Stucki Jewelers travel half way around the world to find just the right diamonds for their customers
Stucki Jewelers, named Instore Magazine’s 2018 “Coolest Jewelry Store in America” for their repurposing of owner James Arbaugh’s old office into a humidor, is not just smoke and mirrors. The downtown Grass Valley shop has been a community staple for over 100 years, and continues to thrive thanks to the passion and dedication of James and his wife, Nicole. The couple takes personalized customer service to the next level, and will head to Belgium next week to the foremost diamond district in the world, Antwerp, to select special diamonds for their customers who are looking for something special; a truly unique stone for a one of a kind piece.
The store is run by the dynamic couple along with two dedicated and creative jewelers who can make anything you dream a reality. James is a gemologist, Nicole has a background in Public Relations, and the two make a great team in business and in life. For the past decade, the couple has traveled every October and April to buy diamonds direct for their customers. “In Belgium, we can find anything. We can find any shape, size, color, etc. If there’s anything that a customer dreams up, we can find it there,” James explained.
Engagement rings, anniversaries, and other special occasions are a great reason to commission a special and unique piece. The Arbaughs have found blue diamonds, yellow diamonds, black diamonds, chocolate diamonds, black diamond ice, and more. “Diamonds come in every color of the rainbow,” Nicole exclaimed, “A lot of people don’t realize that, and I didn’t know until the first time I went to Belgium and was blown away by the variety out there.”
Meet the Arbaughs
James and Nicole, who have just celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary, are both multi-generational Nevada County natives. In fact, their children are fifth generation. James worked for the previous owner of Stucki’s for eight years, and then bought the store in 2005. Nicole started her career in public relations, but stopped working to raise their kids. Because of her background, she did the web design and ads for the family business from home for many years, but now works in the store and helps with some of the custom design work.
Nicole loves to learn about the story behind the stones and the pieces that are created, and says that one of the highlights of what she does is seeing a customer light up the first time they see their dream jewelry made into a reality. Also, she stressed that you don’t have to spend a fortune to feel like a million bucks. “We have picked up diamonds for people specifically for the $300-400 range to tens of thousands of dollars. We make everything specific to the customer. No budget is too small or too big,” she said.
The couple is conscientious about where their stones come from, and believe in living their values. Longtime BriarPatch members and supporters of many nonprofit events and causes, the Arbaughs think globally and act locally, and that includes making sure that those they work with in purchasing gems are not exploiting their workers or the environment. They use the Kimberly Process to follow the diamonds they procure, and let customers know that they can get Canadian, Russian, or even lab grown diamonds if they want to stay away from the African region.
“I am big on doing things right. You have to be aware of where everything you buy is sourced, from your food to your clothing to your diamonds,” Nicole said. “You need to work with good reputable people who work with good reputable people. The majority of the people we work with have a fair trade consciousness and some are even building hospitals and educating children in the areas where diamonds are mined. There are some amazing stories out there.”
Most people know Stucki Jewelers from their now-famous Black Friday weekend sale. If you buy any piece of jewelry on Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) weekend, whatever is purchased that Friday-Sunday is free if it snows on Christmas day. The Arbaughs will be expanding the snow refund this year for a longer period of time, and the final dates will be announced soon. “It started for us because Black Friday wasn’t a big deal for us. We don’t have sales or discount merchandise, and were trying to get people to stay in town for that weekend instead of heading down the hill to the big box stores. If it pays out, its way better than a half off sale,” James said. “We want it to pay out; we are on the customers’ side. We pay the insurance no matter what.”
The Arbaughs leave for Belgium the first week in October, so if there is a specific diamond you are looking for, stop in and place your order. While you’re there, you can browse the incredible selection of styles and pieces that are already available right here in downtown Grass Valley. If you are seeking something specific and unique, let them know what you have in mind and they will make it their personal mission to get exactly that. “We have done Facetime in the diamond offices, texting, videos, pictures, you name it,” James said. “We interact with our customers while we’re there to make sure they love what we select.”
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