Micronesian Goldsmiths owner Victor Andre's creations are designed to keep Guam's ancient symbols and stories alive in jewelry that lasts forever
"I thought the people on Guam were ready for something different," said Andre, who prides himself on the variety of items he carries and on bringing culture alive through his creations.
The creation of a new cultural piece involves reading ancient stories and talking with local people about the tale. The resulting jewelry comes with the history of the piece to ensure the purchaser can know the story behind the item. Andre also explains where the idea for the jewelry came from and the story behind the symbols or pictures. "With every piece, I show them pictures and explain how old it is," Andre said. He said he wants people to know what they are buying.
"It is more than just a piece of jewelry," Andre said of his work. "It is their cultural heritage."
Andre began his career in jewelry in New England, traveled to Florida for additional training and started his own business. Then seventeen years ago he took a vacation to Guam and never went home.
Andre took things slowly when starting his business on Guam.
"Mainly, I just did all the arts and crafts shows on the island and wholesale for my own private customers."
By the time he was ready to open his shop, he had a strong customer base. He waited for what he thought would be the ideal location, finding a spot in the Chamorro Village and Micronesian Goldsmiths was opened in 1994.
"It has been a long hard pull," Andre said of building his business. "Being a "one-man band" has made it difficult to follow the Chamorro Village rule of being open seven days a week."
Andre has found word-of-mouth is the key to marketing his business on a small island. "I make a great effort to please everyone," he said. "I tell everybody that walks out this door the same thing, 'tell your friends, tell your enemies.'"
The most rewarding part of Andre's job is the longevity of his creations. "I will be long dead in the ground and my jewelry will still be beautiful," he said. "If you can create nothing but beauty and leave nothing but beauty behind, then you have done some good."
~ Michelle L. Gabriel, Pacific Daily News