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The Christmas season is one of the most popular times to buy fine jewelry. Not surprisingly, some of the best sales each year come on Black Friday. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t still great deals to be found. If you’re in search of a last-minute gift that won’t come across as such, head to your local hometown jeweler, who can help steer you toward a gift that is both personal and meaningful.
Holiday sale or not, buying diamonds or gold is an investment. As such, it’s important to trust the seller. Most independent jewelry stores have been in business for several generations. Their owners are your neighbors. Tara and Co. Diamonds in Searcy is one such example. For more than 65 years, the store has been one of the most trusted names in jewelry in the region. They have grown from a small store to a multiple-brand jewelry retailer, serving generations of families.
“We truly become invested in our customers’ lives,” explains Kristen Simpson of Tara and Co. Diamonds. “They become part of our family. We get to meet you with engagements and wish you well at weddings. We rejoice in the additions to families that follow and mourn with the losses. Celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and holidays as they come.”
These relationships offer a level of personalized service that big-box and online retailers cannot match.
“I truly think that each person walking through the door is an individual with a unique situation,” Simpson says. “It may be their first time searching out engagement rings, trying to learn the difference between lab diamonds, mined and moissanite, or they could be in to repair a chain yanked by a child… After we welcome them into the store, the conversation naturally leads to how we can best honor their needs.”
A repair such as the one Simpson refers to might be the perfect Christmas gift for your loved one. Jewelry and watch repairs are often quick, affordable processes that go overlooked. In fact, repair work is often how many of these multi-generation businesses began.
James Magie, owner of Magie Jewelers in Morrilton, holds a degree in jewelry and horology, the art of making clocks and watches. He works on grandfather clocks and old watches.
Magie Jewelers recently celebrated their 40th anniversary. With an extensive collection of unique jewelry pieces ranging from classic diamond necklaces to trendy statement pieces, the store also offers clock repair services and jewelry engraving, making it the perfect place to find a thoughtful and personalized gift for a loved one.
Likewise, Wilkerson Jewelers, located in downtown Stuttgart, is owned and operated by Bobby Wilkerson, a second-generation jeweler who grew up in the business. His father had a small watch repair and jewelry shop in Moulton, Alabama. In 1972, Bobby Wilkerson purchased Stuttgart’s Wynn Jewelers and changed the name to Wilkerson Jewelers.
A little-known fact about Wilkerson Jewelers is that it is only one division of a much larger corporation. As a young man, Bobby Wilkerson joined a chain of 32 stores and ran sales promotions for them; this became his passion.
Over the past 52 years, Wilkerson’s has continued to refine and perfect running sales promotions exclusively for jewelers across the country, including Galt & Bro., the “Oldest Jewelry Store in America” in Washington, D.C. The store’s clientele included Presidents Lincoln, Johnson, Jefferson and Roosevelt, plus many more notables.
Since most of us are not in the same category as U.S. presidents, a popular misconception is that jewelry is not affordable. But according to Simpson, the most popular items at Christmas come in a range of price points. “This year, we have stackable bracelets and Kendra Scott for gifts and stocking stuffers,” she says. “Diamond earrings, hoops and pendants are some of the most-sold items, as well as anything yellow gold.”
Although Simpson says engagement rings are purchased year-round, she says the ones presented at Christmas offer a little extra magic to the experience. “The pictures are always a little more enchanting,” she says.
I didn’t get engaged at Christmas, but I did inherit my grandmother’s wedding ring, which I wear as my own, along with one of her other rings. In addition, my mother-in-law often gifts me items from her jewelry box, many of which go back to previous generations. These heirlooms are among my most treasured possessions.
Simpson says that some of the most special moments come from building a memento out of family heirlooms. “Creating custom jewelry is one of my favorite facets of the job,” she says. “But it can be the most challenging. We have several different avenues to meet the needs of the customer. On average, I’d say four weeks is the time required to create a unique design.”
Magie Jewelers and Wilkerson Jewelers also offer custom jewelry services to help bring your vision to life or turn existing items into new creations. While this option is too late for Christmas, when you’re at your local jeweler picking up a last-minute gift, consider making an appointment for a return visit to create a custom piece that could be ready in time for Valentine’s Day.
Perhaps the most practical benefit of buying locally is that you can regularly take your jewelry to the store to have it professionally cleaned at no charge. While being cleaned, the jewelers also inspect the piece to make sure everything is in good shape, i.e. no loose diamonds.
Many local jewelers have extended hours this time of year, and they are still offering specials. However, as Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday, their last day may be Saturday. You’ve procrastinated enough; don’t push your luck further!
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