Harvesting the jewel of success.
By Ana Paula Moratori
Born in Rio de Janeiro, the son of a Portuguese family, and raised in Canada, Louis Louro Jr is a prominent figure in Toronto with his award-winning designer jewelry. But the talented professional wants more. Louis Louro Jr is now preparing another important step in his successful career with the opening of a jewelry museum, the Tenda do Louro Jewelry Museum.
But your family already has a history in this field?
Louis Louro Jr.: Actually, my family’s journey as jewelers started with my grandfather from my father’s side in Portugal. My grandparents worked as a mix of jewelers and blacksmiths. They would even supply the Portuguese government at that time with tools and weapons. But I used to say that my interest in this field is something that’s in my blood, but it’s also a coincidence because when I heard about the history of my grandparents I was already involved in this area. This discovery happened when my family went to Portugal to celebrate the fiftieth birthday of my grandfather. This was when he showed me all his material and from that time on my interest in jewelry was greater than ever.
Tell me about how you opened your jewelry store.
Louis Louro Jr.: The jewelry store was opened around 22 years ago when I was only 20 years old. I really wanted to work as a designer and it all started after I opened my own store. Today the Louro Jewelry employs 11 professionals – salespeople, designers, engineers and polishers. And 90% of the jewelry we sell in the store is produced and designed by my team and myself.
Which piece of jewelry gave you the greatest push forward in your career?
Louis Louro Jr.: The year of 1992 was very powerful for me in terms of being recognized by my peers because I participated in several competitions and I won almost all of them. For the first competition, I designed and produced a ring inspired by Greek-Roman architecture, a style that I’m quite fond of. This ring won the Canadian Jewelers Award.
What other awards did you achieve?
Louis Louro Jr.: After the Canadian Jewelers, I won the Buyer Choice of the World, the People’s Choice and the Best of the Best. At that time the judges of those competitions were still all members of the industry. In other words, they were people who really knew what they were evaluating, so it was a big reward for me.
You have plans to open a museum. How did you get this idea?
Louis Louro Jr.: Actually I already had a little exhibition of some pieces occupying a room in my store, there just to amuse my clientele while they waited. But the idea got bigger and bigger and my passion for the subject pushed me to take this collection more seriously. I decided to give the museum a full building to display jewelry history in full. My search for material started fifteen years ago and for sure there was a great influence from my grandfather’s life. This is why the museum will be called The Tenda do Louro Jewelry Museum, as a homage to him.
How is the Museum going to be funded?
Louis Louro Jr.: For now the Museum is funded by my own resources. So far there is no support from the government. The idea is to create a non-profit entity where the resources for maintenance will probably come from sponsors and events, with exhibitions from Canadian and international artists. We hope to open to open the Museum before this Fall.
What can the visitor expect to see in the Museum?
Louis Louro Jr.: I’m taking a lot of care to not make this Museum a place for self-promotion. The main goal is to educate the public and also to promote the professionals in the field. This will give it the credibility that any museum needs. At the Museum people will be able to see the different concepts that jewelry has had through the history of civilization. We’ll have a permanent exhibition of stones, an area following the timeline of jewelry creation in human history, sectors divided by continents and countries, as well as a library with more than 1500 books on the subject.
What is the role of Brazil as a producer and exporter of stones today?
Louis Louro Jr.: Without a doubt, Brazil is one of the biggest players when we talk about stone production. The great tragedy is that those stones are sent to places like India, for example. Those countries will finish the stones and resell them at a much higher price. I don’t know if there is a lack of investment in the Brazil-Canada relationship in this area, but there is a big failure in this contact. You really don’t see Brazilian companies here.
What kind of advice would you give a person that’s just starting a career as a jewelry designer?
Louis Louro Jr.: When you start as a jewelry designer you often get quite anxious to open your own business. But the struggle to be successful in a business like this one is much bigger than if you simply open a store and sell mass-produced jewelry. People come to my store because they know what they want; they are looking for something different, special, eternal. To win the credibility of these clients takes time, knowledge and experience, things that you only get after working with other professionals. Not to mention perseverance, which is absolutely fundamental.