There’s Something About Syracuse Jeweler Harry Stewart

Harry Stewart
Treasure Hut Jewelry
Syracuse, N.Y.

1. What was your finest hour in terms of customer service? 

A guy came in and wanted to buy a ring with a 2 carat stone. But he couldn’t really afford it—not at all. I worked with him, and he did wind up buying a 2 carat princess-cut diamond. To make the ring cheaper, I made it with a 14 karat white gold shank with a platinum head. I didn’t try to sell him the 18 karat white gold shank because it’s more expensive and it’s not as strong. I think as an industry we tend to oversell people just to make a buck, and it’s giving the industry a bad rap. I try to treat people fairly and give them a fair price. 

2. What is your single best money-saving initiative?

I have my 94-year-old mother, Caroline Carlini, working for me! She loves being here and people love to see her in the store. She’s the best thing I have going in my store. There are hundreds of people who come to visit my mom. She always has a smile on her face, and she’s just a very loving person. 

3. What’s the best idea you’ve ever come up with for your store? 

I have the last real watchmaker in central New York working for me. I am so blessed. We just received the Super Service Award for watch repair from Angie’s List. We have watch customers from all over the region and even Canada, and it’s been a great part of the business. Our watchmaker’s worked on everything from World War II–era Hamilton 24-hour watches to Rolexes. He went to school at the Bowman Technical Institute, which is now closed but was a fantastic watch- and jewelry-making school. I hand-carry each watch we’re repairing to his home workshop; nothing goes in the mail, and customers really like that. I have a sign in my window that says, “We repair watches: from Rolexes to Low-lexes.” 

4. What has been your biggest challenge, and how did you resolve it?

The biggest challenge has been evolving through the economic downturn. I turned to repairs and now have a really good reputation for quality repair work. I don’t only fix fine jewelry—I fix costume jewelry, silver, antiques, eyeglasses, and sunglasses. I fix just about everything that comes through the door. It’s seen me through. And we charge a fair price—we just fixed a Rolex for $600, which in New York City would be the cost of a cleaning for a Rolex. 

5. How do you differentiate your store from the competition?

People come here knowing they’re going to get accurate responses to their questions, and that I’m going to try to save them money if I can. If you’re bringing in Grandpa’s watch—a watch that wasn’t very good to begin with and hasn’t worked for 40 years—I may not be able to get it to run. And I will tell you that. You can’t go into a store where there are sales associates who don’t work with jewelry and expect a really educated response. I’m not saying I’m always right, but I tell people what I honestly believe. 

Photograph by Matt Wittmeyer

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