Cathie Anderson

Cathie Anderson: It took 40 years, but Arareity’s owner gets ‘A’ from Thiebaud

Cathie Anderson
Cathie Anderson

Although Arareity Jewelers never moved from its home of 40 years at 1021 R St. in Sacramento, owner Carole Koblik wholly transformed her business from bead seller to fine jeweler.

Even when Koblik was selling beads, her degrees in art and art history from the University of California, Davis, allowed her to select pieces from Africa and other places around the world that would appreciate in value and make a statement. Women trusted her eye and kept coming as customers. Her success allowed her to begin stocking rubies, emeralds, alexandrite, aquamarine and other precious stones. She also began restoring worn jewelry and designing custom pieces, now lucrative business lines.

“This young lady’s mother came to me for her wedding set, so the daughter came in for hers,” Koblik said as she points to a picture in her album. “And she knew she wanted sapphires, so these are all sapphires, and she’s a Van Gogh lover, and this swirl is from one of his self-portraits, and we carried this feeling throughout this whole ring.”

Koblik’s old UCD instructor, Wayne Thiebaud, visited her store a year ago. She teased him about never giving her better than a C, yet she was brave enough to show him a ring design that made her especially proud.

“He said, ‘Honey, if you’d been this good then, I would have given you an A.’ ”

Koblik, 69, has no intention of retiring anytime soon. And, why would she? Arareity had its best sales year ever in 2013, finally hitting the goal that she had set in 2007, the year before the economy went bust.

What competition?

1-2-3! Three Sacramento State student teams dreamed up innovative products, developed a go-to-market strategy and scored the top three spots in a competition against other CSU schools.

For 26 years now, the California State University system has held a symposium aimed at exposing faculty and students to cutting-edge biotechnologies and the plethora of careers in the life sciences field. Three years ago, they started a contest in which students conceive biotech products and then develop a market application for them.

At Sac State, biology and engineering students teamed up with business students. That marriage has proved so successful that the Hornets took top honors in each of the contest’s first two years. This year, Hornet teams won first, second and third at the CSU Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology symposium.

Junior Manmeet Singh and fellow biology major Melissa Bardo took first place with a surgical kit that reduces internal scar tissue from abdominal surgeries. They hope to undertake clinical trials one day. Business students Kristen Hernandez and Jordan Kreun helped them develop the market strategy.

“They gave us key points on what makes our product so much more unique and how to present it to others to show that they should definitely invest their money in it,” Singh said of the business students.

A new day in solar

Global consulting firm Frost & Sullivan is spotlighting Rancho Cordova’s CyboEnergy for creating a new product that could be a game-changer in the solar power industry.

CyboEnergy chief executive George Cheng will collect an award this evening in New Orleans during Frost & Sullivan’s annual awards gala. Cheng’s company is patenting the CyboInverter, which converts energy from solar panels into AC-compatible electricity. Frost & Sullivan estimates that the global solar inverter market will expand to $14.7 billion by close of 2017.

In the past, the performance of a solar array was often dictated by the weakest panel because all were linked to one central inverter. If one panel is producing 20 percent of capacity, then that’s all any panel could produce. Companies introduced microinverters that largely solved this problem, but not to Cheng’s satisfaction.

“We said, ‘Hmm, the microinverter sounds very interesting, but it’s still not as good as the market wants because each microinverter has to be attached to a solar panel,’ ” he explained. “You need a lot of microinverters. What if we built something in the middle? That means we create a new sort of mousetrap. It’s a bigger inverter than the microinverter, and it has multiple input channels.”

Those multiple channels allow the CyboInverter to attach to as many as four solar panels and channel each panel’s output individually. No longer does each panel need a microinverter or the extra wiring that goes with them, so installation costs are significantly lower. In addition, the CyboInverter can send energy back to a utility’s grid or directly to power institutions such as schools and hospitals or microgrids in developing countries.