Jaymark Jewelers’ co-owners Katie Szirmay and James Matero are building a strong custom business with a tech-savvy approach to service
What happens when a pair of millennials take the reins of a fourth-generation fine jewelry store? At Jaymark Jewelers in Cold Spring, N.Y., brother-and-sister gemologists (and millennials) James Matero and Katie Szirmay have updated their shop’s legacy of superb craftsmanship by integrating cutting-edge tech tools designed to bring speed and versatility to the store’s manufacturing and consumer experiences. As kids, the pair played with the ultra-detailed, fine silver charms their grandfather created by hand. “He would make a tiny stove charm and the knobs would turn and the stovetop would come off—the work was incredible,” Szirmay says. “We take that same mentality of incredible craftsmanship and add technology to it.” The shop is now renowned for its custom design capabilities, which almost always utilize 3-D printing; the printers are set up in the showroom so customers can watch their designs “grow.” Szirmay and Matero do custom consultations in person, but also over Skype, an option they say is getting more popular with clients. But the tech-heavy environment doesn’t negate the need for old-fashioned bench chops. “You have to use the Old World techniques in conjunction with technology to make a piece absolutely perfect,” Matero says.
When you first came on, how did you begin modernizing the store?
James: As soon as we took it over, we started to make it over. “Specializing in the unusual” was actually our great-grandfather’s slogan, and we decided to adopt that again. We figured we would embrace the 21st century and work to be able to customize anything. With the 3-D printers, we can come up with a design in a day, and in two days the customer can be holding the cast-out piece. Katie took what we do in-store and brought it to the internet—there was no web presence at all at the time.… Now we offer the same quality online that we offer in the store. In the store we run a pretty tight-knit ship. We have the two of us, a full-time bench jeweler, and a few part-timers.
How do Skype appointments work?
Katie: You can request a Skype appointment right from the website. We can split-screen Skype with you to show you what CAD is creating on the computer, and then we can mail you 3-D pieces to review. You can have it in your hands overnight with overnight mail. People see exactly what they are getting before it’s made. Skype appointments are really taking off, and we’re working to streamline the process even more.
James: In the past, it was “Oh, I’m going to make something beautiful—here’s the stone, go ahead and make something.” Now it’s “I want it to look just the way I want it to look.” And we can do that for customers in our very own showroom, or Skype with them if they’re on a military base in Kandahar [Afghanistan], or anywhere.
You also connect with consumers on Facebook Live.
Katie: James and I have a blast with Facebook Live. We try to have as much fun as possible, and we try to make jewelry fun. Buying jewelry shouldn’t be boring and point-and-click.
James: We just kind of point the camera and have fun. We’re in the Hudson Valley and we have turkeys and deer outside running around, and we’ll film things like that. Why not show everyone how much fun we’re actually having? So many people hate their jobs!
Why do you think younger jewelry buyers are connecting so strongly with custom design?
Katie: I think it’s just a really big shift. It used to be there was the expectation of getting a ring during a proposal. Now we’re seeing a lot more couples coming together and looking for the custom experience—not just the jewelry.
Portrait photography by Ben Ritter
(From top) Jaymark’s Sparrow diamond eternity ring with 0.25 ct. t.w. diamonds in 14k gold, $1,500; Cold Spring gold and diamond pendant, $350; Jaymark’s New Roc gold stud earrings, $200