What a privilege to bring you an interview with my friend, the ultra-talented Jennifer Pratt. Jennifer and I had kids who went to the same high school – in fact; my son took her daughter to Prom – and I was always attracted to her warm and generous personality and her creative abilities. Over the years, as I have gotten to know her, I have grown to have tremendous respect for her as a wife, mother, and businesswoman. In 1988, Jennifer and her husband, Jeff, opened JPratt Designs, one of Dallas’ finest custom jewelers, where they design and create stunning custom jewelry for their clients. A large part of their clientele? Empty Nesters! Jeff and Jennifer have been married for 30 years and have two daughters, Mallory (23), who is married to Ben Stevens, and Abigail, a graduate of Harding University. They view their business as a “calling” and consider their clients like family.
(Suzy) Tell us a little about your business.
(Jennifer) Our business is J Pratt Designs. We design and hand create fine jewelry, both from scratch and by restyling our clients’ out of date, sentimental, family heirlooms. We are also diamond brokers, colored stone brokers and we handle the liquidation of antique vintage jewelry and coins. We believe the Lord orchestrated the creation of our business, and we have dedicated our business to Him. We believe it is our ministry. Usually, the finished piece of jewelry serves as a reminder of a sweet relationship, past or present. Jeff and I consider it a privilege and an honor to be a part of that, and we cherish the family-type relationship we have with our clients.
Who is a typical J Pratt Design client?
Our clientele varies considerably, ranging from young couples purchasing engagement rings to Empty Nesters wanting to restyle inherited, estate, or just out-of-date jewelry, to repeat clients who adore fine jewelry to remarriages, upgrades (usually to larger diamonds), to custom motif jewelry. We even have some men who come to us for custom belt buckles!
What type of jewelry is ideal for restyling?
Our recreation process begins with clients bringing in jewelry inherited with tremendous sentimental value, or just old, outdated, unwanted jewelry that they would like us to utilize to create something new and extraordinary. I tell clients not to leave anything at home! Almost everything is useable to put towards creating (or just trading in) towards the value of the remake. I’ve had people bring in everything from sterling flatware to gold teeth!
What happens during the restyling process?
Typically I sit down with a client for a two-three hour design appointment. During this time, I start by getting to know them and talking about what type of piece they are interested in and what it will represent to them. Sometimes private and tender, emotional things come up, and when they do, I have the opportunity to share God’s love and my love for our clients. Then we spend some time looking at photographs of inventory that we have designed in the past in order to get an idea of how they want their piece to look. Partly based on what they brought me to utilize in the new piece, I draw up a design while we are sitting together based on their individual taste, what they have pointed to in the photographs we looked at, and what they want the piece to represent. They give me feedback as I draw, and we make adjustments. I design the pieces based partly on my knowledge of Jeff’s expertise. By the end of the appointment, usually, we have come up with a design that they love, and Jeff and I can then begin the creation process.
What happens next?
Next, Jeff and I confer and he begins the wax carving creation process. He personally carves the client’s design out of wax. With the development of computers and their design capabilities, the old world practice of hand carving is becoming a lost art. Jeff is one of the only master craftsmen in the country who continues to hand carve. About three weeks after the original design appointment, we have our clients come back to approve the wax piece. After the approval, our jewelers cast, stone set, and hand engrave the piece. Hand engraving adds depth and richness to pieces simply not possible through machine engraving. It is a beautiful process that provides each piece with unique and timeless elegance and value. Once the piece is finished, it is appraised and photographed. Then the client picks up the finished piece, which is often a very special appointment. I see lots of joyful tears!
What is the typical budget for your clients?
Depending on what they bring in for us to use toward the new piece, it is usually around $2500-$7500.
You are in the somewhat unique situation of being in business with your husband. How is that?
We do work together, but we each have our own roles in our company, and those are very different. Jeff is a master of his craft, and I design the pieces that he creates. Knowing his abilities better than anyone else allows me to design pieces based on my knowledge of his expertise.
Is it difficult to leave your work at the office?
We don’t! Our company and our clients are a huge part of our lives and our business represents a common interest that we have dedicated our lives to bring to fruition. Together, we have dedicated our business to the Lord and believe it is our ministry. So often, while I am designing for clients, sensitive and tender issues will come out, and I have an opportunity to share God’s love and my love with them.
Back to the topic of jewelry! What trends do you see right now in your industry?
Rose gold is very popular right now, although we discourage the use of it in bridal jewelry because it is too soft. We have a lot of clients asking for stackable rings, and pearls seem to be having a resurgence in popularity. We are doing lots of layered necklaces, multi-colored diamond pieces, and monograms. (Examples in the gallery above. Click on the photo for a brief description of each.) One type of piece that clients are asking for right now is handmade platinum link chains with a unique motif dispersed throughout it. Those are my favorites to create!
(Suzy) I love the jewelry the Pratts have designed and created for me over the years. Without a doubt, the personal attention and master craftsmanship they put into every piece makes their jewelry exceptional. They have turned unworn and inherited jewelry that was sitting in my jewelry box into something that is a beautiful representation of some of my most cherished relationships. And their ministry mindset pervaded the entire extraordinary process.