Miner’s in Michigan

Retail jewelry store owners take great pride in their communities. This takes many forms, from helping local charities to even creating jewelry to commemorate their cities, states, or even the states’ natural resources. In part two of a three-part retailer profile series, Retail Details looks at store owners who have created jewelry lines that honor the places they call home.


Miner's North store 
front
Miner’s North
Jewelers in Traverse City, Mich.


Before Wayne and Beth Guntzviller opened Miner’s North Jewelers in 1974, Wayne’s hobby was lapidary work and making jewelry. Eventually his part-time occupation became a full-time calling, but old habits and years of cutting stones stayed with Wayne. Looking for a little market differentiation, Wayne started making jewelry set with Michigan’s famed Petoskey Stone—fossilized masses of ancient coral that come in mainly gray to grayish-tan pieces—about 10 years ago. 


But three years back Wayne got more serious about this portion of his business, expanding it to include other stones indigenous to his home state including Michigan Greenstone (Chlorastrolite), Datolite, Lake Superior Agate, and Mohawkite (a combination of copper arsenates with nickel and cobalt). Jewelry made from these locally sourced goods—as well as his own 90-facet diamond—are part of the store’s Lakeshore Collection.


In addition to a unique store branding component—Miner’s North is the only jeweler that carries Petoskey Stone and other Michigan stones set in silver and gold—the Lakeshore Collection has become a very lucrative part of the couple’s inventory. “About 15 to 20 percent of our business is done with Petoskey Stone jewelry and other jewelry set with State Stones that are part of the Lakeshore Collection,” says Wayne.


Moon/sun pendant


Sterling Sun/Moon pendant with Petoskey Stone


Sales of Petoskey Stone and other Lakeshore Collection jewelry is a mix of locals who want who want to call a little piece of Michigan their own. But just as much of the Lakeshore Collection is sold to the throngs of tourists who visit Traverse City during the high tourist seasons. The store’s many tourists have turned in to good out-of-market customers, which was the inspiration for an e-commerce enabled website.


The couple has also found that returning tourists are also coming back for more serious jewelry purchases such as semi-mounts and even holding off on jewelry repairs for their next vacation to Traverse City. 


To appease the buying habits of both crowds, Wayne has price points that on average range from $29 for a basic pair of earrings on up to pieces that have $500 and even $1,000 price tags for bracelets of made of finer materials. Calibrated and freeform Petoskey Stones are set in a variety of “contemporary yet simple designs mixed with a variety of colored stones,” says Wayne. “One of our best sellers is the moon and sun pendant.”


Wayne also makes Petoskey Stone beads, high-end Damascus steel pocket knives (which sold well last year for Father’s Day), and even some specialty items including Petoskey Stone wineglass stem holders, candles mixed with Petoskey Stones, and bookends.


Petoskey Stone pendant