Jae’s Jewelers was founded in Miami in 1945 by Brooklyn native watchmaker George Hornik after he served in the Navy during World War II. In 1956, he and his wife moved the business to its current Coral Gables home on Miracle Mile, where they were known as “Mr. and Mrs. Jae.”
The small family business has entered into its third generation. Jennifer and Jillian, granddaughters of the original owners, received their Graduate Gemologist degrees at the Gemological Institute of America in Southern California. Today, Jillian runs the store as the sales manager.
Jae’s was titled the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce’s Retailer of the Year in 2014, which they continue to live up to today, now in their 74th year of business.
We caught up with Jillian to learn more about her background and family history in the jewelry industry, the biggest lesson she’s learned from the business, how the store creates memorable experiences for customers and more:
What is your background in the jewelry industry, and how did you get your start?
I am a third generation jeweler. My paternal grandparents opened Jae’s Jewelers in 1945. Despite getting my bachelor’s degree in Health Sciences, with plans to get my Masters and Doctorate in Public Health, I ended up going to GIA in Carlsbad for my GG, after graduating from the University of Florida. It was very important that I gain experience in the industry prior to working full time at our family’s store. I decided to stay in Southern California and work for Traditional Jewelers (now Hyde Park) for five years as a commissioned salesperson. It was there that I gained my confidence as a salesperson and my knowledge of fine timepieces.
How would you describe your store using only three words?
Friendly, full-service expertise
What is your favorite type of jewelry to wear? Do you have a special piece that you always wear?
36”+ Long necklaces and vintage rings. I wear my 1900s diamond dinner ring on a daily basis.
What do you do to make customers’ visits memorable?
Celebrate every milestone. We congratulate clients at every opportunity and distribute cards for free champagne toasts at a nearby restaurant.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from your business?
Cash flow and business are never consistent. There are good months and years, and bad months and years. Plan for the lows when you are experiencing the highs.
What is one piece of advice you would give someone who is just starting out in the industry?
There is an opportunity to learn every day. Absorb your experiences like a sponge.
Being a store of a rich history, how do you incorporate modern trends, technology, and market changes with continuing traditions?
You have to maintain your old traditions that keep the loyal clients, while adding new features that attract new ones.
What does it mean to you to be an American Gem Society (AGS) member and how does it align with your brand identity and company culture?
It means peace of mind for our clients, knowing that we are educated experts with a focus on ethics.
What are you most looking forward to at JCK Las Vegas 2019?
Spending quality time with other jewelers, suppliers and industry friends.