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North Dakota Couple Infuse Jewelry Store with Glamour

Items from their personal collection of Hollywood memorabilia get people talking in Bismarck.

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Tim and Sharon Ell are displaying Hollywood memorabilia in their store, including this dress designed by Bob Mackie for Cher.
Tim and Sharon Ell are displaying Hollywood memorabilia in their store, including this dress designed by Bob Mackie for Cher.

CELEBRITY ENCOUNTERS IN Bismarck, ND, are few and far between.

But Tim and Sharon Ell, owners of Zorells Jewelry, do their best to give residents a taste of Hollywood glam. Sharon loves to wear retro outfits and the couple drives a classic car to work.

Adding to the romance, a bell is rung every time a couple is engaged at the store.

“Sharon and I love classic Hollywood movies,” Tim says. “The Hollywood era with Greta Garbo, Fred Astair, Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn is just classy and distinguished. We strive to add that vibe to our showroom for a wonderful way to give our customers a cool experience you would not get anywhere else.”

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In 2019, they designed their expanded store around the concept of what Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers would look like if they were a jewelry store, which resulted in a “Wine and Shine” chandelier bar, a marble “dance” floor and framed photos of Hollywood stars, including Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn. “It’s a classy look you just don’t see anymore,” Tim says of the space. “If I visualize what luxury is, I think of those old movies. Everyone is wearing a three-piece suit and they can tap dance and have a hat and a cane.”

Most recently, while growing their estate jewelry business, the Ells began to incorporate items previously owned by celebrities into their estate case, including earrings worn by Janet Jackson and a necklace that was Frank Sinatra’s. All items come with documentation and provenance and are sourced at celebrity auctions in Hollywood.

Tim and Sharon Ell

Tim and Sharon Ell

“This is similar to how some estate trunk-show dealers that we have worked with have incorporated celebrity owned items in with the estate jewelry to get people excited to attend the trunk shows,” Tim says. “Because it is such a draw, that led us to this idea where throughout the year we will show things we own in our private collection, and also have some celebrity items for sale.” The couple have a private collection of memorabilia that they intend to display throughout the year as well as rotating in new items as they acquire them.

Of the jewelry items on display, one ensemble was owned and worn by Elizabeth Taylor. Another necklace was at the center of a plot in a 1951 movie starring Greer Garson, in which she plays the main character who plots to steal a big diamond necklace.

That idea goes beyond jewelry, to include a gown designed by Edith Head and worn by Elizabeth Taylor onscreen, and jewelry owned by her personally, as well as a gown made for Cher by designer Bob Mackie.

“Our customers are losing their minds!” Tim says. “They think it’s super cool. This gets new faces in and gets them talking about our store to their friends. They take selfies next to the dresses, share posts on Facebook, they’re asking what’s coming next. We’re a smaller city in North Dakota and we don’t get celebrities who come up and visit.”

North Dakota Couple Infuse Jewelry Store with Glamour

The luxury vibe overall is unique for Bismarck (pop. 80,000) in a state with a population of just 700,000.

“Unless my customers go on vacation, they don’t get these experiences,” Tim says. “It’s something different. We want to give them the kind of an experience they could find on the strip in Las Vegas visiting a jewelry store, or New York or LA.

“Everything is branded to give them in the middle of nowhere this crazy cool different experience. Showcasing celebrity owned vintage gowns ties in, it’s a little bit of a cherry on top. We love it and it’s genuine, so it works.”

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