When customers are seeking sparkly, unusual jewelry to brighten a loved one’s special occasion, a Chandler couple embarks on a long journey to find the perfect gem to complement their style.
Richard and Connie Finkbeiner opened Connie’s Jewelry Gallery & Clock Shop in 2000 and have operated the business out of their current spot on West Germann Road, just east of Dobson Road, for about five years.
Previously, Connie’s was located in Sun Lakes and then at the corner of Germann and Alma School roads in Chandler.
The experienced jewelry entrepreneurs frequently travel to Antwerp, Belgium, to buy diamonds that meet their stringent standards and fulfill their customers’ visions for the perfect engagement ring, birthday bling or other special gift. They select other gemstones in Germany.
Just as no one wants to wear the same dress as their friend to a party, jewelry aficionados do not want to wear a ring, earrings or bracelet they see someone else donning around the community.
“They want something unique, something different,” Richard said. “We have 10 different cutters of diamonds. We get to go to Antwerp, Belgium and pick out the cream of the crop. You want something that is as real as your relationship. They say real is rare.”
Antwerp is known as the “diamond capital of the world” and Richard and Connie sort through hundreds of diamonds to find ones that have the best 4Cs: cut, color, clarity and carat weight, Richard said.
Customers might say they are looking for a 1.5-carat diamond in a pear shape, for example, and the couple will look for the best stone with those specifications.
“We’re very particular,” Richard said. “You’re a small part of that family celebration, whatever it is, if it’s a birthday, an anniversary, a graduation. Let us make it special.”
In a shop luxuriously decorated with vibrant purple and blue furniture and flowers, glass display cases feature shiny engagement rings, dangly earrings, whimsical charms for charm bracelets and novel pearls in rich colors.
Tall, stately grandfather clocks and smaller clocks decorate the walls and floors in another area of the store.
The independently owned store offers shoppers a chance to find something they won’t see elsewhere.
“It’s fun to see other people happy,” Connie said. “I like all of it. I like all the different colors of the stones. I’ve been doing this a long time. We do a lot of custom stuff.”
She said recently she and Richard sold a Morganite ring and Morganite earrings to a man who gave them to his wife for her birthday.
Morganites are popular now for engagement rings and earrings, Richard said. The pastel-colored gem is available in various shades of pink.
Connie’s Jewelry offers Makur Designs rings with a rose gold band and Morganite stone. Morganite is from the Beryl family of colored stones.
Rose gold in a variety of styles and types of jewelry is also trendy, Richard said. That type of gold, which is pink, had been popular 40 or 50 years ago and everything comes back again, Connie said.
Among the many rose gold creations in the Chandler business is a white gold and rose gold chain with a twisting rose gold, glittery pendant.
Yellow diamonds are also hot in the jewelry world now, Richard said. They are “really rare” and big sellers for engagement rings, as people want something that will catch others’ attention across a room, he added.
All the diamonds Connie’s Jewelry buys are made using the Kimberley Process, a pledge to remove conflict diamonds from the international supply chain.
Connie’s carries rings designed by Frank Reubel Designs. Frank and his son, Alex, have won many JCK Jewelers’ Choice Awards. Connie’s also sells designs by Gregorio Jewelry out of Hollywood.
Most people tend to buy women engagement rings with 1- to 2.5-carat diamonds in a round, princess or emerald cut at Connie’s, Richard said.
Cushion-cut diamonds, which blend a square cut with rounded corners, are also hot and offer a better economic value, he added. Wedding rings with 14-karat gold bands are popular and Connie’s also carries many wedding rings with 18-karat gold bands.
A jewelry craze about 25 years ago, Black Hills Gold – a type of gold jewelry with distinctive designs made in the Black Hills area of South Dakota – is not as popular now, Connie said.
Other jewelry fads of the past include cluster rings and spinner rings, she said.
Silver charm bracelets and dangly gold earrings are also big sellers, Connie said. Among the popular ones are some glimmering white-gold dangly earrings with diamonds.
To add an extra touch to rings, the Chandler jewelry shop can engrave a small message on the girdle or thin perimeter of a diamond.
Besides adding a sentimental value, the message, engraved with a laser, also ensures that if the customer takes the ring to another business for work, they will get their ring back and it won’t be stolen.
Besides offering numerous choices in styles, designs and colors, clients can also customize their own rings, earrings and bracelets using Connie’s Jewelry’s Custom Studio.
The unusual program, available on a 42-inch touchscreen in the store, allows customers to design jewelry from scratch, picking the colors, shapes, sizes and other features they want.
People can download pictures of jewelry they like and incorporate those into the designs. Or they can find an item on Connie’s website to customize or find something on the Internet to tailor to their desires.
Anyone may access the Custom Studio after registering on the store’s website, using their cell phone, iPad or personal computer. They must use registration code 014801111.
“What can be more special than your own creation,” Richard said.
Shoppers designing their jewelry can send a message to the store, ask to get a call back and set up an appointment while in the Custom Studio app.
Connie’s also blends technology and artistry by selling The Momento Pearl from Galatea: Jewelry by Artist. Customers can download an app on their smartphones and then record a vocal message or a video onto the phone.
Then they can touch the pearl to the phone and the message or video is transferred onto the pearl. That way, whoever receives the pearl jewelry can listen to a personal message or video from the person who gave it to them.
Richard said like jewelry, clocks “will last many years” and he and Connie’s store has plenty of the timepieces.
He is a clock technician and Connie’s Jewelry is a Howard Miller service center that fixes grandfather, wall, cuckoo, mantel and rhythm/small world clocks. People can also get their watches fixed and their rings sized, re-tipped and polished.
Among the many regal clocks in Connie’s is a 6-foot-tall metal sand clock with an hourglass that can be shifted upside down.
When the sand has moved from the top of the hourglass to the bottom an hour has passed. The Howard Miller wood grandfather clocks play a tune every 15 minutes.
“The grandfather clocks are starting to trend,” Richard said.
Clocks can also make a great anniversary gift, he said.
Dee Sunday of Sun Lakes loves shopping at Connie’s. She brings her grandfather clock there for repairs and has also bought jewelry at the store.
“Richard has kept my clock running for years now,” Sunday said. “I have a 40-year-old clock that has character. It keeps perfect time thanks to him and his regular maintenance.
“I’ve used Connie’s expertise regularly; she does my watch batteries, she cleans my jewelry. Her inventory is gorgeous. They have great products and I’ve followed them.”
Connie’s Jewelry Gallery & Clock Shop is located at 1900 W. German Road, Suite 15. The store is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.