What can you say about a man who is celebrating 60 years in the fine jewelry business, 51 years of marriage, and a weekly appointment at the Apple Store every Tuesday to keep up with the latest technology? Only one thing… Amazing! 77-year-old Ben Gordon can teach each one of us a thing or two about passion, happiness and success, all with a smile on his face.
Ben Gordon, Master Graduate Gemologist and Appraiser, recently hit a milestone of service to the fine jewelry industry that few achieve – 60 years. Called the “Jewelry Judge” by his Houston, TX community, Ben’s knowledge, experience and longevity give him a credibility that draws customers like honey to a bee. One quick Google search and you’re overwhelmed with the online reviews:
“I absolutely recommend Ben Gordon. He is an expert at what he does and is truly passionate about jewelry. The fact that I was present when he was evaluating my ring was just amazing, No tricks, no lies! Present and looking at the whole process. Truly a great place for jewelry appraisal.”
“I went in with a bunch of estate stuff (basically didn’t know what I had) and Ben went through all of it and efficiently separated the things with value from the trash. He treated every piece like it belonged with the crown jewels. The customer service is over the top. Would definitely go back in the future.”
“I must commend you and your entire staff for the positive experience I had with your company. Being unfamiliar with jewelry values made my position as Conservator and Administrator of Estates a confusing and often difficult one ... I came to your office as a complete novice and you took the time to show me the process you undertake to appraise jewelry. You patiently answered my questions without making me feel that I was wasting your time.”
Starting at 17 as a jewelry runner in New York’s Diamond District helped Ben build his mental library of styles, cuts and metals. It was in the streets of New York that he developed a passion for the beauty of fine jewelry that carries over into his appraisal business today.
Ben earned his MBA from New York University and his Graduate Gemologist certification from Gemological Institute of America, before accepting a job in Houston, TX with Gordon Jewelers (no family relation to Ben).
“Gordon Jewelry needed someone to set them up in manufacturing in Houston,” recalls Ben. “I didn’t even know where Houston was, but Linda and I were ready to leave the subway strikes and blackouts behind and move to Texas.”
For 11 years Ben worked for Gordon’s, rising through the ranks to become vice president of merchandising. That’s when he decided to go into business for himself.
“So many people asked me where to go for an appraisal that I knew there was a need for it in Houston. Linda and I decided to jump into owning our own business. We took a gamble and it paid off.”
Ben started out bucking the norm. When most appraisers were employed by a retailer, Ben went independent. While most appraisers used excessively general terms to evaluate jewelry, Ben embraced GIA standards. When most appraisers inflated appraisal pricing to earn the future business of a customer, Ben shot straight from the hip on money and value.
“I decided early on that I couldn’t buy or sell jewelry and be viewed as an objective appraiser. I wanted to offer honest, valuable, historical information about the jewelry I appraised. I tell them when it’s made, what type of style it is, when the diamond was cut and the value.”
Ben offers three categories of appraisals: Insurance, Estate and Market Value Reports. Insurance appraisals provide customers with a new replacement value of their piece. Estate appraisals give the fair market value while Market Value is the actual price value between buyer and seller. All appraisals are done by appointment, with Ben sitting beside the customer explaining what he’s doing, why he’s doing it and what information can be gathered by doing it.
“I’m really a jewelry detective or treasure hunter who separates the good stuff from the junk,” laughs Ben. “I am the short stop between the buyer and the seller and we have to earn the trust of our customers. People want an appraiser who is independent. I give recommendations, but I stay above the crowd. That’s why they trust me.”
Well, that and the fact he’s so darn charming with his Brooklyn accent and enthusiastic personality. Ben believes his Brooklyn accent gives him distinction, especially when he’s on local radio talk shows.
When asked about retirement he was quick with his response: “I’ve worked 6 days a week for 60 years. What would I do if I retired? Watch the grass grow?”