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Turning 100 in Grand Style

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Two ladies in a jewelry shop.

COMPANY ANNIVERSARIES OFTEN slip by with little fanfare, but when Hamilton Jewelers approached the big one — its centennial — third-generation president Hank Siegel decided it was an occasion worthy of a yearlong celebration, especially a celebration of the store’s place in the community. Founded in Trenton, NJ, in 1912, Hamilton Jewelers now has five stores in New Jersey and Florida, as well as a successful e-commerce business. Hamilton specializes in fine jewelry of its own design and manufacture as well as designer jewelry and watches. Founder Irving Siegel sought to bring a New York style shopping experience to the local level, a goal that continues today with a commitment to a vast assortment and variety, says Hank Siegel.

THE IDEA

Siegel decided to celebrate in high-profile high style — from the commemorative coffee table book he commissioned, to the White Haute Gala holiday party that drew hundreds to the store in December 2012. In addition, nearly all 120 Hamilton employees volunteered in the community during the year and were given paid time off for their projects. “If you can’t do something like that for your 100th, I don’t know when you can do it,” Siegel says.

THE EXECUTION

Hamilton has both in-house marketing and event-management teams, who worked with an external creative group at a publishing house to plan and execute the book.

Research began two years before publication and involved combing through the archives that survived two devastating company fires in 1948 and 1957. Hamilton also asked clients to bring in their old jewelry pieces, sold in the ’30s through the ’60s, to be authenticated, documented and photographed for the book.

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The book — in addition to being sold in local bookstores — was sent as a gift to clients and longstanding supplier partners. “It was a good chance to go through everything and reflect on where our company has been and where we are today and what the future holds,” Siegel says. “I’m very pleased with what they did as far as tracing the history of our brand because really it came from very modest beginnings.”

Hamilton Building

The gala in December 2012 showcased a display of Hamilton’s Centennial Collectibles — one-of-a-kind pieces with unique provenance and rare materials — including a specially commissioned 19.12 internally flawless fancy yellow, radiant-cut diamond ring. Other gala highlights:

Chef Shane Cash from Rat’s Restaurant offered a cooking demonstration. Guests enjoyed signature cocktails and musical entertainment and free horse and carriage rides around downtown Princeton.

THE RESULTS

“We had tremendous results from a revenue standpoint — our holiday season growth was spectacular, well into the double digits. And in terms of enhancing the brand, cementing Hamilton’s prominence in the marketplace and inspiring loyalty from our client base — it was the best year ever,” Siegel says.

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The book was well received. “People who are luxury consumers and who place a premium on heritage and craftsmanship and expertise and the thoughtful hospitality and service that we try to portray about Hamilton, really enjoyed receiving the book.” In addition, since many of Hamilton’s clients are business owners themselves, they enjoyed learning about Hamilton’s origins and evolution from an entrepreneurial viewpoint.

Do It Yourself

“Plan, plan, plan, plan,” Siegel says. Meeting with partners before the centennial year began meant that Breitling had time to produce a limited-edition watch; and Hamilton was able to host an exhibition with Patek Philippe, which is the company’s longest-standing continuous supplier, with a relationship dating to 1938.

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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