Posted: Friday, May 11, 2012 11:02 pm By Brad Meyer
Combining old world tradition, cutting-edge digital technology and personalized service, a Conroe family business has earned a reputation and a following for turning gems and precious metals into family keepsakes and precious memories.
For nearly three decades, Jeff Turner has made his living buying, selling, repairing and fabricating fine jewelry. In 1997, he brought his family and his business to Conroe – a decision that has worked well for all concerned.
“The economy has been up and down” Turner acknowledged, “but this is a good community to do business in. People have been good to us and we do our best to return the favor.”
While the business provides a range of services, Jeff’s Jewelry specializes in better quality retail jewelry – especially engagement rings. The shop offers many beautiful, sparkling bands and sets in both traditional and contemporary designs.
“The halo design – a center diamond surrounded by stones – is very popular now,” Turner said. “We carry a wide variety – or we can design and create a custom ring. We give customers the option.”
Competing with the big names in mall locations was a challenge in the past, Turner said. But by working with buying consortiums, Jeff’s Jewelry is able to get volume discounts and match or beat most of the big retailers on traditional items.
“Our customer service and the availability of custom design or special service is way beyond what the giant retail conglomerates can do,” Turner said.
He should know. Turner got his start in the jewelry business working for Zales, one of the biggest retail operations in jewelry.
Competition from the Internet is significant, Turner acknowledged, but buyers need to be very sure exactly who they are dealing with and what they are buying. What looks good on a computer screen may not look so good when it arrives in a box.
“It’s a real advantage being able to hold an item, slip it on your finger or hold it up to the light before you buy it,” he said. “Computer images don’t always tell the whole story.”
With gold prices soaring, silver jewelry is increasingly popular, Turner said. His store offers silver rings, pendants and other keepsakes.
In addition to its retail operation, Jeff’s Jewelry offers a range of special services: watch and jewelry repair, new batteries, engraving and custom creations.
“We offer the big names people are looking for, like Gabriel & Company, but we offer a whole lot more,” Turner said. “A lot of people are surprised by the quality and variety we offer.”
That’s one reason the business thrives on so many repeat customers. His business, like any business, he said, needs to stay current, be aware of trends and technology and be forward thinking.
And for those wanting to sell gold, silver, precious stones and old jewelry, Turner is often a buyer. Sometimes people wanting to sell prized possessions get surprising information.
“Occasionally a woman will bring in a ring she’s worn for 20 years thinking it’s a high-quality diamond,” he said. “It’s hard when we have to tell her it’s not a real diamond.”
Manmade diamonds are starting to appear in stores, though the market has yet to fully embrace them, Turner said. The quality is very good and the pricing is comparable – so he believes they will continue to grow in popularity.
“The quality is so good they are virtually undetectable from natural diamonds,” Turner said.
When Jeff Junior, 22, graduated from Covenant Christian School in 2009, his dad had little hope he would be interested in joining the family business. But after a year of traditional college, his son attended the Gemological Institute of America and became a graduate gemologist. The highly specialized school provides training in the jewelry business.
“I knew I wanted a career in business,” said Jeff Junior. “I can learn a lot from my dad.”
Jeff said he enjoys working with the public because it’s ever changing and interesting work – though he says the Christmas season can be challenging.
“The days get pretty long and the workload is amazing,” he said. “But we love what we do, so we can’t complain.”
His sister Hannah, 20, works part-time at the store. Jeff said he hopes he and his wife have a son in the future so three generations of “Jeff Turners” can continue the business his father started.
“We’re proud of what we’re doing here,” Turner said of his family business. “I think that shows in what we do – and why we’re successful.”
Personalized memorial diamonds can now be created with carbon sources captured from pet hair and pet ashes.
If you’ve never heard of memorial diamonds, you’re not alone. Only a few select companies like DNA2Diamonds and LifeGem specialize in diamonds created from personalized carbon sources, and they are all relatively new. Like natural diamonds, these diamonds do not come cheap - but they offer a unique option for a truly lasting memorial of a beloved companion.
Memorial diamonds are created from the same laboratory processes which are used to form synthetic man-made diamonds – and they have the exact same physical and chemical properties as real diamonds. The only difference is that these diamonds are made with a personalized carbon source instead of a generic carbon source.
After Goodbye: Pet Memorials Can Ease Mourning
In most cases, the laboratories will need ½ cup of hair or ¾ cup of ashes to create the diamond. But if these amounts are not available a memorial diamond is still possible.
Tom Bischoff, President and CEO of DNA2Diamonds, said that his company can still create a personalized diamond with smaller amounts of carbon sources. “In some cases we have situations where people didn’t have that amount of either, and we work with that. What happens is we simply supplement that personal carbon with some generic carbon.”
It doesn’t matter how old the hair or ashes are either. If you think you may be interested in a memorial diamond for your pet when the time comes, you can start collecting hair from your pet now.
In most cases, a collection kit is sent to pet owners – but if the idea of collecting a pet’s ashes or hair is too painful, pet owners can make other arrangements with the crematorium or through their veterinarian. If these arrangements cannot be made, an urn can also be sent directly to the memorial diamond company and the urn will be returned after the ashes have been collected.
Read: Can we communicate with passed on pets?
Options for memorial diamonds are pretty limitless too. They can be cut into brilliant round, princess and radiant cuts, are available in colors including white, blue, yellow, cognac, and red – and they can be created with multiple carbon sources.
So for example, a pet’s ashes can be combined with a pet owner’s lock of hair to create a diamond using both carbon sources – or a diamond can be created from multiple carbon sources from multiple pets. Two smaller diamonds can even be created from one carbon source. And diamond sizes can range from less than ¼ carat to over 1 carat in size.
The final diamonds may be set in customized earrings, brooches, necklace pendants and even cufflinks. Prices range from over $2,000 dollars for the smaller carat sizes to over $6,000 dollars and above for sizes of ½ carat and larger. It generally takes around 3 to 4 months to create the diamonds too.
Tom Bischoff added that his company stays in touch with clients from start to finish, “We maintain communication all the way through the process. You almost develop a friendship, and it’s a very rewarding kind of business.”
What about you? Would you consider a memorial diamond?