Born and raised in Baltimore County, Alexandra Lopato has always had a fascination with jewelry for as long as she can remember. As a young girl she used to watch old movies with her grandmother and gawk at all of the old Hollywood glamour. Understanding how a piece of jewelry is constructed and finding that perfect hallmark or makers mark that adds value is captivating to her. “It feels as if you are holding a piece of history in your hands,” she says.
Alexandra has been a part of the CIRCA family since 2011, buying jewelry at CIRCA’s headquarters on Madison Avenue in New York City. In 2010 she achieved her Graduate Gemologist Degree from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and holds diplomas in Diamonds, Gem Identification and Colored stones. Prior to studying jewelry, Alexandra achieved her Bachelors degree from Indiana University in 2008.
“My goal is to make my clients happy. The most rewarding moments are when I’m with a client who is thrilled by my offer,” she states. “It’s as if they found money, and I found it for them.”
Hartman received his Graduate Gemologist Degree from The Gemological Institute of America, and to this day keeps taking advanced GIA courses and watchmaker workshops to further his knowledge in the business.
Prior to joining CIRCA in 2008, Hartman spent many years working for various retailers, such as GRAFF and Trabert & Hoeffer in Chicago. In 2016 he was appointed Director of CIRCA, Chicago.
“I so appreciate the beauty, mystique, romance and legend involved with beautiful jewelry.”
Thuyvi Tran, Director of CIRCA San Francisco, has nearly 10 years experience working in the jewelry industry. Tran graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, obtaining her degree in Legal Studies, Political Science and Business Administration. Enamored by jewelry and the industry, Tran pursued her passion and attended the Gemological Institute of America, where she completed her Graduate Gemologist degree while also receiving diplomas in diamonds, colored stones and pearls.
Her admiration for jewelry and identifying gemstones first began at the age of five while playing dress up in her mother’s ruby and diamond earrings. “I vividly remember asking my mother if they were real and where did they come from. Her answer, ‘the jewelry store,’ did not satiate my curiosity to know more; instead, sparked my interest in gem identification and jewelry as a whole,” describes Tran.
Tran has exceled in both buying and selling contemporary and estate jewelry, diamonds and watches. In 2012, Tran began working at CIRCA as a buyer at CIRCA’s Global Headquarters (New York). Her talent, diligence and managerial skills granted her the opportunity to rise quickly within the company, earning the roles of Senior Buyer, Supervisor of CIRCA’s Buying Operations, and now, Director of CIRCA’s San Francisco office.
“My favorite story while working at CIRCA is when a client came in with two bags filled with jewelry she had inherited from her aunt. After five hours of delightful conversation and evaluation, she walked away with a check that paid for her Master’s Degree and her move to Los Angeles. Truly special moment,” says Tran.
Howard Beardsley, Director of CIRCA Palm Beach and Boca Raton, began his career 30 years ago as a polisher and jewelers’ apprentice while he was attending college. During this time, his boss quickly recognized Beardsley’s keen eye for finely made pieces and gems, urging him to continue his education at the Gemological Institute of America. In 1989, Beardsley graduated from the GIA, and has since continued expanding his knowledge and experience. He successfully completed the ASA Master Gemologist Appraisers Course (in 1993), the American Gem Society Certified Gemologist Course, Levels 1-4 of Patek Philippe Specialist Training, Levels 1-3 of the Breitling Specialists Training, as well as his continuing education labs. Throughout his career, Beardsley has bought, sold and appraised thousands of pieces at all market levels, working for a number of the most prominent and established retailers, including: Tourneau, Hamilton Jewelers and Mayors Jewelers.
Beardsley has been the Director of CIRCA Palm Beach and Boca Raton since 2013, where he continues to eagerly discover hidden treasures every day. One of the best parts of his job, Beardsley says, is the ability to educate clients about the unknown value of their jewelry. He explains a particular appointment where he was able to educate a client and make an offer that exceeded the client’s expectations. “A young woman made an appointment with me to meet her at her bank vault, because she had inherited a large amount of jewelry and she wasn’t sure how much was real and how much was costume,” he describes. “She was trying to raise money to finish her Master’s Degree. After several hours, I determined that almost all of it was genuine and she not only had enough for tuition, but for her living expenses as well. Now that’s a good day.”
Wes Carroll has been fascinated by jewelry since he was very young. “I came from humble beginnings, and I’ve always been intrigued by fine jewelry and what it represented,” he says. “There’s always a story behind every piece of jewelry —how it was presented, what the occasion was—and those stories drive my passion.” When presenting an offer to a client recently, the client understood the amount to be $8,000 when it was actually $80,000. “It was a truly joyous moment for the client that I will never forget!”
Carroll, a graduate of the Gemological Institute of America for both diamonds and colored stones, joined Circa in 2011, and currently serves as Director of CIRCA Beverly Hills. With more than 25 years of experience working for the finest jewelry houses such as Cartier, Bulgari and Graff Diamonds, Carroll brings his expertise and understanding to every client he meets.
Carroll’s star-studded Beverly Hills clientele appreciates the discretion and convenience CIRCA offers to each and every client. “Tastes change, trends change, and our clients enjoy dropping in once a month, or once a season to edit their jewelry wardrobe.”
Lee Siegel has worked in the jewelry trade for over 20 years, and earned his prestigious Graduate Gemologist Degree (G.G.) from The Gemological Institute Of America (GIA), in 1996. Lee has also earned a diploma in Rough Diamond Grading from the American Institute Of Diamond Cutting. “It has really given me a true understanding of how diamonds are brought from the rough stage to the finished product,” explains Siegel. Along with Lee’s Gemological degrees and diplomas, he also specializes in colored gemstones, antique and estate jewelry, diamonds and high end antique, vintage and modern timepieces.
Prior to joining CIRCA in 2006, Siegel spent 15 years working in a family-owned jewelry business in Virginia. He currently serves as the Director of CIRCA Washington, DC.
Siegel says, “I feel very privileged to have built such a loyal clientele in the Washington DC metro area. Hands down, the best part of my job is having the privilege of educating my clients so that they have the information they need in order to make a good decision.”
Jeffrey Singer, Senior Vice President
Jeffrey Singer, Senior Vice President
Jeffrey Singer’s encyclopedic knowledge of jewelry and watches is legendary, but it is his unbridled enthusiasm for the subject matter that’s so infectious. Singer comes from a long line of jewelers, and his childhood was spent looking at and studying precious pieces. “I loved being in my family’s office, listening to my father and his siblings as they evaluated beautiful jewelry,” he allows. “I remember how impressed I was with every piece of jewelry I saw. I’m sure some of the things I saw were spectacular and some not, but at seven years old I thought they were all treasures.”
Singer trained arduously and rose through the ranks of his family’s estate jewelry house, New York-based M and L Singer, which remained a leader in the industry for more than 50 years. It was through his vast experience that Singer saw a void that existed when it came to the private sale of personal jewelry. To that end he and his team opened SellJewelry in 2000. The goal was this: Give clients a way to sell their unwanted jewelry by providing unparalleled service, total discretion and a luxurious environment. In 2005 SellJewelry was rebranded as CIRCA, where Singer remains a Co-Founder and Vice President. Singer treats every client with care. “Selling jewelry is not an everyday event for people, and I understand that,” he says. “We may buy every day, but we never lose sight of what someone goes through emotionally when they decide to let go. We are here to inform and to educate. At a certain point it’s not about the jewelry on the desk but about the person sitting opposite us.”
Singer is a founding member of the New York Jewelers Group, a 15-year-old organization made up of New York-based industry executives. Most recently Singer was elected into the 24 Karat Club of New York, an elite invite-only club serving the jewelry industry and limited to only 200 members. “Being a co-founder of CIRCA and involved since the very beginning, I have many wonderful stories,” Singer says. “It’s impossible to pick a favorite, because at the end of every client meeting, after I have delivered a check I always ask what they plan to do with their newfound money. Sometimes it’s to finance school tuition for a child or grandchild, or to embark in a home renovation, or any number of things. It’s just wonderful to see that they’re happy that they could take a non-performing asset and convert it into something with meaning. My favorite use of funds? A vacation!”
Marta Eizaguirre joined CIRCA in 2013, and currently serves as the Director of CIRCA Madrid. With more than 25 years experience in the luxury jewelry industry, Eizaguirre has held leadership roles at Bulgari, Hermès and Joyería Suárez.
Eizaguirre was born and raised in San Sebastian, a small city in northern Spain near the French border. It was playing with her grandmother’s charm bracelet that first captivated her imagination. “I was amazed to discover the charms,” she says. “Holding each gold piece, turning it over in my hands, hearing the story of how my grandmother acquired it. I just loved it.”
It would take Eizaguirre many years to pursue a career in the jewelry industry. One day she was casually talking to a friend who said she was studying gemology, and just like that Eizaguirre realized that she, too, would like to learn more about precious stones. “I knew it would be interesting,” she says, “but I wasn’t prepared for how passionate I would become. Studying gems was as fascinating as anything I had ever learned about.”
Eizaguirre has received an Expert in Diamonds title from the HRD Antwerp Institute of Gemology and has completed the Jewelry Appraiser Course at the International School of Jewelry. “I knew studying gems would be interesting,” Eizaguirre says, “but I wasn’t prepared for how passionate I would become.”
Today, she still gets a thrill when she uncovers a hidden gem in a client’s jewelry collection. “There are always hidden treasures inside a jewelry box, and I love to find them,” she says. “it is a pleasure to learn about the next piece of jewelry, trip, or personal adventure a client is ready to pursue.”
Rosemary Leung joined CIRCA in 2012, as the Director of CIRCA Hong Kong. She discovered her love for jewelry through her passion for old European paintings. “I travel to different European cities every year to see paintings, especially portraits. I am always fascinated by the details and designs of the jewelry worn back in the day,” she says in excitement, while speaking about her two passions. “Chinese families are commonly interested in collecting solitaires, Rolexes, and branded pieces. My time in Europe and the time I spent working in the US allowed me to explore period pieces, which I have a huge interest in.”
Leung received her diamond and colored stone grading trainings from the GIA. Having studied in Australia and worked in London, New York, and Hong Kong, she understands cultural differences. “There is still a stigma to selling jewelry in the Asian markets, I understand very well my clients’ concerns, as my own family share the same mentality.” Due to the market differences, Leung comprehends the importance of sharing her knowledge in jewelry and watches, and strives to educate her clients on the advantages of selling and keeping certain pieces.
Rosa Tomàs’s father was a jewelry designer, and she remembers fondly how she watched him sketch ideas for new designs while the family gathered at the breakfast table. “I was raised with it,” Tomàs says. My father was a jeweler, my grandfather, my brothers and cousins. As long as I can remember, I have been around jewelry. Tomàs joined CIRCA in 2011 and currently serves as the Director of CIRCA Barcelona, the city in which Tomàs was born and raised.
Tomàs says she wakes up every day, excited to see what will come through her door. Her gift is that she is well- known for her gentle approach.
Prior to joining CIRCA, Tomàs spent over 25 years in the jewelry industry where she worked in all facets of the business, ranging from manufacturing to importing and exporting diamonds. Her first job was working for her father when she was just 18 years old and starting school. Tomàs is a graduate of the School of Gemology at the University of Barcelona, where she trained as a diamond specialist. Biggest surprise: A woman once came in carrying a dozen boxes filled with costume jewelry that she inherited from her mother. She had a feeling there might be something important, hidden, and we found a pair of beautiful French platinum and diamond earrings. She was ecstatic!