JCK’s 150th: Hamilton Jewelers President Hank B. Siegel on Growing Up With JCK

JCK magazine is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year! To commemorate that milestone, we’re talking to 150 veteran jewelry professionals in 2019 for a feature series meant to distill the voices of some of the industry’s most enduring and successful professionals.

We can’t print every interview in its entirety in the magazine—so we’ve been posting full interviews here on JCKonline.com every Thursday.

This week we hear from Hank B. Siegel, president of enduring fine jewelry retail firm Hamilton Jewelers.

JCK: How long have you been in the jewelry industry, and how has it changed since you joined?

Hank B. Siegel: I officially joined Hamilton in 1982 but, in fact, have worked in the industry and in our firm since I was a child in the 1960s. I’m the grandson of the person who had the wisdom to purchase Hamilton after its founding in 1912, a brand that is now internationally recognized, nationally known, and locally trusted. I feel a responsibility toward all that has been achieved through Hamilton’s history and what remains to be accomplished. I’m also aware of the good fortune I share to work with the team at Hamilton, who dedicate themselves to the firm and are interested in professional growth.

What’s changed in the industry since you started?

Perhaps an easier to answer question is “what hasn’t?” We are still in the celebration and recognition business. We are still privileged to be surrounded by beautiful works of art, people shopping for the happiest of occasions, and maintaining strong connections to our communities.

The two biggest changes relate to technical skills and product knowledge. When I grew up in the industry, most fine stores employed at least one jeweler, watchmaker, or engraver. Today in-house servicing seems to be a thing of the past. At Hamilton, I feel a responsibility to preserve this legacy, and we have enhanced our team to a count of 16 total technicians of watchmakers, engravers, and jewelers in each market.

The amount of product knowledge and information readily available to educate our teams, as well as our clients, is remarkable and has precipitated the greatest change in our industry. If you have a well-read, trained, and informed sales team, this is a tremendous advantage. We need to always ensure that our sales professionals are better educated than our client. Knowledge is power, and JCK arms the industry with the latest knowledge, ideas, and information.

What’s your experience with JCK magazine?

Throughout my career in the industry, JCK has been a go-to resource for education, information, ideas, and inspiration—from the early days when the publication was The Jewelers’ Circular and merged in 1944 to create Jewelers’ Circular Keystone, it has remained a resource foundation to our industry.

What has JCK magazine meant to you? 

I’ve always viewed Hamilton as a learning organization and am constantly trying to raise the bar in all aspects of our business. One of my favorite quotes from management guru Tom Peters is, “Excellent firms don’t believe in excellence, only in constant improvement and constant change.” Throughout my career, inspiration for this change and improvement oftentimes has come from what I see and read in JCK.

What was your first impression of JCK magazine, and how has it changed over the years?

My earliest memories of JCK come from, believe it or not, my childhood. My father would bring home from work all of his industry reading to do in the evening after dinner. As a youngster, I recall browsing through JCK when my dad finished his reading. I would always check the pages where he folded down the corners to see what caught his eye—whether a product advertisement or an article on design, merchandising, display, or selling. We still have in our archives an issue from 1959 quoting my grandfather on responsible pricing as well as discounting and misleading the consumer.

JCK has continued to evolve with our industry, remaining a relevant tool for today’s fine jeweler. My son Andrew recently joined our business as the fourth generation of my family, and I’m confident that he will also rely upon JCK as the industry bible.

Top: Hank B. Siegel, president of Hamilton Jewelers (photo courtesy of Hamilton Jewelers)

Catch up on all of JCK’s 150th interviews:

Erica Courtney, jewelry designer
Robert Weldon, director of GIA’s Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library and Information Center
Stuart Robertson, vice president of Gemworld
Bill Furman, longtime JCK magazine ad sales manager
Kathryn Kimmel, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of GIA
Katie Kinsella Murphy, owner of Kinney + Kinsella
Frank Dallahan, publisher, The Retailer Jeweler
Jen Cullen Williams, managing director of Luxury Brand Group
Sally Morrison, chief marketing officer of Lightbox
Susan M. Jacques, president and CEO of GIA
Marie Helene Morrow, president of Reinhold Jewelers
Jenny Luker, U.S. president of Platinum Guild International
Beth Gerstein, co-CEO of Brilliant Earth
Russell Shor, GIA senior industry analyst
Walter McTeigue, cofounder of McTeigue & McClelland
Caryl Capeci, president of Hearts On Fire
Eddie LeVian, CEO of Le Vian
Peggy Jo Donahue, freelance writer and former JCK editor-in-chief
Rebecca Moskal, jewelry marketing veteran

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