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Designer crafts keepsakes for 'runners of steel'

| Friday, May 3, 2013, 8:37 p.m.
Keith Hodan | Tribune-Review
Gemologist Caesar Azzam speaks about his craft in the showroom of his Shadyside store, Caesar's Designs, Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013.
CAESAR AZZAM
This steel beam pendant was created by jeweler Caesar Azzam, owner of Caesar's Designs Fine Jewelry Creations in Shadyside. The piece is part of a collection created exclusively for the 2013 Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon to be held May 5. A 1 inch pendant is $65 and 1.5 inches costs $95.
CAESAR AZZAM
This round pendant was created by jeweler Caesar Azzam, owner of Caesar's Designs Fine Jewelry Creations in Shadyside. The piece is part of a collection created exclusively for the 2013 Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon to be held May 5. A small pendant (the size of a penny) is $48 and a nickle-size option costs $68.
CAESAR AZZAM
These Pandora-style charms were created by jeweler Caesar Azzam, owner of Caesar's Designs Fine Jewelry Creations in Shadyside. The piece is part of a collection created exclusively for the 2013 Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon to be held May 5. A beam design is $45 and a spacer costs $35.

Caesar Azzam is not a runner. But he has an appreciation for individuals who train for months to compete in long-distance road races.

So, he created mementos for those athletes to help them mark the accomplishment of logging 26.2 miles on May 5 at the Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon.

Azzam, who owns Caesar's Designs Fine Jewelry Creations in Shadyside, designed a collection of pendants and charms that signify the thousands of “runners of steel” who will take to the city streets for this annual event.

“Marathon runners are incredible,” Azzam says. “They are resilient, and they help each other, on and off the race course.”

That camaraderie was evident at the April bombing of the Boston Marathon where competitors aided in the rescue of fellow athletes and spectators. Azzam had already committed to being the official jeweler of the Pittsburgh Marathon, but wanted to also support the continued recovery effort in Boston. A portion of the proceeds from his marathon designs will be donated to the One Fund (www.onefundboston.org), created by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Tom Menino to help the people most affected by the tragic events.

“I wanted to help, because something like that could happen anywhere,” Azzam says. “It was so tragic. I think, with the Pittsburgh Marathon being run not that long after the Boston Marathon, that runners will want to have something to remember running in Pittsburgh.”

Azzam says he wanted to create something that would capture the essence and the spirit of the “runners of steel.” So, the unisex jewelry line allows buyers to choose from various hand-crafted pendants and Pandora-style charms, featuring sterling-silver and rubber sports chains. They are detailed with the words “Runner of Steel Pittsburgh 2013.” Prices start at $35.

Partnering with Azzam has been incredible, says Adriane Deithorn, director of development for the Pittsburgh Marathon.

“We love working with Caesar, because he really listened to what we wanted to do,” says Deithorn, who was wearing one of the pieces Azzam created. “We love all the pieces he created, and they have been selling well. We have approached other jewelers in the past, but he was different.”

Caesar's Designs will have a booth at the Marathon Expo from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 4 at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, and the collection will be available at the Finish Line Festival in Point State Park, Downtown, following the marathon.

Caesar's Designs Fine Jewelry Creations: 5413 Walnut St., Shadyside. Details: 412-621-0345 or www.caesarsdesigns.com

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at jharrop@tribweb.com or 412-320-7889.

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