In 1977 Paul Gross and Diane Egbert, both aspiring goldsmiths, opened their studio, Electrum, in a small three-room apartment at 68 South Main Street in Hanover, New Hampshire. It was in one of the oldest commercial buildings in town, a beautiful old post and beam building.
Each contributed $700 worth of tools, equipment, stones and cash, and began making jewelry to sell to galleries. They marketed their work through national American Craft Council craft fairs at Rhinebeck, New York, and Baltimore, Maryland.
The first ACC craft fair they entered was in Baltimore in 1978. Paul took two small display cases full of their jewelry. He drove to Baltimore through the Blizzard of ‘78 with Rix Jennings, a wood puzzle maker from Canaan, New Hampshire. It was a discouraging show, but Paul learned enough to come back and make the next craft fairs very successful.
Paul and Diane showed their jewelry at national craft fairs through 1984 increasing their reputation and sales each year. They sold to galleries all over this country and to galleries in France and Australia.
During these seven years, people managed to find their way up to the studio to ask for custom work and repairs. By 1984, Paul decided to concentrate on commissions and customer service, but Diane wanted to continue selling to galleries. She left 68 South Main Street, taking the original name, Electrum, with her and moved to Phoenix, Arizona.
Paul worked on at 68 South Main Street developing his business under the name of Designer Gold. As the shop grew, the studio space expanded in several steps until Designer Gold occupied one half of the second floor of that building.
In 1985, Jenny Adams became Designer Gold’s first business manager, and in 1987, Paul hired goldsmith Sandy Bomhower. With Jenny’s and Sandy’s interest in beads and pearls, a new dimension was added to the business.
In 1990, Paul and his wife Peggy Sadler bought store space in the new Hanover Park building, 3 Lebanon Street in Hanover. When Designer Gold moved to that location, Paul added a gallery space and began displaying and selling the work of other designers. He also expanded his repair and custom design business by adding a second goldsmith.
Twice, Paul has won Spectrum Awards for colored stone jewelry. He collaborated with Michael Dyber to create an ametrine neckpiece in 1994. Michael carved the stone, Paul and Michael collaborated on the design, and Paul created the piece. In 1998, Paul won a Spectrum Award for a red beryl and diamond ring which he designed and created. In 2001, he was chosen New Hampshire Jewelry Designer of the Year.
From the beginning, Designer Gold has been community oriented. Paul, himself, has supported several social service and arts organizations by serving on their boards, and Designer Gold has donated many pieces of jewelry for fund raising events. For years, Paul made sterling silver tie tacks in the shape of an antique radio microphone as a thank you gift for pledging to Vermont Public Radio. Other organizations which Designer Gold supports include WISE (Women’s Information Services), The Haven (a homeless shelter for families and single adults), AVA Gallery, Northern Stage, the Hopkins Center, the Thetford Chamber Singers, Upper Valley Communty Band, ChaD (Children's Hospital at Dartmouth), the Family Place, the Hanover High School Crew Team, and area high school project graduation parties.
In 2011, Designer Gold started a "Melting Project." Customers are encouraged to bring in their scrap gold and other precious metals to be sent to our refiner. The total refined value goes to The Upper Valley Haven. Started as a fund raiser for Thanksgiving of 2011, it was so successful, raising over $8,000 in a little more than two months, that Designer Gold has continued it. In 2017, we had a generous customer donate many pieces to the Haven that were too nice to melt down. Instead, we had a silent auction with the bids starting at the pieces' scrap metal value and it was a great success. To date our customers have donated over $25,000 worth of their scrap and unused precious metals!
In this age of mass produced jewelry and big name designers whose jewelry is produced in factories here and abroad, we want to raise awareness of the value of high quality hand crafted jewelry. To do that, we have created a series of evenings called "Jewelry By Design" which we started in September 2013. Free and open to the public, but limited in space, we request reservations to allow attendees to be able to talk with the artists and view their beautiful collections of jewelry. In addition to spotlighting artists, we hope to raise money for our neighbors in need in the Upper Valley. Designer Gold is committed to contributing a portion of the each "Jewelry by Design" evening sales to Upper Valley social service agencies. Ayesha Mayadas was our first spotlighted artist — and together Ayesha and Designer Gold donated $2,500 to the Upper Valley Haven. We look forward to many such wonderful evenings.
In 2018, Designer Gold has decided to take the gallery back to Paul's roots and just have Paul Gross designs and other Designer Gold made pieces. We still offer our commission services and do repairs to your beloved jewelry. Designer Gold continues its fine tradition of excellent quality and personal service.