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Little girls love to play dress up, wearing their mother’s high heels, dresses that are too big, makeup that is too much, and of course, the jewelry. While most girls leave that fantasy world behind, art graduate Julie Kuschke ’97 has found her way back as manager of the fine jewelry department at international auction house Bonhams & Butterfields.

She joined the company in 2002. When a position opened up in the jewelry department requiring more strategic planning, coordination, and people skills, she jumped at the opportunity and landed it.

Her department recently acquired a collection of 62 old European and mine cut diamonds ranging from .85 to 9.00 carats. One of the items was an antique diamond necklace that came from the Empress Maria Theresia of Austria, dating back to the 18th century. With a total weight of 150.00 carats and valued at $200,000-300,000, it sold for over $800,000.

“I have grown to look at the numbers, like a business woman, but still get to play with the jewelry and appreciate it like an art historian, looking at all the stories that one piece holds,” she says.

Her enthusiasm is similar to that of her most memorable Lafayette faculty member, Diane Ahl, Rothkopf Professor of Art History.

“She was so passionate about her subject and really let everyone feel that excitement in her classroom,” Kuschke says. “She gave me encouragement and made me believe that I was talented. Her words are still important to me today.”

Kuschke has held positions at Franklin Bowles Gallery in San Francisco and worked at Stanford University as an assistant registrar in continuing studies.

Categorized in: Alumni Profiles