Feature Friday – Jill Keith
I was blessed to be raised on an Appaloosa horse farm – showing horses and traveling throughout the Eastern United States with my dad, mom and one of my brothers. We made the best of lifelong friends, enjoyed competition and success, and have wonderful memories of it all.
I loved school, did very well and earned the opportunity to attend the University of Connecticut. After, I became a special education teacher and then a district-level educational administrator. I retired in January 2014 to focus on my family, my health, and national education policy.
But life always has a different plan for us than we have for ourselves. After 30 years in business, my father found himself with no employees as the 2015 Christmas season was about to begin. Even though I had just retired the year prior, I volunteered to be a greeter at his store just to get him through the season. Then when this year started, he still didn’t have any employees, so I stayed with him. And now, I’m helping him retire. However, as this story was being penned, we have decided our store — Enchanted Jewelry — will stay open with three generations (my dad, my kids and me)!
My dad came up with the name Enchanted Jewelry 31 years ago when he opened the little shop in the fall of 1985. And just this year, Norwich Magazine readers voted our store 2016’s Best Jewelry Store of Northeastern Connecticut. My dad is what makes our store truly one-of-a-kind — his honesty, integrity, and more than three decades of exceptional repair service. He does a number of things for customers complimentary, and most folks say they just don’t know what they’d do without him.
My dad inspired me to consider jewelry sales, custom design and store ownership; he has inspired my kids to consider all aspects of the jewelry business – including being a bench jeweler and watch battery replacement. I enjoyed studying alongside him for his GIA® tests and going to the different jewelry shows across the country. I’m so proud of him. For more than 30 years, folks have come to his store treasuring the services, quality, honesty, and trust that are his jewelry hallmark. And when I’m not busy greeting customers, I get to enjoy his remarkable skill, wit, humor, and wisdom. It’s a blast to hang out with him.
Most of our sales come from watch battery/band replacements, onsite or next-day ring sizing, and custom design. Repairs are also huge for us. My dad has been swamped with them since announcing his retirement earlier this year. We wouldn’t have survived this long without him on the bench doing repairs. Onsite repair work is the heart of my dad’s store and legacy.
However, technology has transformed the business. To borrow Stuller’s words — it’s innovation and transformation. Through technology, customers are informed, can find us easily, and love being a part of the jewelry design process. In fact, my favorite piece that we’ve worked on was an infinity diamond-accented engagement ring and wedding band — all done through CounterSketch Studio™.
And speaking of CounterSketch®, we’ve had a great relationship with Stuller for the last 30 years. My dad and I attended the Transform Tour in Boston this year and learned so much. When we came back home, we set up a Facebook page and our online profile through Stuller Showcase™. A young man I’ve known since he was a child came in to buy a loose diamond and design an engagement ring. Helping him with his engagement plan is when I knew I had to somehow stay a part of people’s jewelry stories. Soon after that, we were invited to try the Ever&Ever™ custom bridal solution. Customers have been so incredibly excited about the custom jewelry design options, and we’ve noticed that half of those coming to our store were first time visitors as a result of online searches. And now my sons are joining our jewelry team and hoping to learn all they can from their grandfather.
On a parting note, if I could offer advice to my fellow jewelers it would be this — Go to the jewelry shows, support each other, keep learning and growing because it’s fun. At the Centurion Jewelry Show in Foxwoods, Connecticut, I was blessed to bump into Ted Blais, owner of Ted’s Jewelry in Massachusetts. He encouraged us to try CounterSketch and shared his enthusiasm of and expertise in the jewelry business — especially Stuller. We’re very grateful to have Ted as a mentor, as well as all of Stuller’s training and support staff. Through Stuller’s encouragement of and confidence in Enchanted Jewelry, our family business has grown more skilled and successful — and our community of customers and neighbors are as happy and supportive as ever!