ABOUT WAGNER JEWELLERS
Wagner Jewellers is a small quaint shop that has been in the same location in the old part of Ashland since 1981. The goldsmiths’ workbenches are visible from the showroom, setting the tone for a shop that specializes in custom jewelry design. The showcases also feature an eclectic selection of custom and manufactured jewelry to suit every taste or occasion, from graduations & weddings to birthdays & anniversaries.
The friendly small-town atmosphere belies the fact that Susannah Wagner Merritt and Elizabeth Spahr are Registered British Goldsmiths who serve clients from all over the world. Custom jewelry has been designed through the mail (or e-mail) and shipped to places as far away as Hong Kong. Most of their customers, however, are from Virginia and the surrounding states, who prefer the personal touch of working with the goldsmiths face-to-face.
Our appraiser is GIA certified and comes once a month for appraisals.
Elizabeth and Susannah turn dreams into reality, whether they are creating something entirely new, or redesigning a piece of jewelry that was inherited. They brainstorm with the client, drawing ideas on paper so the options can be visualized. Then they transform the selected design into an heirloom that will be treasured for generations.
The creative goldsmiths at Wagner Jewellers have designed and built jewelry, set with anything from a six-carat diamond to a child’s first baby tooth. If Elizabeth and Susannah don’t have exactly what you are looking for, they can make it. They have long-standing relationships with pearl, stone, and opal dealers from France, India, and Australia, among others. Their clients include the children and grandchildren of their original clients, and many men have claimed to have left the message on the sign out front that says, “Your husband called – he said to buy anything you want.”
Elizabeth Spahr MAIN JEWELER
Elizabeth Spahr grew up living all across the United States, from California to Georgia, because her father served in the Air Force. The highlight of these travels was the three years her family lived in a suburb of London, England. She cherishes her memories of the British Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, and the theatre district. After her father retired, the family settled in Richmond, Virginia, where Elizabeth finished high school.
During her freshman year at Emory & Henry College in southwest Virginia, an art professor encouraged Elizabeth to pursue a career in the arts. She transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University where she was graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1972. That same year, Elizabeth began her apprenticeship to master jeweler Haig Kambourian, Sr. She worked her way up to the position of workshop supervisor and remained at Kambourian Jewelers until Haig’s retirement in 1981.
In the fall of 1981, after a few months at Schwarzschild Jewelers in downtown Richmond, Elizabeth joined Susannah Wagner Merritt at Wagner Jewellers in Ashland. Elizabeth works in a wide range of styles. She has made historical reproductions, minimalist modern pieces, and lacy scrollwork, but she is especially sought after for her intricate designs inspired by the natural world.
Elizabeth lives with her husband, Gregory Banducci, an architectural designer who also works in wood, metal, and stone. They enjoy organic gardening and cooking gourmet meals. (Gregory is a terrific chef.) Their home and yard reflect their penchant toward the visual arts. Elizabeth and Gregory love traveling to San Francisco, Gregory’s hometown, and they look forward to retiring in the Bay area someday.
Susannah Wagner Merritt MAIN JEWELER
Susannah Wagner Merritt was born in Athens, Georgia. When her family moved to Virginia, they returned to Georgia every summer, and Susannah still has strong ties in Savannah. She attended high school at Seven Hills Preparatory School in Lynchburg. At the University of Kansas, she took her first jewelry-making classes. Then she transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University for two years, and also took some classes at the University of Virginia.
At the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, Susannah became a Registered British Goldsmith in 1973. During the four and a half years she lived in Scotland, she became a member of the Scottish Society of Woman Artists, exhibited her work at the Royal Academy on the Mound, became a member of the guild of Goldsmith’s Hall, and established a successful artists’ co-op in a high end jewelry store she named ‘Moonstone.’
Returning to the United States, Susannah made jewelry for gem shows and private commissions. She had the honor of creating the Bridal Tiara for the International Gem Show in 1981. In the spring of that year, she opened Wagner Jewellers in Ashland, Virginia, where she was joined in the fall by Elizabeth Spahr. In addition to making jewelry, Susannah designed and built the President’s medallion and chain of office for Randolph-Macon College, and maces for Randolph-Macon College, Roanoke College, Virginia Wesleyan College, and the University of Mary Washington.
A lover of art, Susannah is a member of Tuckahoe Artists Association. She has taught classes at South Side Community College, and later to home school students in Hanover County. In 2009, she opened Gallery 606 to provide a venue for local artists.
Susannah is now retired and spending this time near Ashland with her husband, Johnnie Merritt. They have two grown children, John and Lida, as well as a miniature cockapoo named Cocoa Menouche.