There’s a whole lot of shine and sparkle in the Green Valley Jewelers showroom, and it goes far beyond what can be seen at first glance.

If you look closely, there’s a little bit of gold sparkling in almost every inch of the shop. Each customer who has brought gold in for polishing over the years has left a little dust behind.

And, now that gold dust is going to help fund a new look for the longtime jewelry store.

It piles up

Owner Connie Lamberto said during the last 30 years gold dust or specks have traveled on their shoes as they move around the shop at Continental Shopping Plaza. It gets pushed into the corners and carpet.

“The filters that go into the polishing machine, they got gold everywhere,” she said. “When we walk it comes from our feet. I stand to do pretty good. If there’s 10 ounces it would be $18,000, and I’d be happy with that.”

The shop is in the process of a remodel that includes removing carpet that has been in place for 20 years.

When Lamberto began the process, she recalled a former boss who made out well during a remodel when gold was about $100 an ounce.

“My boss back in Denver in the ‘70s, he had sent his rug in — we had 10 jewelers in a trade shop so it was a big office — and from walking from the shop to the office that dust gathers on your feet and goes into the carpet,” she said. “He got over 60 ounces of gold. That’s not what I’ll get. I don’t know what it will be, but it’s going to help pay for the remodel.”

Gold is going for about $1,800 an ounce today.

Lamberto and her team are working a few doors down from their location next to Safeway in Suite 502 while the flooring is completed. They have filled garbage bags with dust piles and other debris.

This week, the refiner they work with picked up the carpet in barrels and will use an environmentally friendly process to “burn away” the carpet, leaving the gold.

“They (the refiner) will take this and put it in chemicals that will eat away the other stuff and the gold will remain; this stuff doesn’t eat gold,” she said. “We don’t have any idea how much is there.”

Along with the potential to bring in money for the remodel, Lamberto said sustainability matters to her, and recycling gold means less harm to the environment.

“When we can get old gold from people we don’t have to destroy the earth,” she said.

She said the entire remodel is from up-cycled and recycled materials. The wall cases, for example, are from another jewelry store.

Legacy of expertise

Lamberto has been a jeweler for 47 years and said their shop is among the oldest vendors in the Continental Shopping Plaza.

She got her start back in the 1970s apprenticing for a Tucson shop before landing a job at a jeweler in Denver.

She also worked in California before coming back to Arizona and eventually purchasing Diamond Jewelers in 1991, which she renamed Green Valley Jewelers.

“We do the smallest thing with just as much expertise and joy as a big job,” she said. “I’ll do a watch battery for $12 with just as much joy as a $3,000 job.”

One of their most popular services is jewelry refurbishing or recycling: taking different jewelry pieces and making them into more wearable, modern jewelry.

“A lot of these people who come in worked and they dressed up back east. They wore jackets and their pearls and now they’re retired and moved to Arizona,” she said. “They take their jewelry in and we put it back together and remodel it and turn it into something they can wear that’s more casual and comfy. It’s not so flashy and it puts all their best things into one.”

Manager Heather Spencer said they use a number of high-level techniques.

“We have a true passion for jewelry,” she said. “I started 25 years ago literally as a Christmas job to provide Christmas gifts for my then-infant son, and I dressed as an elf and did gift wrapping at the time and I just never left.”

For Lamberto and her staff, creating a welcoming and fun environment is important and Spencer said they have visitors come in just to chat every day.

“It’s always fun in here,” Lamberto said. “W{span id=”docs-internal-guid-94258614-7fff-49ed-2950-000503aa5e23”}{span}e love to share our information and knowledge.”{/span}{/span}

The community has become accustomed to seeing Lamberto’s dog Rambo around the shop while they get advice on jewelry or share stories.

“This community made me who I am today, it really has,” Lamberto said. “They are the most loyal group of people you will find anywhere. I love them and they love me. I love this community, always have.”

Jamie Verwys | 520-547-9728