For his entire career, renowned jewelry designer Jorge Adeler has traveled the world to find the gems for his creations—the journeys themselves have only added to the allure of his art.
Having a piece of jewelry designed by Jorge Adeler, founder and owner of Adeler Jewelers, isn’t a mere transaction. It’s a journey, especially if patrons take the time to listen to his stories about crisscrossing the world in search of the perfect gems for his creations. For five decades, Adeler has insisted on taking these trips himself—due to his wanderlust, to be sure, but also because the Great Falls artist believes it’s essential for anyone who buys one of his pieces to understand the provenance and people behind the jewels. After all, we travel to discover and share tales of the open road.
Adeler is one of those gents who seems to defy time. Maybe it’s his peripatetic life or the fact that he remains fervently curious about the world, but he draws people in the same way most great storytellers do. In early January, I was lucky to catch Adeler at his farm (one of his great escapes) in Waterford, a small village in Loudoun County. I’d alerted him about our Escape Issue and how I wanted to discuss his intrepid nature and the adventures he’d encountered worldwide. It was like asking a Hall of Fame athlete to talk about his sport; Adeler was in prime storytelling mode, despite recently canceling a Tel Aviv trip to buy diamonds (due to Israel’s COVID travel restrictions).
“I don’t sell gems. I sell the most exotic and exquisite gifts that nature can give to humans,” says Adeler, who started his career as a journalist. As a native of Argentina, Adeler’s foray into the jewelry and design business in 1975 led him first to his native country, then to Colombia. Traveling to the continent felt most comfortable for him since he understood the culture and the language. “I once traveled a day and a half to get to a tiny mountaintop property; I traveled on top of a truck transporting potato sacks, then over dirt roads and horse carts to get to the village,” says Adeler. “Finally, I trekked by donkey to get up a mountain to an old, windowless shack surrounded by chickens and goats. It was owned by a gentleman who possessed the most beautiful onyx. He led me to a small opening of the rock and handed me a pick and other tools. I realized it would be up to me to extract the minerals. He put me to work for a day and a half!”
Years later, while searching for emeralds in a Colombian mine, Adeler recalls the risk involved. “I have a fascination with visiting places that very few people are willing to venture,” he says. “In Colombia, I entered a mine that had an entrance only 6 feet tall by 4 feet wide. As I walked for a mile into the mountain, it was so dark, with only a single lightbulb every 50 feet. I could feel the heat of the rock, and water poured onto the pathway, sometimes coming up to my knees.”
Those experiences are extraordinary, of course, and, whether it’s a journey to Palawan or China for pearls or Italy for gold, Adeler often recounts them to clients. “It transforms the transaction into an adventure, instead of [designing and selling] a beautiful emerald ring. It’s an incredible gift to be able to do this.”
Adeler also traversed choppy water upon a Paspaley yacht to witness what the company’s divers go through every day to harvest Australia’s South Sea pearls. “They start before dawn and cover every square inch of their bodies to ensure they don’t get stung by a man-of-war—the water is filled with them, not to mention sharks,” says Adeler. “And they do this every single morning. The pearl that my customer holds was likely touched by 360 humans before it was harvested. Every single day, the boats go out, and these divers flip the oysters—hundreds of times over three years—to get a perfectly round shape instead of a teardrop. It’s remarkable.”
Does he ever travel only for pleasure? “It’s all pleasure,” he says. “The essence of travel also is the discovery of kindness. You might encounter 10 different cultures worldwide in a single year, and all are the same: People crave kindness, friends, good food and drink—and peace.”