The house owners of Gary Michaels Fine Jewelry in Manalapan, New Jersey, are constructing on a household custom of excellence.
Third-generation jeweler Michael Littman remembers choosing up diamonds in his grandparents’ jewellery retailer. But it was their dedication to integrity and customer support that made probably the most enduring impression. That legacy is on the core of Gary Michaels Fine Jewelry in Manalapan, New Jersey.
In 1928, Rose and Hy Littman opened Littman’s Jewelers in Brooklyn, New York. Their sons, Herb and Len, later operated the enterprise, which advanced right into a mall-based chain throughout a number of states. After “explosive progress” within the Eighties, it turned the “largest privately owned and operated retailer within the nation” and later bought to Fred Meyers Jewelers, Michael Littman explains.
At the time, he and his cousin Gary Littman, who co-own Gary Michaels, had been “younger guys, passionate concerning the enterprise,” however certain by a three-year non-compete clause. Then, a barbecue on the Jersey Shore served up greater than meals, Littman recollects: “We discovered a couple of location in Manalapan, about an hour from New York City. One week later, we purchased the land, and in 2002, we opened our freestanding retailer that was designed from scratch.”
From the beginning, that they had a well-defined technique. “We determined to go high-end with a luxurious retailer that may be mirrored in each the product choice and décor,” says Littman. And reasonably than focus predominantly on bridal, they opted for a hybrid mannequin. Sales are “just about cut up” into one-third bridal, one-third trend and one-third watches, he estimates. The retailer attracts a broad demographic and a typically prosperous buyer.
Citing the affect of his father, Len — an “unbelievable” diamond service provider who taught him consider stones — Littman seems at shopping for diamonds from a broad perspective. Jewelers usually take a “cookie-cutter method” to deciding on free diamonds, he believes. “Everyone desires to purchase a triple Ex with no fluorescence, however it will be important for us to supply extra selection. There could be magnificence and large worth to the shopper in a stone that isn’t your typical triple Ex, G, VS2.” He provides that “we all the time flip our items and make a revenue.”
In the bridal sphere, he has noticed a pattern towards bigger stones and higher-quality mined diamonds. The common middle stone for bridal is roughly 1.50 carats. But lab-grown “actually took off final 12 months,” says Littman, who started promoting it on a restricted foundation about three years in the past. “It’s a mistake to not give prospects what they need so long as there may be integrity and transparency behind it.”
While the lab-grown buyer tends to be youthful and extra budget-minded, Littman has seen an surprising growth of that base to incorporate prospects with larger discretionary revenue, who favor the bigger measurement and decrease expense of lab-created stones. He anticipates additional progress within the section.
A contemporary atmosphere
The inside design was strategically deliberate to create “a wow impact.” Littman’s late mom, Barbara — an architect — was instrumental in reaching the shop’s “very cool vibe,” he says.
“The décor needed to match our tradition, which is comfy and welcoming,” he explains. But practicality was additionally an necessary criterion. “We needed one thing fashionable that may not should be redone in 10 years.”
Gleaming hardwood flooring and complicated architectural element set the stage, and a skylight provides hovering top to the 6,000-square-foot retailer. All the circumstances, together with two expansive horseshoe ones, are made out of stable unique wooden and glass with metal accents. A curved part on one aspect of the shop is devoted to bridal, making a extra non-public area. Following a pattern for status watches, Cartier, Omega and Breitling have their very own boutiques throughout the retailer.
Littman has recognized an enormous alternative in customized work. “Design customization has elevated dramatically during the last 12 months and a half. I [expect] this to proceed, as youthful prospects particularly want their very own curated piece or engagement ring.” He factors to advances in computer-aided design (CAD) and different know-how that can additional this pattern.
But he foresees challenges as properly within the 12 months to return.
The pandemic created a “seismic shift” in buyer psychology that translated right into a “purchase now” mentality, he says. He contrasts this with the 2008 monetary disaster, when “prospects had been on the fence about shopping for one thing, as a result of they had been apprehensive.” Even after that recession abated, prospects nonetheless had a lingering sense of “doubt lurking at the back of their minds about making a significant buy.” But the response to Covid-19 was the alternative.
“It wasn’t simply the straightforward cash and no place to spend it,” says Littman. “People didn’t hesitate to deal with themselves due to concern of Covid-19. Their perspective turned, ‘So what if I wish to spend one other $1,000 to get one thing nicer?’”
Meanwhile, supply-chain points have largely been resolved, he provides. “Brands are catching up with delivery, and inventories are beginning to get increased. Combined with the unpredictable macro elements, we may even see a softening of the financial system going ahead.”
While he’s nonetheless forward for the 12 months by way of gross sales, Littman anticipates a little bit of a “rocky street” in 2023. But a degree within the retailer’s favor is that “we deal with individuals proper — prospects and the individuals who work for us,” he says. “We all the time attempt to take it up a notch. Next 12 months, we would must take it up nonetheless one other notch due to these challenges.” And they’ll have a technique for that.
Main picture: Company founders Gary Littman (left) and Michael Littman. (Gary Michaels Fine Jewelry)