The Story of Fabulous Jewelry, etc.…an Appraiser’s Perspective

There exists forever the story of family heirloom jewelry brought to me for appraising. I was reminded recently of the sentimental journey these valuables take as I helped sort a large assortment of jewels from the lock box of a client’s mother for division of her property. No longer able to handle her affairs for some time now, her only daughter was assigned the task, struggling to lug the items to me for viewing. Sterling silver flatware and holloware was included in the vast assortment as well as a vintage sterling silver lady’s Art Nouveau cigar cutter on a long chain. Since my great grandparents had manufactured cigars at the turn of the last century in the building we currently occupy, I was fascinated to see this little “gem”.

The daughter had paid close attention through the years and was very aware of the best of the jewels. Many of the rings had legacy stories having been accompanied with hand written notes and a few photos in lockets. Other items were mysteries? Perhaps these were purchased at auctions, estate sales, or inherited from other family members long ago? Unless this information is shared with loved ones it is anyone’s best guess…If only the jewels could talk!
One item was especially interesting that it was nestled in a dark blue velvet fitted box reminiscent of the Nouveau riche: a lovely antique filigree brooch with thirty-three old European-cut diamonds totaling nearly 4 carats. Constructed of platinum and 14K white gold it depicts the best of fine lacy wire craftsmanship detailing unbelievable workmanship. One could only imagine the woman who wore this during the Edwardian era – perhaps for her wedding? Who purchased this and where was it made? No trademark exists to suggest a clue.

Another prized possession-an extraordinary family heirloom, an Edwardian ring was gifted to the daughter with a center diamond containing 81-facets. Bearing a registered trademark inside the shank, the platinum mounting is encrusted with 21 old European-cut diamonds plus one more modern-cut diamond melee- perhaps a replacement? Designed by Whitehouse Brothers in Cincinnati – a jewelry company still manufacturing die struck styles today – a featured vendor at Eichhorn Jewelry, it is truly fabulous! This ring is perhaps one of the most beautiful I have ever seen in 50 years! For its day, it would have been considered an ‘important’ piece of truly fine jewelry.

Many years from now someone will still appreciate these phenomenal works of art and enjoy their stories. A thing of beauty is a joy forever!

Treasured Gift Ideas…for Babies

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

These days’ shoppers for baby gifts are parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts and uncles. All are searching for special gifts that the baby will have as a keepsake. Many times this is a shopping challenge with the number of relatives wishing to shop for something meaningful.

Girls are easiest to buy for with baby rings with or without gemstones the classic choice. Orienta® cultured pearl necklaces are the #1 legacy present with additional pearls able to be purchased individually or by the inch. Available with gold or silver chains, prices start under $30. Cross pendants hand engraved or high polished in either gold or silver are also a favorite. Bangle bracelets, mini sterling silver bracelets with a heart charm are much appreciated especially when engraved with a personal message. Starting a diamond Add-A-Link bracelet is one of the newer options for the baby girl. A loose gemstone of her birth month would be a creative choice.

“Baby’s First Dollar” – the American Eagle is the current most popular item for baby boys. First minted by the United States Treasury in 1986, it is guaranteed to contain one troy ounce .999 silver. The silver eagle has been produced at three mints: the Philadelphia Mint, the San Francisco Mint, and the West Point Mint. Pricing is based on the daily silver price fluctuating with the precious metals market.

Engravable identification bracelets or dog tags in sterling silver as well as classic gold band rings are a popular choice, too.  Novelty banks are available in dozens of designs: football, soccer ball, motorcycle, fire truck, frog, elephant, bear, owl, whale and many more.

We have a variety of gifts for every budget.  Some are suitable for all babies such as birth record frames, rattles, and traditional baby cups. The cups are priced depending on the quality of the metal from sterling silver, silver plate or stainless steel. Personalizing with engraving adds to the remembrances.

These loving tokens to welcome the little one will be cherished for a lifetime!

CHAIN ISSUES

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

It is an everyday occurrence. The door opens at 9AM and a customer brings in a chain to us either broken, or stretched and not safe to wear. Sometimes it can be repaired. Many times replacing is the only option.

Most have a sentimental pendant dangling from the center that they have not have not had off their person for years. Even though I have never recommended sleeping or showering in any jewelry, it is a common practice by many. Our backlog of repairs is evidence of this!

A few manufacturers will warrant chains by either repairing or replacing. Some customers are unaware that everyday wear and tear can stretch a chain sometimes one to even three inches from its original length!! White and yellow karat gold chains are typically soldered links. But sliding back and forth hundreds of times each day can cause wear on the soldered links. Silver chains are even more susceptible to stretching and eventually breaking.

No style of chain is exempt from wear, although some styles do wear better. Lightweight chains have a tendency to be more prone to a short life, while heavier ones do last longer. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link!

The weight of the pendant is partially to blame. A tug by a child can be another reason for the increase in length. “Fidgeting” with the pendant can also lengthen a chain. Gold is malleable. A quick pull can break some chains but over time each link elongates and will simply weaken the entire chain. Then the chain breaks and the pendant can be lost. It is recommended that prongs on rings be checked every six months yet few people have their chains and pendant bails checked. Note: The bail is the top portion of the pendant where the chain travels through it. It, too, can be repaired if wearing thin!

Stop in today and have your chains cleaned and inspected for weakness. Chain bracelets are also included in this check-up. This is another complimentary service provided by Eichhorn Jewelry. If your chain is in need of repair we can estimate the cost or provide a replacement chain with a trade-in allowance for your worn or damaged chain.

NEW YEAR 2016 RESOLUTIONS

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

After 50+ years in the jewelry business, I thought it was time to help create some New Year resolutions for our customers. Every year we hear many customers tell us on the street, at an event or even in a phone call that they have been ‘thinking’ about remounting a diamond, restoring a favorite heirloom, or purchasing the one carat diamond of their dreams. Some do follow through and stop in at Eichhorn Jewelry. But more often than not we just hear the ‘considering’ stories. We are all procrastinators at some level. But when one of my customers last year finally made the decision to buy the two carat diamond she wanted for more than ten years she announced, “Eileen, I wish you would have made me buy it when I first started looking.” In her case, she would have saved a bundle. Others have found jewelry or watch repairs that they thought would be expensive are very reasonable once given an estimate.

My father always said, “It’s later than you think.” Truer words were never spoken. Why not today? Make today special and act on your dreams. You may have old gold or diamonds to trade-in to help offset the cost? Clean out your drawers. Jewelry that you are not wearing may be more valuable than you ever imagined. This is the year to get it done! This is the year you have been waiting for! This is the year to check off your list the jewelry project(s) you have put off. Treat yourself in the New Year!

A ring you loved for many years may be able to be restored or restyled. Pearls that have lost their style may be cleaned and restrung with fashionable silver beads or chain extenders to combine sentiment and newness. Most clip earrings can be converted to pierced styles. That brooch you inherited from your great aunt that you would never wear can be converted to a fashionable slide-pendant-enhancer. Even some rings can be transformed into a pendant. Bring in your ideas or leave the options to us. You will be surprised how affordable and FUN some of these projects can be for both of us! We have many before/after photos that will spark your imagination.

Pass it on! There is no time like the present to get started on your jewelry bucket list. We are here, ready and waiting at Eichhorn Jewelry. No job is too large or too small for consideration. No appointment needed but recommended. Call us today. 260-724-2621.

 

Famous History

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

Who would have guessed in in the year 2015 two stone rings would be so popular again! Do you know the history of this love gift? The ring style has a famous past: “Toi et Moi” means “You and Me” in French and refers to a ring that showcases two stones.  These were common engagement rings during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, symbolizing two souls that are intertwined.  The ring that is believed to have started the trend was the gorgeous sapphire and diamond engagement ring Napoleon gave to Josephine in 1776.

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The engagement ring the young Napoleon “must have broken his wallet” to buy for his fiancée Josephine shattered expectations on March 24, 2013 at the Osenat auction house in France when it sold for close to $1 million according to Osenat’s expert, Jean-Christophe Chataignier.

The winning bidder, who wanted to stay completely anonymous, paid $949,000, almost 50 times the $20,000 Osenat had expected to bring in. Including the buyer’s 25 percent commission to Osenat, the total price for the ring was $1.17 million.

“In my wildest dreams, I did not think we would outsell the estimate by more than 47 times,” said Osenat’s Emily Villane, who led the auction. “We based the estimates in our catalog on the actual market value of the ring, minus Napoleon and Josephine provenance. It is not our job to tell bidders how much they should pay for the historical premium.”

There was intense interest in the ring, she said. In addition to the 300 people in the Fontainebleau auction house, about 50 more international bidders were hooked up by phone.

Osenat, which is in Fontainebleau, outside Paris, also received more than 40 written bids by email from the U.S. alone, she said.

The auction house set up extra phone lines and hired 10 additional people to be prepared for the sale.

“It was 15 minutes of relentless bidding,” Villane said. “We opened at 10,000 euros, I raised it to 50,000 euros. From then on it was going up by 10,000. When the hammer went down at 730,000 euros there was a huge applause.”

The sale was timed to coincide with the 250th anniversary of Josephine’s birthday.

The golden ring is in an 18th century setting called “toi et moi,” “You and Me,” with opposing tear-shaped jewels — a blue sapphire and a diamond. The carat weight of the two gems is little less than a carat each.

Osenat already had clues that it had a blockbuster on its hands several days before the auction.

Remembering Beginnings: Eileen Eichhorn

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

I started in the jewelry business on August 5, 1965 – shortly before the age of 14 working in my father’s store: Eichhorn Jewelry. However, my real adventure into the world of gems was the day I found myself in need of employment to pay out-of-state tuition to the University of Minnesota. Having a scholarship ‘discounted’ during the days of retrenchment was something I had never considered. It is an amazing thing to discover what one is capable of doing when faced with such a dilemma. I could have returned to Indiana to IU but my decision to get a job at the prestigious J.B. Hudson Jewelers AND go to college in a major metro city was my real education. Looking older than 19 when I applied for a job in sales, I was informed no one at that time would be hired that young. However, I had 5 years’ experience in every aspect of retail jewelry…Call my father. He will tell you I need this job!

I was hired and worked there throughout my college days.

I very recently returned to Minneapolis to visit my former co-worker/boss, Florence Benson. Now 95, she is even more of an inspiration to me than when we worked together. In addition to reminiscing about the glory days of the iconic landmark business, we spoke of her influence and dedication. She always said she was thrilled to have a job! She began working in gift wrap at JBH the age of 20 and worked for 20 years without a vacation. Climbing the corporate ladder and advancing to the position of buyer for a major player in the jewelry industry was something she never envisioned. She worked for 57 and one half years for the company and would have continued if her eyes would have cooperated!

Florence instilled in me a passion for quality, perfection and presentation. Most of all she loved her customers. She was self-educated in all aspects of the jewelry world. Having realized early in life that knowledge was power she remains healthy and active these days testing herself with only one major ‘project’ each day. Her memory is her greatest asset and stays informed on so many levels that she nearly runs circles around me. She encouraged me to challenge myself more and continue learning as much as I can because according to her, “I have a long way to go to catch up to her.”

Boss

OFFICINA BERNARDI: AFFORDABLE, BEAUTIFUL ITALIAN SILVER JEWELRY    

In celebration of 50 years in business we would like to feature one of our vendors each month.

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

A few years ago while in Chicago, a friend of mine suggested we look at an Italian jewelry vendor’s line that had an innovative design. That recommendation was the best tip I think I ever received from another jeweler as it fast became our most popular and recognizable merchandise.

The Italians are artisans in many areas but shine best in their jewelry. The brothers Carlo and Francesco have an assortment of necklaces, both hoop and drop style earrings, bracelets and rings that rival many more expensive designer looks. Having started in chain manufacturing in 1987, it was inevitable that beads would enter this collaborative duos design plan.

Their Moon collection was originally manufactured in gold, for a very discerning audience. In 2008 it was introduced in silver with great success. Available in 800 upscale shops in the USA, including Eichhorn Jewelry, it is also available in Italy, Spain, Mauritius, and Brazil.

The Moon name comes from the shape of the bead facet, the compositional unit of Bernardi jewelry. Associated with the crescent Moon and the white-silver dress worn by Selene, the ancient Greek Moon Goddess, Bernardi jewelry glitters. The idea was to manufacture an effect with the same brightness and light. High technology and jewelry know-how became one producing this beautiful jewelry. Special diamond-cutting tools are the secret-formula to their inspired designs.

Other special techniques detailed with gold plating over silver, blackened silver and the newest: rose gold plating over silver continue to attract buyers. You can’t help but love the “bling” as well as the compliments everyone says they receive while wearing Bernardi!

Priced from $45 and up, this affordable luxury is highly addictive. You will want to build on your private collection of Bernardi jewelry with mix or matching pieces!

New Customers

By Eileen R Eichhorn

Yesterday while I was putting away the windows, I smiled and waved to the littlest young man who smiled back at me so big! Slowly walking down the sidewalk with his mother, it appeared he was about 2 years old strolling with his older sister on her way to dance lessons. For some reason he couldn’t take his eyes off of me. I hope someday he will shop at Eichhorn Jewelry. Is it possible I could sell him a diamond engagement ring in 2035?

We have welcomed many more new customers lately. I am not sure if it is the direct result of people moving to Decatur, having just discovered us, or referrals from other customers and friends? Perhaps it is that, plus area jewelers who have closed their doors. Certainly all advertising helps, too.

We have had people who used to live in Decatur moving back. In addition, others have moved here for jobs. One mentioned they moved to Decatur from the East Coast for our schools. It is interesting that while waiting for a battery to be installed in a watch they provided us many other reasons for selecting our beautiful city for their new home.

Having lost so many wonderful customers in recent years we are happy to welcome new ones. A woman from Marion traveled to Decatur in search of a jeweler who could restring and clean and polish her silver turquoise squash blossom necklace. She found us on the internet. Many travel in from other cities after Googling us for a specific service we provide. I am always intrigued to find so many cannot receive these services from their area jewelers. It seems many places sell jewelry, few stores service it.

Not every job can be done in-house. The many sources we have enables us the utmost expertise to achieve our customer’s greatest joy in the restoration process. If you have a diamond needing re-cutting because it is damaged or an antique ring that has missing gemstones, we assure you we can facilitate the project. These are just a few of our services, too. Have a question concerning a repair? Bring it to us. Eichhorn Jewelry welcomes all inquiries!

Mary Ann August – Behind the Scenes

In celebration of 50 years in business we would like to feature one of our employees each month.

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

Every business has people who contribute to its success that few seldom see. In the theatre sometimes those behind the scenes, never receive the accolades they deserve.

Mary Ann August started working at Eichhorn Jewelry after having been a longtime customer. One day while she was paying on her Diamond Club, she asked if I needed help typing appraisals maybe a few hours each week. Of course, I jumped at the chance. She has been working part-time at Eichhorn’s now for over 25 years! However, she hasn’t typed appraisals for decades having been relegated to inventory data entry.

When items arrive from vendors each have descriptions that may not be listed on the invoices. Her job is to enter those items on the computer with specifications and photograph each piece. Her entries are tied to our POS system. This allows our customers to have accurate details on their sales receipts. Some items arrive with limited descriptions. Our sales receipts have enough information to submit to an insurance company if a customer wishes to add to their insurance policy. Some highly complex important jewelry such as bracelets with multiple gemstones and diamonds require gemologist assistance and mapping of the piece before entering. Recently a bracelet with 692 diamonds had to be counted and recounted before entering it into the database. It took a joint effort of both of us about forty-five minutes to complete.

Mary Ann has a full time job working dispatch for Adams County. Her dedication and ability to multi-task is unsurpassed in that career. We are thrilled she continues to maintain her part-time job at Eichhorn’s. The real bonus – she gets to preview all the beautiful jewelry arriving daily!

Trivia:  During our busiest of seasons, she pinch-hits at giftwrap, too. I think Mary Ann is the best gift wrap artist I have ever employed!

MANY THANKS!

By Eileen R Eichhorn

A wonderful thing happened recently at Eichhorn Jewelry. On the day of our 50th Anniversary in business, August 5, 2015 over 500+ friends, family, customers, and former employees, showed up to with well-wishes for our milestone event. Even one of our bench jewelers attended to surprise us as did one of our vendor representatives!

Eichhorn Jewelry Team

Sally, Laura, Heather, Eileen, Kate, Matt, Carla and Kathy

We had prayed for good weather and the Lord provided. You have to be careful what you pray for, however. What we didn’t plan on was the traffic jam in Downtown Decatur! We considered valet parking. We should have had it since some people are still coming in nearly a month later telling us they circled the block three times and couldn’t find a parking place. But, our wonderful customers continue to visit us.

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The store from the late 60’s

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Gemstone Surprise Packages

We have really been celebrating our anniversary the entire year since it is such a monumental occasion. It is amazing what a little advertising can do for a big jewelry store in a little town! Thanks to Heather Cruse, our marketing director, without whom we would never have been able to embrace social media.  A huge round of applause, too, goes to Bob Shraluka who wrote the story for the Decatur Daily Democrat. Making the front page was unexpected and very much appreciated. The back page photo with the Eichhorn Junior League Softball Team winning the championship was a bonus! John Eichhorn would be very proud.

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It was SO much fun! All of us were dressed in the attire of 1965. The windows and showcases were decked out in 50 champagne flutes with shredded gold metallic sparkle everywhere! Gold helium balloons added to the decorations. Our original store photo remains on display. One of our first employees, Peggy Lengerich visited the store that day and was photographed with a gold Swarovski tiara and gold plated rose.

Peg Lengerich

Peg Lengerich

Our 1965 Christmas Catalog was displayed with similar items we STILL sell today – the classics. Longtime customers gave us a special treat wearing the jewels they purchased from us over the years reminiscing how and why they acquired them. We were honored by those stories. My husband of nearly 35 years, John Hebein sang the songs of Frank Sinatra to entertain us all day. How can I ever thank him enough?

John Hebein singing Frank Sinatra for us all day.

John Hebein singing Frank Sinatra for us all day.

Everyone enjoyed ALL the day’s festivities. $50 cash was awarded to Jackie Conrad who presented the oldest sales receipt – 1977 for a watch she purchased with her Diamond Club Winnings. We also gave away free nephrite jade gemstones to everyone who stopped in that day. We offered $5 surprise packages with gemstones valued up to $500. Those sold out in less than two hours! In addition, we gave away 50 – $50 gift certificates and 50 champagne diamonds.

Eileen Eichhorn and Jackie Conrad

Eileen Eichhorn and Jackie Conrad

Jennifer Mitchel winner of the $500 gemstone at Eichhorn Jewelry

Jennifer Mitchel winner of the $500 gemstone at Eichhorn Jewelry

The entire staff was amazing! Their smiles were worth a million dollars. Thank you: Kate Dyer, Matt Dyer, Laura Ditto, Heather Cruse, Carla Meyer, Sally Hoeppner, and Kathy Jenkins. Even the most recently retired staff, Charlotte Sheets stopped in that day along with our pearl stringer, Kim Simon. Mary Ann August our inventory control specialist stopped by, too. Chuck Eichhorn, our subcontractor-bench jeweler, was on hand for the festivities. Flora Walters GG, who has assisted me for many years with appraisals, drove up from Indianapolis for the day. One of our best customers even had lunch delivered for us. Some of us did not get to eat because we were so busy! Photos are the best evidence of the highlights of the day thanks to my brother-in-law, Ed Dyer.

Charlotte, Kim & Laura during our 50th Anniversary Celebration at Eichhorn Jewelry

Charlotte, Kim & Laura during our 50th Anniversary Celebration at Eichhorn Jewelry

I would like to personally thank everyone for their support over the years. If you were not able to attend that day, you were with us in spirit as you may have sent a note, text or email with your kind words. Eichhorn Jewelry, Inc. hopes to continue adding new customers daily for another 50 years. With your referrals we can make it happen!

-Eileen Eichhorn