Jim Bartlett Jewelry Wins Best Jewelry Store in the Longview News – Journal’s Best of East Texas Contest


Events keep jeweler’s business thriving

Jim Barlett of Jim Barlett Fine Jewelry Wednesday, March 9, 2011 at the business in Longview. (Kevin Green/News-Journal Photo) Jim Bartlett has operated Jim Bartlett Fine Jewelry in Longview for 32 years. He says business is doing well despite the post-recession atmosphere.
Jim Bartlett says he is in the celebration business.
Evidently, there are a lot of reasons to celebrate in East Texas, because he said business is booming despite the economy being on the back end of one of the nation’s worst recessions since the Great Depression.
Weddings, anniversaries, births and other events form the backbone of what keeps customers coming through the doors of Jim Bartlett Fine Jewelry in Longview. Based on sales, casual shoppers and customer inquiries, a lot of those events are going on or in the works.
Brides make up the bulk of the shop’s business, and Bartlett said he has seen a difference in trends among those couples getting married during the 32 years he has been in the business.
“There’s been a move away from yellow gold to white gold, and there’s been a huge difference in the size of diamonds,” he said.
The normal weight of diamonds used to be about one-third to one-half carat.
“Now it’s usually a carat or larger,” he said. But diamonds are still the stone of choice for wedding rings.
“We’re also seeing more intricate styles with Victorian designs and those that echo those of the 1920s and ’30s more common,” Bartlett said.
While Bartlett has his designs on fine jewelry, that was not always his first choice of careers even though his grandfather was in the jewelry business in Arkansas. The idea of working in business did not interest him.
“I planned to go into music and opera,” he said. “Then I decided I needed to make a living.”
That was going to be tough in the world of music.
“I knocked around a little and was told I had a good voice — but I also realized there’s a big difference between good and great,” Bartlett said. He still enjoys participating in music at church and playing a guitar, but those are pastimes rather than a way to make a living.
Bartlett entered the jewelry business in nearby Shreveport before making the move to Longview and branching out on his own. He has operated through several up and down cycles of the economy — including the real estate and energy bust of the 1980s.
“In the mid-1980s when oil crashed, it created a great deal of hardship. The staff was cut to just me and one salesperson, and eventually I had to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy to protect the business,” he said. “I was one of very few jewelers to survive and actually exit bankruptcy intact and pay off my creditors.”
Bartlett said since then, his refocus has helped to support business downturns.
The emotion of love is all around — people get engaged, celebrate relationships and
events. And regardless of economics, they want to express those feelings and emotions, he said.
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Opened: May 1979. Bartlett had several years experience as a bench jeweler, salesman and manager. After a brief employment with a local jeweler, he decided to venture out on his own. History: Initially, Bartlett rented the back room of a small local jewelry store in the Pine Tree area. Address: North Loop Shopping Center Loop 281 at Judson Road Number of employees when it opened: One – just himself Number
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