Business Profile

Kings Jewelry… A Family Affair

It is always a good story when local boy makes good, and that is exactly what happened to Alexandria resident Norman “Brad” Bradford. Attending high school in the morning and working in the afternoon, Brad realized he wasn’t much for book learning, but he loved to interact with people and realized he had a knack for selling.

After school Bradford would go to work as a shoe salesman next door to King’s Jewelry in Old Town Alexandria. In 1962 the owner, Moritz Bier, offered the 19-year-old Bradford a job that would pay him $10 more a week than he was currently making selling shoes. Back in those days, $10 was a lot of money, so Bradford accepted the offer.

His training was on the job. Bier took the young Bradford under his wing and taught him – hands on – about the jewelry business. “I was always doing it under his guidance,” Bradford said, “He was kind of grooming me to take over some day.” As time passed, Bradford took on more of the hand-to-hand operations and in 1978, when Bier and his family wanted to retire; they sold the business to Bradford. That early on family environment is the cornerstone to the family run King’s Jewelry of today.

Left to Right: Tari, Brad, Cathy, Andrew, Helen
Left to Right: Tari, Brad, Cathy, Andrew, Helen

Ten years after Bradford started to work at King’s; his sister Helen joined him at the store working for Bier and after Bradford bought the business in 1978, his daughter Tari joined the growing business in 1983. “Wow, how time flies,” Tari tells me, “I have been working at King’s Jewelry for over 31 years. Working with family and co-workers who are like family has been very rewarding. Over the years Dad has taught us so much.”

In 1986 Brad’s wife Cathy, came to work at King’s Jewelry. Cathy was a perfect compliment to Bradford. Where Bradford shunned the book part and loved the front of the store; Cathy’s accounting background took over the dealings with insurance, advertising, office work and the books. Today, clearly the working relationship and romantic relationship have both blossomed.

To insure that this family business stayed together at the same location, Bradford bought the building at 609 King Street in 1985. “Although the building was not for sale, I bought it for more than market value to encourage the existing building owners to sell. It has turned into a great long term investment,” he tells me.

To round out this family affair, two years ago son Andrew joined the rest of the family working with his parents, sister and aunt. He has recently completed the Graduate Diamonds program at the Gemological Institute of America and is currently working on the Colored Stones program and getting closer to becoming a Graduate Gemologist. “I am enjoying the combination of classroom and real-life experience to further my knowledge of gemstones and the jewelry business,” he says.

The friendly sales staff of the store is another one of its’ greatest assets. All of the employees of the store have been employed here a long time averaging over 15 years each with a combined total of over 100 years of product knowledge and customer service.

The King’s Jewelry family does not end here. After 60 years of being in business, King’s Jewelry has developed a huge following of locals as regular customers. When I went in to take some pictures I ran into my friend Wayne Biggs of Virginia Eagle Distributing and his wife Jenny who were shopping and having a friendly conversation with one of the sales people. Former Alexandrian Rick Giovannoni comes from his home in Maryland when he needs a gift for someone. Noe Landini and his wife Kimberly picked out their engagement and wedding rings at King’s Jewelry. The list of locals is endless, and this comes from their philosophy of offering a quality product, excellent service, value, and customer service.

Customer service is so important to these folks, that when I was there to take pictures for this article on a busy Saturday, I was nobody. Their customers came first, and rightly so.

As you would imagine, King’s Jewelry specializes in Bridal Jewelry as well as diamond and gemstone jewelry and one-of-a-kind settings. Their watch collection consists of Tag Heuer, Raymond Weil, Seiko, Swiss Army, and King’s Jewelry is the only authorized dealer for Rolex Watches in the Alexandria area and one of the exclusive dealers nationwide.

Giftware ranges from traditional and classic to contemporary, wedding and baby keepsakes, crystal, sterling fine metal ware and other quality giftware. Just tell them what your need is and they will find the perfect gift. Check out their website for a complete listing.

If you are looking for that perfect piece of jewelry, your fantasy can become a reality. Their resident master goldsmith, Marcos Smyth, trained both as a jewelry designer and as a sculptor, has the experience and expertise to turn your creative vision into reality. Marcos will sketch out your design, create his own wax models, cast, then finish off that one-of-a-kind masterpiece. I first met Marcos thirty-seven years ago when he was one of the early artists at the original Torpedo Factory Art Center before it was remodeled. He had unbelievable talent even then.

Technology is found at King’s Jewelry as well. Where Smyth takes a tried and true artisans approach to jewelry design, Nick Serago is an expert on the latest computer programs for computer design and is well versed on the latest Matrix CAD computer design using 3-D technology and with the new cutting edge Laser machine. Both Master
Goldsmiths are Graduate Gemologists as well.

From jewelry design to the finished product, to authorized watch repair services for fine Swiss watch lines; to simply purchasing a new watch battery…King’s Jewelry has it all.

For almost 60 years, the King’s Jewelry family has continued the tradition of providing their years of expertise and product knowledge to their customers. It is through that dedication of service that their business has grown. With their recent store remodel and the continued business and loyalty of their customers, they hope to carry that legacy into the next generation.

“When Andrew was about five years old, I asked him what he wanted to do when he grew up”, Tari tells me. “He didn’t hesitate – he said, “I want to be your boss. Now, twenty-five years later, I have the pleasure of working with him every day.”’

Written by: Bob Tagert

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