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Couple Close Jewelry Store After Decades in Business Because ‘When You’re Done, You’re Done’

It’s one of 63 jewelers reported in November as closed.

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AFTER 45 YEARS in the jewelry business, Larry Bramoweth woke up one Sunday morning, turned to his wife and said, “That’s it.”

“Oh, thank you for saying that,” replied Connie Bramoweth, a jeweler herself for the 35 years of their marriage. “I’ve been thinking the same thing for weeks.”

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The very next day, the “Closed” sign went up on the door of Bram’s Jewelry, a fixture for 20 years on tourist-packed Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs, CA.

Brams is one of 63 jewelers reported in November as closed by the Jewelers Board of Trade, including six acquisitions and five consolidations.

Before they could even list their 1,750-square foot building for sale, the Bramoweths got a lease offer from a group that intends to turn the space into a microbrewery.

The process of getting the necessary permits and zoning approvals continues even now, but the decision to close the jewelry store was smooth sailing from the start.

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“Larry and I were in exactly the same place,” says Connie, even though neither had acknowledged it to the other until that fateful Sunday morning.

For awhile by then, Connie had been watching the crowds gather daily out on Palm Canyon Drive, thinking to herself, “Oh, please don’t come in.”

“It sounds crazy, I know,” she says now, “but when you’re done you’re done.”

Connie, at least, is not entirely done with jewelry. She continues to do the custom work that has long been her specialty. Her Miller welder continues to be her “favorite toy in all the world.”

As Christmas neared, Connie was happily baking and reading and finishing up a major project for a customer in St. Louis, where the Bramoweths had a store for 10 years before relocating to Palm Springs.

The transition into retirement has been a little less smooth for Larry, says his wife. “He knew what he didn’t want to do, but he didn’t know what he wanted to do. It’s still kind of a conundrum for him.”

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Connie was an antiques dealer when she met her husband, a jeweler who proceeded to teach her everything he could about the business.

He was the salesman of the couple, she says, which freed her to work at her bench in the back.

Praising the internet as “a wonderful tool,” Connie says that any jeweler’s survival today depends on building a strong online presence.

“And that’s not easy,” she says.

It’s also, she says, “not really me.” It’s custom design that interests her, the kind of projects where it might take three years to find the perfect opal. “Today, it’s all about instant gratification.”

While the internet can be of help in the design area as well, there are limits, she says. CAD “can produce some spectacularly beautiful pieces, but in my opinion, they can also be spectacularly boring.”

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“You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all,” she explains.

Connie urges business newcomers to become familiar with one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces typically found in estate sales. “Some of the older pieces, well, you’re never going to get that” from a software program.

“Learn everything you can,” she recommends. “And don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.”

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