Connect with us

If Logs Could Talk

Store in a cabin connects with customers from all over the world.

Published

on

J.C. Jewelers , Jackson Hole, WY

OWNERS: Jan and Jeter Case; URL:: www.jcjewelers.com ; FOUNDED: 1988; OPENED FEATURED LOCATION:1992; LAST RENOVATED: 2013; ARCHITECT: EK Reedy; EMPLOYEES: 2; AREA: 240 square foot showroom; 880 square feet total; TOP BRANDS: Jeter Case Designs, Precision Set, Dilamani; ONLINE PRESENCE: 59 Google reviews with 4.9 Star average; 1,763 Facebook followers; SHOWCASES: Panarisi Cabinetworks and Magpie Furniture


Owners Jan and Jeter Case

FOR JETER CASE, Jackson Hole, WY, which he first called home at age 12, is the perfect spot for life and work. While still in high school, he met his future wife, Jan, a Jackson Hole native, which certainly enhanced the town’s allure.

Then there’s the not insignificant fact that it’s the gateway town to the Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks, drawing 3 to 4 million visitors ever year. And although tourists do crowd into the tiny town all summer, Jeter enjoys the fact that he can be in the midst of the mayhem one minute and into remote mountain terrain just a few minutes later.

The couple, who own J.C. Jewelers, seriously considered staying on the West Coast after time spent studying with the GIA in Santa Monica, CA, but Jackson Hole is the kind of place you’re just drawn to, Jeter says. “I’ve left a couple of times with no intention of coming back and I always did. It’s a phenomenal place. We get to live in a small town and deal with and meet people from all over the world, with all sorts of cultures and diversity. I’ve got jewelry all over the globe because I do business in Jackson Hole.”

Advertisement

Like rustic Jackson Hole with its international tourist scene, cultural offerings and world-class shopping, J.C. Jewelers, the jewelry store they created in a log cabin, combines the Old West with the 21st century. Rustic logs back modern wood cases, displaying contemporary wearable sculptures. Their original interior designer called the look “Manhattan in a cabin.”

The couple — and their cabin — have a history that happened to converge.

Oil painter Archie Boyd Teater built the cabin himself in the late 1930s, using it as his studio as well as his home. As Jackson expanded, Teater, a man on the move, would prop the building up on logs and roll it to the next location. Now it’s a registered historic building.

That would be an interesting story in itself, but the tale doesn’t stop there.

When Jan was a little girl, she used to visit the cabin to view a portrait of her mother, Margene, which had been commissioned by Henry Fonda. Fonda met Margene when he came to town to film Spencer’s Mountain in the ‘60s. The portrait hung in the cabin for years.

Years later, when the quaint cabin sat vacant, Jan remembered the charming building fondly and she and Jeter realized it would be the perfect place for their store.

Advertisement

Jeter and Jan met in high school and their relationship with jewelry began early, too. When Jan was a senior in high school and working for a local custom goldsmith, Jeter fell in love with the goldsmith’s work.

“He was an incredible designer,” Jeter says. “I started playing with it as a hobby, and as time went by, I got to a situation where I could get into the business professionally and not starve to death in the process.”

Before they became business owners, Jeter studied manufacturing at GIA in Santa Monica and worked as a goldsmith. Jan is a GIA-certified gemologist appraiser, an amazing talent in her own right, and a sharp businessperson who keeps her husband’s artistic extremes in check, Jeter says. “You can make this stuff all day long, but if you can’t sell it, it’s not a business.”

When the Cases discovered their cabin, they refurbished it, keeping all of the original logs.

They’re used to hard work. Jeter “commuted” between Alaska and Jackson Hole, working on oil rigs to earn money to open their first jewelry store.

In 1988, they leased a space on the square in a corner of a friend’s clothing store and decided to jump in with both feet and see where it went, Jeter says, while he made the jewelry in their garage.

And when that artist’s cabin became available, they decided it would be the ideal venue, so they refurbished it, keeping all of the original logs and character. While the cabin’s original design was created in 1992, they’ve since redesigned the layout, which features floor and wall cases that leave the center of the space open for side-by-side selling. They also refresh it regularly with new paint, carpeting and lighting, including “outrageous” Italian lamps illuminating the corners and chandeliers hung in the center. Jeter meets with custom bridal clients now in the cozy back office over a maple and mahogany desk.

“It sounds odd, but it all works,” Jeter says. “Any time we want to make any changes, we call the designer we hired 25 years ago. She’s a phenomenal designer and the cabin is simple but elegant.” It also has heated floors, which visiting dogs find very appealing in winter; once they flop down on the floor, Jeter says, you pretty much have to drag them back out into the cold.

Advertisement

Living in Jackson Hole provides obvious inspiration, with Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks nearby. Jeter’s Teton jewelry collection, reflecting the iconic mountain range, is popular among locals and visitors. And while every jeweler in Jackson and other mountainous regions offers mountain jewelry, Jeter has taken a light, slightly abstract touch with his designs. “We try to make it more than just a souvenir,” he says. “You have to look at it a minute to see what’s going on. We try to keep it just vague enough.” And, in a nod to trends, they also offer stackable mountain rings.

As for summer, Jeter describes himself as a lizard, when it comes to climate preference. “I try to embrace the summer, enjoy it and appreciate it and not get the attitude that a lot of Jackson holders tend to get” when the height of tourist season rolls around again.

PHOTO GALLERY (13 IMAGES)

Five Cool Things About J.C. Jewelers

1. VIRTUAL SHOP. E-commerce is growing in importance. “When we started out with our website and social media, we saw it purely as marketing. As we move forward, it will become a bigger and bigger piece of our little business,” Jeter says. “People are starting to feel comfortable buying jewelry online. We’ve shipped to a dozen countries, easy. Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Thailand, Austria, Germany, Britain and Ireland. It’s an extensive list.”

2. WELCOMING THE WORLD. Three to 4 million people visit the area every year, and of those, about 1 million are from China. J.C. Jewelers has gone to great lengths to be hospitable and helpful, learning Mandarin phrases and labeling gemstones with translations, including words and phrases like “platinum” and “made in Jackson Hole.” They also use Google Translate to communicate with guests speaking languages other than English.

3. UP TO DATE. Jeter follows trends and fashion as closely as he can and notes that he’s designed a lot of Game Of Thrones style jewelry lately with rose-cut diamonds, textures and high-carat yellow gold. As far as technology, Jeter works on an auto CAD program and has a laser welder and a 3-D printer on hand, although he generally starts with a hand-drawn sketch. “We have a lot more young people moving into town, and so we’ve tried to stay as relevant as a couple of older people can do. I listen to my children — who are now 26 and 30 — when they talk.”

4. CUSTOM EXPERIENCE. The custom design process can be as involved as one would like, meeting frequently and seeing the step-by-step process of design: sketch, carved wax, 3-D rendering, and the final product. Jeter will try to accommodate any request, like a ring made to fit two different finger sizes so it could be worn on either hand. If they’re in Jackson Hole on vacation and want to commission a custom piece, Jeter gets the design ball rolling while they’re in the store and finishes up the project via email and shipping.

5. PALATES TO PALETTES. J.C. Jewelers is active in the Fall Arts Festival annual show called Palates to Palettes, a community event celebrating art and food. “We enjoy the variety of people that live in the valley: cowboys getting off the ranch wearing their boots and hats, CEOs on vacation getting to relax, skiers enjoying town while they wait for it to snow again,” Jeter says of the festival. One of their favorite themes for the festival was the Blues Fest. The couple displayed blue stones like sapphires, tanzanite, and aquamarine while guests enjoyed blues music from a live band and indulged in blue beverages. Last year, they donated a portion of the proceeds to Hole Food Rescue, a local nonprofit devoted to reducing food waste in their area.

JUDGES’ COMMENTS
  • Julie Ettinger: There is no store like this one. The exterior and the history behind this jewelry store is so fitting for Wyoming. I also love the history of this couple doing it together with each one having such unique talents and roles.
  • Julie Gotz: The store does an amazing job of embracing the Jackson Hole aesthetic and culture. I love the interior and exterior of the store, and I imagine that those visiting the store from out of town get a kick out of it.
  • Barbara Innamorati-Ross: Probably one of the most unique jewelry stores that exists, I love the fact that they are in an historic log cabin. This fits right in with the town of Jackson and emphasizes Jan and Jeter’s connection to the community’s heritage. Their selection of Teton as well as elk horn jewelry is beautiful and special and further promotes their authenticity as Jackson’s jewelers.
  • Hedda Schupak: Between the history of the building and its architecture, it is absolutely perfect for where it is. What I love about their story is how as young sweethearts knowing they were going into the jewelry business, they “divided and conquered” and Jeter went for goldsmithing and Jan went for gemology and they combined a cool aesthetic with being an AGS store.
  • Eric Zuckerman: I mean, who doesn’t love a log cabin? J.C. Jewelers is a perfect combination of a quaint exterior that fits perfectly in their environment, with a rustic yet elegant interior. They have made excellent use of their limited space, creating an environment that is intimate but not crowded.

 

Try This: Ask for Online Reviews

“If I’m dealing with someone and I do a custom wedding ring for them, at some point in the conversation I might say we’d love to have a Google review,” Jeter says. “We don’t try to influence that other than we try to do a good job. We work hard at what we do and customer service is the No. 1 thing.”

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

Advertisement

SPONSORED VIDEO

Wilkerson Testimonials

When Liquidation Is the Best Option, This Legendary Jeweler Chose Wilkerson

George Koueiter & Sons Jewelers, a 65-year old jewelry institution in Grosse Pointe, MI, had always been a mainstay in this suburban Detroit community. But when owners George and Paul Koueiter were ready to retire, they made the decision to close rather than sell. “We decided our best option to do the liquidation sale was Wilkerson,” says Paul Koueiter. The results, says George Koueiter, exceeded expectations and the process was easy. “Wilkerson just kept us in mind,” says George. “They never did anything without asking and whatever they asked us to do was just spot on.”

Promoted Headlines

Most Popular