The South Carolina Jewelers Association (SCJA) is proud to announce the election of Rex McClure as President. The announcement was made at the association’s annual meeting in Myrtle Beach.
Rex McClure is President of Southern Gold Jewelry, Inc. dba Sohn and McClure Jewelers in Charleston, South Carolina. He began his jewelry making career in Wichita Falls, Texas, cutting stones, mineral collecting and making Indian style jewelry from silver and turquoise. His best friend’s parents had a rock shop called Lovelace Lapidary, and they were often there throwing rocks at each other and playing chess. An old Choctaw Indian named Ray Childress worked there and taught him some basic jewelry making. He helped the owner at the Tucson and Quartzite Gem and Mineral shows and he was an avid tourmaline collector along with other minerals.
When he was a junior in high school, he went to work part time for a beautiful old jewelry store called Krugers Jewelers owned by Melvin Rubin and Max Kruger. Rex’s meager jewelry making skills were enough to get him in the door. He apprenticed under Richard Neller, one of the finest jewelry makers Rex has ever known. He learned many of the most important and basic skills in platinum and goldsmithing, finishing and the fine jewelry business from him. This store was a jewelry establishment of the highest caliber and his love for the jewelry industry and jewelry making were nourished and refined there. Melvin and Max have both since passed away but they have not been forgotten by Rex.
After six years at Krugers, he opened his own retail and trade shop. He readily admits that he wasn’t mature enough at the time to hold it together and ended up moving to Georgia and going to work at Excalibur Jewelry doing trade work. While in Georgia, he had the chance to learn hand engraving from Bud Yancey - an old master engraver. Rex would drive two hours south of Atlanta once a week for a lesson at Bud’s house. Rex still engraves to this very day. He met his wife, Kristina, while living in Georgia. Kristina is the daughter of jeweler Bill Sohn. They relocated with her parents to Charleston, South Carolina.
Bill Sohn and Rex began operating a trade shop in historic Charleston. Soon thereafter they added employees. All the years of training and acquired skills began to pay off. He found the perfect environment for his old world jewelry making and engraving skills. They operated for several years with this trade shop, accumulating inventory and knowledge about the Charleston jewelry market.
The shop became a family business with his mother-in-law, Sally, working stringing beads, and wife, Kristina, hand engraving. They operated as a trade shop only, doing repairs and custom orders, for local Charleston jewelers and area jewelers along with out of town hand engraving accounts. Sohn and McClure became known for quality craftsmanship. Their combined knowledge about the jewelry industry enabled them to expand and grow.
In 2000, they opened their first shop on East Bay Street, downtown Charleston, and worked primarily as a custom design studio with a small inventory. Gradually their inventory and customer base grew. Just two years later, they opened a second store on James Island. Bill became the operator/manager of this store, and Rex remained downtown.
Rex said that initially, he “was a pretty terrible manager. I could make beautiful jewelry and run a trade shop, but managing a retail establishment was something very different.” As time passed, his management skills developed as well as his jewelry making skills.
Following the growth of their customer base and standing in the community, they faced a necessary and inevitable decision to expand. Facing the stress and cost of a move, they placed their faith in God and relocated one block away, to a much larger space and on the corner in a very busy little shopping center. The opportunity to reorganize was welcomed. Rex expanded their showroom from four display cases to seventeen. They have been open in the new location since February 1st of this year. These months have been record breaking for the business.
Rex feels gratified that they made the right decision to expand. He shared, “I have heard it said that when one door closes, another one opens. I have walked through that door and have a determination to serve my community. May you all be as blessed as I am. I owe a great debt to those people who helped me attain the position I enjoy today and for the opportunities they gave me along the way.”
Rex enjoys developing all aspects of his personal and professional life - whether it’s jewelry making, management, or becoming a better husband. The South Carolina Jewelers Association is proud to have Rex McClure serving as its leader for the next year.
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