02202018Tue
Last updateTue, 13 Feb 2018 11pm
Travis Piper, the $1 Million Man

Travis Piper, the $1 Million Man

In 1997, Travis Piper went off to college with an ...

Libby Brown, the perfect fit to lead the Atlanta Jewelry Show

Libby Brown, the perfect fit to lead the Atlanta Jewelry Show

My mom always said, “Raise a child in the way he s...

Southern Gates® Jewelry launches exclusive collection with Biltmore®

Southern Gates® Jewelry launches exclusive collection with Biltmore®

(CHARLESTON, S.C.) - Jewelry design and wholesale f...

Retailer Roundtable: What is your business outlook for 2018?

Retailer Roundtable: What is your business outlook for 2018?

“Based on our December 2017 sales, which were up 2...

Parker’s Karat Patch carves out big local niche

Parker’s Karat Patch carves out big local niche

It was an unlikely career for Kristin and Terrence...

Other News

Thief in NYC gold bucket heist tells of escape to Ecuador

Thief in NYC gold bucket heist tells of escape to Ecuador

It was broad daylight in midtown Manhattan when Julio Nivelo spied the prime opportunity of his decades-long career in crime – the Super Bowl, as he called it, of get-rich-quick heists. A large black pail sat in the back of an armored truck, unmonito...

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Industry Events

Jewelers for Children announces annual Rings of Strength

Jewelers for Children announces annual Rings of Strength

The annual Jewelers for Children Rings of Strength will be held on Thursday, May 31, at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The very popular event includes options for a 5K walk or run, a challenging bike ride in the scenic foothills of Red ...

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On The Move

Wilkerson and CH Hakimi join the Plumb Club

Wilkerson and CH Hakimi join the Plumb Club

The Plumb Club is pleased to announce the addition of two new members: Wilkerson and CH Hakimi.  These two companies will complement the Association’s nearly 50 members, representing over 100 brands and will join the other important and leading compa...

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What's New

Kelly Waters launches fashion jewelry line inspired by Italian design

Kelly Waters launches fashion jewelry line inspired by Italian design

Bella Cavo Collection to debut at Jewelers Summit and Atlanta Jewelry Show

(BOSTON) - Kelly Waters, an industry-leading manufacturer of high quality fashion jewelry, has recently launched a new collection inspired by Italian fashion and design. The Bel...

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Featured Articles

Latest News

Thief in NYC gold bucket heist tells of escape to Ecuador

6 DAYS AGO
Thief in NYC gold bucket heist tells of escape to Ecuador

It was broad daylight in midtown Manhattan when Julio Nivelo spied the prime opportunity of his decades-long career in crime – the Super Bowl, as he called it, of get-rich-quick heists. A large black pail sat in the back of an armored truck, unmonitored, as oblivious New Yorkers hurried past, its tw...

Readmore

24K Club SEUS accepting applications for 2018 scholarships

6 DAYS AGO
24K Club SEUS accepting applications for 2018 scholarships

The 24 Karat Club Southeastern United States (SEUS) is pleased to announce that applications are currently being accepted for multiple scholarships. Individuals employed in the jewelry industry for a minimum of 2 years, currently working in the industry and holding residence in the following states ...

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Jewelers for Children announces annual Rings of Strength

6 DAYS AGO
Jewelers for Children announces annual Rings of Strength

The annual Jewelers for Children Rings of Strength will be held on Thursday, May 31, at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The very popular event includes options for a 5K walk or run, a challenging bike ride in the scenic foothills of Red Rock Valley, or a less strenuous, street level bik...

Readmore

American Gem Trade Association GemFair™ Tucson 2018 increases buyer company attendance by 10%

11 DAYS AGO
American Gem Trade Association GemFair™ Tucson 2018 increases buyer company attendance by 10%

(TUCSON, Ariz.) - The 36th edition of the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) GemFair™ Tucson 2018, held annually at the Tucson Convention Center, came to a close on Sunday, February 4. AGTA reported an increase in buyer company attendance by 10%, representing over 90 countries, who flocked to expl...

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Wilkerson and CH Hakimi join the Plumb Club

13 DAYS AGO
Wilkerson and CH Hakimi join the Plumb Club

The Plumb Club is pleased to announce the addition of two new members: Wilkerson and CH Hakimi.  These two companies will complement the Association’s nearly 50 members, representing over 100 brands and will join the other important and leading companies that exhibit in the Plumb Club Pavilion at th...

Readmore

ASHI announces winner for latest Lovebright Sweepstakes

20 DAYS AGO
ASHI announces winner for latest Lovebright Sweepstakes

(NEW YORK) - ASHI Diamonds has announced the winner of their Lovebright Sweepstakes. Among all the retailers that participated in the Sweepstakes, Bohland Jewelers from Ashland, Ohio had the highest number of participant entries and the winner was randomly selected from their customer participation l...

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Kelly Waters launches fashion jewelry line inspired by Italian design

6 DAYS AGO
Kelly Waters launches fashion jewelry line inspired by Italian design

Bella Cavo Collection to debut at Jewelers Summit and Atlanta Jewelry Show

(BOSTON) - Kelly Waters, an industry-leading manufacturer of high quality fashion jewelry, has recently launched a new collection inspired by Italian fashion and design. The Bella Cavo Collection - which takes its name from the...

Readmore

Revolutionary new eLUXE3D scanner unveiled

13 DAYS AGO
Revolutionary new eLUXE3D scanner unveiled

Traditional 3D scanning technology was no match for detail-rich pieces that the jewelry industry demands. It was time consuming and didn’t provide accurate and timely data that is required for the modern jewelry CAD designer. 

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Furry friends on the job: Ned from Southern and Mid-America Jewelry News

6 DAYS AGO
Furry friends on the job: Ned from Southern and Mid-America Jewelry News

Say hello to Ned. He is the 3-year-old Australian Shepherd of Chris Smith, publisher of Southern and Mid-America Jewelry News . While Ned drops in at the office from time to time, he generally works from home. We’d love to have Ned come in every day, but we’ve already got a full time office dog here (Ho...

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Furry friends on the job: Kujo at Jewels and More in Youngstown, Ohio

13 DAYS AGO
Furry friends on the job: Kujo at Jewels and More in Youngstown, Ohio

This is Kujo. Kujo is a Chocolate Lab/Pit Bull mix that goes to work every day with his human Raj Ingle at Jewels and More in Youngstown, Ohio. Gentle and well-mannered, Kujo is adored by Raj and his customers. Some customers drop by the store in the morning to bring him breakfast, kids ask if he ca...

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The Marketing Minute: Trend Spotting

4 MONTHS AGO

Marketing specialist George Prout produces a weekly marketing advice video for retail jewelers, The Monday Morning Marketing Minute. He’s generously agreed to let us share them with our eWeekly readers.

 

Click here  to see more of George Prout’s The Marketing Minute

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Marketing Minute: Pricing Strategy

4 MONTHS AGO

Marketing specialist George Prout produces a weekly marketing advice video for retail jewelers, The Monday Morning Marketing Minute. He’s generously agreed to let us share them with our eWeekly readers.

 

Click here  to see more of George Prout’s The Marketing Minute

 

 

 

 

 

Readmore

Virginia jewelers’ passion lies in the beauty of the Bay

For Karen Burke, inspiration comes in waves - gentle, peaceful waves from the breathtaking waters that surround her home and family-owned coastal jewelry business.

Karen is the designer for Burke's Jewelers and its Bay-Gems Collection, which she operates with her husband Fred in the tiny, picturesque town of Kilmarnock, Va. It's an idyllic setting lying between the Chesapeake Bay and Rappahannock River.

 

Burke-couple-April"I just feel so privileged to be able to live here," says Karen. "It's a wonderful place. I find peace and comfort in the water that surrounds us. Even if you're not surrounded by water, everybody loves something about the water."

With that assumption in mind, a successful line of coastal designs was born when Karen and Fred moved into the family line of work after marrying in 1988. (image right: Karen & Fred Burke, owners of Burke's Jewelers in Kilmarnock, VA.)

This year, the family business celebrates its 40th year in Kilmarnock's historic downtown, offering a special "Lady of the Bay" series in its Mermaid collection. In all, the Bay-Gems collection comprises more than 200 pieces of pendants, bracelets, earrings and rings.

A Family Legacy
Fred's parents, Dorothy and Fred Burke, founded the business in August 1969, running the store a couple of doors down the street from where Burke's is now. They moved into the current location in 1977.

"When it started out it was just a tiny little store, maybe 600 square feet," Fred recalls. Now it's 2,000 square feet.

"I was only 12 when my parents bought the business," Fred says. "There were probably three, maybe four people working in the store, including my mother and father; now there are six of us, so we have doubled our employees and tripled our square footage."

The elder Burkes, who gradually faded themselves out of the business about seven years ago, were reselling other companies' jewelry, nothing nautical themed like today's featured pieces.

Fred and Karen say business has been good - good enough to warrant opening a second location, in Gloucester, Va., in 2005. That store has about 1,000 square feet and three employees.

The couple have no plans to expand to another store.

"We're trying to evolve our website, so we could count that as our third store," Karen says. "Fred and I do a lot of outside business as well. We have a lot of people ask us to bring our jewelry to different outdoor events - festivals, local art shows. We do really well at that."

Burkes-Product-April

Karen Burke gets inspiration for her Bay-Gems Collection from the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and Rappahannock River.

 

Elegant, Artistic & Whimsical
Fred gives his wife credit for developing the company's successful coastal theme.

"My favorite piece was my very first piece, our signature bracelet," Karen says. The bracelet features hand-linked nautical icons including a crab, sea turtle, flip-flops, oyster shells and clam shells. "It fits really nicely on the wrist, with icons that everyone can relate to as well," Karen says.

"My second favorite piece is an oyster shell necklace. In the bottom ridge of the oyster shell are inlaid diamonds. The piece is very, very elegant; it's very peaceful."

Other popular pieces include destination bracelets for Virginia, the Northern Neck, and the Chesapeake Bay.

"We're very particular about the quality of our merchandise," Karen says. "We try to sell middle and higher. We're more comfortable selling better goods, great quality. We're not numbers people."

Bay-Gems' pieces of sterling silver, 14-karat yellow gold and white gold can range from under $50 to several thousand dollars. While elegance and quality are the standards, the Burkes aren't afraid to add a dash of quirky charm. The jewelers sell a lot of pieces like whimsical sea nettle earrings.

"Before I did the earrings I did a sea nettle pendant, and her name was Nettie - I name a lot of the pieces I create!" Karen laughs.

"I never want to be like the guy down the street. I always want to stand out, and I think that's probably why we've been successful. We haven't tried to follow suit with anyone else - we try to be our own entity. And so far it's done OK."

Burke's values it's customers' individuality as well, offering to customize existing designs to suit a client's particular taste.

"A lot of times we'll add different stones or whatever," Karen says. "With the sea nettle, for example, we could do the body in yellow gold and the tentacles in white gold. I could sandblast or high-polish - there are lots of different things we could do with it. If someone wants to definitely make it theirs and theirs only, we can do that."

Burkes-Store-AprilCustomers Near & Far
Every piece in the store is handcrafted individually. "We do the design work, then we have a man who makes the jewelry in Massachusetts," Karen says. "We're really proud that it's made in the United States, and we always offer free shipping. We send our bracelets out all over the country." (image right: Burke's Jewelers has been serving Kilmarnock, VA for 40 years. They have been located in this location since 1977.)

But the Burkes' local clientele are the customers closest to their hearts. It's a close-knit community, and the jewelers are adamant about providing great quality and attentive, old-fashioned customer service.

"Our local customer base is wonderful," Karen says. "We really don't feel like they're our customers; they're our friends. We still do free gift wrap. We still write them a thank-you note whether they spend $5 with us or $5,000."

In Kilmarnock, with its 1,200 residents, "most everybody knows everybody else," Fred adds. "When you get involved in a charity or civic function you're working with people who are your friends. You go to church with your friends, to the grocery store with your friends . . . everybody knows everybody."

"We see a lot of townspeople wearing our jewelry," Fred adds. "There are a lot of second homes here, with people whose primary homes are in the Washington, D.C. suburbs or the Richmond area. We see weekend and summer people on a regular basis. They're not here on vacation; this is a second home. They keep their boat here, or they have family here.

"We're working with some third- or fourth-generation customers in some situations," he adds. "One generation might buy a 50th-anniversary gift and their great-grandson might be ordering his class ring."

And you can bet Karen and Fred know them by name.
"It's a fun place to shop, it really is," Karen says. "We try to make everybody feel at home and we just wow them with customer service."

And just like a creature of the sea washing to shore, those loyal customers keep coming back for more.
For more information about Burke's Jewelers and the Bay-Gems Collection, you can call (804) 435-1302, send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit www.bay-gems.com.

 


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