Our Story

Tamara Fondell is the owner of Alaska Jewelry and Goldsmith Gallery.

The Goldsmith Gallery store has been open in Sitka, Alaska since 1990, and the alaskajewelry.com website has been operating since 2000.

Tamara, you moved to Alaska 29 years ago. What inspired you to move?

My husband was a goldsmith and we always wanted to own our very own business. Sitka was a place where we thought that opportunity could take place. So, when our son was 3 months old, we sold our Colorado Springs home that we’d lived in for 8 years, packed up everything we owned and headed north!

How did you get into the jewelry business?

My uncle is a goldsmith and it just so happened that he needed someone to work in his store. My husband was 16 at the time, baling hay in the hot Iowa summers. So, when my uncle offered him a job apprenticing as his goldsmith, my husband gladly accepted. (A raise and air conditioning… how could it get any better than that?!) My husband found that he not only liked this work, but was actually very good at it. So, he kept learning and eventually the desire to strike out on his own won - and that’s when we made the leap to Alaska!

You encounter many visitors at Alaska Jewelry. How do most travelers find your location?

Aside from my locals, many of my clients are visitors to Alaska, primarily via the cruise ship industry. Sitka is a small town with about 6 “downtown” blocks. My store is in a large building directly across the street from the location where cruise visitors begin their day in Sitka. The large selection of hand-blown glass that we have displayed in our street windows helps draw visitors into the shop. We also have a lot of clients that have never visited Alaska Jewelry, but have come to know us through our website. Not to toot our own horn, but we really do sell a number of things that many people have never seen before. This is part of what makes us… us! Our staff, and the items we sell, are fun and unique.

What makes Sitka such a great tourist destination in the summer?

There really is no other place like Sitka. It truly is a “local” town with very little presence of seasonal stores. But Sitka isn’t just any old town - it’s stunningly beautiful. The combination of the ocean views, things to do, and the friendly local flavor is hard to beat.

What types of designs inspire you? How do you choose the designers/designs that are best suited for your customers?

I want my client to have an experience at Alaska Jewelry’s Goldsmith Gallery that they won’t have anywhere else. I have never been very good at fitting the mold (in life or in fashion!). My store represents designers that create items that have a personal flair to them - options that anyone can wear, but also designs that are unique and make a statement about the wearer. I personally love quality pieces that are bold and beautiful, graceful, and even a little edgy. I adore jewelry that makes me happy and excited about life. If I love it and am satisfied that the quality is impeccable, then I am confident that my client will love it, too!

When it comes to designers, I choose artists who care about the final product - designers who back up their product to me and the customer and are proud of the work they do. I select items that have a broad base of style so I can find an item that will fit anyone’s taste (and pocketbook!). I want my customer to feel amazing when wearing jewelry purchased from my store. After all, jewelry is very personal and should be something that tells a story about the wearer. And I definitely think my designers achieve that in their final work.

What are some of your popular Alaskan-inspired pieces from Alaska Jewelry? Which jewelry items do you recommend as must-have souvenirs to take back from a trip to Alaska?

We have beautiful jewelry that is inspired by the Glaciers of Alaska. It is our trademark item, “Glacier Ice”. We work with designers to achieve one-of-a-kind items set with Natural Blue Zircon, a stone that is unmatched in the blue intensity of color and brilliance. Natural Gold in Quartz is another design carried at Alaska Jewelry. Alaska is one of only three places in the world where this stone is found. Our selection is amazing, durable, and the designs are completely original.

I’ve never been to Alaska. As a local, what do you recommend I see, do, and eat?

I love to run through Totem Park. It is a beautiful setting along the ocean that’s filled with Native totem poles and draped with huge trees. It brings me both peace and energy.

Heading up to the top of Castle Hill and taking in the panorama of Sitka is also a must-see. Anyone can make it to the top and see where the transfer of the territory of Alaska occurred when the Russians sold Alaska to the United States. (Always good to get a little history lesson on your travels!)

Food, well, that is a no brainer…seafood of any kind! We have several restaurants that do a remarkable job preparing fish that is fresh from the ocean just outside our doors. Honestly, you will never forget your meals here.

And lastly, (of course) I also think you should visit Alaska Jewelry to see all the beautiful creations, to say, “Hello”, and to let me help you select a design that will forever commemorate your visit to Sitka, Alaska!

Interview by Dining Traveler


  • Diane A. Says:

    Dear Alaska Jewelry- How exciting it was to receive my package from you. The ring I ordered was far more beautiful than pictured. I love it, the size was perfect. It exceeded all my expectations and is something I will cherish. My dream is to come to Sitka some day and actually visit your store and beautiful state, but for now I feel a have a little piece of it. Thank you so much for your service and beautiful jewelry.

  • Darby C. Says:

    Just wanted to let you know that the beautiful little earrings arrived UPS this morning. As promised you were able to get them tome before my deadline to leave for my reunion. Much thanks, really appreciate the expedited order. They are lovely and complement my ring and pendant perfectly.

  • Carol G. Says:

    I received the package today and I couldn't be happier. My gold-in-quartz jewelry that I had purchased during a trip to Alaska several years ago was stolen last month when I was in South Africa. I was so upset about it and then I found your website. I almost cried when I saw the ring. It is an exact match to the one that was stolen. The pendant is different, but I just love it. I never dreamed I would be able to replace that ring and it was a favorite that I wore it all the time. Thank you again from a VERY satisfied customer.

  • Kathy R. Says:

    Just a note to tell you my ring arrived and I couldn't be happier and your service is among the best I have ever experienced. I will be happy to recommend you to my friends and look forward to doing business again in the future.

  • Bilal A. Says:

    Just a note of thanks for a really nice ring and great service. I was always concerned that this model would be too large for me and look clownish, although I like the design and stone. But now I see it's just flat out awesome and looks great! (especially on me) :-) Again, thanks Cleve and have a happy new year, Bilal

  • Frank M. Says:

    I cannot thank you enough for all the help you were with the purchase the teufel ring, pendant and chain. From the initial phone call you were extremely knowledgeable of the articles, never pushy, and followed up immediately. Additionally, your follow up with the status of each order and delivery was above and beyond. All 3 shipments arrived on time with the items as promised. You are a great representative of your company. Keep up the good work and I would not hesitate to purchase from or refer a friend to the goldsmith gallery.

  • J. Allenberg Says:

    Hello! My John Hardy Padi Twist ring arrived, last Friday. I love it and it is a wonderful addition to my other JH pieces. It has been a pleasure to deal with Alaska Jewelry. I'm , still, always a bit hesitant to order things off of the Internet, especially jewelry, but everyone I spoke with on the phone was very helpful and the service was very prompt. I will have no hesitation to order from you again, or to recommend you to someone interested in jewelry. Thanks, again, and I am enjoying the ring!

  • Terry M. Says:

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!! We received the ring early Friday morning and it was just perfect!! It looks just like the ring my mom had stolen. She got it as a souvenir on a vacation to Alaska, we thought it was irreplaceable. You deserve a commendation for the wonderful friendly service you provided. My only regret is that you are located all the way in Alaska, otherwise you would definitely be my jeweler of choice !! I'm sure it will be a great Mothers day gift.

  • Treci B. Says:

    Got my ring yesterday and it is GORGEOUS! It looks so rich and radiant. The design is even more beautiful each time I gaze at it. It has great energy! Thanks for your craftsmanship!

  • Linda W Says:

    I received my pendant today. The ammolite stone is absolutely beautiful...it's exactly what I was looking for. I will recommend you and Goldsmith Gallery to everyone. The service I received was outstanding. Thank you so much.

  • Aamil K. Says:

    Have received my order and i agree, it turned out very nicely. i'm very impressed. thank you very much for your assistance, and after my experience with my order through AlaskaJewlery, i will definitely be doing business with you in the future.

  • Bob K. Says:

    Just thought I'd drop you a quick note to say how impressed I am with the ring. It arrived today, apparently a day ahead of schedule. It is beautiful in a refined kind of way. Rather than being flashy, it reeks of quiet elegance, as one might expect from an heirloom ring passed from one generation to the next. Beautiful! Thanks for your help and advice.

  • Michael J. Says:

    I got my ring tonight. AWESOME!!! You are terrific and please use this note as a testimonial to your quality and delivering a product that is exactly what you promise to deliver.

  • Christina T. Says:

    I got "THE RING" yesterday (it is so beyond amazing that it warrants capital letters). You will never be seeing this ring again and it is never coming off my finger!! It is even more stunning than I could have ever imagined and even the pictures you sent me, as nice as they were, don't do it justice. I want to thank you for all of your help in finding the perfect ring. You really went above and beyond and I have never had such wonderful customer service as I did from you. Thank you again so much and, if I ever have more money to blow, you can count on hearing from me again.

  • Roy M. Says:

    My wife's valentine gift arrived and the package was severely damaged, causing damage to my order. With only a few days before valentine's day, and the help from the wonderful people from Alaska Jewelry, I received a new ring in time for the big day. I appreciate all the extra effort from the folks at Alaska Jewelry. My wife loved the ring, and I will highly recommend Alaska Jewelry.

  • Joyce G. Says:

    Received my order yesterday, and it is absolutely perfect! Thank you so much for your speedy, efficient, quality handling of my order for the wedding ring. It's stunning, and I know he'll be so pleased! You guys rock, and you have a repeat customer, for sure!

  • Greta M. Says:

    Received my Asch Grossbardt earrings-and they are exquisite. The workmanship is outstanding and each time I wear them I get nothing but wonderful comments. Will keep looking at your site for new pieces. Greta M.

  • N. Cain Says:


  • Frank S. Says:

    Hey Cleve...just received the ring...SUPERB! Even nicer than I imagined...didn't realize that the entire ammolite was faceted. Colors are sensational. Fit is perfect. Gold weight is very substantial. I will definitely not hesitate to do business again with you and will recommend you and your gallery to friends and relatives with great enthusiasm. Once again thank you for everything...my ammolite ring is truly a masterpiece.

  • Michele H. Says:

    Oh my gosh! The two ammolite rings are beautiful! I absolutely love them! Thank you so much Cleve. Now I can't wait to see the spinner ring. I know it won't be until sometime in April for the spinner ring and that is okay. It is something to look forward to! Have a good day and thank you again!

  • Cyndi C. Says:

    It arrived today and is a perfect fit!! Again, thanks for your efforts.

  • Andrew Says:

    Got the ring this morning. Looks great!!! Thanks for everything. We'll definitely do business again.

  • Robert S. Says:

    Just wanted to say THANKS! Got the ring today and it looks great! Great job and thanks again.

  • Frances A. Says:

    Just read your E-mail for a Merry Christmas and wish to wish you and the whole Jewelry Gallery a Merry Christmas and all Good wishes for a Happy New Year. From myself and Ruth Rutan who bought a small nugget at your store. We both are very happy with them and I personally wear my every day. Thank you again,

  • Bernadette C. Says:

    Thank you for your speedy response to my inquiry. I believe you helped me last summer when I bought the wedding ring for my husband. A stunning purchase, and it was a great wedding. Thank you again.

  • Russ Says:

    Just to let you know we received the beautiful bracelet. My wife, Mary Lou really likes it and so do I. It is really lovely - so much gold in the quartz. It arrived here in excellent condition in our mail around noon. Thanks ever so much for all your time and courtesies. Thanks again,

  • Eric J. Says:

    She loved the bracelet!!! Nice picture on the web site. Happiest of New Years! Thanks,

  • Mark D. Says:

    I just wanted to let you know that the 2 gold nugget pendants with the special bails you put on them arrived yesterday and I really do love the both of them. They are exactly as I hoped for. Thanks Cleve for everything and thanks Laura for talking with me on the phone regarding the tracking and delivery of this order. The smaller nugget my wife is now wearing and she really loves it. You should have seen her eyes light up when I presented it to her! That moment was priceless!! Anyway, thanks so much for all your work in getting these nuggets that I was looking for and getting them to me safely, also!

  • Dave Says:

    I will DEFINITELY keep goldsmith gallery in mind whenever I next need to purchase jewelry, and have recommended you to some of my friends... Take care,

  • Kim Says:

    Back at work after a wonderful vacation in Alaska.... One of the highlights being... stopping into your store.... It was a pleasure meeting you and seeing your unique and classic designs. I have rec'd numerous compliments on my "Glacier Ice" pendant and look forward to receiving the earrings to match. Thanks for all your help - and I look forward to working with you.

  • Clay B. Says:

    Thank you so much for your help! I have ordered the pendant through Goldsmith Gallery. I also have purchased one of the rings through them. They are a great store and have represented your product very well. My plan was to buy the ring at ******* but because the folks at Goldsmith were so awesome, and they can get the ring to me by my wives birthday, I am glad to give them my business.

  • Diane M. Says:

    We fell in love with your store this week. We were in on a Holland America cruise from Seattle. Were the type of couple that does their own thing. We nose around and choose not to participate in the group tours. First of all... we think Sitka is a dream rather resort like. A place we want to return to. The harbor is wonderful. The hand blown glass works are extraordinary in your store... such talented artists. Your staff is also a compliment to you. We simply had a memorable time at the Goldsmith Gallery.

  • Elyse S. Says:

    Got the ring last week in Florida. I LOVE it! Its fabulous...Many thanks for making it so easy!

  • Mary L. Says:

    Thank you so much, you have been so nice. It is great to deal with a company that is so customer oriented.

  • Joe H. Says:

    It arrived in perfect shape and I do both admire it and enjoy having it to wear. You and your company really know how to treat a customer and that was much appreciated by me. Thanks again for your courtesy and efforts.

  • Gary B. Says:

    I gave the ring to my fiance and she loved it. Thank you very much for making this process easy for me.

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