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Precious mettle: Owners of new jewelry repair shop promise to treasure customers’ treasures

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By AJ Vicens

Jan Carpenter and Craig Ellison have the mettle to work on precious metals. And they don’t have a devil of a time with the details.

The pair, with more than 50 years experience in the jewelry industry, have opened a jewelry design and repair shop at Southwest Plaza, believing that superior service and meticulous attention to the smallest job will be a golden formula.

"A lot of people thought we were wacky to do this with the economy as it is right now," Ellison said from behind the counter at the Jewelers' Bench, which opened next to Macy’s on Sept. 1. "But things are turning around. We know this area, and we figured with all the experience we had, why not? Worst-case scenario is that we go back to what we were doing before."

Carpenter believes this is the right time to open a jewelry repair business — especially one that offers the peace of mind of on-site, fully insured work that can be done much faster than at big jewelers.

"The repair business is booming right now," Carpenter said. "A lot of the bigger stores aren't focusing on service and repairs right now. They'd rather sell the $1,500 piece than make $10 on a simple repair. But that's what we're about. We want to make sure it's right when people leave here. Service is 100 percent of what we do."

At the Jewelers' Bench, all the work is done right behind the front counter, in full view of customers. Carpenter and Ellison don’t work out of sight in a back room.

"If you look like you're fly-by-night, people aren't going to leave a $10,000 ring," Carpenter said.

The pair say trust is their main selling point, and also the reason they will be able to carve out a niche in the business world together. They say their reputation is everything, whether with their own customers or other jewelers who make referrals.

"The jewelry business is pretty tight-knit," Carpenter said. "If you're not trustworthy, you'll never find work."

The shop offers more than just jewelry repairs. Ellison and Carpenter fix eyeglasses, reset loose gemstones, adjust ring sizes, perform engraving and can custom-manufacture rings and other small jewelry on site.

The two like to needle each other, cracking jokes constantly. But they are very serious about the work.

Ellison's father was in the retail jewelry business with Zales for many years, and he passed his love of quality jewelry on to his son. Ellison took a different route than his father, though, choosing repair work over the sales floor.

Carpenter apprenticed as a jewelry designer and repairman as a teenager, and quickly realized he loved the work. And he has stayed with it for more than 30 years.

Both men are excited about the new challenges presented by running their own business.

"When you're doing the wholesale repair thing, you're in the back room and never see the results of your work," Ellison said. "Now, I'm enjoying seeing people happy when they pick up their piece."

Carpenter enjoys that part as well, but also conceded that his wife sees an advantage in his emergence from back-room repair shops.

"My wife appreciates me taking a shower and combing my hair every day now," he said.

All jokes aside, Carpenter and Ellison are serious about helping people solve their jewelry quandaries, whether it be making that one ring fit just right or duplicating a ring that has been in the family for generations.

"Bottom line is, this is a place where you can get things done right the first time," Carpenter said. "We're about the service work. We want to do it right, and we will do it right."

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.

The Jewelers' Bench is a full-service jewelry repair and design store in the lower level of Southwest Plaza, next to the Macy's entrance. Call the store at 303-932-0363; store hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.