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Underwood’s Fine Jewelers

Fayetteville, AR

WON: 2006, 1st place

 

Not many jewelry stores inhabit a building designed by a recognized master of America architecture, but Underwood’s does. E. Fay Jones, a one-time apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright and an American Institute of Architects Gold Medal winner, is the store’s designer. Nevertheless, since winning the America’s Coolest Store honor in 2006, Underwood’s has remodeled its interior and created an entrance on the store’s west side. Additionally, graduate gemologist Troy Underwood, representing the store’s third generation, joined the team in 2019. What makes the store cool, according to Laura Underwood, is this: “While we own an amazing historical building, we are innovators … pursuing our dreams and goals to be on the cutting edge of technology while providing our customers one-of-a-kind pieces, so unique just like our building.”

Karen Karch/Push

New York, NY

WON: 2002, May monthly feature; 2003, 1st place

 

Karen Karch has been designing jewelry since 1987, but when she was named one of America’s Coolest Stores in 2002 (and won INSTORE’s second contest in 2003), the store, then called Push, was fairly new, having opened in 1996 in a 160-year-old tenement building in the area north of Little Italy in New York City. Today, the store has a new name (Karen Karch) and a new location in Gramercy Park. “While our old location was a bit dark and maximal, the new store is light and minimal,” says Karch. “The space we are in is very textural with its color palette inspired by the desert Southwest.”

 

Karch says that she was very excited to be named a “Cool Store” all those years ago, but her new store is even more exciting for many reasons. “We wanted the entryway to be special, so we designed and commissioned cool custom ironwork and a magical mural by artist Bunny M,” says Karch. “Inside, we display a few images from our collaboration with the renowned Marilyn Minter. And the jewelry is all designed and made by us in our workshop behind the shop. Because we do so much custom design, our clients stay for quite a while.”
Karch is also happy to offer one amenity that many stores elsewhere around the country take for granted: a private restroom for customers, a big deal in New York City. “This is a luxury I really wanted to offer. In our old space, we had to send clients to the restaurant next door!”

Kesslers Diamond Center

Seven locations in Wisconsin

WON: 2006, March monthly feature; 2012, June monthly feature; 2017, September monthly feature

 

The coolest part about Kesslers Diamond Center is something that doesn’t really show up in photos of the store: its people. Every employee attends Kessler University prior to hitting the sales floor, and since the company is 100 percent employee-owned, everyone feels a sense of ownership.

 

“We have changed a lot since our first of three wins 14 years ago, but we’ve stayed true to our roots during some pivotal moves,” says Jim Bretzel, who’s worked at Kesslers for 22 years and is now director of brand management. “Our most impactful change was opening two new locations in 2015 and moving another store into a new location in 2016. Increasing from five to seven stores in one year had a huge impact! We also unveiled our ‘Kessler Newborn Diamonds’ (lab-created diamonds) during this same period. We strongly believe in having a variety of options for our clients, and this has been a big part of our business.”

 

The store also welcomed a new president, Joe Gehrke, in summer 2017. Founder and longtime CEO Richard Kessler left the company in late 2018. Says Bretzel: “This year, we are excited to celebrate 40 years in business and are still committed to offering our no-small-print lifetime warranty on every purchase, bottom-line pricing, and a superior buying experience with the largest selection of loose diamonds and mountings in the Midwest.”

The Goldsmith

Fond du Lac, WI

WON: 2016, March monthly feature

 

One of the most bright and colorful stores ever covered in the pages of INSTORE, The Goldsmith says that their most recent changes have been on the inside of the store, including new paint and display areas, as well as new flooring in the bench area. Desks have been converted to standups. The downtown area where The Goldsmith is located has also grown and thrived, with new opportunities for people to shop and dine near the store.

 

Owners Ron and Terri Emanuel say that being named one of America’s Coolest Jewelry Stores was an incredible honor, as small-town jewelers are struggling across the country (Fond du Lac is home to 40,000 people). The added publicity and interest has helped them to draw from nearby markets like Madison, Green Bay and Milwaukee.

Decatur City Jewelers

Decatur, GA

WON: 2002, 1st place.

Decatur City Jewelers has the distinction of winning first place in INSTORE’s inaugural America’s Coolest Jewelry Stores contest back in the magazine’s first year in publication, 2002. Owner Brett Weiler contributed a column to INSTORE this past January about what it’s meant to him and his store to be considered “cool”.

“I have always worn this badge very proudly,” says Weiler. “It is printed on my business cards.” On why his store is so cool, Weiler says it has a “chill factor.” He adds: “But also because, as badly as I want a customer’s money, I will NEVER make a bad sale just for the sake of making a sale.”

As to what’s changed in jewelry retailing since Decatur City Jewelers took first place? The Internet! “It has enabled the buying public’s brashness when it comes to wanting service, but not being willing to pay for it,” says Weiler.

Adeler Jewelers

Great Falls, VA

WON: 2013, 3rd place, Big Cool

 

A lot of stores say their store “feels like home,” but Adeler Jewelers really means it: The showroom features six separate seating areas, one complete with cast-iron insert fireplace. “We were so honored to be selected as one of America’s Coolest Stores because we truly LOVE our space and it is so exciting that others do, too,” says Wendy Adeler Hall, vice-president of marketing/philanthropy. “We worked really hard to make our space warm and welcoming.”

 

Regarding changes since 2013, Hall says the store has made huge advances in its website, particularly e-commerce. “This is exciting for us, as our pieces are all one-of-a-kind, and we love the fact that now people can shop from home.”

 

The store has also launched a wholesale brand called the Jorge Adeler Collection (after Hall’s father, who owns the store), which is carried by Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Marissa Collection, Reinhold’s, Cayen Collection, 4510 and other stores. The collection primarily focuses on authentic ancient coin pieces and unique gemstones, meteorites and pearls in reclaimed and recycled gold.

Yaf Sparkle

New York City, NY

WON: 2018, 3rd place, Small Cool.

Yaf Sparkle, one of our favorite Cool Stores ever, will be closing in the near future, says co-owner Torsten Flaegel. “No chance to survive in post-coronavirus, it was hard enough in downtown NYC.” As for what’s next, Flaegel says they will transition to an e-commerce offering.

“Let’s hope that the world has a place for small retail experiences again soon,” he adds.

Artful Eye Jewelry Design Center

Prescott, AZ

WON: 2014, 5th place, Small Cool

Winning the America’s Coolest Jewelry Store designation was “life-changing” for Sherrie and Dave Rabellino, says Sherrie.

“The biggest change has been in how we were able to brand our business. We use the title proudly in all our marketing and advertising, as well as in store signage. We tell EVERYONE we can what an honor it was to be named one of America’s Coolest Stores!”

Sherrie says the award was her “ultimate dream goal,” achieved after being in the jewelry business over 40 years. “Both our local and visiting customers are quite impressed that our small store in our small town has such an impressive title. It has given us an extra boost in credibility and assurance that they are in the right place to buy jewelry.

What makes Artful Eye so cool is that everything in the store is handmade by its talented staff: the front gate with a diamond on front, custom tile entry with a tiled diamond, quartz crystal door handles, custom made jewelry cases, handmade logo pulls on the wall cases, and many award winning pieces of handcrafted jewelry.

Says Sherrie: “We were truly honored and strive every day to live up to the title of America’s Coolest Jewelry Store!”

Zachary’s Jewelers

Annapolis, MD

WON: 2008, 1st place, Small Cool

Since 2008, Zachary’s has opened a second location with a manufacturing facility, where they have jewelers on site making jewelry and handling repairs. “We have added some amazing design specialists to our team who specialize in custom design renderings for our clients who want a unique setting or repurposing. We have also added quite a few key people on staff, including our merchandising and inventory specialists, chief financial and operating officers,” says Evangeline Ross, chief experience creator at Zachary’s. “We have a strong social media team and have many followers on Instagram and Facebook. We now have an omnichannel approach to our business with e-commerce, weekly blogs written by all of our team members to draw online traffic, virtual appointments, and a professionally produced weekly program where we sell product immediately. We also produce an annual client magazine in which we sell anywhere from 70-85% of the product featured.”

While closed during the pandemic, the team worked hard to stay “cool.” “We sent 20 graduation theme cakes to some of the clients we knew had sons and daughters graduating from high school and college during these times,” says Ross. “We had daily Zoom meetings to check in to make sure our team was okay. We even had drive-by birthday parties on three separate occasions.”

One of the coolest things that Zachary’s does is hold an annual Mother’s Day design contest where 5th graders for over 30 private and public elementary schools in the area submit a drawing of a piece of jewelry for their mom. Zachary’s then selects three winners and makes that piece of jewelry to give them to surprise their mom. Says Ross: “The very first winner 10 years ago is now our summer intern. She is very cool and wants to be part of our industry!”

Samuel Gordon Jewelers

Oklahoma City, OK

WON: featured in April 2002 edition.

Named one of America’s Coolest Jewelry Stores way back in April 2002 (our fourth month of publishing), Samuel Gordon was closed in 2015 after 111 years in continuous operation.

Legend Jewelers

San Angelo, TX

WON: 2002, June monthly feature; August winners edition

Legend Jewelers was custom before it was cool. Based in a 122-year-old building in San Angelo, Legend was one of the first stores we named a Cool Store back in 2002.

“We continue to grow,” says owner Mark Priest. “Our own in-house designs make up more of our inventory than ever. The exterior of the store was completely remodeled in 2014. The interior has been updated to include new lighting, displays and just the right amount of paint. We are careful to not cover up the fact that the building is 122 years old.”
Priest adds that the museum on the second floor of the building is a unique feature of his store. “Miss Hattie’s Bordello was the finest gentleman’s club west of the Colorado River. Today it is a museum telling a different angle on history from 1902 to 1952. The bordello was closed in 1952 by the Texas Rangers,” says Priest.

Saxon’s Fine Jewelers

Bend, OR
WON: 2007, 5th place

This creative store converted a 12,000 square-foot sawmill into a jewelry showplace (the jewelry store inhabits 3,785 square feet, while the rest of the building is other retail). This year, it celebrated its 36th anniversary, and a remodel is now being planned. “It was just such an honor to be recognized for our culture and commitment to exceptional work,” says Kati Magana of being named one of America’s Coolest Jewelry Stores. “We are so proud to be a part of our community here in Bend, Oregon, and we are glad that the world took notice.”

Heartwear Designs

Formerly in Birmingham, MI

WON: featured in December 2008 edition.

Five years ago, Heartwear Designs closed its brick-and-mortar store and now offers services online and by referral through a small space. “We had a new website created. The old site did not have a shopping cart, but this one does and it works!” says owner Marcy Feldman.

“Customers from years ago contact us. We even had someone from England find us on Google and she has purchased twice.”

Feldman says they loved being named one of America’s Coolest Jewlery Stores. “We used the photos from the SMART Show and the article in advertising. It made quite an impression to people.”

As for what her customers love: the personal service. “I am presently making a wedding band for a guy that looks like a wrench! (A $1,200 wrench.) People also appreciate quick service. Someone special ordered a pendant in rose gold Saturday night at 10 p.m. On Sunday, I took the wax to the caster and got it back the next day to clean and polish. She will have her piece within a week.”

Thom Duma Fine Jewelers

Warren, OH

WON: featured in April 2007 edition.

“So, what has changed since we were voted one of America’s coolest stores in 2007? WOW, everything!” says owner Thom Duma. “We added a new 500 square-foot Rolex environment, expanding the showroom. We also added new cases, flooring/carpet, paint, lighting, and glass tops, completing a major remodel of the store in 2019.”

Duma says it was an honor to be named one of America’s Coolest Jewelry Stores. “I think every time a customer walks in the door and comments on the environment or the experience, it makes me smile and know that it was worth building a store that turned out cool! Once voted America’s Coolest Store, it is like winning a championship one year, and then the pressure of defending and staying a champion is what drives me every year to make sure I have a cool store for my customers’ experience!”

As for what makes his store cool, it’s a “team effort,” says Duma. “It starts with a store design, materials, and building, but if it is only cool in look, I think it will wear off fast. The staff, the inventory, the external and internal marketing message, the merchandising, and all the little details make up a cool store!”

Jewelry Design Center

Spokane, WA

WON: 2006, August feature.

Though his father Doug Toone has since retired, Brian Toone continues to run the family’s dream store, “a monument to Northwestern frontier spirit,” as we wrote in INSTORE 14 years ago. “I would always read through the ‘Cool Store’ section of your magazine and admired the creativity of so many jewelers,” Brian says. “So when we were chosen as a Cool Store in 2006, it was an honor.”
Much has changed, as the store expanded again in 2013, bringing its total square footage to just under 17,000. A new digital sign was added on the street, as well as a new storefront sign. In 2016, Jewelry Design Center opened a second store about 140 miles away in the Tri-Cities area of Washington (Kennewick, Pasco and Richland). Says Brian of the evolution of the store: “There is nothing like the jewelry business! What a ride!”

Nancy and David Fine Jewels

Milburn, NJ

WON: featured in February 2010 edition.

Since Nancy And David Fine Jewels was voted one of America’s Coolest Jewelry Stores in 2010, the business has continued to flourish. The lounge has been remodeled, says owner David Stone. “It is now a second private selling area, which has become very useful with providing one-on-one personalized relationship building. We also have expanded our liquor & wine collection, which the men love the most.”
Additionally, the store changed its ceiling lighting from ceramic metal halide to LED, and its showcase lighting from fiber optics to the latest LED lighting. But their favorite addition is Rico, a mini-poodle who comes to work every day.

Since 2010, the Stones have opened another shop in their downtown, STYLE by Nancy And David. It offers a curated collection of woman’s clothing, accessories, and gift items. Having the two shops enables them to do effective cross marketing.

“Being named one of America’s Coolest Jewelry Stores was an honor then, and continues to be to this day,” says Stone. “We have the INSTORE article prominently displayed on in our shop.”

Belle Brooke/Rock + Feather

Santa Fe, NM

WON: 2018, 2nd place, Small Cool.

In just two years, Belle Brooke, which won second place in our Small Cool division in 2018, has moved into a new space and even changed the name of the business. Says owner Belle Brooke Barer: “A few months after the article was in print, I was approached by my across-the-street neighbor and asked if I would be interested in taking over his lease. Without blinking, I said ‘yes’! As much as we loved our funky little stable, it would have been a terrible business decision to turn down the opportunity. The new space has just as much character and history, except it has level floors, high ceilings, heating and cooling, a bathroom, and private parking — for only a small amount more per month! Because the jewelry I make and sell is high end and we complement it with exclusive works of art, the move to a more upscale location suits our needs better and attracts a more serious buyer. Most importantly, the new location is more than twice as many square feet, and I have been able to expand the workshop and add four student benches where I will teach semi-private workshops and community classes.”

“AND,” she continues, “I have been busy during the quarantine, if you can’t tell … I have actually renamed the gallery entirely to reflect that it is much more than just jewelry and a little bit of art. So, the new name of the gallery is Rock + Feather, and it features the Belle Brooke jewelry collection, with our workshop on premises. The gallery is now its own entity and has its own separate website.”

Barer says the store is “still cool for all the original reasons: a beautiful historic building on Canyon Road, the mystique of Santa Fe and the Southwest, and that we have our workshop on the premises. Also, I happen to think the inventory is also special; I have worked hard to imbue my collection with the spirit of handmade craftsmanship, and to make each piece a meaningful expression of this concept. As a gallery curator, I represent a cohesive group of artist works that all have a similar aesthetic and theme. The pieces work well with each other and in some cases play off of each other.”

The Richter & Phillips Co.

Cincinnati, OH

WON: featured in November 2017 edition.

Over the past three years since being named one of America’s Coolest Jewelry Stores, The Richter & Phillips Co. stays cool through events, both their own and those of charities held in their shop. Says vice-president Eric Fehr: “One thing in particular that has been cool are organizations that ask to host special events at our shop, be it charitable fundraisers (Cincy Chic’s Glitter for Good, Stepping Stones Christmas Fundraiser, Impact 100’s Princess Day, JDRF Night) or fun, group gatherings (Cincinnati Opera’s ‘Love on the Rocks’ Opera experience, Red Bar/ AWCI Build a Watch, Cincinnati Bloggers Blogger Brunch, Ultimate Air Christmas Party). We are increasingly becoming known as a unique place to host gatherings.” The store has also started renovations of its walk-in vault, which will have a bar, couches, and enhance the customer experience — this should be complete by the end of 2020.

Behr says he feels the store is cool because customers turn into friends very easily. “They meet with an associate and inevitably develop a close relationship that grows over the years. I notice a lot of the same guests at our events. I’m finding they continuously come to our fun events because they feel comfortable, like they are one of the family here!”

Revolution Jewelry Works

Colorado Springs, CO

WON: featured in September 2016 edition.

As “revolutionary” as this store was in 2016, it continue to raise the bar on jewelry retailing. Last year (2019), it expanded its studio space from 1,274 square feet to over 4,000. In 2020, the store purchased the entire building where it is located. “We have been recognized as one of the fastest growing companies in Colorado and continue to win local awards for being among the best jewelry stores in our region,” says owner Jennifer Farnes.

Being named one of America’s Coolest Jewelry Stores had a lot to do with its success, she adds. “It put us on the map as a reputable retailer and helped created new legitimacy for our young business in the jewelry industry.  It has been easier to access new vendors since the accolade because they can look up who we are and see what a juggernaut we have become.

“Above all: my team is the COOLEST!  I really have a crew of super-troopers who love this culture we have created together, and we work as a group to celebrate successes.  Because of their dedication, we have been able to afford the expansion and growth required to stay relevant.”

Art + Soul

Boulder, CO

WON: 2011 July monthly feature.

Debbie Klein opened her dream jewelry store, Art + Soul, in 2000, was named one of America’s Coolest Jewelry Stores in 2011, and relocated into a smaller space up the street in 2018 in order to focus more closely on jewelry. This year, the store celebrates its 20th anniversary.

“It was (and is) such an honor to receive national recognition from a respected source in our industry,” says Klein of her Cool Store award. “It validates that you are doing something right and encourages you to continue to move forward in the same direction.” Klein credits her extensive roster of designers for her store’s coolness, as well as she and her team presenting the artists’ work to customers in a way that they can see themselves living in the jewelry. “We are definitely a denim and diamonds kind of store, and our casual community really responds to that attitude.”

Sami Fine Jewelry

Fountain Hills, AZ

WON: 2004, November monthly feature; 2008, 4th place, Small Cool

When Sami Fine Jewelry was named one of America’s Coolest Stores in 2004 and again in 2008, it was run by founder Sami Jack, but she has since passed the reins to her daughter, Stephenie Bjorkman. “We are not your typical jewelry store,” says Bjorkman, who grew up in the jewelry business. “We have a very fun environment, which includes adorable dogs that come to work every day, staff that dresses up to themes monthly, and our environment is relaxed.”

Bjorkman says the store has promoted its status as one of America’s Coolest for the past 12 years. But during the pandemic, things have taken a turn into the fantastical. Says Bjorkman: “Our current theme is UNICORNIA.  For the month of July, the entire store is covered in unicorns. We decided that we needed a break from the real world.”

Daniel Diamonds

Evergreen, CO

WON: 2011, October monthly feature.

The “Daniel” behind Daniel Diamonds, Danny Alkayam, has retired since the store was named one of America’s Coolest in 2011, but his wife Karen and daughter Kellie are running the show now. “We have been putting more energy into becoming an online presence through social media, as well as an upcoming revamp of the online store, which has been going well,” says Kellie. On being one of America’s Coolest Stores, she says, “It gives us some street cred! When we were first named a Cool Store, we got a lot of calls from fellow jeweler friends congratulating us, and a lot of our vendors mentioned it at the shows. It was such an honor!”

Despite operating out of a sleek, modern store nestled in the foothills between Denver and Boulder, Kellie says it’s her team that makes Daniel Diamonds so cool. “Without our people, our store is nothing, and we all work together so well, and have such a rapport with our clients, that’s what keeps people coming back.”

Gary Michaels Fine Jewelry

Manalapan, NJ

WON: 2004, fourth-place (tie); March monthly feature.

In October 1998, Gary and Michael Littman’s family decided to sell their group of over 130 stores — one of the country’s biggest chains, Littman Jewelers. Loving the jewelry business and seeking a new challenge, the two cousins decided to open their own store, Gary Michaels. Over the 16 years since being named one of America’s Coolest Stores, Michael says the store’s design and vibe has stayed the same, which was their intent when they designed it. “Cool and hip modern luxury with beautiful millwork and steel accents have kept our visual aesthetic current. We have updated our lighting to LED, which really made our diamonds pop like they should, and added a gorgeous Cartier Espace, which took a lower traffic portion of our store and made it important.” Littman says they’ve made other alterations to improve visibility of certain items based on traffic flow, and that, like many during the pandemic, the staff wears masks. “We feel our large open space is conducive to shopping in a pandemic,” he says.

As for being named one of America’s Coolest Jewelry Stores? “We hang our hat on that award,” says Michael. “It vindicates our original vision and has given us credibility with brands we look to partnership with. I remember when the feature came out, Mr. Takahashi (famed Mikimoto COO) was in our store. He agreed with the article and told us our store was top five of the most gorgeous cool stores in the world. Really it’s a source of great pride for us.” It’s so cool, in fact, that Michael believes The Fonz (from Happy Days) would definitely shop at Gary Michaels.

Mora Contemporary Jewelry

Asheville, NC

WON: 2013, 5th place, Small Cool.

What’s changed since 2013? “It would be easier (and shorter) to answer what hasn’t changed?” says owner Marthe Le Van. “We began as a business partnership representing only one jeweler with the idea of being a flagship store. Now, Mora is solely owned and represents 40 jewelers from the US and abroad. The variety of jewelry we offer has expanded, too, with a dynamic lineup of fine jewelers sitting right alongside the best in art jewelry. All this growth and change has necessitated a larger team and major interior renovations along the way. We also have a master, in-house jeweler now which allows us to offer services we never imagined we would, such as custom designs, restoration, and repairs. In the past eight years, Mora has really grown up and found its unique point-of-view and place in the jewelry world.”
Le Van and her team were proud to be named one of America’s Coolest Stores in the year after the store opened. “Being named a small, cool store also validated that there was a place for nontraditional jewelry galleries within the more traditional jewelry industry,” she says. “I’m committed to building bridges between the different segments of our field to build a stronger community for the future. Being recognized by INSTORE was a powerful first step.”

Feldmar Watch Company

Los Angeles, CA

WON: 2014, 4th place, Big Cool.

Sadly, the biggest change to Feldmar Watch Company since participating in the Cool Stores contest back in 2014 is the loss of Sol Meller, father of current president Scott Meller, to pancreatic cancer. Scott, who represents the fourth generation in the store, says, “Although his departure has left a huge void for our customers, vendors and employees alike, we have been able to keep his energy, spirit and memory alive by caring on his tradition of providing excellent customer service while having fun and enjoying what we do at Feldmar. The annual Sol Meller Memorial Blood Drive will hold its 4th edition on November 30th of this year.”

Feldmar was named one of America’s Coolest shortly after completing a major renovation of its flagship store, a project that began in 2010 and wasn’t completed until 2013. “I know my father was extremely proud of the results, and I am very pleased that he was able to celebrate the success of our efforts during our grand re-opening and winning a position among INSTORE’s America’s Coolest Stores in 2014,” Scott says. “As his passing in 2015 was rather sudden, the timing of earning this award was one of the last business celebrations we had together. It is for this reason I cherish this award so much.”

Six years later, the store is still cool. “We still use our ‘restaurant’ style bar as part of our showroom as a centerpiece to host events, as well as a place for our clients to sit back and relax with a coffee or a cocktail and talk timepieces with our associates on the daily,” Scott says.

Tapper’s Diamonds & Fine Jewelry

Troy, West Bloomfield, and Novi, MI

WON: 2018, 2nd place (Troy location), Big Cool; 2007, 9th place (West Bloomfield location).

Tapper’s was named one of America’s Coolest for the second time in 2018 in its Troy location after winning the first time in 2007 for its West Bloomfield location. “Our hospitality, service, products (of course), and cool space make us the premier jewelry and timepiece destination in Metro-Detroit,” says vice-president of marketing Erica Kommer. She adds that it was a huge honor to be named as one of America’s Coolest again and “be recognized for all of the work and efforts that we put into making our space cool. From the big screen TV, the bar, root beer floats, décor, and product displays, every detail was thoughtfully planned to give our guests the best possible experience when they shop with us. We want Tapper’s to be a place that our guests enjoy coming back to time and time again and a space that makes everyone feel welcome.”

De Boulle

Dallas and Houston, TX

WON: 2016, 1st place (Houston location), Big Cool; 2002, January monthly feature.

De Boulle’s original Dallas location was the first store ever covered as a “Cool Store” in the pages of INSTORE, making the grade in our very first issue in January 2002.

Fourteen years later, the company’s new location in Houston won the Big Cool division. “Not much has changed inside the store,” says Josh Garcia, director of creative and marketing. “We have worked on developing visual merchandising that we update several times a year.” Garcia adds that being named America’s Coolest Store was an “awesome achievement.” He adds: “It means so much to recognized by the industry and the esteemed judging panel. The store is so cool that we updated our Dallas store with many of the same design aesthetics and colors.”

Cornell’s Jewelers

Rochester, NY

WON: 2010, 2nd place, Big Cool.

At the height of Cornell’s store reconstruction project in 2009, the economy collapsed. Despite the recession, owners David and Olivia Cornell moved forward and finished the project, and the following year, were named one of America’s Coolest Jewelry Stores. “We were thrilled to be recognized in what was a difficult time in our company’s history,” says Olivia, the company’s president. “There are so many beautiful jewelry stores across the country, and to be chosen as a finalist is truly an honor.”

Since 2010, David Cornell’s son, Michael, joined the business after earning his graduate gemology degree and working in New York City. “It is very ‘COOL’ to go to work every day with your husband and stepson,” Olivia says. “Some people say, ‘How do you do work with family every day?’ We wouldn’t have it any other way. We all have our different strengths.”

In January 2019, Cornell’s revamped the front of its building with new awnings and shutters. The biggest challenge was getting town approval for the logos on the awnings, says Olivia. E-commerce and social media are also big parts of the store’s business model today. “We think our store is cool — not only for the ambience, but also our culture. We have celebrations throughout the year, but Christmas Eve breakfast with our staff is the best!”

Past America’s Coolest Honorees: Where Are They Now?

Past America’s Coolest Honorees: Where Are They Now?

Underwood’s Fine Jewelers

Fayetteville, AR

WON: 2006, 1st place

 

Not many jewelry stores inhabit a building designed by a recognized master of America architecture, but Underwood’s does. E. Fay Jones, a one-time apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright and an American Institute of Architects Gold Medal winner, is the store’s designer. Nevertheless, since winning the America’s Coolest Store honor in 2006, Underwood’s has remodeled its interior and created an entrance on the store’s west side. Additionally, graduate gemologist Troy Underwood, representing the store’s third generation, joined the team in 2019. What makes the store cool, according to Laura Underwood, is this: “While we own an amazing historical building, we are innovators … pursuing our dreams and goals to be on the cutting edge of technology while providing our customers one-of-a-kind pieces, so unique just like our building.”