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Restoration of Estate Pieces Helped This Seattle Jeweler Make Her Name

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Jeweler Lisa Esztergalyos

Lisa Esztergalyos Jeweler
Seattle, WA

Lisa Esztergalyos carefully studied the family heirloom ring a woman brought into her eponymous Seattle shop and gave the customer her most candid assessment: it would take a lot of restoration and several weeks, but she could get the ring ready for the woman to wear at her own wedding. As Esztergalyos recalls, the woman burst into tears — but she was weeping for joy because she’d finally found a jeweler who wasn’t turning her away.

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Be a Problem Solver

Most jewelers don’t have the interest or time to specialize in restoration, or they’ll try to sell the customer a new piece that merely recalls the original. But Esztergalyos loves to craft custom designs and restorations, especially for people who come in with bits and pieces of jewelry and aren’t sure what to do with them. “I love to solve problems,” she says.

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Be Respectful and Open

With less than 100 square feet tucked into the lobby of a downtown office building, Esztergalyos’ shop itself looks like a little jewelry box, with windows framed by heavy brocade drapes, a blue ceiling filled with golden stars and three comfy chairs setting a serene mood where jeweler and customer can share ideas.

Esztergalyos says she strives to offer “respectful jewelry advice,” and that means having respect both for the customer and any piece of jewelry that people bring in. She also remembers that most people don’t deal with jewelry often, so no question is silly.

Calling on her background as a graduate gemologist — as well as her degree in art history from the University of Washington — Esztergalyos is able to create original works that spark stories, such as a bold ring that incorporates architectural elements of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. 

Two mailings each year provide gentle reminders to restoration-minded clients: one in June for the store’s anniversary sale, and another each October offering 20 percent off on all repairs for the holidays.

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Winning New Fans

Although she opened in 2008 during the Great Recession, Esztergalyos says she inherited “113 years’ worth of goodwill” from generations of people who’d patronized Carroll’s Fine Jewelry, where she’d been manager before the landmark Seattle store closed that year. She continues to build on that reputation and win new fans, while keeping her business a manageable size. “I don’t want to grow to the point where it’s impersonal,” she says.

Restoring estate pieces has earned Esztergalyos a loyal client base.

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

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