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

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

Graduate Gemologist:   Matthew J. Dyer – GG (GIA)

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

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

At the young age of 14, Matt Dyer, had laid out his goal in life. The jewelry industry would be his career. Having been greatly influenced by his grandfather, John Eichhorn, Matt was often at Eichhorn Jewelry from the time of his birth. His mother, my sister, Kate was always having him stop by the jewelry store where she worked on his way home from school, after baseball practice, and even Saturdays while he was growing up. Some would say he was destined to be in the jewelry industry!

After high school, Matt headed off to Carlsbad California to the prestigious Gemological Institute of America. Bound and determined to complete his GG, he elected to return to Decatur Indiana and work in his family’s jewelry store. GIA is THE training authority in the American jewelry industry. To earn a Graduate Gemologist diploma, you must complete and pass five course studies and three lab classes, then pass a comprehensive final exam: Diamond Essentials, Diamonds & Diamond Grading, Colored Stone Essentials, Colored Stones, Gem Identification, Diamond Grading Lab, Colored Stone Grading Lab and Gem Identification Lab.

Within these studies Matt developed hands-on experience with the GIA International Diamond Grading System™ and the 4C’s (cut, color, clarity, and carat weight) and how they affect diamond value. He became proficient in the use of gemological equipment and procedures to identify and grade hundreds of gemstones. He learned to identify gemstone characteristics, simulants, and treatments and anticipate when advanced testing is required.

Eichhorn Jewelry is extremely proud to employ Matt Dyer with such a deep commitment to the family business. His continued dedication to Decatur and the surrounding area will help us remain firmly planted in this great Indiana community.

Trivia: Did you know one of the many scholarships Matt received to attend GIA was from Swarovski, the famous luxury cut glass producer?!

HELPFUL: HEATHER (EICHHORN) CRUSE

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

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

When Eichhorn Jewelry started to expand exponentially on the web in 2006, it became apparent that an in house marketing director was needed to keep up with the constant increase in business. At that time Heather was working for another company in her field of expertise: business marketing. It was a stroke of luck that she considered a career move when asked to join the Eichhorn family jewelry business.

Most people would not believe all she does to promote Eichhorn Jewelry! Although, Eichhorn’s had a presence on the web since 1998, the website needed a boost. Her first job was to learn more about the jewelry business.  She was great at learning and is always willing to learn more about jewelry! Initially, Heather self-taught herself web building and most of what she continues to do today. Not even she would have guessed how the internet would evolve in such a relatively short time and catapult Eichhorn’s business.

In addition to posting new acquisitions of estate jewelry on the website, Heather is constantly updating our many vendors information. Her job entails answering a multitude of requests for gift certificates as we support many charitable causes each year.

Traditional marketing is still utilized by Eichhorn’s as Heather designs ads for area newspapers and magazines, creates direct mail pieces and purchases radio time.

With the advent of social media, Heather is busier than ever! It is an important part of our daily marketing. She still finds time to pinch hit on the sales floor, too, during the busiest of times and processes many of the internet orders she helped create!

TRIVIA:  Heather sends emails to nearly 4,000 of our customers several times a year. Let us know if you would like to be notified for upcoming special promotions and events: heathercruse@eichhornjewelry.com

Heather Cruse of Decatur Indiana Eichhorn Jewelry

Heather Cruse of Decatur Indiana Eichhorn Jewelry

SPARKLING: SALLY HOEPPNER

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

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

Of all the many employees over the past 50 years, none have had such endearing qualities as our dear Sally Hoeppner. Finding her way to our door several years ago, Sally has the distinction of being our most loyal diamond ambassador. Always in the forefront of fashion, Sally truly loves jewelry.  She makes a fashion statement daily in her vast selections to compliment her style. Diamonds are her favorite accessory!

Sally’s husband has presented her with two milestone diamond gifts in recent years. For their 30th Anniversary she received a one carat Artcarved diamond ring. Just this past April – her birthstone is diamond – Sally was presented with an item from her ‘wish list’ – the Diamond Marriage Symbol necklace.

You will find Sally polished to perfection in her sweet voice. Having the distinction of the one who will call to remind you about the Diamond Club, Sally takes her phone job seriously.

I am sure Sally never realized all the many tasks she would perform while working at Eichhorn’s. One of her favorite is taking photographs of the multitude of watches and jewelry taken in for repairs daily.

Sally is a personal shopper, too. Extremely conscientious of value, Sally is great at finding the best buy for the young man who wants to become engaged on a budget. She will steer him to the wide selection of estate diamond rings.

Trivia: Having “adopted” her into our family, we lovingly call her another ‘sister’.  Sally adds a unique blend to the makeup of the mixed staff of Eichhorn family member-employees and the other adoptees.

Eichhorn Jewelry's employee; Sally Hoeppner of Berne Indiana

Eichhorn Jewelry employee; Sally Hoeppner of Berne Indiana

KATHY JENKINS

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

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

Over the course of fifty years many students have had the opportunity of employment at Eichhorn Jewelry. Kathy Jenkins, a recent graduate of Bellmont High School, has been a personal assistant to Eileen Eichhorn apprenticing since September 2013.

In her senior year Kathy participated in ICE – Interdisciplinary Cooperative Education. The primary purpose of this program is to prepare a student for entry-level employment in a future career. This on-the-job learning experience has benefits more than just a year commitment and a paycheck. The student takes on responsibility in exchange for one half of the day to show up and participate within a team of other employees to learn a trade. Because of the complexities of the jewelry business she observed other professionals in a variety of specialty areas from back office mail tasks to sales, gem identification, engraving, manufacturing, marketing, photography and appraisals. Touching on many aspects of the jewelry industry each day should help her transition from high school to the real world with this background. Hopefully, Kathy would agree that her most important learning experience is the attention to detail required in the jewelry business.

Kathy has been fascinated with gems for many years now having the distinction of being born into a family of lapidarists. Those gemstone cutters were the impetus for her curiosity. Her foray into Ft. Wayne Science Central – the meeting place for Three Rivers Gem and Mineral Society is where she and I met. She is mostly self-taught in faceting gems and shows a contagious enthusiasm for gemstones!

Having been accepted into the prestigious Gemological Institute of America Graduate Gemologist program, Kathy will be attending the main campus in Carlsbad, California, this fall. Her plans are to complete her GG (graduate gemologist) and return to work at Eichhorn Jewelry.

We wish her success in all her endeavors knowing the discipline the program requires.

Trivia: What is Kathy’s favorite gemstone? The verdict’s still out. This list changes daily! Ask her when she returns from California…

Kathy Jenkins Eichhorn Jewelry Decatur Indiana

Kathy Jenkins Eichhorn Jewelry Decatur Indiana

KIM SIMON: ONE PEARL OF A GIRL

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

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

It is amazing how I acquire great employees! It was 25 years ago a phone call inquiry brought one great pearl to our door. Mike Simon answered the volunteer electrician request I had mentioned in the Decatur Daily Democrat for the local community theatre. I put him on hold twice during the conversation because we were so busy! He said, “You need more help, my wife needs a job.” The rest is history. Kim interviewed in literally the next few minutes and has been with us ever since. I’m sure she never imagined all the things she would do during her quarter of a century at Eichhorn’s especially how she became our pearl stringer.

For many years she worked in sales as well as doing minor jewelry repairs, cleaning, errands, and just about anything you can imagine needed done. Her dedication, punctuality, organizational skills and especially her ability to ‘pinch hit’ during challenging times made her the perfect fit for Eichhorn Jewelry.

For the past half of her career, she has mainly been stringing pearls. Some seasons, she is pretty overwhelmed with stringing. Confirmation, First Communion, Mother’s Day, and Christmas are her busiest times. With the hectic Wedding Season about to begin she will be adding extra hours to her work week, too. With the advent of the internet, customer’s purchasing additional pearls for their Orienta® Start-Her-Necklaces changed the game plan for Kim. They mail their pearls to us and Kim goes to work knotting between each pearl by hand. She probably never envisioned how many varied style pearl necklaces and bracelets she would create. In addition to pearls, she also creates colorful gemstone bead necklaces, bracelets and earrings for Eichhorn’s extensive inventory.

Thank You, Kim, for continuing to string pearls for us. Looking forward to many more lustrous years!

Trivia: While Kim was taking an advanced pearl stringing home study course, Mike Simon claims he could string pearls after watching the video and Kim stringing! Is he up to a challenge?

LAURA (EICHHORN) DITTO: A REAL GEM

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

Behind the scenes at Eichhorn Jewelry is a world similar to the backstage of any theatre! My sister Laura Ditto has the monumental task of paying the bills as the bookkeeper, balancing the daily total sales and making the bank deposits. In addition, she assists in a myriad of other tasks. I consider her my ‘right arm’. Eichhorn Jewelry would be hard pressed to function without her!

Placed with the assignment of managing our corporate employees’ payroll records, vacations, and other human resource responsibilities Laura is happy the days of hand writing checks are a thing of the past. She is old enough to not only remember those times, but can’t imagine life without QuickBooks™.

We ship hundreds of packages to vendors and customers all over the country. With the advent of the internet the number grows each year. Laura packs and tracks all of those. Christmas is our busiest time with her work load increasing during November and December. This past year was especially stressful with so many customers waiting until the last minute to order!

Eichhorn’s Diamond Club is a huge responsibility assigned to Laura.  Maintaining the internal records for this attraction includes not just the computer receipts, but creating a hard paper trail for credits. Whoever said we would be a paperless society never ran a business! Typically, over 350 clients are actively enrolled in either a $2.00 or $5.00 club or about to join. This rewards program would cause some to say, an impossible undertaking. Few jewelers have tried to emulate our success. Once they find out how much is involved they soon discover they are not up to the chore!

Whenever we need office supplies Laura is not only the purchasing agent but the buyer extraordinaire. She is a personal shopper for her private jewelry clients as well. Having started in sales at Eichhorn Jewelry after high school, she is called on to help out during the busiest of days ‘pinch hitting’ on the sales floor or if someone calls in sick.

Laura is a great jewelry model, too! Not only does she love her own jewelry, she will try on an item so a customer can see how it may look on. After 33 years at Eichhorn’s she would probably say this is the most fun part of her job!

I may have overlooked one or more of the undertakings listed here. I am so very grateful I can rely on this ‘real gem’ of an employee to complete so many without ever complaining.

Trivia: If you think you are seeing double: Laura Ditto is a twin to Phyllis Whitright, Decatur’s city clerk treasurer.  Who would have guessed they’d both be bookkeepers!

Laura Ditto Eichhorn Jewelry, Decatur Indiana

Laura Ditto Eichhorn Jewelry, Decatur Indiana

  “CHARMING CARLA”

In celebration of our 50th year in business we would like to feature an employee each month. This month is dedicated to Carla Meyer.

By Eileen Eichhorn

Having worked in retail for many years, Carla Meyer returned this month to Eichhorn Jewelry full-time.  We are so happy she is back! She has never known a stranger in her life. Community minded with a heart of gold, Carla is dedicated and dependable. Having previously worked for five years at Eichhorn’s, she knows jewelry and gemstones. We love her and know you will, too.

Carla brings her enthusiasm to work each day sharing current fashion trends. Accessorizing is her middle name. We lovingly call her the ‘fashionista’ of Eichhorn’s. Upbeat and bubbly, Carla is a veteran when it comes to assisting customers. Whether shopping for yourself or a gift, she will find just the right jewelry to make your present memorable. She loves estate and vintage jewelry and will guide you through the shop pointing out some of the best values. If shopping for diamond engagement ring or special earrings for the mother-of-the bride she has an amazing sense of style. Always helpful, she will add selections to your personal “Wish List”, too.

Her favorite word is ‘bling’ as she loves any gemstone that shines! Designing and redesigning diamonds is her specialty, with endless possibilities. Whether you need a diamond makeover or a great idea see Carla. Your shopping experience will be fun!

Trivia: Carla’s mother, Jane Light and her aunt Carolyn Meyer, worked for Eichhorn Jewelry in the 70’s…

Carla Meyer - Eichhorn Jewelry

Carla Meyer – Eichhorn Jewelry – Decatur Indiana