Underwood Jewelers opened in 1928 and has earned a reputation of dedication to fine quality, creating new customers and building trusting relationships. Underwood’s defines quality as not only materials and craftsmanship, but also “design, presentation, service, integrity and your experience in [the] store.”
In addition to being Vice President of Underwood’s Michael Richards is also a Certified Gemologist, a member of the American Gem Society (AGS) and a Fireside Chat panelist at JCK Tucson 2019. We caught up with Richards to get the inside scoop on Underwood’s, his favorite JCK memory, being an AGS member and more:
Describe your day in numbers.
My day starts like I imagine most people’s days start by trying to dig out from under the voluminous emails I receive that require action of some sort. I reply, print and take action for as long as I can take it and then move on to the various activities that make up a retailers life: Answering questions on trade-ins, sourcing and general questions from Underwood team members, handling special projects that seem to come daily, record keeping and compliance work, etc. Being in a small to medium size company requires that a person wear many hats on a daily basis, and that is what keeps each day interesting and fun.
What is your background in the jewelry industry, how did you get your start?
I began in the jewelry industry in high school when I was 15 years old and worked for that small family owned store until graduating. I continued at a different small family owned store working full time while in college. After graduating college I moved to Jacksonville, FL to continue my career in the jewelry industry working at Underwood Jewelers, where I’ve been for the last 29 years.
What is your favorite type of jewelry to wear? Do you have a special piece of jewelry that you always wear?
I’m a HUGE fan of Rolex watches and wear one every day.
What are your most memorable moments from one of our JCK events?
My most memorable moment at JCK would have to be that first time I looked out on to the show floor in Las Vegas and was shocked at the enormity of the show. I wondered how there could be that many jewelry vendors in the world, much less in one show. In addition to that first experience, I’ve always loved the social opportunities that surround JCK shows that allow networking with other retailers and suppliers. So much can be learned about new vendors and opportunities at these events.
What’s in store for Underwood Jewelers in the future?
We strive every day to become a little bit better than yesterday, to continue to try to exceed our customer’s expectations and to stay relevant in the jewelry industry and our local market. We plan to continue to seek out new jewelry trends and bring what we find to our customers.
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?
Our entire company culture is wrapped around our identity as an American Gem Society Member and what that means to our staff, our position in the industry and to our customers. Every sales associate that works at Underwood’s becomes a titleholder by policy to insure they are educated to know the truth and tell the truth at the sales counter. We are 100% believers in the value our membership brings to us on a daily basis.
Can you share with our readers a small glimpse of the topics and conversation that you think will prominent during JCK Tucson 2019?
I think the conversation about synthetic diamonds will continue to be a hot topic in Tucson and for the foreseeable future. Where they fit in our market, how they should be priced, what detection equipment everyone is using and how we are protecting the consuming public from their introduction into the natural diamond pipeline. Also, with the JCK Tucson Show there will naturally be talk about what the hot new colored stone trends for the year will be.