By Marc Beauchamp, Record Searchlight
Originally run: November 19, 2005
Photos by John Stubler / Record Searchlight
"We cater to those who want something different than you can find at the mall." That's Nina Goehring, owner of Estate Jewelers of Redding, which specializes in antique and heirloom watches and jewelry.
The unpretentious 600-square-foot store, just up the street from the Cascade Theatre, features carved platinum wedding bands from the 1920s and '40s, elaborate Victorian lavaliere pendants and Edwardian-era gold and silver pocket watches.
Demand is growing. "It's very acceptable today to buy a diamond that's pre-owned," said Goehring's husband, Edward, a 38-year veteran of the jewelry trade, mentioning celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor.
Customers include judges, attorneys, doctors, contractors, city employees, farmers, "working folk" and young couples, said Nina Goehring. "We have everybody."
What: Estate Jewelers of Redding
Owner: Nina Goehring
Where: 1328 Placer St., Redding
Much of the merchandise comes to the store. Some is "stuff that sat in safe-deposit boxes for 25 years," said Nina Goehring. People may sell pieces to raise cash or because "they inherited something that's not their taste," she added.
The vintage pocket and wristwatches -- which typically range in price from $69 to $600 -- are popular with collectors as well as women, who buy them, have them engraved and present them as gifts to their fiances, Edward Goehring said.
"It's like the old classic cars," he said of the watches by Hamilton, South Bend, Waltham and other makers. "They don't make them like this anymore."
Recently, a customer from Dunsmuir brought in six, century-old pocket watches that belonged to relatives who worked on the railroad. They featured sturdy cases, extra-thick crystals and accurate railroad-grade movements, he said.
Some of the jewelry even comes in its original box. Among the pieces are some that were first sold by A.F. Dobrowsky of Redding.
The Goehrings also can turn something old into something new. For example, diamonds from a dated 70s-era ring were paired with deep-blue Ceylon sapphires and a 14-carat white gold setting to create a stunning tennis bracelet.
Along with its focus on "time-period" jewelry, the shop's services include jewelry and watch repair, restoration, appraisals, consignment sales and even trade-ins.
No job, it seems, is too small. They'll resize rings and replace watchbands and batteries.
Antique jewelry can be a great buy, the Goehrings say, likening it to the price difference between a new and used car. For example, a high-quality, pre-owned, 1-carat diamond might sell for $7,500, compared with between $9,000 and $12,000 new, Edward Goehring said. In the jewelry business, prices are often negotiable, he added.
They tout their low overhead. "Our rent is less than $500 a month, and we have no employees -- we are the employees," Nina Goehring noted, laughing. Fittingly, the two met in a jewelry store in their native San Francisco.
Edward Goehring offers free verbal appraisals (he's certified by the Gemological Institute of America). He'll identify stones, cuts of diamonds, mounting styles, and the type and carat of gold. By examining the innards of most watches, he can divine their age.
"We have a lot of fun," he said. "It's almost like a treasure hunt. You never know what's going to come in the store." He enjoys educating customers about the "4 Cs" of diamonds -- cut, color, clarity and carat.
The Goehrings are happy with their location at Placer and Market streets. "We wanted to be downtown. We both felt it was a matter of time (before the area turned around)," Edward Goehring said.
Don't expect jewelry to perform like a mutual fund, the Goehrings advise.
"One should never buy jewelry or diamonds as an investment," said Edward Goehring.
"You have to love it. Jewelry is about occasions," Nina Goehring added. "It's memories."