From our knowledgeable customer agents and the superheroes on the Jewelry Tech Team to our merchandising teams and graduate gemologists, the associates at Rio Grande are dedicated to answering your jewelry-making questions and helping you take your career to the next level, no matter what level you are at.
Avid coffee drinker Kevin Whitmore joined the Rio Grande team 32 years ago. At Rio, Kevin studied gemology and has worked with metallurgists, engineers and manufacturers, learning the precious metal industry. Today, he is the product manager for our precious materials line, including gemstones and fabrication metals. Kevin lends his expertise to teams at Rio Grande to ensure the products our customers need are high-quality, in stock, and ready for shipping.
"I love to talk technical and help customers with tool comparisons," says RioPro Account Manager Cathy Contreas. She is an expert in chain maille (including making her own jump rings and findings) silver fabrication and Swanstrom hand tools, as well as being PMC® certified. Cathy started beading in 1994 and then begin working with silver the same year she became part of the Rio Grande team in 2004.
When she joined Rio Grande in 1990, Shannon worked alongside Rio Grande's founder, Saul Bell, in Raw Materials department specializing in gold and diamonds. "I was so lucky to learn from and work with Saul Bell," she says. "He was an amazing man. He taught me how important it is to deliver exactly what the customer wants, and then some." Shannon joined Rio Grande with a BFA in Jewelry Design from NMSU and later became a Graduate Gemologist with GIA and an Accredited Jewelry Professional. As a member of the Gemstone Team, she helps customers find the perfect stones for their designs.
As an authority on Indian art and jewelry, Shane Hendren has been featured in numerous publications. He is the only four-time Artist of the Year named by the Indian Arts and Crafts Association (IACA), and his jewelry is held in public and private collections around the world. Shane brings his extensive knowledge of hand-engraving, fabrication, hollow forming, lapidary and mokume gane to Rio Grande’s Jewelry Tech Team, which he joined in in 2017. "Every day I learn something new," he says, "and the greatest thing is being able to share my knowledge with others."