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Jewelers’ affidavit reduces selling scams

Jewelers’ affidavit reduces selling scams

More than six years ago, a former employee targete...

Sandy Jones jewelry career comes full circle

Sandy Jones jewelry career comes full circle

They say never burn a bridge you may need to cross...

Remembering Janel Russell, creator of Mother and Child Jewelry

Remembering Janel Russell, creator of Mother and Child Jewelry

Motherhood defined much of Janel Russell’s life, b...

Other News

Forbes reports trillions of dollars of gold contained in earth’s oceans

Forbes reports trillions of dollars of gold contained in earth’s oceans

Good luck getting it

In search of gold? Looking for the next gold rush? The oceans are a good place to look, however, it's not as easy as panning for gold.

Ocean waters around the world contain about 20 million tons of gold in them. When I say "in" tha...

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Industry Events

JIS RELOCATES 2017 OCTOBER SHOW TO FT. LAUDERDALE

JIS RELOCATES 2017 OCTOBER SHOW TO FT. LAUDERDALE

ANNOUNCE S $250,000 INVESTMENT TOWARDS CUSTOMER SUCCESS

Norwalk, CT (September 22, 2017) – Set to open in just over two weeks the JIS October 2017 Show will relocate to Ft. Lauderdale after receiving news from the Miami Beach Convention Center that it w...

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On The Move

Tom Cook Jeweler celebrates 125-year milestone

Tom Cook Jeweler celebrates 125-year milestone

Florida retailer announces 125 Days of Celebration

(DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.) – There are not many businesses in Daytona Beach, FL over 100 years old, let alone 125, but that’s what Tom Cook Jeweler is celebrating this year. The jewelry retailer has announc...

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What's New

ASHI introduces responsive version of I DO Collection micro-website

ASHI introduces responsive version of I DO Collection micro-website

Free micro-website designed to help you maximize bridal sales

(NEW YORK) - ASHI is delighted to announce the latest release of the responsive version of the I DO Collection Bridal Store micro-website. If you have an existing I DO Collection micro-websi...

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Featured Articles

Masters of Marketing - A century of sparkling insight - Part 3

Masters of Marketing - A century of sparkling insight - Part 3

Part III - Richter & Phillips, Cincinnati, OH

As W.C. Fields once famously said, “It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.”

Since its settlement in 1788, the city of Cincinnati has been called many things; “Queen City of the West,” the...

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Latest News

Forbes reports trillions of dollars of gold contained in earth’s oceans

3 DAYS AGO
Forbes reports trillions of dollars of gold contained in earth’s oceans

Good luck getting it

In search of gold? Looking for the next gold rush? The oceans are a good place to look, however, it's not as easy as panning for gold.

Ocean waters around the world contain about 20 million tons of gold in them. When I say "in" that is meant literally, there is gold in ocean water...

Readmore

Jewelers for Children announces 2017 Hope for the Holidays Program

3 DAYS AGO
Jewelers for Children announces 2017 Hope for the Holidays Program

Hallmark produces cards designed by Make-A-Wish® children  

Jewelers for Children (JFC), the industry’s charity, has unveiled their 2017 Hope for the Holidays program. The program includes holiday greeting cards produced by Hallmark from the designs of children representing Make-A-Wish® America. The p...

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JIS RELOCATES 2017 OCTOBER SHOW TO FT. LAUDERDALE

22 HOURS AGO
JIS RELOCATES 2017 OCTOBER SHOW TO FT. LAUDERDALE

ANNOUNCE S $250,000 INVESTMENT TOWARDS CUSTOMER SUCCESS

Norwalk, CT (September 22, 2017) – Set to open in just over two weeks the JIS October 2017 Show will relocate to Ft. Lauderdale after receiving news from the Miami Beach Convention Center that it would be unavailable to host the event due to statu...

Readmore

WJA Jewelry Night Out 2017 to host events in 25 cities on Sept. 14

17 DAYS AGO
WJA Jewelry Night Out 2017 to host events in 25 cities on Sept. 14

(POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y.) - The Women’s Jewelry Association (WJA) will host its fifth annual WJA Jewelry Night Out on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017. The festivities will kick off in the early evening in 25 cities throughout the United States: Atlanta, GA; Austin, TX; Birmingham, AL; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Da...

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Tom Cook Jeweler celebrates 125-year milestone

3 DAYS AGO
Tom Cook Jeweler celebrates 125-year milestone

Florida retailer announces 125 Days of Celebration

(DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.) – There are not many businesses in Daytona Beach, FL over 100 years old, let alone 125, but that’s what Tom Cook Jeweler is celebrating this year. The jewelry retailer has announced plans to recognize its milestone with 125 Days ...

Readmore

24 Karat Club SEUS announces new officers, board of directors

17 DAYS AGO
24 Karat Club SEUS announces new officers, board of directors

The 24 Karat Club Southeastern United States introduced their new officers and board of directors at their forty-third annual Banquet in August at the Atlanta Country Club. Leading the organization for the next two years are:

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ASHI introduces responsive version of I DO Collection micro-website

3 DAYS AGO
ASHI introduces responsive version of I DO Collection micro-website

Free micro-website designed to help you maximize bridal sales

(NEW YORK) - ASHI is delighted to announce the latest release of the responsive version of the I DO Collection Bridal Store micro-website. If you have an existing I DO Collection micro-website then the responsive update with new theme and o...

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Authentic Gem Imports new website offers instant prices, details, over 10,000 product pictures

10 DAYS AGO
Authentic Gem Imports new website offers instant prices, details, over 10,000 product pictures

With a new powerhouse website ( www.shopagi.com ) that offers a comprehensive search database of over 6,000 certified loose diamonds, calibrated melee, ear-studs, tennis bracelets, gemstones, pearls, semi-mounts and finished jewelry, Authentic Gem Imports (AGI) is ready to take the custom jewelry busi...

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Furry friends on the job: Waylon - Michael’s Jewelry in Fremont, Nebraska

3 DAYS AGO
Furry friends on the job: Waylon - Michael’s Jewelry in Fremont, Nebraska

This is Waylon the golden retriever. Every day Waylon gets to go to work at Michael’s Jewelry in Fremont, Nebraska.  He is less than a year old, and currently serving as an intern in the customer service department. Let’s all wish Waylon a long and fruitful career in the jewelry industry!

See all our...

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Furry friends on the job: Aggie - Gerberman Jewelers, El Campo, Texas

10 DAYS AGO
Furry friends on the job: Aggie - Gerberman Jewelers, El Campo, Texas

Meet Aggie the cocker spaniel. Aggie serves as the guard dog at Gerberman Jewelers in El Campo, Texas. She joins Ben Gerberman every day at Gerbermans where she also loves to greet all the customers and usually gets a belly rub from them! Both of Ben’s sons went to Texas A&M University - that ma...

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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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