From a text to a viral sensation to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.: Gabe Arik and his Happy Jewelers staff helped turn a pearl necklace into an iconic statement about standing out, taking chances, and winning it all.
That simple strand of freshwater pearls created for Atlanta Braves center fielder Joc Pederson has become the talk of baseball for good reason. Pederson started wearing it at regulation games. Then the playoffs. Then the World Series.
Braves fans started wearing imitation pearls in tribute. The world took notice. And Happy Jewelers? Brothers Danny and Gabe Arik are smiling through it all. Not only because their necklace became known worldwide, but also because it showed everyone just how far the family-owned business is willing to go for its clients, no matter who they are.
Granted, Pederson was unique kind of client—especially when his pearl strand broke right before the third game of the World Series against the Houston Astros. Gabe Arik got Pederson’s text on a Friday night, woke everyone up early Saturday morning to create a new necklace, and his staff got that lucky piece of jewelry on a flight to Atlanta before the game started.
You know the ending by now—the Atlanta Braves claimed their first World Series title since 1995—but that kind of customer care is what Happy Jewelers has practiced since Gabe and Danny’s father founded the business in Fullerton, Calif., in 1973, Gabe Arik says.
“That’s what Happy Jewelers is all about. We did it for Joc, but we also do that for a lot of our customers too,” Arik says.
Arik started making jewelry for baseball players years ago—Happy Jewelers became the go-to spot for several MLB players. “I’m ‘that guy’ for a lot of them.”
He met Pederson when he was a rookie, playing with the Los Angeles Dodgers. At the time, Pederson needed an engagement ring, so another player sent him to Happy Jewelers. When Pederson needed a wedding band, the Arik brothers helped again. Next, Pederson wanted some chains to wear during games. The jewelers were always ready.
“Joc is definitely a fashionable person and a trendsetter,” Arik says. “He would buy a new chain every three months or switch them out to do something different.”
The relationship continued even after Pederson went to the Chicago Cubs and then the Atlanta Braves. The infamous text came when Pederson wanted something to wear when the Braves went to the playoffs—and it had to be something different.
Arik says he was stumped—he had made everything possible already for Pederson. What could be new or different? Pearls, Pederson texted. He wanted a strand of pearls. Arik says he texted back a question mark.
“I said, ‘Do you want it for Kelsey (Pederson’s wife)? He texted back, ‘No, I want it for me.’ ”
Pederson was adamant. Arik says they put together 12 mm freshwater pearls on a strand with extra knots for strength. They created backup necklaces as well. It wasn’t the most expensive thing Pederson had ever bought from them—but it has been the most memorable, Arik says.
“We shipped them out, he put them on, and he loved them,” Arik says. “It was the biggest hit. Who knew pearls would be a good luck charm for the Braves?”
It truly was—according to those who follow the great American game, Pederson started wearing the pearls in September, and his game got white hot. (Pearly white hot? We digress.) Through it all, Pederson never admitted why he did it, but it likely had to do with superstition, bringing some good juju to his sport, and finding a way to unite the team and the fans, all in one strand of singular pearls.
Pederson will wear the necklace one last time for the championship parade, and then the pearls will be on display for a time at Cooperstown. It’s probably one of the greatest moments of Pederson’s life—and that of the Happy Jewelers team, Arik says. They’d do it all again, and they are thrilled to have men and women buying pearls from them—and to show off their work.
“We love what we do, and we love coming to work every day,” Arik says.
Top: Atlanta Braves fans wore replicas of Joc Pederson’s now famous pearl necklace to games; the original necklace came from California’s Happy Jewelers (photos courtesy of Happy Jewelers/J-Jay Sahagian).@jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Twitter: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Facebook: @jckmagazine