Benold’s Jewelers has been in business in Austin, TX for more than 85 years, serving as the trusted partner for bridal jewelry for generations. In addition to bridal jewelry, Benold’s offers exceptional service to help guide customers through their selection of diamonds, wedding bands and custom engagement rings, as well as an assortment of fashion jewelry and precious gemstones.
We caught up with Benold’s owner Maria Aguirre to learn more about her journey in the jewelry industry, her purchasing process and much more.
What is your background in the jewelry industry and how did you get your start?
While attending the University of Texas at Austin I worked for a corporate chain jewelry store and quickly learned I enjoyed the work. In looking back I realize it was only a matter of time before I found my place in the jewelry world. As a child I remember wanting to visit the jewelry store or the library. As a teenager I made beaded jewelry and my grandmother was the only one to wear the pieces to her church bingo sessions! I feel extremely fortunate to have had the chance to buy the store where I worked for more than 18 years.
How would you describe your store using only three words?
Classic, timeless and unique.
Can you give us a glimpse into your process when purchasing pieces to include in your store collection and your decision-making strategies?
I try to create a story within every collection. I choose a color with the potential to complement most everyone. I think about hairstyles, face shapes and careers of the wearers. This strategy allows us to present a unified and cohesive look. It helps create the atmosphere for collectors and add-on sales.
Are there any particular stones, hues, or styles you are partial to and prefer to carry more of in the store?
I concentrate on the colors which sell most often-for us it is the blues and greens. I tend to buy more earrings because they are my favorite. You can never have enough earrings!
What are the trends you’ve noticed have been selling particularly well?
Opals in all varieties have been on fire for us. It is the perfect combination of blues and greens with pops of brightness from other colors. I have noticed more yellow gold selling in the fashion category. The amount of yellow gold in my inventory far outweighs the white gold.
What were some of your favorite trends you saw at Luxury 2019?
I enjoyed seeing the use of lapis from Dove’s and the abundance of Y necklaces from Sofer. I noticed many designs incorporating the use of bezel set stones.
What do you do to make customers’ visits memorable?
I am fortunate to have a great memory and often this helps me greet customers by name and remember their jewelry. This familiarity makes a person feel very comfortable in our store. I always want to be available for our customers. I want to be on the floor and it is what I miss most since I became the owner.
Do you do any special events? If so, what kind?
We had our first ever multi weekend trunk show event with Suzy Landa where we partnered with Water to Thrive. We gave 10% of our sales from the trunk show to the organization and raised enough money to build a water well in South Africa. It was a successful event and we were all very grateful! I am in the process of working on our next event.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from your business?
I have learned so much! For nearly two decades I quietly stayed in the background but now I have to be at the forefront of the business and the biggest thing I learned is that people want to know your story and want to support you!
What is one piece of advice you would give someone who is just starting out in the industry?
Find a group within the industry that is supportive and willing to share. While I have not joined one of the traditional jewelry buying groups instead I chose to connect with designers, manufacturers, reps and retailers with whom I feel comfortable and that I feel are genuine. Many times this helps me realize the bigger picture and that we are all going through the same issues. I recently agreed to be on the board of our local chapter of WJA mostly as a way to give back to other women in the industry.
What types of pieces/collections stood out to you at this year’s show, and what types were you looking for when you got to the show?
The use of lapis was striking and eye catching! I chose collections of color from Dove’s because the designs are distinctive. I loved the fun and charming use of opals for pendants from Just Jules. The Etruscan style gold collections from Raymond Mazza looked ancient and new and right on trend. Vahan showcased new colors in their bracelets and pendants which were also perfectly on trend and great additions to the classics.
What was your favorite part of Luxury 2019?
I loved the espresso shots! On second thought I may have had too much espresso. I also liked the murals.
What are you most looking forward to for Luxury 2020?
I am looking forward to mastering the layout and attending the educational panels which I missed this year.
Did you do anything fun in Vegas off the show floor?
I enjoyed having dinner with industry friends like the ladies of Lauren K, the Raymond Mazza family and connecting with retailer friends such as Nicole Glover of Fischer Evans and Laura Gherman.