Being named 2022 Jeweler of the Year by the 24 Karat Club Southeastern United States came as a big surprise to Eddie and Lisa Hazan, though it might have appeared they’d been preparing for the honor over the past three or more decades. The Hazans own Tara Fine Jewelry in Buford, Georgia, where they’ve operated “Atlanta’s best-kept secret” since 1985.
“We were quite taken aback when we got the call,” says Eddie. He and Lisa were getting ready to take their college-freshman daughter on a family vacation when jewelry insurer Stark Harbour called asking them to attend the annual awards banquet.
“He said, ‘You really need to come, because you’re being recognized.’ So we made a quick change of plans, went to the banquet, and left right out of there to pick up our daughter. … They talked about our tenure in the industry. … It was quite humbling.”
Hazan’s tenure goes back much further than the opening of Tara. He was only 12 or 13 when he got his start in the industry through the Southern Jewelry Travelers Association, sponsors of the Atlanta Jewelry Show. He grew up near Myra Medintz, longtime executive director of the show, which was at the Hyatt Regency back then, and she recruited him to hang signs for the vendors.
“I saw those people, and it was very exciting. They were so professional, and so passionate about what they were doing.”
Eventually Hazan went on the road working for the vendors, cutting his teeth as a traveling jewelry salesman in the wholesale side of the industry. It was during this time that Eddie met his now-retired former business partner, William “Buddy” Anderson.
“Then I met Lisa, the love of my life, and I wanted to get off the road,” he says.
Eddie describes the original Tara store as “very unassuming” and tiny at 525 square feet. During this time the Buford area – now home to the Mall of Georgia – had not quite developed commercially.
“We would tell our Atlanta-based customers that we were in Buford, Georgia, and most had never heard of the city,” he says. “We had to explain where we were and convince people that it would be worth the drive! That’s why we call it ‘Atlanta’s best kept secret.’”
The couple threw themselves into their work early on, and in 1996 built and moved into their current location, a 6,000-square-foot free-standing store with 30 employees, including a Diamontologist graduate of the Diamond Council of America and several GIA diamond graduates.
“We became committed to the store and the time and effort,” Eddie recalls. “We wanted to be an exceptional retailer, woven into the fabric of our community. And we wanted to develop an outstanding staff – wanting them to be the best there is in the industry.”
Over the years, the couple and the store associates have been active with numerous children’s causes, including Make-A-Wish Georgia Foundation, Children’s Healthcare Atlanta, Boy Scouts of America, and Home of Hope, formerly known as Gwinnett Children’s Shelter. Eddie has served on the board of the Chamber of Commerce and the Gwinnett Children’s Shelter, and Lisa served on the board of High Hope, which serves adults with long-term learning disabilities. They plan to participate in launching a Buford chapter of Boys and Girls Club.
As an American Gem Society jeweler, Hazan takes pride in his store’s commitment to “legendary” quality, focusing on brands that command “a certain level of respect,” setting the store apart.
Tara is an official Rolex retailer and a partner with De Beers Forevermark, and was recognized by De Beers for selling the most of its trademark “beautiful, rare and responsibly sourced” Forevermark diamonds.
And then there’s the “non-stop” customer service: “We say to our clientele, ‘You only own 99 percent of anything we sell. The other 1 percent is our customer service – we own that for a lifetime!’”
One aspect of customer service came about during the 2020 pandemic. Tara had to close its doors for several weeks, but the Hazans and their staff quickly set up an online concierge shopping service.
“I came in every day to the store and fielded phone calls,” Eddie says. “We had lots of inventory, and a lot of younger people used the service. We’d schedule virtual appointments or meet them and deliver curbside. We sold engagement rings. We did a lot of business.”
The concierge service has remained an active and popular part of the business, with Eddie spending plenty of personal time assisting customers who can’t come in or reside out of state.
Lisa says, “We gladly walk out to their car and gladly ship anywhere in the world. People love it.”
Tara’s in-house jewelers frequently create innovative custom designs for heads of state, celebrities and captains of industry, fulfilling some tall orders – such as the time in 2004 when they were commissioned on short notice to design and produce 100 pairs of cufflinks for then-President George W. Bush, who wanted to present the cufflinks to dignitaries attending the G8 Summit hosted in Sea Island.
“The bigger stores couldn’t maneuver quickly enough to fulfill the White House’s request, so we took a leap of faith and worked around the clock,” Eddie says.
For this and a host of other reasons, he says he and Lisa appreciate their staff members’ talents, dedication, and professionalism. “Without them, we’re nothing,” he says.
“We never think of other stores as our competition,” Eddie says. “If someone comes to our store and ultimately doesn’t do business with us, I want them to have an outstanding experience wherever they go in the jewelry industry. We all represent this wonderful industry. …
“We are not a transactional store, we’re a relationship store,” he says. “Our customers are so important to us, and we never take them for granted. Our role is to be of service during the monumental moments in our clients’ lives.”