06182018Mon
Last updateWed, 13 Jun 2018 12am

Featured Articles

GN Diamond offers independents advanced tools to maximize sales

GN Diamond offers independents advanced tools to maximize sales

GN Diamond continues to expand the offerings it brings to more than 3,500 independent jewelers. Along with supplying loose diamonds and finished jewelry, the wholesaler provides so much more - marketing materials, advertising strategies and other too...

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What's New

ASHI launches 2018 Holiday Marketing Program

ASHI launches 2018 Holiday Marketing Program

ASHI is excited to announce the launch of it’s 2018 Holiday Wish Book. This year ASHI has included exclusive jewelry from its Fusion Diamond Collection, the newest additions from its Lovebright and I DO Bridal Collections and the hottest trends in di...

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On The Move

Time Delay marks 40 years of crafting custom enhancements for one-of-a-kind watches

Time Delay marks 40 years of crafting custom enhancements for one-of-a-kind watches

(DALLAS) - Time Delay Corporation is celebrating 40 years in the time-honored tradition of offering its independent jewelers exactly what they need: the latest and finest in custom dials, bezels and bracelets at competitive prices, along with custom d...

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Industry Events

Biggest group yet for RJO Next Gen Experience

Biggest group yet for RJO Next Gen Experience

(OAK BROOK, Ill.) - Setting aside time to continually learn about the industry and invest in yourself as an employee is not an easy task. It takes planning and drive. Last month, almost 40 members of RJO spent a weekend retreat at RJO Next Gen 2018. T...

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Other News

Everything Old is New Again

Everything Old is New Again

Retailers discover antique & period jewelry resonates with today’s shoppers  

Jewelers operating in a fiercely competitive climate must get creative when connecting with their core customers. Now the demographic of jewelry consumers and the re...

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Latest News

Everything Old is New Again

12 DAYS AGO
Everything Old is New Again

Retailers discover antique & period jewelry resonates with today’s shoppers  

Jewelers operating in a fiercely competitive climate must get creative when connecting with their core customers. Now the demographic of jewelry consumers and the reasons they buy are light years away from those in ...

Readmore

Chance meeting leads to a unique bank/jeweler appraisal partners

12 DAYS AGO
Chance meeting leads to a unique bank/jeweler appraisal partners

Terry Kahn, GG, president of Jewelry Appraisers of North Carolina.

(GREENSBORO, N.C.) - A happenstance meeting between an established independent jewelry appraiser and innovative trust banking executive in Greensboro, NC led the bank (First Citizens Bank) to establish a unique system, centralizing in ...

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Biggest group yet for RJO Next Gen Experience

5 DAYS AGO
Biggest group yet for RJO Next Gen Experience

(OAK BROOK, Ill.) - Setting aside time to continually learn about the industry and invest in yourself as an employee is not an easy task. It takes planning and drive. Last month, almost 40 members of RJO spent a weekend retreat at RJO Next Gen 2018. These three days were full of networking, idea shar...

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Jewelers for Children celebrates 20 years

5 DAYS AGO
Jewelers for Children celebrates 20 years

Honors Bill Luth and Jeffrey Cohen

(NEW YORK)  - Jewelers for Children held their 20th annual Facets of Hope event on June 3, in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. The charity announced that $1.95 million had been raised to support their charity partners in the year ahead bringing t...

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Time Delay marks 40 years of crafting custom enhancements for one-of-a-kind watches

5 DAYS AGO
Time Delay marks 40 years of crafting custom enhancements for one-of-a-kind watches

(DALLAS) - Time Delay Corporation is celebrating 40 years in the time-honored tradition of offering its independent jewelers exactly what they need: the latest and finest in custom dials, bezels and bracelets at competitive prices, along with custom diamond enhancements for most pre-owned, precious t...

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Sissy’s Log Cabin names Lamar McCubbin new president

5 DAYS AGO
Sissy’s Log Cabin names Lamar McCubbin new president

Arkansas’s largest independently owned jewelry store promotes new president from within

(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.)  - Sissy’s Log Cabin has announced the promotion of Lamar McCubbin to president. An industry veteran with more than 25 years experience, McCubbin has worked with the brand since 2014. With ...

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ASHI launches 2018 Holiday Marketing Program

5 DAYS AGO
ASHI launches 2018 Holiday Marketing Program

ASHI is excited to announce the launch of it’s 2018 Holiday Wish Book. This year ASHI has included exclusive jewelry from its Fusion Diamond Collection, the newest additions from its Lovebright and I DO Bridal Collections and the hottest trends in diamond and gemstone jewelry. For over 34 years, ASH...

Readmore

GIA launches Proprietary Cut Program for diamond grading reports

5 DAYS AGO
GIA launches Proprietary Cut Program for diamond grading reports

Branded cut names may now be included on select reports

(CARLSBAD, Calif.)  - GIA (Gemological Institute of America) laboratory clients can now participate in GIA’s Proprietary Cut Program for diamonds with branded cut names. GIA grading reports for diamonds submitted as part of this program will...

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The Marketing Minute: Trend Spotting

8 MONTHS AGO

Marketing specialist George Prout produces a weekly marketing advice video for retail jewelers, The Monday Morning Marketing Minute. He’s generously agreed to let us share them with our eWeekly readers.

 

Click here  to see more of George Prout’s The Marketing Minute

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Marketing Minute: Pricing Strategy

8 MONTHS AGO

Marketing specialist George Prout produces a weekly marketing advice video for retail jewelers, The Monday Morning Marketing Minute. He’s generously agreed to let us share them with our eWeekly readers.

 

Click here  to see more of George Prout’s The Marketing Minute

 

 

 

 

 

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Virginia jewelers’ passion lies in the beauty of the Bay

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For Karen Burke, inspiration comes in waves - gentle, peaceful waves from the breathtaking waters that surround her home and family-owned coastal jewelry business.

Karen is the designer for Burke's Jewelers and its Bay-Gems Collection, which she operates with her husband Fred in the tiny, picturesque town of Kilmarnock, Va. It's an idyllic setting lying between the Chesapeake Bay and Rappahannock River.

 

Burke-couple-April"I just feel so privileged to be able to live here," says Karen. "It's a wonderful place. I find peace and comfort in the water that surrounds us. Even if you're not surrounded by water, everybody loves something about the water."

With that assumption in mind, a successful line of coastal designs was born when Karen and Fred moved into the family line of work after marrying in 1988. (image right: Karen & Fred Burke, owners of Burke's Jewelers in Kilmarnock, VA.)

This year, the family business celebrates its 40th year in Kilmarnock's historic downtown, offering a special "Lady of the Bay" series in its Mermaid collection. In all, the Bay-Gems collection comprises more than 200 pieces of pendants, bracelets, earrings and rings.

A Family Legacy
Fred's parents, Dorothy and Fred Burke, founded the business in August 1969, running the store a couple of doors down the street from where Burke's is now. They moved into the current location in 1977.

"When it started out it was just a tiny little store, maybe 600 square feet," Fred recalls. Now it's 2,000 square feet.

"I was only 12 when my parents bought the business," Fred says. "There were probably three, maybe four people working in the store, including my mother and father; now there are six of us, so we have doubled our employees and tripled our square footage."

The elder Burkes, who gradually faded themselves out of the business about seven years ago, were reselling other companies' jewelry, nothing nautical themed like today's featured pieces.

Fred and Karen say business has been good - good enough to warrant opening a second location, in Gloucester, Va., in 2005. That store has about 1,000 square feet and three employees.

The couple have no plans to expand to another store.

"We're trying to evolve our website, so we could count that as our third store," Karen says. "Fred and I do a lot of outside business as well. We have a lot of people ask us to bring our jewelry to different outdoor events - festivals, local art shows. We do really well at that."

Burkes-Product-April

Karen Burke gets inspiration for her Bay-Gems Collection from the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and Rappahannock River.

 

Elegant, Artistic & Whimsical
Fred gives his wife credit for developing the company's successful coastal theme.

"My favorite piece was my very first piece, our signature bracelet," Karen says. The bracelet features hand-linked nautical icons including a crab, sea turtle, flip-flops, oyster shells and clam shells. "It fits really nicely on the wrist, with icons that everyone can relate to as well," Karen says.

"My second favorite piece is an oyster shell necklace. In the bottom ridge of the oyster shell are inlaid diamonds. The piece is very, very elegant; it's very peaceful."

Other popular pieces include destination bracelets for Virginia, the Northern Neck, and the Chesapeake Bay.

"We're very particular about the quality of our merchandise," Karen says. "We try to sell middle and higher. We're more comfortable selling better goods, great quality. We're not numbers people."

Bay-Gems' pieces of sterling silver, 14-karat yellow gold and white gold can range from under $50 to several thousand dollars. While elegance and quality are the standards, the Burkes aren't afraid to add a dash of quirky charm. The jewelers sell a lot of pieces like whimsical sea nettle earrings.

"Before I did the earrings I did a sea nettle pendant, and her name was Nettie - I name a lot of the pieces I create!" Karen laughs.

"I never want to be like the guy down the street. I always want to stand out, and I think that's probably why we've been successful. We haven't tried to follow suit with anyone else - we try to be our own entity. And so far it's done OK."

Burke's values it's customers' individuality as well, offering to customize existing designs to suit a client's particular taste.

"A lot of times we'll add different stones or whatever," Karen says. "With the sea nettle, for example, we could do the body in yellow gold and the tentacles in white gold. I could sandblast or high-polish - there are lots of different things we could do with it. If someone wants to definitely make it theirs and theirs only, we can do that."

Burkes-Store-AprilCustomers Near & Far
Every piece in the store is handcrafted individually. "We do the design work, then we have a man who makes the jewelry in Massachusetts," Karen says. "We're really proud that it's made in the United States, and we always offer free shipping. We send our bracelets out all over the country." (image right: Burke's Jewelers has been serving Kilmarnock, VA for 40 years. They have been located in this location since 1977.)

But the Burkes' local clientele are the customers closest to their hearts. It's a close-knit community, and the jewelers are adamant about providing great quality and attentive, old-fashioned customer service.

"Our local customer base is wonderful," Karen says. "We really don't feel like they're our customers; they're our friends. We still do free gift wrap. We still write them a thank-you note whether they spend $5 with us or $5,000."

In Kilmarnock, with its 1,200 residents, "most everybody knows everybody else," Fred adds. "When you get involved in a charity or civic function you're working with people who are your friends. You go to church with your friends, to the grocery store with your friends . . . everybody knows everybody."

"We see a lot of townspeople wearing our jewelry," Fred adds. "There are a lot of second homes here, with people whose primary homes are in the Washington, D.C. suburbs or the Richmond area. We see weekend and summer people on a regular basis. They're not here on vacation; this is a second home. They keep their boat here, or they have family here.

"We're working with some third- or fourth-generation customers in some situations," he adds. "One generation might buy a 50th-anniversary gift and their great-grandson might be ordering his class ring."

And you can bet Karen and Fred know them by name.
"It's a fun place to shop, it really is," Karen says. "We try to make everybody feel at home and we just wow them with customer service."

And just like a creature of the sea washing to shore, those loyal customers keep coming back for more.
For more information about Burke's Jewelers and the Bay-Gems Collection, you can call (804) 435-1302, send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit www.bay-gems.com.

 


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