Jewelry design is like any other fashion focused industry and it can be difficult to remain relevant. Designs change and cycle with the larger fashion trends. It is difficult to stay current and only the most talented and aware designers can survive the ever changing world of custom jewelry. Featured in Racked Sam explains how he manages to not only stay current but to thrive.
"Sam Boktor, who opened his business Sam’s Jewelry & Watch Repairs downtown in 2002, says he’s remained relevant by listening to what customers want, even if it’s untraditional. He’s earned a reputation for providing custom-made jewelry and restoring pieces other jewelers have dismissed as beyond repair. His clients have included singers like Ricky Martin and Jason Mraz, for whom he’s made custom bracelets and a wallet chain, respectively.
In his 15 years downtown, he’s seen the impact of urban renewal on the jewelry district.
“It’s good and bad,” he says. “It has become more residential. Rents are too high, and it actually is shrinking the jewelry district. People are turning their buildings into lofts, taking the space from jewelers and giving it to residential people. I’ve seen three or four buildings that used to be jewelry manufacturing become lofts.”
In the first quarter of 2017 alone, 550 new residential units broke ground, and 3,802 new residential units were proposed.
Real estate consultant Tyler Harman says foreign investors are fostering redevelopment downtown by seizing aging buildings. Landlords are willing to sell because “they’ve been trying to squeeze more money into the properties they’ve owned for decades, and now they’re worth something,” he says.
Corporations don’t necessarily care about the effect their practices are having on local industries. “A lot of times, they’re looking out for themselves,” Harman says.
Rupchian thinks Downtown’s revitalization will likely benefit his business because it’s bringing more people to the neighborhood. While Boktor did not go that far, he doesn’t believe the trend will necessarily hurt his company. During his 30 years in the business — he learned the craft of jewelry making from his father as a child in Egypt — he’s grown used to market shifts. For years, however, he’s relied on a steady stream of customers to sustain his company and believes the relationships he’s built will keep it going.
“I have my own customers,” he says. “They come from family members and friends referred by friends. They come from the internet. I give very good customer service, and I love what I’m doing. I’ve had to earn their trust.”