Welcome to the O.C.! Chatting With the Guys Behind Fredric H. Rubel Jewelers

Golden State glamour mixes with old-fashioned values at Fredric H. Rubel

There’s only one thing Fredric H. Rubel Jewelers has in common with the O.C.’s ostentatious reputation: decadent diamonds. Otherwise, its two coastal California locations, Mission Viejo and Laguna Beach, are decidedly low-key and drama-free. Founded originally in San Bernardino by Fredric’s parents, Barney and Rose, right before the Great Depression, the store’s legacy of hard work, fair play, and dedication is being embraced by an eager third and even fourth generation.

Lessons From Barney and Rose

Fredric: My father [managed] a jewelry store in Los Angeles, and my mother applied for a job on a lark when she came to town to visit her sister. They fell in love and got married in June 1928. On the way to their honeymoon in Big Bear Lake, they stopped in San Bernardino, where some storefronts were being built, and Dad thought it was the perfect place to open his own jewelry store. They had their official opening in October 1928, and one year later the Great Depression started. I always joked with my dad that he should have gone to Newport Beach on their honeymoon. From their experiences I learned that you must not panic, keep your inventory low, and pay your bills.

David: Don’t just sell someone something; help them make a good decision. We always look at the long-term relationship rather than the immediate sell. The customer needs to trust us that we are looking out for their best interests.

Gary: Dave and I never had a chance to work with Barney, but I did work with Rose for about seven years. She really weathered a lot of adversity. What I learned from her was tenacity. Our father taught us the most. I think his best skill was choosing which lines to carry. He found the “new designers,” before that term was even used.

All in the Family

Fredric: There’s nothing as rewarding as working with my two sons, and more recently, my two grandchildren.

David: The shared responsibility and decision-making is gratifying. Particularly in these tough economic times, it is nice to know you have someone who cares just as much as you do, and that everything does not depend on you.

Advice for the Next Generation

Fredric: Gary graduated from UCLA in 1982 and David from UC San Diego in 1980. I advised them to go to GIA; then I suggested becoming members of AGS. All of us hold the title of Certified Gemologist Appraiser, and I would recommend my grandchildren do the same.

David: Be honest in your dealings with customers, vendors, and associates. Also, things change so quickly now. You have to constantly be looking forward with ways to do things better that give the customer a better experience.

Gary: I have two daughters, 14 and 21, and I would continue with the same lessons I have tried to teach them at home. Treat people how you would like to be treated. Put 110 percent into whatever you do. Expect more from yourself than anyone else. Last, enjoy life because, as you know, it goes by so fast.