Richard Schmidt Jewelry: Central Texas Roots, Southwestern Style

Richard Schmidt Jewelry Central Texas Roots, Southwestern Style

While the roots nourishing his soul are planted deep in the rolling hills of Fayette County, jewelry designer Richard Schmidt’s creative spirit soars in the wide open, sun-dappled skies of the Desert Southwest.Richard Schmidt La Grange

“I’m a fourth generation Fayette County native, and I’m very proud of that—I’d never leave here—but the Southwest has always been a part of who I am,” said Schmidt, who owns Richard Schmidt Jewelry in La Grange and began collecting Native American pottery when he was 15. “I don’t know where my love of the desert came from because it’s always just been.”

While the origins of his fascination are unclear even to him, they likely were strengthened during his family’s annual summer trips to Creed, Colo. The getaways always included a stopover in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which marked the halfway point on the car trip from La Grange.

“I always wanted to stay in New Mexico longer, but my parents were always intent on getting to Colorado,” Schmidt said. Today, he and his wife, Janet, consider Santa Fe a second home—at least for their spirits. They try to spend time there twice a year at a minimum.

“I’m not sure whether it’s the architecture, the light, the air, the scenery, the food, the current group of artists who call it home—or a combination of it all, but there is an undeniable good energy that inspires and reinvigorates me,” Schmidt said.

Richard Schmidt La Grange jeweler photo by Dixie RayJanet, who handles business operations, added with a laugh, “Yes, and since Ortega’s On the Plaza [an iconic Santa Fe jewelry shop] carries Richard’s work, we get to deliberately mix business and pleasure.”

The duo continues to travel throughout the Southwest to showcase the jewelry collections and buy materials.

“Janet has to hang on to the checkbook when we’re at gem and precious metal shows,” Richard said laughing. “I’d happily bankrupt the business buying all of the materials I love.”

Over the years, they have developed a wholesale trade that includes 30 retail stores across the country including Serenite Maison on the outskirts of Nashville, which is a favorite of music luminaries.

“One of the coolest—and most unexpected— things that has happened is that people have started collections of Richard Schmidt Jewelry,” Richard said. “They come back year after year to see my new designs and add pieces to their collections.”Richard Schmidt La Grange jeweler bracelets photo by Dixie Ray

Design trendsetter Mary Emmerling purchases her Richard Schmidt Jewelry directly from the source at the couple’s Round Top booth on West Mill Street in close proximity to Bybee Square during the bi-annual antiques shows. The couple has staked a claim on that location for the past 15 years.

Editor’s note: Richard Schmidt Jewelry will be at Arbor Antiques for Fall 2017.

“Round Top was really a launching pad for us,” Janet said, noting that their first wholesale accounts came from people such as Carley Seale, founder of The Gypsy Wagon, discovering them on the street in Round Top. “The show brings people from across the nation, around the world—and just across the county line.”

Customers, retailers and other artists have become close friends.

“Our jewelry is a piece of art you can wear every day,” Janet said. “Richard’s style, passion and craftsmanship have opened the door to relationships with customers, retailers and other artists. While the business is nice, it’s the relationships that we really treasure.”

An Indirect Path

Richard’s professional path meandered across the country before eventually bringing him back to the jeweler’s bench at Schmidt Jewelry that had been manned by his father since 1977.

“I graduated from La Grange High School in 1978 and went to Southwest Texas State [now Texas State University] where I majored in geography and minored in art,” Richard said. “In hindsight, I probably should’ve majored in art because those classes were the ones that really sparked my interest.”

The newly minted college graduate accepted a job with Lloyd’s Furs, a purveyor of fur coats. Being on the front lines of a luxury goods business taught Richard how to deal with customers of all ilks and made him acutely aware of the power of trends. During his tenure in the fur business, he was a regular at New York Fashion Week.

And while working at Loyd’s Furs, he met Janet, who as a University of Texas co-ed had a part-time job in the company’s Austin store. They married, and the company assigned Richard to El Paso. Living in El Paso strengthened his passion for Southwestern history and art.Richard Schmidt La Grange and Janet photo by Dixie Ray

“I was fascinated with Mexican history and art because its influences are still felt everywhere,” Richard said. And he be began collecting retablos, the humble tributes to saints and the Holy Family crafted by local artisans and monks who used tin, copper and wood to ornament their New World churches in the Old World tradition.

“The artisans expressed themselves with the materials they had,” Richard said. “Those pieces demonstrate how to tell a story exquisitely.”

Relocation was another part of his job. The company reassigned Richard to Denver and Colorado Springs. The young family, which had grown to four, willingly moved throughout the Southwest. Then the company raised the specter of Pittsburgh.

Janet said, “We really didn’t want to move to Pittsburgh.”

About the same time, Richard’s parents, Milton and Betty Schmidt, were getting ready to retire. They were quietly looking for someone to buy Schmidt Jewelry, a retail and repair landmark located on the square in LaGrange.

Richard said, “We weighed our options and decided we wanted our kids to grow up with their grandparents nearby. Family and community give people roots. Roots are important.”

Janet’s parents lived in Austin, so La Grange was ideal. Plus, a life in La Grange would allow the Schmidt children to enjoy the freedom Richard remembered from his own childhood.

“My most treasured possession was a 10-speed bicycle I bought for $98 from Sears,” Richard said. “I’d leave the house in the morning and come home at dark. My friends and I lived outside in the summer—and our parents didn’t worry because they were glad we weren’t underfoot.”

The move back to his childhood hometown brought both challenges and opportunities. Initially, Richard worked alongside his father to refresh his jeweler’s skill set. Then, he and Janet set out to build their own business. Right-brained Richard took ownership of the creative side, that includes jewelry design, construction and display merchandising, while left-brained Janet claimed business operations including purchasing, accounting, personnel and business development.

“There were some sacrifices in the beginning, but owning our own business gave me the opportunity to develop my own style,” Richard said. “I’m basically self-taught, and the only thing I knew for sure was that Janet and I both really liked turquoise. I’d make something, take it to Janet and say, ‘So what do you think?’”

A Handcrafted Vision

Janet’s keen eye not only helped refine the early designs, but the couple discovered she had a knack for spotting trends. Through hands-on experience and experimentation, Richard identified the metals and stones he preferred to work with—and what combinations and techniques showed off the materials to their full effect.

“Often Janet spots something in the marketplace and brings an idea to me,” Richard said. “We talk about it and work together to make it happen. Other times, I’ll see something like a stone or a coin and just immediately know what I want to do with it.

“Sometimes, though, I’ll buy something and it has to sit a while before its role becomes clear—I just know that I’ll be able to incorporate it into something that expresses my spirit.”

His inspiration comes from a wide variety of sources ranging from his expansive collection of vintage cowboy boots (he used to wear vintage boots daily until his “mature” feet indicated it was time to choose comfort over style) to history, art and pop culture.

“I love trendy stuff and pop culture, but I also love history,” Richard said. “My work reflects diverse influences. I like a lot of different things.”

Music is one of his passions. In fact, his ideal work environment is an uninterrupted Sunday afternoon in the studio with an eclectic musical mix including Cold Play, Adele, Switchfoot, Need to Breathe, Sting and Fleetwood Mac blasting from the iPhone doc.

His diverse influences have recently converged and resulted in a collection of embellished silver cuffs that Janet describes as “boho.”

“Yes, I agree that boho is in there, but so is Old World style,” Richard said. “My work is what it is.”

A defining moment was meeting fellow silver artist Kit Carson, who was (and is) on the Schmidts’ artistic pedestal. Initially, Carson sought Richard out at a show after the Arizona native had seen the Texan’s work. It was a watermark day for Richard.

“From the beginning, I had admired Kit’s work, and when he came looking for me, I had a star-struck moment,” Richard said.

Carson, who is now one of the Schmidts’ compadres, delivered a piece of advice Richard continues to share with younger artists including his own children.

“Kit told me, ‘Your process is your process. Don’t let anybody change the things that make your work yours,’” Richard said.

Son Tyler, handcrafts jewelry alongside Richard, and daughter Lauren is embarking on a career in art as a painter. She is part of a group of artists who recently had an opening at the Live Oak Art Center in Columbus. The legacy lives on.

“As an artist, whether you’re a painter, sculptor, photographer, jewelry maker or whatever, honoring your own vision is what keeps your heart and mind engaged in the world around you—and in your work,” Richard said.

A signature of Richard’s work is the handcrafting. Each piece is made by Richard and now Tyler. Every cuff bracelet, which Richard identifies as his favorite pieces to work on because the one-inch wide “canvases” are large enough to tell a complete story, is bent by hand despite the ready availability of technology that would accomplish the task quickly and easily.

“Every night, Richard takes home a pile of flat cuffs and shapes them,” Janet said. “Every piece of our jewelry represents many, many hours of careful and intensive work.”

Despite the investment of time, the family deliberately includes work at all price points in their offerings. They want everyone who wants a piece of Richard Schmidt Jewelry to be able to own one. With that said, they don’t skimp on quality or materials or design. They create art for the marketplace. People have responded.

Richard and Janet are happy that other families are choosing to mark milestones with their work. Mother-of-pearl pieces are often given to brides and bridal parties to commemorate that special day. A local dad purchases a piece of Richard Schmidt Jewelry for each of his three daughters on their respective birthdays each year. And the list goes on.

“People are honoring their memories with our work,” Janet said. “A legacy is how you’re remembered. We want to be remembered for our passion, for quality and for people—the foundations of relationships. For us, this is a relationship business.”

But according to Richard, the relationships are a big blessing among many others.

“My job is my passion and my hobby,” Richard said. “I get to do what I love in a place I love with people I love 24/7. Life just doesn’t get better than that.”

by Lorie A. Woodward

photos by Dixie Ray Hamilton, Dixie Ray Photography

The post Richard Schmidt Jewelry: Central Texas Roots, Southwestern Style appeared first on Round Top.

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Round Top Antiques Show Food Tips for Fall 2017

We’ve rounded up Round Top Antiques Show Food tips for Fall 2017 shoppers.

Things to think about:

Our communities are small. Our local cafes and restaurants are scaled accordingly. The show crowd is huge. (See the potential challenge?)

When you choose to dine at one of the local, sit-down restaurants, you’ll get memorable home-style food, but it may take a little longer to get served, especially during peak hours. Be aware that menus may be streamlined too, so you can get your food as quickly as possible.Round Top Antique Show Food Tips for Fall 2017 coconut pie

Enjoy your dining companions, revisit our antiques show guide, and relax…

Round Top Antiques Show Food Tips 

Tip No. 1: Plan to eat early or late—to avoid crowds.

Tip No. 2: Make reservations. Some restaurants only take reservations for evening meals (Royers, Feed & Firewater [strongly suggested] and Two Birds Cafe at Bader Ranch. Others may be happy to reserve a table—especially if you have a large group.)

Round Top Antique Show Food Tips for Fall 2017 Recycling the Past popup brunchTip No. 3: Try a pop-up. These are growing in popularity—and popping up everywhere. The Compound, Rancho Pillow, Arbor Antiques and McLaren’s are showcasing top chefs for special evening meals. Tickets required. Market Hill also has a cafe serving prix fixe meals throughout the show.

Tip No. 4: There are always cancellations…so don’t be afraid to try to get into a restaurant at the last minute. If you have a reservation and are going to be late, call them. Please, please call them.

Tip No. 5: If you’re arriving to the Round Top/Warrenton/Fayetteville/Carmine/Burton area after 9 p.m., it may be hard to find ANYTHING to eat. Plan accordingly. Grocery stores in La Grange and Brenham generally stay open til 10 p.m.

Tip No. 6: Plan a picnic. You can pick up protein-rich goodies at Burton Sausage, Chappell Hill Sausage Co., Hruska’s or Eckermann’s…. Sausage, cheese, crackers and a bottle of wine in the field can help sustain you til your next real meal.

Tip No. 7: Drink lots of water. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.Round Top Antique Show Food Tips for Fall 2017 Sangria wine

Here’s the rundown of what we know about Round Top Antiques Show Food options: (get a downloadable copy here Round Top Antiques Show Fall 2017 Food Tips Updated Sept. 27, 2017 (4 downloads) )

Pop-Up Dinners

The Compound (Round Top)

  • Sept. 26 Southern Nights Pop-Up Dinner featuring State Fare Kitchen & Bar [6:30pm], $90/person
  • Sept. 27 Southern Nights Pop-Up Dinner featuring Armandos Under the Stars, With the Stars! [5:30pm], $95/person
  • Sept. 28 Southern Nights Pop-Up Dinner featuring Armandos Margarita Fueled Taco Party [6:30pm], $45/person

McLaren’s Antiques & Interiors (Round Top)

  • Sept. 21 Monica Pope’s Pop-Up Dinner 5:30, $55/person
  • Sept. 25 Monica Pope’s Pop-Up Dinner 5:30, $55/person

Rancho Pillow (Warrenton)

  • Sept. 25 Feasts in the Field Pop-Up Dinner 5pm $75/person
  • Sept. 26 Feasts in the Field Pop-Up Dinner 5pm $75/person

The Arbors

  • Sept. 28 Texas Boho Chic Champagne BBQ 6-8pm, $100/person

Round Top

Feed & Firewater *Reservations available (979) 249-2588

  • Lunch: Wed-Sat [11am-3pm, Sun 10:30am-3pm]
  • Dinner: Thurs-Sat [5-9pm, Fri-Sat 5-10pm, Sun 5-9pm]

Royers Café *Reservations for dinner or priority seating for lunch (979) 249-3611
See our Stirring the Pot feature
Dinner reservations are: [5 pm, 6:30 pm, 8 pm, and 9:30 pm]
Lunch: [11:30am-2:30pm]

  • Sept. 21-23 Lunch & Dinner (reservation only)
  • Sept. 24 Lunch
  • Sept. 25  Dinner (no reservations)
  • Sept. 26-30 Lunch & Dinner (reservation only)
  • Oct. 1 Lunch
  • Oct. 4-7 Lunch & Dinner (reservation only)

(Note: On Oct. 5, cafe will close at 8 p.m. for Junk Gypsy Prom.)

Royers Pie Haven at Henkel Square

  • Sept. 20 & 24 [10am-6pm]
  • Sept. 21-23 [8am-6pm]
  • Sept. 25-Oct. 6 [7:30am-7pm]
  • Oct. 7 [7:30am-5pm]
  • Oct. 8 [10 am-4pm] whole pies (out front only)

Teague’s Tavern *Reservations available (979) 249-3077 See our Stirring the Pot feature

  • Sept. 15-18 [11am-3pm, 5-9pm (open til 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays)]
  • Sept. 20-Oct. 8 [11am-3pm, 5-9pm (open til 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays)]

Los Patrones (show-shortened menu)

  • Sept. 15-Oct. 8 [11am-10pm]

Bistro Napoletana *Reservations accepted (979) 249-2021

  • Sept. 15-Oct. 8 [11am-9pm, Sun 10am-9pm]

Round Top Rifle Hall
Mondays only: Burgers & Brews [5:30-8:30pm]

Stone Cellar

  • Sept. 15-Oct. 7
  • Sun.-Wed. [11am-10pm] & Thurs.-Sat. [11a.m-11pm]

Sept. 15-Oct. 8 [open daily]
Breakfast buffet on Sundays

Watering Holes
Prost (Round Top)
Sept. 14-30 [3-9pm]

Saddlehorn Winery (Burton)
Daily [11am-6pm]

Rohan Meadery (La Grange)
Thurs.-Sun. [12-6pm]

The Pie Shack
Sept. 15-Oct.8 9am-3pm (Closed on Tuesdays)

JW’s Steakhouse

  • Sept. 18, 24, Oct. 1-2 4-9pm
  • Sept. 19-21, 25-28, Oct. 3-5 11am-9pm
  • Sept. 22-23, 29-30, Oct. 6-7 11am-10pm

4G Country Store
Open Daily 5am – 10pm

The Big Red Barn Kathy Boyd Desserts, Kabobs & Flavored Lemonade, Cook’s Crooked Pot, Honey’s Pizza, Amy’s Ice Cream

Round Top Vintage Market
Details to come

Farmhouse Round Top Café (at the Triangle)
Sept. 22-Oct. 8 [11am-6 pm]

Marburger Farm Antique Show Back Porch BBQ, Legal Tender, Simply D’Lish, Frederickburg, Mini Donut, Common Grounds, The Blue House, Your Mom’s , Texas Best Kettlecorn, The Stone Cellar

The Compound Simply D’lish, Picnic on the Green Mobile Café, Armandos Margaritas & More Shack

Henkel Hall

Bistro 108 See our Stirring the Pot feature
Sept. 22-30 [10am-4:30pm]

The Arbors Arbor Café, Trudy’s Food Truck

Bader Ranch The Café at Bader Ranch (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
*Dinner reservations recommended text (830) 426-6453

The Marketplace Warrenton Every-Bellies (The Potato Lady), Crazy Heifers, Captain John’s Kettle Korn, Chapas Cutting Board

Carmine Dance Hall Breakfast

Lone Star Gallery Twisted Skillet Truck [9am-6pm], Mimosa Truck [10am-6pm]

Punkie’s Place Thomas Catering (daily), Southern Snow (weekends)

Junk Gypsy World Headquarters
Sept. 20-Oct. 7 Royer’s Pie Haven & Two Sparrows [10am-6pm]

Zapp Hall Royers Café [11am-7pm], The Bubble Lounge & Beer Garden

Market Hill
Sept. 15-Oct. 7 Prix fixe lunch & dinner daily

Surrounding Areas

The Oaks Restaurant (Warrenton)

  • Thurs. [4-9pm]
  • Fri.-Sat. [11am-9:30pm]
  • Sun. [11am-8pm]

Burton Roadhouse (Burton)

  • Wed.-Thurs. kitchen [4-9pm], bar [4-10pm]
  • Fri.-Sat. kitchen [4-10pm], bar [4-12am]
  • Sunday brunch [11am-3pm]

White Horse Tavern (Burton)
Sept. 25-30 [7am-7pm]

The Cactus (Burton)

  • Wed. [6-10pm]
  • Fri.-Sat. [6-10pm]
  • Sun. [11am-1:30pm]

Brazos Belle Restaurant (Burton)
*Reservations for parties of 8 or more (979) 289-2677

  • Sept. 15-16, 22-23, 27-30, Oct. 6-7 [5:30-8:30pm]
  • Sept. 17, 24, Oct. 1, 8 [11:30am-1:30pm]

Burton Short Stop (Burton)

  • Sun. [4-8pm]
  • Mon.-Thurs. [6:30am-9pm]
  • Fri.-Sat. [6:30am-10pm]

Truth BBQ (Brenham) See our Stirring the Pot feature on Truth BBQ
Fri.-Sun. [11am-sold out]

Volare Italian Restaurant (Brenham) See our Stirring the Pot feature
Tues.-Sat. [11am-2pm, 5-9pm]

Bistro 108 (La Grange)
*Reservations (979) 968-9108

  • Lunch 9/18-9/23, 9/26-9/30 [11am-2pm]
  • Dinner 9/20-9/23, 9/25-9/30 [5-9pm]
  • Brunch 9/24, 10/1 [10am-2pm]

Vin 114 (La Grange)

  • Sept. 20-23 [4-10pm]
  • Sept. 25-30 [4-10pm]

Back Porch BBQ (La Grange) See our Stirring the Pot feature

  • Wed. [11am-2pm]
  • Thurs.-Sat. [11am-8pm]
  • Sun. [11am-5pm]

The Garden Co Marketplace & Cafe (Schulenburg)

  • Lunch Mon.-Sat. [11am-3pm]
  • Dinner Thurs.-Sat [5-9pm]

Tin Lizzie’s (New Ulm)

  • Sept. 15-Oct. 8
  • Tues.-Thurs. [11am-7pm]
  • Fri.-Sat. [11am-8pm with off-menu dinner specials]

Orsak’s Cafe (Fayetteville)

  • Sun.-Thurs. [8am-9:30pm]
  • Fri.-Sat. [8am-10pm]

Joe’s Place (Fayetteville)

  • Sept. 11-Oct. 8
  • Mon.-Fri. kitchen [11am-9pm], bar [3pm-close]
  • Sat.-Sun. kitchen [9am-9pm], bar [3pm-close]

Courtyard Wine Bar (Columbus)

  • Thurs. [4-8pm], Fri.-Sat. [4-10pm]






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8th wonder of the world

it’s like an 8th wonder of the world. the twice-a-year Texas Antiques Week right here in Round Top/Warrenton/Fayetteville/Burton. it’s when 100,000 people and over 2500 vendors converge on our little community of only 90. that’s right 90 people. it’s when the whole entire world comes to our little pocket of texas…when you can find anything and everything. and this year, we think it’s really what the world needs now. it’s what we call junk therapy. it won’t cure world hunger or rebuild a home lost to hurricane harvey, but we do think a little junkin’ is good for the soul. whether you buy a great piece of junk or just a great piece of pie, sometimes a daytrip or a fleamarket getaway has the power to cure what ails ya. (well that and the bloody mary bar. a bloody mary bar can definitely cure what ails ya…keep reading for the deets on that ;)) consider this your Texas Antiques Week 101, fall 2017 edition. chapter 1. the basics – store dates/hours we’ve been hard at work redecorating the entire store for the past month….we’ve hauled in lots of fresh rusty, crusty junk and we have all kinds of awesome new goods! […]

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