Jeweler makes his bling sing

January 7, 2011

By Tim Pfarr

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Porter Jensen Jewelers pioneers interactive Tekno Charms

Porter Jensen Jeweler co-owner Joe Waldmann is continually on the hunt, searching for new realms in which to expand his business.

In 2003, he developed and patented mechanical titanium T3 rings, which are reconfigurable and allow for different elements to be threaded onto a base band. This fall, the co-owner of the Newcastle business bred jewelry with digital media, creating silver charms that can trigger an iPhone to break into song.

Joe Waldmann, Porter Jensen Jeweler co-owner and Tekno Charm creator, demonstrates how to scan the charm with an iPhone. By Tim Pfarr

The name: Tekno Charms.

The 1 3/8-inch by seven-eighths-inch sterling silver charms are placed on bracelets and necklaces, and by scanning a charm with an iPhone barcode scanner, the phone connects to the Tekno Charm website and launches into a short, animated music video.

Joe Waldmann and his wife Nancy Waldmann — with whom he co-owns the business — launched their first set of charms in late November, synching a set of Christmas-themed charms with a techno-pop version of “The 12 Days of Christmas.”

“It kind of blows people’s minds,” said Joe Waldmann, who has a patent pending for the design.

He conceived the idea while getting ready for work on a Friday morning in early October. He mentioned the idea to Nancy, who was instantly excited.

The couple worked furiously to finish the product in less than two months. The process began with building prototypes and advanced to developing the product and establishing footholds in manufacturing, and marketing the product.

The charms are manufactured entirely in the Seattle area, and each contains a genuine diamond on the bale — the portion of the charm that connects to the bracelet or necklace strap.

The charms use quick-response technology — essentially two-dimensional barcodes — to sync with phones. A typical product barcode is a one-dimensional line denoting information.

While Joe and Nancy Waldmann handled the hardware, they teamed up with customer, friend and web developer Penny Laine to make the corresponding animation. For music, they turned to their 16-year daughter Charlie, a former all-state cellist and multi-instrumentalist.

Charlie dusted off the family’s old keyboard and wrote a ditty for the video, and — in key with the urgent pace — was in a family friend’s recording studio two days later creating the finished track.

“It was just kind of a funny little turn of events,” Nancy Waldmann said about the quick turnaround from conception to fruition.

In their store, at 6401 Lake Washington Blvd., Nancy can often be found wearing a charm necklace. When a demonstration is needed, Joe whips out his iPhone to take a picture.

The Waldmanns plan to make Valentines Day and birthday charms in the near future, with the goal to make different styles of charms and create a collectible series. Although charms now only work on iPhones, the Waldmanns said they hope to eventually make the charms compatible with all smart phones.

The Waldmanns held a Tekno Charm launch party at their shop Dec. 4, attracting a crowd of about 30 people, and Nancy Waldmann said the charms, which sell at $79.95 each, have been well received and instantly attract those who see it.

“No pun intended, but they’re really charmed by it,” she said.

Call or e-mail Nancy Waldmann at 793-3730 or go to www.info@porterjensen.com to schedule an appointment to see the Tekno Charms at the store.

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