Jan and Jeter Case, co-owners of JC Jewelers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, are well aware how good they have it. The couple’s personal and professional lives have been intertwined since they became high school sweethearts. And, the good fortunes and earned breaks the two have experienced since then can only be described as blessings, so much so that the “JC” in the store name should denote divine intervention.
For starters, Jan and Jeter are locals. They grew up in Jackson Hole before the millionaires, and then the billionaires, decided to make the popular resort destination a seasonal playground. When they’re not making sought-after custom jewelry designs the couple enjoys the incredible natural beauty of nearby Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park.
And, their clientele ranges from locals they’ve known all their lives (and the repeat business and referrals that come with being neighbors) to wealthy elites that enjoy second homes there. All of JC Jewelers’ incredible jewelry retailing and custom design work happens in a tiny log cabin that’s 880 square feet in size.
Similar to many retail jewelers’ stories, Jan was looking for summer jobs as a teenager when a local custom jewelry designer hired her. At this early stage in her life Jan was “drawn to the world of jewelry, gemstones and the art of custom jewelry,” she says. And she never looked back.
Within years of her first job in a jewelry shop, Jan earned her Graduate Gemologist (GG) certificate from GIA. Following that training Jan went on to earn her Certified Appraiser certificate through the American Gem Society.
Intrigued, Jeter followed Jan through her career path and studied jewelry manufacturing at GIA. “This was a natural extension for me given my brother is a sculptor, my younger brother was a gifted wood worker and my father was a machinist,” says Jeter.
The couple married in 1981 and opened JC Jewelers seven years later. Even back in the 1980s, good real estate was expensive and hard to come by because 97 percent of the land is owned by the federal government. When a small log cabin came up for rent the owner’s son recommended the couple for the location.
The cabin was built in the 1930s by Archie Boyd Teeter, a well-known local naturalist and landscape painter. “Because it was built by an artist, the cabin has a distinctive charm with an angled shape not commonly found in log cabins,” says Jan.
Archie may have created a log cabin with his distinctive flair, but when Jan and Jeter moved in, the cabin needed a little help. “The cabin had no foundation, a leaky water heater, a warped floor, green corrugated plastic in the sky lights and two colors of long shag carpet,” says Jan. “One might say it was a little rough around the edges.”
Carpenters, electricians and plumbers performed the necessity work. An interior designer transformed the showroom, office spaces and consultation room into what has been referred to as “Manhattan in a cabin.”
Given the size of the log cabin, square footage is as precious as real estate in New York City. The showroom is 400 square feet, the consultation room is 200 square feet, and the office space is roughly 280 square feet (Jan’s office/gem lab). Jeter’s studio and workshop is located a few blocks away.
“The showroom and the consulting rooms have custom-built furniture and jewelry cases constructed from maple, mahogany and ebony,” says Jan. “Over the years we have added two crystal chandeliers, LED lighting and maintained the log cabin endlessly with love and care.”
The display cases are filled mainly with jewelry creations designed and fabricated by Jeter and John Kennedy, a family jeweler who brings immense talent and dedication to the shop. John is an on-staff bench jeweler. The couple out sources some jewelry and creates designs they inherently know will sell. A “build-it-and-they-will-come” approach to selling jewelry. One look at even a sampling of the collective work at JC Jewelers and their confident methods of jewelry designing, making and sales makes absolute sense.
Jackson Hole is a play place for wealthy and celebrities alike, as well as regular folks that appreciate the natural wonders of this special town. The couple’s creative capabilities are housed in a modern studio, capable of taking a custom idea from concept to creation that people of all walks of life appreciate. Their unique jewelry designs are not only a hit with the local market but the throngs of summer tourists, wealthy elites and celebrities who frequently visit Wyoming’s national treasure.
Jan and Jeter have been invited to exhibit their wares at the Emmys and the Sundance Film Festival. Not a bad accomplishment for a couple of high school sweethearts who create jewelry in a tiny log cabin in Wyoming.
But the couple doesn’t let the recognition go to their head. They have been and always will be Wyoming locals. The couple prides themselves on having local hires, chief among them Angela Doering, who joined Jan and Jeter more than 30 years ago and Briann Wilson who was hired six years ago. Their dedication and hard work has helped make JC Jewelers what it is today.