Rio Grande, founded 70 years ago, is built on core values such as sharing knowledge, serving with integrity, and supporting jewelers the world over.
Rio continues to promote these values.
Who we are: We're Rio!
Rio Grande, one of the largest providers of jewelry-making supplies in the world, manufactures, sources and distributes tools, equipment, gemstones, findings, casting alloys, and fabrication metals as well as display and packaging products for jewelers.
It all began on old Route 66.
Our founder, Saul Bell, arrived in Albuquerque with his new bride, Olive, on one arm and his satchel of goldsmithing tools on the other. The year was 1937 and the wide, open spaces and turquoise-blue skies of the American west fired his imagination. Olive and Saul settled in and began building their new life. Saul took a position with a local jewelry manufacturer where he worked for the next seven years building the business while he and Olive began building a family. In 1944, an opportunity arose for him to purchase the White Eagle Trading Post, located along Route 66, (renamed Central Avenue where it passed through the heart of downtown Albuquerque). He ran White Eagle as his primary business while he launched Rio Grande as a wholesale supplier—first to the jewelers in and around Albuquerque and then, as time went by, to those throughout New Mexico and the southwest.
Saul delighted in sharing the old-world skills he had learned as his uncle's apprentice and then honed over years of experience—and he focused on doing just that: sharing know-how and serving jewelers. In teaching, collaborating with and supporting his customers, he built strong personal relationships that kept his business growing and his customers loyal.
Through the war years, when silver was scarce, Saul managed to keep his doors open, helping local silversmiths to continue their work. He extended credit to craftsmen who wouldn't otherwise have been able to acquire the materials they needed during such hard times. His strong belief in people, coupled with a passion for sharing his knowledge with anyone who asked, served the community well; his reputation grew for being a fair and honorable businessman as well as a trusted friend. In 1954, having outgrown the back room of the trading post, Saul moved Rio Grande into larger quarters—the first of several moves that would accommodate the growth of the business over the years.
Saul's reputation grew for being a fair and honorable businessman as well as a trusted friend.
Today, three of Saul's nine children, Alan Bell (President), Molly Bell (Executive Vice President) and Eddie Bell (Vice President of Manufacturing), serve the company and keep Saul's legacy thriving. Together with Danny Cox (Vice President of Finance) and a team of business coaches, they lead the company forward. The leadership team and 300-plus associates collaborate in a highly evolved approach to participative management, and strive to work in as flat a hierarchy as possible. The company is principle-based, rather than rule-based, and operates within a framework of 15 principles that have been developed over the years and continue to serve as the foundation for all business and interpersonal decisions.
The value Saul placed on sharing his knowledge with others continues, too, through Santa Fe Symposium®. This not-for-profit event, co-founded by Eddie Bell and held once a year, provides a forum in which jewelers gather to share information, build their professional (and personal) networks and gain knowledge that helps them manage their businesses more successfully. The vision Saul Bell had so long ago of helping others to learn and succeed, and the legacy he built of high standards and excellence, continues to thrive.
Today the Rio Grande vision remains much as it was when Saul founded the company, with customer service, support and satisfaction the basis for all business conduct. It permeates every space of our 180,000-square-foot, solar-powered facility and inspires every associate.
We serve jewelers, metalsmiths, and artisans. We make their lives easier and more fun with innovative solutions, great service and know-how.
Our customers cover the spectrum from manufacturers and award-winning designers to students and hobbyists. They're innovative, driven, creative, passionate, obsessed, focused, proud, ambitious, professional and, like all of us here, utterly passionate about creating jewelry.
Our job? To spoil them in every way so that they can keep working, innovating, creating and building their businesses.
How do we do it? Our expert purchasing teams select every one of our 30,000+ products to keep our customers creating! Our customer service teams are the friendliest and most knowledgeable in the business. They get our customers answers. And if our customer representatives don't have the answer, our Technical Support team will—or will know just where to find it. With more than a century of combined jewelry-making experience, they provide an unrivaled level of information, support and advice. Dozens of teams make up the Rio family—from Shipping and Manufacturing to Information Systems and Marketing—and we all work together every day with the same vision Saul Bell began with all those decades ago.
The next chapter in Rio Grande's history… Rio has never been one to shy away from change. In fact, our adaptability and willingness to embrace change are among the foundations of the staying power we've enjoyed all these years.
On January 1, 2013, Rio embraced another milestone in its long, steady growth. We became a member of The Richline Group, a Berkshire Hathaway Company. This partnership brings us the ideal combination of shared values and the resources that will allow Rio Grande to continue its 70-year-strong mission of serving jewelers. Our leadership still comes from Alan, Molly, Eddie and our leadership team. And each and every Rio associate remains as committed as ever to providing great products, stellar service and expert technical support.
Rio Grande, now a big "little" company, continues to uphold its 70-year-strong vision of serving jewelers.
Powered by the Sun… Almost everything requiring electricity at Rio Grande—from jewelry making and manufacturing equipment to lights and computers—is powered by the sun, and we're basking in the wonder of it all. How did we get here?
When we installed almost five acres of solar panels at Rio Grande's facility in New Mexico, we were the first system in the state able to generate one megawatt of energy at peak output. Mega-what? Megawatt! All that sunlight adds up to more than 1.6 million kilowatt hours' worth of electricity each year. That's leaving a lot of watts at the electric company that others can use!
Like most ideas, this one began as a flicker of a possibility. It soon developed into a full-fledged effort to install more than 5000 locally-made solar panels atop the Rio parking lot—that's the largest commercial solar array in New Mexico!
This forward thinking leads to increased efficiency and stable energy costs, while filling the need to find renewable fuel sources. It's wonderful to be a part of the solution and to use this abundant (especially in New Mexico!) natural resource to power our business—and yours.