Spotlight on the Retailer

JCK recently asked jewelry suppliers to name some of their favorite retail jewelers. From an online unaided-recall survey, we gathered the names of the 10 independent retail jewelers who were nominated most often by their vendors as a favorite store to do business with. You can read their profiles in the JCK April issue or online here.

Now, suppliers, it’s your turn to be the judge. The retailers had their turn with JCK’s Jewelers’ Choice Award; now it’s your turn to help celebrate the jewelers and stores you’ve always admired.  Which of the 10 independent jewelers listed below is your favorite?

Please take just a minute to vote for your favorite jeweler from the ten finalists below. The winner will be announced and celebrated at the JCK Las Vegas Show.


  • Locations Boston and Framingham, Mass., and Nashua, N.H.

  • Principals Ara Barmakian and Vahan Barmakian

  • No. of stores 3

  • Founded 1910

  • Generation running the business today Third

  • Number of employees 150

  • Product specialties Loose diamonds, wedding bands, and in-house designs

  • Advertising Radio, print, Web site, and catalog

  • Staff training Cross-location events for employees to meet each other, new-employee orientation, and feedback from managers on performance and sales techniques.

  • Web address

  • Core philosophy “To provide unrivaled selection, competitive prices, excellent service, and help customers realize design dreams.”

  • Proudest accomplishment “We’ve been around for 100 years and have built up our business primarily on client recommendations and custom designs.”

M.J. Christensen Diamonds

  • Location Las Vegas

  • Principals Cliff Miller, president and CEO; Darlene Miller, executive vice president

  • Number of stores 4

  • Founded 1939

  • Generation running the business today First, as of 2006 (The Millers bought into the business in 2000 and later bought out the Christensen family.)

  • Number of employees 46

  • Product specialties Brands that no one else carries

  • Advertising TV, radio, direct mail, billboard, and in-store events for specific brands that often feature charity tie-ins

  • Staff training Monthly meetings with staff and vendors, weekly in-store meetings where one employee refreshes others on a specific brand. A notebook featuring brands, their products, and their stories is available.

  • Web address

  • Core philosophy “We create lifelong relationships with customers and their kids, and are carrying on the M.J. Christensen legacy.”

  • Proudest accomplishment “My husband had the vision to introduce brands to the store. … By showing the quality and story of the brands, we accomplished a lot in a short period of time.”

Diamonds Direct Southpark

  • Locations Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C.; Mountain Brook, Ala.

  • Principals Itay Berger, president, Diamonds Direct; Dovy Klarberg, vice president, Diamonds Direct Southpark (Charlotte); Amit Berger, vice president, Diamonds Direct Birmingham (Mountain Brook); Barak Henis, vice president, Diamonds Direct Crabtree (Raleigh)

  • Number of stores 3

  • Founded 1995

  • Generation running the business today First

  • Number of employees 40

  • Product specialties Certified, fancy color, and rare-size diamonds; branded bridal; fashion lines

  • Advertising Print including high-profile publications and newspapers, radio, and direct-mail invitations to store events. Official jeweler of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and has partnered with the Charlotte Bobcats, Speedway Motorsports, and University of Alabama Football.

  • Staff training In-house training program includes, in addition to sales tactics, industry history, the diamond process, famous fancy and colored diamonds, and relationship building with customers and fellow employees. New employees spend several weeks shadowing associates at flagship location. Sales staff is encouraged to further their education by attending GIA courses.

  • Web address

  • Core philosophy “Our core philosophy can be summed up by five words: quality, excellence, value, education, and selection.”

  • Proudest accomplishment “That we have revolutionized the way diamonds are sold in the Southeast. … We are extremely proud that our business continues to grow and thrive during tough economic times.”

Hamilton Jewelers

  • Locations Princeton, Red Bank, and Lawrenceville, N.J.; Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

  • Principals Hank Siegel, president; Martin Siegel, chairman

  • Number of stores 5

  • Founded 1912

  • Generation running the business today Third

  • Number of employees Approximately 120

  • Product specialties Proprietary product lines in diamonds, both bridal and fashion; custom designs; Private Reserve Collection of one-of-a-kind and bespoke items

  • Advertising Billboard, newspaper, magazine, TV, radio, civic sponsorships, direct mail, special events, co-branding, public relations, and Web site

  • Staff training Comprehensive program through Hamilton Jewelers University and Hamilton Jewelers Advanced University. Associates are selected to attend a one-week, off-site training session with rigorous studying and testing across all categories of the business; GIA and AGS courses; technical training through classes at facilities such as Lititz Watch Technicum, AWCI, WOSTEP, Stuller, and New Approach School.

  • Web address

  • Vision Statement We will continually enhance the value of the Hamilton Brand by being foremost in the minds of people looking to commemorate life’s events, and providing an exceptional experience for our clients, associates, and communities in order to build long-term relationships.

  • Proudest accomplishment “Developing a business which has remained true to the core values established by the founder. Employing a staff of professionals who share my passion for those values, and who are interested in professional growth, development, and education.”

Hyde Park Jewelers

  • Locations Denver, Las Vegas, and Phoenix

  • Principals Michael Pollak, CEO; Shereen Pollak, president

  • Number of stores 3

  • Founded 1976

  • Generation running the business today First

  • Number of employees 63

  • Product specialties Branded and designer merchandise, diamonds, bridal

  • Advertising Co-branded ads with vendors; special events including spring bridal event, October watch fair, and November diamond event; “BiggerWow” campaign, targeted at the engagement market, which uses a Web micro site (,billboards, newspaper ads, mall duratrans, and other media including (in 2008) specially printed coasters that doubled as ring sizers placed in Denver bars.

  • Staff training Weekly group and one-on-one training, Web training for remote locations, vendor presentations, off-site vendor programs, GIA courses, Diamond Promotion Service, Platinum Guild, the OPT Web site, in-house programs on history and use of watches, and watch repair Web site. In-house training director performs much of the training but store managers, diamond director, and experienced sales associates also train.

  • Web address

  • Mission statement To celebrate life’s special occasions by providing the finest products, staff, and service to our community while exceeding expectations of quality, value, and integrity.

  • Proudest accomplishment “Starting with $500 as a first-generation jeweler, we built this business from the ground up, literally. I remember the beginning—selling turquoise and Indian jewelry between classes on the lawn of the University of Denver campus.”

London Jewelers

  • Locations: Manhasset, Glen Cove, Greenvale, East Hampton, and Southampton, N.Y.

  • Principals Mark and Candy Udell, CEO and president, respectively

  • No. of stores 5 London Jewelers stores; a London Jewelers watch salon; and David Yurman, Cartier, and Van Cleef & Arpels boutiques

  • Founded 1926

  • Generation running the business today Third and fourth

  • No. of employees 150

  • Product specialties Important diamonds, designer jewelry, fine pieces, and beautiful gifts

  • Advertising Regional, national, and international newspapers and magazines; regional radio and cable TV, billboards, and train signs; holiday catalogs; direct mail broadsheets sent to best customers; and self-published Accent magazine (twice yearly). “To grow our brand image, we created a new ad campaign using a model for the first time in London Jewelers’ history. The response has been incredibly positive. … Not only did we use the images for the campaign itself in advertising, but also for invitations, special advertisements, editorial, and now the addition of our 2009 bridal campaign.”

  • Staff training Seminars and classes in every category are conducted by in-house trainer Cheryl Barend.

  • Web address

  • Mission statement To provide our customers with the finest selections of designer jewelry and fine watches presented in a luxurious setting and manner, and served with first-class customer service.

  • Proudest accomplishments “After 85 years we feel that we created the most unique jewelry and watch environment in America.”

Sissy’s Log Cabin

  • Location Pine Bluff, Ark.

  • Principals Sissy Jones, CEO; Murphy Jones (husband), secretary/treasurer; Bill Jones (son), president; Ginger Jones, vice-president

  • No. of stores 1

  • Founded 1970, by Sissy Jones

  • Generation running the business today First and second

  • No. of employees 35

  • Product specialties Custom design

  • Advertising “We spend $1 million a year in advertising.” Media include television (60 percent of advertising budget, 12 to 15 commercials per year), newspapers, magazines, and some radio. Participates in state shows (home, boat, general merchandise) including the Big Buck Classic in Little Rock, the largest outdoors and hunting event in Arkansas (30,000 attendees). “A lot of vendors are hunting related. We’re the only jeweler in the Big Buck Classic. It’s a tremendous niche for us. Ladies are being dragged to the show, and they’ll be at our booth while their husbands are buying something else.”

  • Staff training Weekly training seminar and some staff training on certain subjects.

  • Web address

  • Core philosophy “Rule #1: The customer is always right. Rule #2: If the customer is ever wrong, refer to Rule #1.” Once, after several unsuccessful attempts at fixing a Rolex watch, Sissy’s gave the customer a new one. “That might sound ridiculous, but she must have spent a quarter million dollars since then. We have never fired a customer. I know stores that have.”

  • Proudest accomplishments Arkansas business of the year, jeweler of the year, state design contests eight or nine times, national contest twice, Arkansas’s largest jeweler.

Tapper’s Diamonds and Fine Jewelry

  • Locations West Bloomfield and Novi, Mich.

  • Principals Howard and Steven Tapper

  • No. of stores 2

  • When founded 1977

  • Generation running the business today First

  • No. of employees 55

  • Product specialties Designer brands, fine timepieces, Hearts On Fire, and diamond engagement rings

  • Advertising Co-op; in-house magazine (Accent, twice a year), newspapers, some e-mail, and direct mail

  • Staff training “To begin, new employees spend three weeks off the floor learning so they understand the culture and history of our store.”

  • Web address

  • Mission statement “We will provide a luxury shopping experience with unparalleled customer service to all of our guests. As a multi-generation family-owned business, we bring a long-term perspective to all our relationships, driven by honesty, accountability, community involvement and excellence. We are committed to delivering on this promise every day.”

  • Proudest accomplishment “That we are not only committed to our customers who come into the store, but that community involvement is our duty. Every employee is involved in their communities. We are not just taking, but also giving back. … We give customers the total shopping experience, leaving them wanting more. We like to say that the gift they purchase is a souvenir of their shopping experience.”

Wilson & Son Jewelers

  • Locations Scarsdale and Mt. Kisco, N.Y.

  • Principals Ira and Lynne Wilson (Scarsdale), Michael and Matthew Wilson (sons, Mt. Kisco)

  • No. of stores 2

  • Founded 1905

  • Generation running the business today Fourth

  • No. of employees 20

  • Product specialties Diamonds, fine Swiss watches, designer jewelry, diamond rings, baby gifts

  • Advertising Primarily local cable TV; also print, especially Westchester magazine

  • Staff training Morning meetings, training from designers and vendors, and sales trainers brought in at least once a year to work one-on-one with staff.

  • Web address

  • Core philosophy “To exceed every customer’s expectations every time, not just meet but exceed. And everyone who walks in our door gets treated like family. It’s been that way since we started in 1904 until today.”

  • Proudest accomplishment “What my brother and I are most proud of is that we’re fortunate enough to have the ability to carry on the tradition firmly set in 1904. … What gives me the most pride and reward is the satisfaction of our clients.”

Worthmore Jewelers

  • Locations Atlanta and Decatur, Ga.

  • Principals Harris and Geri Botnick, president and buyer

  • No. of stores 2

  • Founded 1994

  • Generation running the business today First

  • No. of employees 14

  • Product specialties Custom work, alternative metals (“everything from silver to titanium to German steel jewelry”), watches

  • Advertising Media include local print publications, billboard, Web sites, e-mail blasts announcing in-store shows, newsletters, and postcard mailers.

  • Staff training GIA courses and Doorstep sessions, sales seminars, training by product representatives, monthly staff meetings, and morning “huddles.”

  • Web address

  • Mission statement “Our mission is to offer a pleasant, comfortable, and value-oriented shopping experience to all people looking for that personal touch in selecting jewelry.”

  • Proudest accomplishment “In the past year, four publications in town gave us their “Best of Atlanta” designation.