading and fashioning.
IN THE BEGINNING, Joe worked in his shop alone, dealing with the hands-on aspects of the business, while his wife, Shirley, dealt with all administrative tasks. But as good word spread to consumers about The Gem Lab, the Cassarinos slowly added staff and expanded their services and showroom space. In 1976 their eldest son, Paul, joined The Gem Lab. In 1982, twenty-five years after his father, Paul was also awarded the FGA title. He went on to earn the Graduate Gemologist (GG) designation from the Gemological Institute of America, and became a Certified Member of the International Society of Appraisers, specializing in jewelry and gemstones. Today, Paul is the only Certified Appraiser of Personal Property (ISA-CAPP) within a 200+ mile radius of Rochester.
A few months before opening The Gem Lab’s second location in Henrietta, Paul was able to convince a longtime client with a love for jewelry and working with the public to quit her bank job and come to work at The Gem Lab. August of 1990 was the beginning of Patsy’s Gem Lab career. Though she would only commit to part-time at first, she soon became an integral part of the blossoming success of our new location and has been a full-time manager, buyer and sales associate for more than 20 years. Her development of long-term relationships with so many Gem Lab clients has proven to be a good example for new employees looking to have a similarly long and successful career at The Gem Lab. Excelling at time and resource management, Patsy has combined those skills along with her dedication to The Gem Lab to assist Joe in daily operations and maintain organized communications between The Gem Lab and the numerous suppliers from whom we buy precious metals, gemstones and jewelry. Her passion for creating an outstanding customer service experience is something The Gem Lab is very proud of. Able to extend her vision beyond her own personal tastes, Patsy has helped The Gem Lab broaden its offerings far beyond what we had 25 years ago.
In 2000, Paul’s sister, Lori, joined the staff to assist with sales and bookkeeping duties. Her skill-set rapidly expanded into management and jewelry-buying. Lori’s sense of style and fashion not only serve to create a warm and inviting environment for our clients, but also to the gathering of exciting collections of jewelry to accommodate every style and budget. Lori works closely with the few designers The Gem Lab has chosen to represent in our store. She personally selects each of the items that comprise our fashion jewelry collections, keeping them up-to-date and reflective of the varied tastes of Gem Lab clients. Whether looking for a traditional jewel for your wardrobe or an item that truly reflects your unique personality, The Gem Lab is sure to offer a wide range of choices.
Throughout the 1960’s to 1980’s, The Gem Lab provided jewelry services for dozens of independent and national jewelry stores. As The Gem Lab’s own clientele grew, the need to provide wholesale services diminished. However, those relationships provided the opportunity to work closely with a successful, local independent jewelry designer, James Salerno. As the number of goldsmiths in our shop increased as did the demand for specialized jewelry services, we found the need to have another highly skilled member on our sales/management staff. In 2008, we successfully convinced James to join the Gem Lab family. As Chief Designer, his 30+ years of jewelry design and craftsmanship experience offers Gem Lab clients a truly unique opportunity to participate in the re-creation or restoration of their jewelry. Whether by hand-drawn sketches, carved wax model, silver prototype or computer-aided design (CAD), James will assist Gem Lab clients in the process of making their jewelry dreams come true.
TODAY, The Gem Lab’s staff includes more than twenty Back in 1958, Joe could not have imagined his reputation for expertise, honesty and fair pricing would gain him a large retail following. But public demand and years of growth eventually required the Cassarinos to move The Gem Lab to a larger facility, saying good-bye to our downtown home of 35 years. On November 1, 1993, it opened a newly expanded showroom in Henrietta, where it continues to provide customers with the kind of high caliber service and exceptional products the area has come to expect and respect. valued employees. Several serve as sales personnel, but in keeping with the Cassarinos’ focus on quality, the majority are jewelers. These artisans work behind the scenes in the full-service jewelry shop, practicing their specialties as goldsmiths, stone-setters and polishers under the guidance of Joseph and Paul Cassarino and James Salerno.