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Jewelry Store Continues Under New Ownership, Mixing Old Ways with Modern Technology

It’s one of 51 stores reported closed or under new ownership in September.

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Pictured here are Mary Loose Deviney, right, with her late mother, Francis Elizabeth Gibson Loose

AMONG THE 51 STORES reported closed or under new ownership in September by the Jewelers Board of Trade, there’s been a changing of the guard at Tuel Jewelers, a mainstay of brick-lined, pedestrians-only Main Street in Charlottesville, VA, since 1945.

History is everything in Charlottesville, founded in 1762. Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe were born here. Jefferson’s Monticello is a few miles outside town. The University of Virginia, which he founded, is based here, on a campus designated as a World Heritage site. Tuel’s — whose most consistent seller over the years is the silver Jefferson cup, designed by the third president — dates its own history to the era when railroad watchmakers and repair shops began to add jewelry items, mostly for men at first, tie-tacks and cufflinks, then engagement rings and wedding jewelry, creating a post-War generation of hometown jewelry stores. 

Local resident Francis Elizabeth Gibson went to work as a bookkeeper for Tuel’s in 1953, gradually earning GIA certification through a correspondence course. In 1975, with the support of husband Hermann Loose, a Swiss-born cattle rancher, she bought the store, thus becoming the first female merchant in town.

Francis Elizabeth Gibson Loose’s last day at work was Dec. 28, 2017. When she died eight days later, at 86, the local movie theater mourned her with a marquee reading “A jewel is lost in downtown.” By the time Francis Loose’s daughter Mary entered the store in the 1960s, at two days old, Tuel’s already was on its way to becoming the community center it remains today.

“After 9-11, this is where people came to just sit in the chairs and talk,” says new owner Mary Loose Deviney. “I mean, it’s a store, a way of deriving income, sure, but Tuel’s is so much more than that. It’s almost a creature, a living thing in this community. I don’t really think of myself as the owner. I’m more like the caretaker.”

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Mary Loose Deviney left home to study accounting at college, then returned to Charlottsville take care of her grandmother, working at the store part-time. She had intended to move away to a position with one of big eight international accounting firms of the 1980s, but then after her grandmother’s death she took her mother aside and said, “I think I’d like to stay on, if you’ll have me.” 

Any regrets to passing on a chance at a larger world than her hometown?

“Oh no, not a one,” Mary Deviney says. “That was one of Momma’s lessons. Try to live without regrets.” 

Mary combines her Old World skills with customers and on the bench with savvy modern business training, sprinkling her conversations with references to “our analytics.”

Although sales are all still rung up on a crank cash register in the front of the store, there’s a modern computer system at work in the back. 

“I have always felt that technology is our friend,” Mary says, citing its influence on the manufacture of today’s lighter, cheaper jewelry. “I think the more people wearing jewelry, the better, you know. They develop the habit.”

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As for technology’s effect on sales, there is almost a shrug in her voice as she says, “An internet site can’t make repairs or size a ring. The colors on the internet are not true to life. Photographs are easily manipulated as to size. At this point, people have had that one or two bad experiences buying online. They know that if they want quality they have to go to an honest-to-goodness jewelry store.

“Our business is about relationships, and relationships are long-term.”

Any changes in store under the new caretaker of Tuel Jewelers?

“Oh no, no, no,” says Mary Deviney. “I think our customers would revolt.”

Editor’s note: Of the 54 stores in the JBT’s preliminary figures for September– slightly more than the 51 stores reported in final numbers for the previous month — three were listed as consolidations, eight as acquisitions, and the balance as discontinuances.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 76 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at editor@instoremag.com.

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Burglars Are Cutting Jewelry Stores’ Power Lines to Disable Alarms

It’s happened more than 30 times across the country.

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The Jewelers’ Security Alliance reports that there’s been a nationwide pattern of burglars cutting jewelry stores’ power lines in order to disable alarm systems.

On April 17, JSA issued a crime alert on the burglary of a Laguna Niguel, CA, jewelry store in which the power lines were cut. Burglars came through the roof, cut into a safe and took a large amount of merchandise.

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JSA has now received reports of over 30 cases in which burglars have cut the power lines. It’s happened in Florida, Colorado, California, Indiana, Idaho, Illinois and Utah, as well as in Canada.

The burglars cut the power lines soon after a store has closed for the night, then wait nearby to see the response by the owner or police, according to JSA.

The burglars have not carried out safe burglaries at all of the stores.

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“After cutting the wires, the burglars watch and wait,” JSA stated. “If the burglars feel safe after having witnessed the owner or police response or lack of response to the cut wires, they will break into the store, often by cutting through the roof or sidewall.

“They will then attack the safe, usually cutting into it, and sometimes torching it.”

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Jewelry Chain Looks to Build $13M Headquarters

It will employ about 100 people.

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James Avery, a Texas-based manufacturer that operates 88 stores, is looking to open a second headquarters at a cost of $13 million.

The facility would be located in Cedar Park, TX, KXAN-TV and the Austin Business Journal report.

James Avery Craftsman Inc. is seeking more than $500,000 in economic incentives for the project.

As part of the agreement, the headquarters would need to have a payroll of about $4.9 million by 2025. It would also need to consist of at least 35,000 square feet.

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The Business Journal reports that the facility would have more than 100 employees.

Kerrville-based James Avery, known in part for its Christian-themed jewelry, is particularly popular in its home state of Texas, where it operates 80 stores.

Read more at KXAN-TV

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Video: 3 Millennial Couples Reveal Their True Thoughts On Lab-Grown Diamonds

MVI Marketing has released a new video.

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MVI Marketing has released a new video in which three millennial couples reveal what they think about lab-grown diamonds.

The couples interviewed by MV Eye are all actively shopping for engagement rings.

In the video, which is under three minutes long, they’re asked about topics such as their budget, their shopping preferences and their views on lab-grown diamonds.

Watch the video:


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