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Nancy and David Fine Jewels

A house transformed.



Nancy and David Fine Jewels, Milburn, NJ


WHEN NANCY AND DAVID STONE expanded their store from 650 to 1,500 square feet, they quadrupled their linear display space, updated the lighting, recreated cabinets and flooring, and installed a full bar — but what they did not do was drain the space of its character and charm. The vintage building looks essentially the same, inside and out.

“It’s a 75-year-old building that looked like a house,” David says. “It still looks like a house. We haven’t taken that house and transformed it into a modern office building. We are inviting people into our home. We were trying to combine being bigger without losing the intimate feeling we so treasured in our store. We were dedicated to being true to who we are — a creative design team.”


Five Cool Things About Nancy and David Fine Jewels

1. RADIATING WARMTH.  If you have success with one thing, just do the same and do it better. Why try something else? We wanted warmth and we achieved exactly what we set out to do.” The custom cherry-wood cases were the handiwork of a furniture maker who had never built showcases before. “I wanted all of our pieces to look more like furniture,” he says. The old floor was ripped out and replaced with wide-plank wood floors in a mahogany shade. Old halogen and fluorescent lighting was replaced by energy-efficient fiber optics. “It makes the diamonds sparkle and creates no heat, no discoloration of any displays and no melting of anything.”

2. DESIGNER MARRIAGE.  Nancy was 14 and David 17 when they began dating. By the time Nancy turned 17, she had started to make jewelry, and when she graduated from college, David was making more money selling her jewelry than working at his entry-level corporate job. “He said, ‘Maybe we have something here, maybe we should make a business of it,’” Nancy recalls. They married in 1982, and David quit his corporate job to sell jewelry full-time to boutiques. “At the end of the day my bag was almost empty and I came home with checks and cash and orders,” he says. In 1985, they won designer of the year at JA New York, leading to orders from Saks and Fortunoff. They opened a retail store 10 years ago to spend more time with their three children.


3. SERVICE ON A PLATTER.  David and Nancy will go to any length to care for customers. One example: A client came into the store the day before Thanksgiving to have her rings cleaned. David happened to be talking about his annual tradition of frying a turkey. The customer mentioned she was expecting 25 guests due for dinner and had never tasted a fried turkey. David immediately offered to fry one for her. So on Thanksgiving Day, David fried it at home sent it to the client in time for dinner. The following week, the client and her husband stopped in to express their thanks. The turkey, they said, was the best their guests had ever tasted. They made a $38,000 purchase. “She asked if I’d fry her turkey again this year, and I said absolutely,” David says. “She’s become an incredibly good client and she’s given us a tremendous amount of referrals.” The Stones also collect business cards and provide customers with non-jewelry-related referrals, everything from matchmaking to job placement. “If somebody says, ‘Do you know a nice boy for my daughter?’ That’s certainly in our best interest to pursue. We’ve successfully made three matches that turned into engagements,” David says.

If a client leaves a voicemail message when the store is closed, the computer e-mails the message to the staff’s smart phones, allowing for an immediate response to the customer. If necessary, the store will open and assist a client with a “jewelry emergency,” such as a last-minute birthday or anniversary gift.

4. OFFBEAT MARKETING.  David contends all the other jewelers in town are fighting for the same space in the same local publications and billboards. “I have my own way of getting customers. If they’re going to zig, I’m going to zag.” A $40,000 donation to the township to purchase a clock that has become a landmark is one example of his marketing methods. The clock — displaying the store name — is on a corner about 200 yards from the store in the middle of an upscale shopping area. “A tremendous amount of goodwill came from that,” David says. “Within the first month that clock went in we had a client spend $100,000 with us. We got the customer from the clock. When I delivered the piece of jewelry they said, ‘By the way I want to thank you for donating that clock to the town.’ They never would have come into the store at that moment if not for the clock. Now all the other businesses and jewelers in town are complaining, ‘Why didn’t I have that opportunity?’ But we saw the opportunity.”

5. NANCY AND DAVID ARE THE BRAND.  When they first opened the store, the Stones featured designer brands as well as their own goods. But David found that shoppers were more likely to price shop for designer jewelry. “When you’re selling designer product — and we had some strong brands in the store at the time — shoppers go on the Internet, find an authorized retailer somewhere else, and they make the purchase elsewhere with a short margin,” Nancy says. “The store is the brand. I didn’t want to become a store featuring all these branded jewelers and losing my identity, so we sold down most of the branded jewelry.” Now Nancy and David are the brand, whether the jewelry is custom made or from a non-branded manufacturer. “I want you to be buying a Nancy and David piece in Nancy and David packaging,” Nancy says. “So our designs are supplemented with beautifully made, upscale, but generic pieces of jewelry from around the world.”


Five Questions with Nancy & David Stone

Chuck: Pam brought a true passion for jewelry. I have a passion for the business.

Nancy: Traveling was just not conducive to raising a family. We found this beautiful space and David became more behind the scenes and I became more involved in sales. You have to make choices. Our three best designs
are the children.

Nancy: The hard part was not getting to travel as much as I used to.

Nancy: You need a lot of patience dealing with consumers, but the retail customers in custom-design work generally don’t know what they want so they defer to us in our expertise. There is a lot of handholding and a lot of guidance in custom design.

David: All that handholding and patience nurtures the client and ensures continued patronage. As a result, many times it goes from a several-hundred-dollar purchase into tens of thousands of dollars.

Nancy: “We have a beautiful area that we made for husbands who would prefer not to be in a jewelry store. We had a doctor looking at an engagement ring with his girlfriend, and the basketball game was going to be coming on, and he said, “Can we go now?” I said, “Well, we have this beautiful flat screen TV — and he ended up staying for an hour and a half and we made a $40,000 sale.”

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



Wilkerson Testimonials | Sollberger’s

Going Out of Business Is an Emotional Journey. Wilkerson Is There to Make It Easier.

Jaki Cowan, the owner of Sollberger’s in Ridgeland, MS, decided the time was right to close up shop. The experience, she says, was like going into the great unknown. There were so many questions about the way to handle the store’s going-out-of-business sale. Luckily for Cowan, Wilkerson made the transition easier and managed everything, from marketing to markdowns.

“They think of everything that you don’t have the time to think of,” she says of the Wilkerson team that was assigned to manage the sale. And it was a total success, with financial goals met by Christmas with another sale month left to go.

Wilkerson even had a plan to manage things while Covid-19 restrictions were still in place. This included limiting the number of shoppers, masking and taking temperatures upon entrance. “We did everything we could to make the staff and public feel as safe as possible.”

Does she recommend Wilkerson to other retailers thinking of retiring, liquidating or selling excess merchandise? Absolutely. “If you are considering going out of business, it’s obviously an emotional journey. But truly rest assured that you’re in good hands with Wilkerson.”

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