Cape Carteret, N.C.–Jeweler Jim Fiebig, an expert on colored gemstones who was revered by many in the trade, died Oct. 22 after a battle with cancer. He was 60.
Fiebig was born Oct. 3, 1956 in Hillsdale, Mich. to Arthur and Ila Fiebig, owners of Fiebig Jewelers.
When his parents bought a second jewelry store in Sturgis, Mich., he took over management of the store, becoming a goldsmith and studying diamonds and gemstones at the Gemological Institute of America.
In 2005, Fiebig sold the family business so he could live in Madagascar for a time.
The gem-rich island turned out to be one of many places he would travel for the colored gemstone trade; Fiebig’s passion also took him to Brazil, Tanzania (including Zanzibar), Kenya, and South Africa, where he guided other jewelry professionals in the gemstone trade.
Steve Moriarty, a skilled gem cutter who developed a close friendship with Fiebig over decades of travel, described their on-the-road working relationship like this:
“I judged the rough that miners and dealers presented. Jim took care of the most difficult part of travel, communications and logistics. I could focus on my job while Jim was learning what he could from the dealers.
“He made friends wherever we went.”
In addition to his travels, Fiebig also worked as a global sales manager of Zultanite Gems LLC.
His final job was as general manager at Josephs Jewelers in Des Moines, where owner Toby Joseph said he shared his colored gemstone knowledge with others on the staff and connected with customers.
“People found a real friend in Jim, who understood genuine relationship building,” he said.
Because of his unique life, the jewelry store arranged a very special tribute in his honor–a Madagascar lemur exhibit dedicated to him at the Blank Park Zoo in Des Moines.
Fiebig is survived by his wife, JoAnn; two sons, Chad and Jared; mother, Ila; and grandchildren, Alaina and James Arthur.
Jim Fiebig, pictured here with New Jersey jeweler Nancy Schuring, on a trip to Madagascar. Schuring described him as a “walkin’, talkin’ expert ambassador for all gems colored.” (Photo courtesy of Schuring)
While Fiebig was immersed in the jewelry trade from a young age, music was his first love and always remained an important part of his life.
Because of this, a scholarship has been created in his name for a Jonesville (Michigan) High School senior who plans to attend the University of Michigan and has demonstrated a passion for music or the arts.
Those who would like to contribute to the scholarship fund can make their checks payable to the James A. Fiebig Music & Arts Award Fund, c/o Hillsdale County Community Foundation, 2 South Howell St., P.O. Box 276, Hillsdale, MI, 49242.
Another scholarship fund lives in Fiebig’s name as well.
Nancy Schuring, owner of Devon Fine Jewelry in Wyckoff, N.J., said in an email to National Jeweler that Fiebig was the director of the Devon Foundation, which supports communities in Africa involved in the gem trade. The scholarships granted by the foundation are known as the Jim Fiebig Lapidary Scholarships.
“Jim was our guide (in Madagascar in 2008) when we got the idea and inspiration to start the Devon Foundation,” she explained. “Jim adored the jewelry business and he was a walkin’, talkin’ expert ambassador for all gems colored. His knowledge and enthusiasm were very contagious. He loved to share his passion.
“Our industry has lost a valuable voice.”