Carol walked into David Self’s shop in 1976 and asked for a job selling jewelry and antiques. She had always admired antiques as a child, savoring the richness of ornate wooden marble-top tables. Thirty-four years later, the Selfs continue to share their love for beautiful jewelry and antiques at elegant Estate Jewelers in picturesque Lincolnton, NC.
“It’s a passion for both of us,” David reveals over lunch at a friendly local Italian restaurant, while many customers stop by to pay their respects. “We like to offer pieces that are unique, one-of-a-kind. We’re not a trendy store.”
The Selfs shop the world for exquisite jewelry and antiques, including recent buying trips to Beijing, Hong Kong and Italy. They also feature contemporary designer jewelry, including the collections of Mia Katrin for JEWEL COUTURE LLC.
Such is life in small-town Lincolnton, NC. Everyone knows everyone. “Customers used to enter my shop and ask, ‘Who’s your father? Who’s your grandfather?’” David, a fourth generation Lincolnton resident, shares.
Walking down small-town Main Street Lincolnton with its historic buildings and monuments and entering Estate Jewelers is like stumbling upon an unexpected treasure. From its elegant oak and glass display cases, architectural crown moldings and refined color palette, designed by David, to its exquisite jewelry and antiques, Estate Jewelers projects an atmosphere appreciated by discerning local clientele as well as clients from around the country.
Established in 1789 by Benjamin Lincoln, a Revolutionary War general, Lincolnton, the county seat, is awash in history. General Hoke, a Civil War general second in command to Robert E. Lee, and the Battle of Ramseur Mill are commemorated throughout the town.
Lincolnton has proved surprisingly resilient in the current economic atmosphere, the Selfs explain. Stoked by several lively local manufacturing firms, including GE alarms, Timken bearings and Bosch, all fueled by incentives from a pro-active county economic development board, the town provides a model for Smalltown USA thriving in a manufacturing economy.
In the 1980s and ‘90s, Carol and David worked the antique show circuit, 32 weekends a year, from Dallas to Miami. They particularly enjoy buying at the Vegas shows and the camaraderie, forming lasting friendships with other vendors that have profited both. “We like to be able to help people that helped us.”
David reveals his yen for his original love, pocket watches, and has a collection now numbering in the thousands. Estate Jewelers has also had its share of celebrity clientele including Whoopi Goldberg. In the 1980s, while filming The Color Purple in nearby
They have also sold exceptional custom pieces, including a one-of-a-kind 13 carat diamond ring. They share their insights into latest design trends. “Color is big. Younger clientele are seeking a vintage look in bridal.”
David and Carol confide their tips for success in the current economy. “We have always stayed heavily inventoried. We try to avoid debt. We have been watchful about spending.”
In a broader perspective, the Selfs share, “We have always treated people like we like to be treated. If you do right, it comes back to you.” Judging from the flourishing of unique Estate Jewelers, such small-town values reflect a time-honored formula for success.