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Patented Tulip Ring System Drives Business for Indiana Jeweler

Collectibles fit together like puzzle pieces.



Patented Tulip Ring System Drives Business for Indiana Jeweler
Todd Murray, inventor of the Tulip ring system, works with his two sons in the downtown Muncie, IN, store, which was founded in 1885.

IF TODD MURRAY, 72, had retired when he “should” have retired, he says, he never would have invented the collectible Tulip Collection, which now accounts for about a third of retail sales at Murray Jewelers in Muncie, IN.

The ring system, named for Indiana’s state tree, features a patented diamond shape that allows the rings to fit together like puzzle pieces. None of the rings slip and slide on the finger; nor do they need to be soldered together to work as a unit. He applied for a patent for his ring system in 2014 and received it in 2016.

“There are no moving parts,” he says. “It’s so simple. Your finger is what holds it in place. As long as your finger is inside, they won’t spin or come apart.”

Murray’s inspiration came in 2014 when he was tasked with making yet another ring jacket for a customer. “I’ve been in the business for 52 years and I thought to myself, `I don’t want to make another normal jacket.”

The innovation quickly paid off. The customer for whom the first ring was created has purchased 70 Tulip pieces since then. His average Tulip customer has bought at least three rings.

When a client buys a center ring or a center ring and a jacket, they receive a collection box. By the time they collect six jackets and six center rings they have 36 ring combinations. It’s a versatile option for either engagement or fashion rings. The center ring can be worn solo as well. “Since I have 100 different jackets out there on display, when I introduce one new center stone, I’ve introduced 100 new ring possibilities,” Murray says.


The high demand for the product “kind of snuck up” on him. “In 2016 I had five rings in stock, maybe six, and one young man came in, and bought them all and I was out of business,” he says. Now, the store manufactures enough to have 300 in stock.

“The cool thing is when they purchase a center ring or a jacket, when they walk out of the store they will already have put five or six more rings on their wish lists,” Murray says. “Then the husband can come in and buy from the wish list.”

It’s instilled confidence in guys shopping for their significant others. “Guys love it because now they can buy their wife something, and they’re good to go for a lot of birthdays and anniversaries.”

Patented Tulip Ring System Drives Business for Indiana Jeweler

For the 2023 Christmas season alone Murray and his team sold $140,000 worth; the annual average is $500,000. The 5-foot long, 10-square-foot showcase represents $50,000 in sales per square foot. When it comes to engagements, eight out of 10 of his customers choose to buy from the Tulip Collection.

“People look at it and their jaws kind of drop,” Murray says. “They’re blown away because they’ve never seen it before. It can be a simple solitaire that can be dropped into different jackets, or it can be a band with 21 little diamonds bead set, so they can have a more casual type of ring. They can switch around the colors, add yellow gold to a white collection for two-tone options.”


Seventy percent of what Murray Jewelers sells in the showroom is manufactured in the store, including the Tulip Collection, of which they sell two or three pieces a day. In addition to the Tulips, the store specializes in one-of-a-kind jewelry and repairs.

It’s increasingly easy to convert repair customers into big spenders.

“Every time a new customer walks in, a $15 battery replacement can turn into an $11,000 sale,” he says.

Advertising is primarily word of mouth, although Murray also purchases time on TV.

Despite the wild popularity of the Tulip locally, Murray hasn’t sold them online. Tulip seekers need to visit the store, which is open only Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the result of a decision the family made to improve their quality of life. Murray works with his wife Janie, and their two sons, Ryan and James, who represent the fifth generation. Total staff size is eight.

Murray’s, founded in 1885, is the last of eight independent jewelers remaining in downtown Muncie. Murray, a master watchmaker, apprenticed with his grandfather and continues to offer restoration of vintage pocket and wristwatches. His is the only store in central Indiana with an in-house watchmaker.


“Our customers are thrilled we are still open because so many other stores have closed,” he says. “Being open three days is not a sign of failure but a reflection of doing well and having a better quality of life.”

Although he isn’t interested in becoming a wholesaler, Murray would consider licensing the Tulip patent, which is good until 2036, to another jewelry company with a larger manufacturing capability.



This Third-Generation Jeweler Was Ready for Retirement. He Called Wilkerson

Retirement is never easy, especially when it means the end to a business that was founded in 1884. But for Laura and Sam Sipe, it was time to put their own needs first. They decided to close J.C. Sipe Jewelers, one of Indianapolis’ most trusted names in fine jewelry, and call Wilkerson. “Laura and I decided the conditions were right,” says Sam. Wilkerson handled every detail in their going-out-of-business sale, from marketing to manning the sales floor. “The main goal was to sell our existing inventory that’s all paid for and turn that into cash for our retirement,” says Sam. “It’s been very, very productive.” Would they recommend Wilkerson to other jewelers who want to enjoy their golden years? Absolutely! “Call Wilkerson,” says Laura. “They can help you achieve your goals so you’ll be able to move into retirement comfortably.”

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