JCK Special Report: JCK Celebrates 140 Years of Service to Jewelers

Since 1869, Jewelers’ Circular Keystone has been the go-to trade source for fine jewelers. JCK has covered significant news events and written in-depth store profiles, investigative pieces, and countless how-to articles in an effort to arm store owners with the information they need to run vibrant businesses. JCK is proud of its history and excited about a future filled with opportunities to further help retailers succeed. The following are anecdotes from longtime JCK readers and successful store owners on how JCK has helped them achieve their business goals.


"I remember when I first started receiving JCK 25 years ago. We got multiple copies for our staff to read, and we would discuss marketing and sales ideas at staff meetings. As an owner, I always liked the Salary Survey; I thought it one of the best issues, and I always found it interesting to do my own comparison. Bixler’s has also been written about several times in the magazine, and that’s a nice thing to show our clientele and a fun thing that the staff was very proud of. In one article, there was a sidebar about our grandfather clocks, and I got more e-mails from people all over the country-grandchildren, great-grandchildren, from Chicago to California-who owned a clock, how they obtained or inherited their clock, and from people who wanted to sell one."

Joyce Mitman Welken, CEO, Bixler’s Jewelers, Whitehall, Pa. (formerly Easton, Pa.), established 1785

Joy of Selling

"When I was eight or nine, I used to work at the store during the Christmas season making bows, and I would see the magazine sitting in the office. I would leaf through, but I started reading it when I joined the business. For me now, the best articles are on running a business. Even though I have a business degree, there’s so much to be learned from someone’s opinion outside of your own store. I still use the Joy of Selling issue from September 1991 that used cartoons to teach sales methods. That issue is still in our training manual, and I thought it was really good because it had an anatomy of a sale, lots of cartoons, and other real basic information. We also keep articles about colored stones and minimizing customer complaints."

John Ballew, president/owner, Ballew’s Jewelers (formerly Reussille’s Jewelers), Red Bank and Freehold, N.J., established 1885

‘All I Need’

"In high school, my father would bring JCK home to read it at night and on Sundays. He would mark it up, put paper clips on certain pages, and make notes about thing to talk about in sales meetings. He made three separate lists-things to talk about with [bench] jewelers and salespeople, and new suppliers to track down and buy from for the store. For him, it was truly his ‘Bible’ and how he connected with industry. He used to tell me, ‘All I need is JCK’. My father was a master at scouting out new and obscure suppliers, and he said he read about them in the JCK classified ads. He found a caster in Brooklyn that he used for years that turned out to be our single biggest mounting supplier.

One of the gifts I got from Dad was how to use JCK and make it worthwhile. He took JCK very seriously and so do we. For me, I look for tips for our salespeople and bench jewelers, new information about suppliers, and try to keep up with politics in industry. New magazines have come and gone, but JCK is the one magazine that I have seen since I was a child that has remained strong and useful."

Gary Gordon, CEO, Samuel Gordon Jewelers, Oklahoma City, established 1904

An event at Samuel Gordon Jewelers, Oklahoma City, in 1948

Small Ad, Giant Leap

"In the summer of 1979, my late husband Marion and I were in a business partnership in Mississippi that wasn’t working out well. We were considering a move to California and arranged to see a store for sale in Santa Barbara. A week before our September trip to California we saw an ad in the back of a summer 1979 issue of JCK that had a listing for a store for sale in Newport Beach. We figured since we were going to California to see one jewelry store we might as well see two. Both were good stores, but we had a better gut feeling about the Newport Beach location. We quickly sealed the deal, returned to Mississippi, and a week later my son Erik was born. A couple of months later we moved to California, opened the store, and have been in Newport ever since-all because of one small ad in JCK magazine."

Lula Halfacre, owner, Traditional Jewelers, Newport Beach and Malibu, Calif., established 1975

Northwest Passages

"In 1943 I was out at sea on a World War II Navy boat when I received a letter from my father on my 18th birthday. In that letter I was told I had a 25 percent share in the family business. I started paying more attention to the trade news when I got out of the Navy in the late 1940s. In those days I valued the knowledge JCK magazine provided as the industry authority, which gave me a sense of where the industry was going. But I especially liked the sales tips and gemological information in the magazine. I receive a lot of trade magazines, but JCK is always the first one I pick up and read thoroughly. It’s a magazine that helps us in the remote Northwest keep in touch with the industry."

Herbert M. Bridge, co-chair, Ben Bridge Jeweler, Seattle, established 1912

‘Love the Advertisers’

"I started reading JCK in the 1970s. I’d read every issue each month. I remember reading Hedda Schupak’s article on selling designer jewelry. It really helped us expand into this category. I also liked Frank Dallahan’s industry trend articles as well. Over the years the people who have contributed to JCK have made us what we are today for the betterment of the industry. JCK even helps us with weekly team meetings, where we hold seminars on content in the magazine. I also love the advertisers in JCK. They help me see what’s new and hot in jewelry designs. I’ve even purchased jewelry from many of these advertisers."

Sissy Jones, owner, Sissy’s Log Cabin, Pine Bluff, Ark., established 1970

Information Tool

"I came from the banking industry and became a retail jeweler by default. The guy I was dating at the time had a heart attack and needed me to run his store. It was just after Thanksgiving Day 1978 or 1979 when I started working in the store. With Christmas coming up I had to quickly learn about the store and the industry. At that time JCK was the only trade magazine coming to the store. With a library full of recent and back issues, I dove right in. The first article I remember reading in JCK was about two store owners that were victims of burglaries: One store owner had insurance, the other didn’t. After learning that we were ‘self-insured’ at that time, which meant no insurance, getting our store and the jewelry insured was one of my first goals based on that JCK article. JCK also helped me learn about the GIA, AGS, and other trade groups and gem labs. My second goal from reading JCK was becoming an AGS store. It seemed to me that the better store owners I was reading about in the magazine were AGS stores. I’ve also helped serve in an advisory role for the magazine, helping JCK become a better information tool for me and other retailers as well as the industry as a whole. I liked their editorial team and found them to be very responsive to the suggestions I made during a visit to their office in New York over a year ago."

Cathy Calhoun, owner (and the incoming president of AGS), Calhoun Jewelers [formerly Zenker Jewelers], Royersford, Pa., established 1951

Industry Bible

"JCK in my estimation is the bible of the gem and jewelry industry. If you want to know what’s going on in this industry, pick up JCK. It’s always been topical and cutting-edge in terms of content and design. I became more interested in JCK in the 1990s when the magazine examined our industry from a business sense. This industry was not being run well from a business standpoint. The magazine recognized that, and the editorial content changed, which propelled JCK to the top. The magazine continues to evolve and change with the industry and is able to adapt, even at a time when the print business is experiencing difficulties. When I’m looking for industry news and information I go to JCK magazine first."

Mark Moeller, owner, R. F. Moeller (and outgoing president of AGS), R. F. Moeller Jeweler, Edina, Minn., established 1951

No Sleeping Legs

"I started reading JCK in the late 1970s. At that time I was new to the industry and was overwhelmed by the content; there were so many stories and so much information. Back then people said, ‘It’s the industry bible of the jewelry industry.’ And it still is, with a lot of stories and good content. JCK is not afraid to cover any type of stories, even the controversial ones. And they don’t mince words. Today, JCK is still an industry leader. It has always stood out as the magazine people go to first to find out what’s happening in our industry. A number of years ago, JCK editors attended one of our JEF1 [Jewelers Education Foundation] sessions. We told the editors how we thought the magazine could better serve retailers. I suggested not making stories so long that the reader’s legs don’t fall asleep while reading it. I was pleased to see within an issue or two after that meeting, JCK was publishing shorter pieces and packaging larger stories so they could be earmarked piecemeal when time allowed. JCK does a good job of listening to the industry and responding."

William Sustachek, CEO/president/co-owner, Rasmussen Diamonds, Racine, Wis., established 1900