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Last updateTue, 03 May 2016 11pm
Morganite: The modern face of jewelry

Morganite: The modern face of jewelry

Trends come and go as quickly as the seasons. Much...

JA fights for jewelers on Capitol Hill

JA fights for jewelers on Capitol Hill

Association continues to promote industry policy p...

Retailer Roundtable: How do you manage your store’s social media?

Retailer Roundtable: How do you manage your store’s social media?

Q: How do you manage your store’s social media?

“We...

Retailer Roundtable: What was your best store promotion?

Retailer Roundtable: What was your best store promotion?

Q: What was your best store promotion?

“For a numbe...

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Staged kidnapping ploy to rob jeweler results in two deaths

Staged kidnapping ploy to rob jeweler results in two deaths

LAS VEGAS (KSNV News3LV) — Henderson police say a Las Vegas man was arrested Tuesday morning in connection with the double homicide of two men.

38-year-old Brian Kleynen was arrested at his Las Vegas apartment and taken into custody without incident j...

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Industry Events

Golden Triangle Shows announces new event in Kansas City

Golden Triangle Shows announces new event in Kansas City

The Golden Triangle Show, organizers and managers of regional business to business trade shows, has announced it is opening a new market in Kansas City, Missouri. To be held September 24-26 at the KCI Expo Center, the new show “is geared to serve the...

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On The Move

ASHI Diamonds appoints Ash Shah, CG, as Director of Business Development

ASHI Diamonds appoints Ash Shah, CG, as Director of Business Development

(NEW YORK) - ASHI Diamonds is pleased to announce the addition of Ash Shah, CG, as their Director of Business Development. Ash’s appointment is part of ASHI’s marketing and expansion strategy that will enable it to better serve the independent jeweler...

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What's New

JVC releases “Getting It Right JVC’s Guide to Quality Programs for Jewelers”

(NEW YORK) - JVC has announced the publication of its latest guide - “Getting It Right – JVC’s Guide to Quality Programs for Jewelers” - published with a generous grant from International Gemological Institute (IGI).

The latest publication from the JVC...

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Featured Articles

Revering a retiring patriarch, new generation at Ohio’s Leo Alfred Jewelers embraces simple recipe for success

Revering a retiring patriarch, new generation at Ohio’s Leo Alfred Jewelers embraces simple recipe for success

What makes Leo Alfred Jewelers in Dublin, Ohio, a special place? It’s a poignant subject these days. Tom Laudick, who has been in the jewelry industry for much of his life, retires this year but leaves an indelible mark on the next generation.

“Every ...

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Latest News

Staged kidnapping ploy to rob jeweler results in two deaths

7 HOURS AGO
Staged kidnapping ploy to rob jeweler results in two deaths

LAS VEGAS (KSNV News3LV) — Henderson police say a Las Vegas man was arrested Tuesday morning in connection with the double homicide of two men.

38-year-old Brian Kleynen was arrested at his Las Vegas apartment and taken into custody without incident just before noon.

The homicide happened on April 12 ...

Readmore

JA fights for jewelers on Capitol Hill

8 HOURS AGO
JA fights for jewelers on Capitol Hill

Association continues to promote industry policy positions through meetings, fund raisers and other activities

(NEW YORK) - Jewelers of America (JA), the national trade association for businesses serving the fine jewelry marketplace, has ramped up advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C. Recent activities...

Readmore

Golden Triangle Shows announces new event in Kansas City

7 HOURS AGO
Golden Triangle Shows announces new event in Kansas City

The Golden Triangle Show, organizers and managers of regional business to business trade shows, has announced it is opening a new market in Kansas City, Missouri. To be held September 24-26 at the KCI Expo Center, the new show “is geared to serve the greater multi state region,” says show director B...

Readmore

August Atlanta Jewelry Show to spotlight coming trends, new designs, preview 2017 Show enhancements

8 HOURS AGO
August Atlanta Jewelry Show to spotlight coming trends, new designs, preview 2017 Show enhancements

(ATLANTA) - When jewelers arrive for the August 6-8, 2016 Atlanta Jewelry Show at the Cobb Galleria, they’ll find a welcoming and enjoyable show experience that has defined the show throughout its history. Brand new resources, an easy-to-work floorplan, pre-show breakfast, AJS U educational offerings...

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ASHI Diamonds appoints Ash Shah, CG, as Director of Business Development

8 HOURS AGO
ASHI Diamonds appoints Ash Shah, CG, as Director of Business Development

(NEW YORK) - ASHI Diamonds is pleased to announce the addition of Ash Shah, CG, as their Director of Business Development. Ash’s appointment is part of ASHI’s marketing and expansion strategy that will enable it to better serve the independent jewelers in the United States.

Readmore

Cecilia Gardner’s role at JVC to change in 2017

3 DAYS AGO

(NEW YORK) - The Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC) has announced that Cecilia Gardner, CEO/President and General Counsel, has decided to step down from her role as CEO/President at the beginning of 2017, after the planned celebration of JVC’s 100th year.

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JVC releases “Getting It Right JVC’s Guide to Quality Programs for Jewelers”

3 DAYS AGO

(NEW YORK) - JVC has announced the publication of its latest guide - “Getting It Right – JVC’s Guide to Quality Programs for Jewelers” - published with a generous grant from International Gemological Institute (IGI).

The latest publication from the JVC provides simple and useable tools for all jeweler...

Readmore

TW Steel’s new Maverick Collection adds attitude to the sport heritage world

3 DAYS AGO
TW Steel’s new Maverick Collection adds attitude to the sport heritage world

TW Steel is shaking up Father Time in 2016, launching the adventurous Maverick Collection. Inspired by the ground-breaking Son of Time masterpiece, the Maverick Collection takes TW Steel’s bold attitude, blends in cool vintage styling and twists it all together to deliver a totally fresh take on tim...

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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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