It’s been 8 years since I sold my first piece of rough and 6 years since Joe Henley Rough & Gemstones was officially launched. I remember vividly the afternoon 8 years ago when I was laying bored on the couch and the thought occurred to post a piece of rough on eBay - something I had never done. Having collected rough for most of my adult life, I had a large collection to choose from. I chose a red tourmaline from DRC (very old stock) and can still feel the rush when the piece sold within minutes of posting it - in many respects, the business was started that day.
Flash forward 8 years and what a journey it has been. My time on eBay was short lived because I soon discovered Facebook could be used for selling stones. For the first few years, I sold exclusively on Facebook and built a substantial following posting stones and videos of buying trips around the world. It was a powerful model on which the foundation of the business was built.
During our 8 years, we have built an extensive website of rough and gemstones, and it continues to grow each week. We started selling on Instagram about 4 years ago, and while the beginning was slow, Instagram has replaced Facebook as our preferred social media outlet- so, heads up to anyone looking for our social media posts! Our auction house is coming up on its 1-year anniversary and that has been a success almost since the first auction. I believed if we posted quality material for auction, the people would come, and they certainly have!
We are now 6 people strong at Joe Henley Rough & Gemstones - and the future looks as bright as ever. My role has changed almost completely during these last 8 years. I used to be right up front with selling but as each member of our team has found their niche, more and more of my job is now focused on inventory management and the story of our gems: where they come from and the people that mine them. That story is being told in blog posts and interspersed throughout the website and on social media. My goal is to take our customers along each step of the journey. My hands are still on every stone that passes through and I’m making every buying decision – something that will never change. The biggest challenge, and any business owner will understand this, is how to be totally present in the day-to-day operations while also keeping eyes wide open for what’s coming next.
And as anyone who follows us can attest, we love coming up with new ways to sell stones around here!
I’ll be spending the day grading these Mahenge Garnets that were tucked away in a forgotten tub. Look for them to be on the website in a couple of weeks.
To each of you who have played a role in our success,
a heartfelt thank you from the team at Joe Henley Rough & Gemstones