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

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

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?!

EICHHORN – of San Jose California

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

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

One of our suppliers shares our same surname! Some years ago while visiting a trade show people kept coming up to us and saying “YOU are the Eichhorns!” Since we had badges on with our names we thought it odd for the outburst, maybe a prank or perhaps they thought they knew us? This seemed strange enough because we did not know what EICHHORN they were referring to. We had to find out just who these people thought we were.

In the discovery process, we found a couple who really know gems! Originally dealing exclusively in loose emeralds, sapphires and rubies, Eichhorn of San Jose added a new dimension by designing and manufacturing an extensive line of classic and contemporary jewelry featuring exquisite gemstones.

Importing from the mines and dealers in Colombia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Brazil, each gem is hand selected for its uniqueness and beauty by Dottie and Michael Eichhorn. Their dedication and attention to detail is their trademark. For over 20 years, Eichhorn Jewelry in Downtown Decatur has been dealing with Eichhorn of San Jose building a special relationship that continues today.

Trivia: Matt Dyer proposed to Abigail Murray in 2002 with a platinum diamond engagement ring mounting supplied by Eichhorn of San Jose!

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

CORDOVA

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

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

Cordova has been one of Eichhorn Jewelry’s select fine jewelry suppliers since the early 1980’s. A multi-generation family-owned and run jewelry manufacturer specializing in fashion and bridal design, they are dedicated to outstanding quality and exceptional service. Cordova was founded in 1950 by Murray Kagan. Bob Kagan, CEO has been managing the company since 1965. Bob’s wife, Arlene, joined the firm in 1985 and became its Executive Vice President. The grandson of the founder, Ron Rosen, Bob and Arlene’s nephew, graduated from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design in 1992. With encouragement from Bob and Arlene, Ron started Rosen Block Design in 1993. In 2008, the two firms merged and Ron became Cordova’s President and Creative Director.

Eileen Eichhorn has a very close and personal relationship to a handful of jewelry suppliers in New York, speaking several times a year to Mr. Kagan for custom jewelry requests.

For many years Cordova was Eichhorn’s Christmas catalog supplier. In recent years, the catalog was then provided in a digital format and emailed to Eichhorn Jewelry customers.

In addition to their high-end diamond and colorful gemstone designs, their Encore® collection is the most popular item Eichhorn Jewelry features. Elements of 14K white gold birthstones surrounded by diamonds can be added either one or more at a time in rings, bracelets, or pendant necklaces. These are timeless classics to be cherished for a lifetime.

GIFTS OF APPRECIATION

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

Most days at Eichhorn Jewelry we assist customers in selecting gifts for special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries. This past week one of our loyal shoppers requested a gift for her husband for their 15th wedding anniversary. She was looking for something to represent crystal – and we had the perfect gift: a silver-tone Bulova anniversary clock with a glass dome and four revolving crystals!

Once in a great while we have a more unusual request for a gift. What if you could go on a dream trip and a family member agrees to watch your children for free? Upon returning home a gift of a lovely peach color carved cultured pearl by Artist Chi Galatea Huynh would represent your greatest appreciation!

What if someone saved your life? A gift of appreciation is difficult to measure in dollars but a token jewelry gift can be a remembrance of the event. The gift is not measured in dollars and cents but selecting a truly memorable token, perhaps an engraved charm for either a bracelet or pendant?

These days ‘push’ presents are more popular than ever. When my mother delivered twin girls at the age of 45 (number 9 and 10 respectively) my father gave her a trophy.  In later years she laughed she would have rather had a lovely piece (or two) of jewelry for bearing the gems!

Many years ago one of our loyal customers added two diamonds to his wife’s 14K gold bracelet on the delivery of twin boys. It is still a fond memory that we were able to help him celebrate the couple’s happiness.

One of the areas high schools continues a tradition of presenting perfect four year attendance with a reward gift of a Cross® Pen.  Engraved with the student’s name on each, these represent a crowning achievement.

Gifts of appreciation are well-meaning and can represent a very special keepsake.

Featured Vendor: Cas-Ker

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

By Eileen R. Eichhorn

Every day for 50 years Eichhorn Jewelry needs a part (jewelry or watch finding) to make or repair a piece of jewelry or a watch. Most days we pick up the phone and order having gotten the number from a supplier’s catalog or their web site. The vendor we have relied on since our opening day for books, displays, tools, and batteries, numerous findings, boxes, general supplies and finished jewelry is the Cas-Ker Company of Cincinnati, Ohio. Examples of some findings include clasps to complete necklaces or bracelets, ear wires to make earrings, bails for pendants, just to name a few. Many findings come in a variety of different metals, too. Their inventory is tremendous!

This contractor also can supply and fit any one of hundreds of thousands of watch crystals. This service became necessary immediately after my watchmaker father passed away in 2004.

The Cas-Ker Company was started in 1927 as the American and Swiss Watch and Supply Company. In 1937 the name was changed to its present form. The Cassedy brothers who now own and operate the company represent the third generation of family operation. Cas-Ker has active accounts in all 50 States, Canada and Puerto Rico, and has been serving jewelers and watchmakers for over 70 years.

The relationship with this jobber started when I was 14 and visited my first jewelry show with my parents in 1965. That evening I had the pleasure of having dinner with the Cassedy family across the Ohio River at the White Horse Tavern. During that dinner discussion I was most impressed by the arrangements my father made to pay for the items he agreed to purchase earlier that afternoon. Of course, they previously knew him for 17 years ordering parts for his former employer, Ferris Bower. But now he was starting a new business. How would he pay for everything? As the oldest of 10 children, I knew the struggles my parents endured. It is still amazing to me that the invoice he signed was affirmed with a handshake at the end of the meal.

In our industry, many suppliers have closed their doors over the past several years. We are happy Cas-Ker is still servicing our needs.

Trivia: One of our jewelers, Dave Petersmann, is the grandson of the Cassedy family.