John Ford donates one-of-a-kind necklace for Galveston College gala
When John Ford looks at an object, odds are he’s picturing how it would look as a piece of jewelry. He might even grab the pen from your hand and start sketching something out.
Ford has been making jewelry for about 30 years. He’s bejeweled some of the island’s most glamorous women with gems from his 61st Street shop.
And recently, the Lightning Ridge Collection by John Ford has received critical acclaim from both jewelry editors and stylists and have been spotted on celebrities walking red carpets.
In July, Ford won two American Gem Trade Association Spectrum Awards, which are considered the Oscars of the jewelry business. He took honors in the evening and daywear division with necklaces that prominently featured opals. Ford won a Spectrum Award in 2014.
But Ford, a fifth-generation islander, hasn’t let all the prestigious jewelry awards and Hollywood red carpet buzz go to his head. He still has sand between his toes and high regard for his hometown. So, when longtime client and friend Peaches Kempner approached him about a favor, Ford couldn’t refuse.
Kempner asked Ford, a former Galveston Independent School Board president, to donate an item to Galveston College’s 50th Golden Anniversary Gala, which is Oct. 15. Ford generated much excitement by donating a $10,000 Lightning Ridge Black Opal, a one-of-a-kind necklace designed specifically for the event.
“John was a very generous donor,” Kempner said.
“I support education and want to give something back,” Ford said. “I’m flattered Peaches would ask me to participate, and thought this was a good way to raise money for a cause that we both support.”
Proceeds from the gala will benefit Galveston College and scholarship programs.
The opals Ford works with are exclusive to Lightning Ridge, Australia. He travels Down Under two to three times a year to buy directly from the miners. They are a natural stone and are not color treated. The stones often are set in platinum and feature diamonds in the design. The collection is featured at 14 fine jewelry stores, mostly on the East Coast and at his Galveston business. Ford is one of only a few U.S. jewelers designing with the stone, and is one of the best known. He’s in company with Tiffany’s, Cartier and Harry Winston.
Dascha Polanco of “Orange is the New Black” is among celebrities photographed wearing his jewels.
Ford never knows who’s going to wear his pieces, he said. Stylists show the pieces in a look book, and celebrities select them from there. Ford has had four to five pieces in the Oscar look books in 2015 and 2016 as well as in Emmy look books. Look books are what the stars flip through when they’re selecting what they will wear to red-carpet events.
So how might you get a chance to take home the necklace Ford designed to benefit Galveston College? Two hundred Champagne flutes will be sold for $50 at the gala. One of those flutes will have an indicator that it’s the winning glass.
Galveston College’s 50th Golden Anniversary Gala
6:30 p.m. to midnight Oct. 15; Galveston Island Convention Center at The San Luis Resort, 5600 Seawall Blvd., Galveston; individual tickets, $200; sponsorship levels begin at $600 and go up to $15,000; 409.944.1306, firstname.lastname@example.org; Sandra Metoyer, 409.944.1288 email@example.com; or Maria Tripovich, 409.944.1303, firstname.lastname@example.org; www.lightningridgecollection.com/