It’s fitting for a 150-year-old family jewelry business to find its niche buying, selling and repurposing jewelry that is sometimes just as old. “We are the largest estate jewelry dealer in New Jersey,” says Walter Bauman, whose great-great-grandfather started the company as a watchmaker in 1868. Bauman’s estate collection is composed of vintage jewelry as well as modern designs.
“People love the estate section. The quality is fantastic, the pieces are unique, and it’s like a tareasure hunt,” Bauman says. “We sell three times more estate jewelry than new.” These offerings often include pieces from popular designers such as Cartier, David Yurman, Patek Philippe and Van Cleef & Arpels, at discounted prices because they are preowned.
Bauman—who briefly forayed out of the family business to work for Tiffany & Co. as a gemologist “for the experience”—has run the operation with his brother, Russell, since his father’s retirement in 2012. The 40 employees across three stores (West Orange, Boonton and Fairfield) include a stable of five gemologists.
“Our ability to repair and design jewelry sets us apart,” he says. Redesigning and repairing old jewelry and fashioning new designs to customers’ specifications are also significant segments of the business. “All of our jewelers have 20 to 30 years of experience,” Bauman says. “For custom work, customers share their ideas and we create digital 3-D images so they know how it will look. Any kid can sit down with a CAD (computer-aided design) program and design—it’s the execution that makes the difference. It’s about knowing the right questions to ask before you get started. Our guys know what will look good and wear well. It’s about the experience to know what works.”
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