Frederick Goldman is not only one of the largest privately held branded and private-label jewelry design companies, it is also the name of a self-made man who 75 years ago decided his postwar career would focus on jewelry.
In 1948, Goldman was back from serving in the Coast Guard in World War II and the former boxer wanted to use his experience working for a jewelry manufacturer to start his own business, says his son, Jonathan Goldman. He was eager, he was aggressive, and he was a great salesman.
“He borrowed $20,000 from his mom and dad, another $20,000 from his sister, and he had $20,000 of his own,” Jonathan says. “He went to Europe, bought some used equipment, and started his own company under a train trestle in New York City.”
Today, that family-run business employs more than 700 people worldwide, selling more than 1 million units annually, the company says. Frederick Goldman Inc. also has expanded to include household brands such as Goldman, ArtCarved, and Scott Kay as part of its wedding, bridal, and fashion jewelry lines.
As part of its 75th anniversary, the Goldman family is honoring its past, its founder, and its future, Jonathan says. As a family, he says they are proud of the business they have created as well as the charitable acts they have done together, especially as a founding member of Jewelers for Children.
“It’s a great American story of survival and sticking to what we do. We know what we do and we’re passionate about it. We take our customer relationships very seriously and we make a really great product. And we’re proud of it,” Jonathan says.
Jonathan serves as the company’s CEO and his brother, Richard, is its president. They joined the company with brother David in 1976 when Frederick passed away suddenly; the three boys were ages 18, 20, and 22 at the time. Jonathan was the youngest at 18.
David, who had served as the CEO, died in a car accident in 1989, and the two youngest brothers have run FGI ever since.
“We weren’t clueless, but we were close,” Jonathan says, reflecting on those early days in the business. “We didn’t know what we couldn’t do, so everything seemed possible. Nothing gets invented without the youthful thought that you can do anything.”
As a company, Frederick Goldman Inc. was innovative in multiple ways, Jonathan says. For example, his father was the first to develop and adopt computer systems to run the company in the 1970s, and they were the first to install toll-free 800 numbers for customers to reach them.
Those innovations continue to now with one-stop customization through TruCustom, a service FGI introduced in 2022 that allows retailers to provide clients with in-house ring customization, as well as North American technology centers that provide everything from design to distribution within a tight geographic area, giving better communication, quality control, and delivery times, Jonathan says.
“We’ve worked hard to make sure we can be the fastest to delivery because of our North American footprint,” Jonathan says. “These are operations that work together. You add in our people, and you have a company with the right people in the right spots with the right timing. We’re all working as a team and we’re all on board.”
That’s what a company like FGI is—it’s a symphony that you create every single day, Jonathan says.
“We all have to be in rhythm,” Jonathan says. “If you’re going to deliver jewelry fast, everyone has to play their part. They’ve got to do it well and they’ve got to do it on time.”
Top: Frederick Goldman founded his company with his family’s help and investment; the company now has more than 700 employees worldwide. (Photos courtesy of Frederick Goldman Inc.)
Follow JCK on Twitter: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Facebook: @jckmagazine