Putting “Family” Into Our Jewelry Business

01 February 2015 Written by  By Richard Neciuk
Published in February 2015 Articles

As one of the region’s leading purveyor of fine bridal rings, our K & Co. Family Jewelers has been filling an important East County jewelry niche since we opened our Brentwood store last July 18.

I first learned of the wedding rings’ opportunity while discussing marketing strategies with a Bulova sales rep. The man said that he didn’t know how many watches I could sell, but that nobody was doing bridal rings at a level of excellence, so that became our specialty.

We carry over 200 in stock at any time and are prepared to create a unique piece to suit any bride’s personal style and taste.

Even though I am in a tradition of family jewelers that stretches nearly seven decades into the past, we utilize modern technology to determine brides’ preferences. We can assist the nervous but hopeful bridegroom in becoming comfortable with the fact that he will be presenting his beloved with a ring that she will really like because we’ve discovered the power of such Internet resources as Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter to reveal the bride’s actual tastes. The knowledge can lead to a wonderful match between what the bride would have wished for and what she actually discovers when she opens the box and catches her first glimpse of that perfect ring.

The other essential part of the transaction is to learn what will make the groom happy, as well as the bride. There is no advantage in showing a $6,000 ring to a man with only $3,000 in his budget, so we learn what he likes and can afford in order to provide the highest quality ring available in his price range. The process begins with picking a stone, matching it to a style and setting, and then assembling the finished product. The best part of the process for us comes when the groom picks up the finished ring. We enjoy seeing his look of surprise and sometimes even of shock when he first sees the results of his planning and choosing.

For some clients, money is not an issue. Others are young couples just getting started or people living in reduced financial circumstances — which, of course is not uncommon during these difficult times. I was once a young groom myself and remember the passionate urge to present my beloved with the nicest ring possible — a Champaign quality bridal ring on my Coca-Cola budget. One prospective groom had $3,000 budgeted for the purchase of a bridal ring, but two separate financial issues ultimately reduced the amount he could spend to $1,800. We created a unique ring with a gemstone in a lovely setting and brought it in under budget. The client was delighted with his purchase.

The word “family” in our K & Co. Family Jewelers name has two connotations. For one thing, I am carrying on a family tradition. My paternal grandfather opened the first family jewelry store in Asuncion, Paraguay following WWII. After a decade, the business moved to San Francisco. My father eventually struck out on his own and opened Andy Jewelers on West Portal Avenue in The City.

I began hanging out in the family store when I was five years old. From the beginning, I loved seeing fine jewelry and watches. My dad and uncles seemed to have a magical ability to tinker around and make beautiful objects seemingly out of nothing. I enjoyed observing the various personalities of the people who would come into the shop. I soon began working on jewelry pieces myself, cleaning and doing small repairs. Following high school, I enrolled in Business Administration in college and began an apprenticeship program with a well-known jeweler friend of my father who taught me everything about the trade. I am certified as a “bench jeweler,” which means I work directly with the jewelry.

My wife, Katrina, has a wonderful gift for working with clients and using intuition to understand what would particularly please a customer. For fashion conscious clients, Katrina possesses a splendid ability to select a piece of jewelry to perfectly match current industry trends. In the case of older clients, she is able to choose a legacy design that will suit them perfectly.

A six-month-old 130-pound Great Dane puppy dog named Ellie is also part of the family business. Ellie is perfectly patient with children who love to climb on her. Many of our adult clients also enjoy the company of this gentle giant. Ellie has good instincts, however. I was unlocking the store one morning, which is the most dangerous time in this business, when a man approached me. Ellie sensed harm and barked furiously at the guy until he ran off. I think it would be unpleasant to witness what Ellie might do to anyone who tried to attack her master or anyone in his family.

The other part of “family” in our K & Co. Family Jewelers title is that we intend to become the trusted jeweler of area families by securing their confidence. Our bridal rings specialty puts us in a good position because those rings, which are often the first important jewelry purchase a young couple makes, quickly leads to wedding bands and eventually to a sequence of jewelry purchases marking important occasions in the family life including anniversaries, childbirths, baptisms, and birthdays.

We are also prepared to help family members who bring us heirloom pieces for evaluation, repair, resize, or reset. We understand that these objects sometimes have intrinsic worth unrelated to their market value. Customers have come to us with a treasured piece handed down from a beloved ancestor together with a sad story of being rebuffed by an insensitive specialist who told them the piece wasn’t worth resetting. We respect the fact that the history of a piece of jewelry can give it a value that can’t be detected through a jeweler’s loop. We treat a precious piece of jewelry that has great sentimental value to the client but might be worth 50 bucks on the market with the respect we would show if it were insured for a million dollars. We will turn it into a fine looking object to be worn in honor of its history and provenance.

The Internet is obviously getting a share of the fine jewelry market, but most people still like to walk into a store, deal with someone they trust, and actually hold their purchase in their hands before finalizing the sale. The look that sometimes comes in their eyes never happens when they are sitting in front of a computer screen. We love to see that look! We love making people happy!g only made something official that actually started years ago. Ever since that Mexican lunch that he paid for with his own allowance, Garrett and I have been connected by a love that is strong and enduring. Life is great and I’m sure that the best is yet to come.

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