01/05/2012 A Gold Mine in Sterling Silver Beads

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Dave Schowalter, the son of a former gold miner, hit a gold mine of sorts when he started manufacturing specialty oval-shaped sterling beads.

Sterling beads are found in a wide array of jewelry, including Pandora and Chamilia, the popular add-on charm bracelets.

But those with sorority, fraternity and university logos did not exist four years ago. Schowalter, 52, discovered that there was pent-up demand for such beads. Not long after his million-dollar business Collegiate Bead Co., which creates them, was born.

In 2008, Schowalter ran Miner's Den Jewelers, a jewelry supplier in Royal Oak, Mich., founded by his father, a former gold miner in Alaska. That same year, he also had brain surgery and during his recovery period he happened to notice a company e-mail from a woman detailing her fruitless search for a sorority bead to add to her Pandora charm bracelet. Please click here to read rest of article